SS Kenmare Log

Discussion in 'History' started by sea_mine, Jun 13, 2011.

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  1. Hi List,

    After the enormous amount of much appreciated help received on this forum with my two last threads (1919 Diary ID and Thomas Kennedy's RN Service Record), I was hoping you guys might be able to help with a new project. I have been given the opportunity to work on the 1943 log of the Irish coaster 'SS Kenmare' which sailed between the ports of Cork, Fishguard, Dublin and Liverpool during WWII bringing live cattle from Ireland to the UK.

    She was the second vessel to bear the name 'SS Kenmare'; her predecessor having being lost to a German U-boat in the Irish Sea on the 2nd March 1918 - see this wreck site page.

    My understanding is that the two photographs below are of the second vessel; the subject of this thread, but I see one of them is used on the wreck site page, referring to the 1918 vessel:

    To date, I have only seen photocopies of the log entries for January and February 1943 but am hopeful of being given access to the original document in the near future. This will allow me produce higher quality scans to PDF as compared to the two samples shown below. Some of the entries appear to have been made in ink while others are in poorly discernable pencil.

    The first of the two sample entries is the first page of the log from 1943 and appears to be a description of the vessel herself:

    The second example is the entry for the 1st February 1943, when the vessel is sailing between Cork and Fishguard. I was hoping some of you might be able to help with the entries shown in the 'Remarks' column as shown in the photocopy below:
    In the red box I get:

    Can anyone tell me what the terms "Steam 5 pm" and "For'd 1st Watch" mean?

    The two anchor symbols in the blue box refer, I presume, to down and up anchor times when the vessel had to shelter from the weather in Rosslare Bay - can anyone confirm?


  2. Hello Pat,

    "Steam 5 pm" probably means that steam was required to be raised by 5 p.m. to enable sailing.
    "For'd 1st Watch" probably means the 1st Watch (i.e. division) of the crew was required forward for sailing or, less likely, crew members were required forward during the first watch (2000 to 2359).

    Concur with your interpretation of the anchor symbols.
  3. Naval_Gazer & List,

    Naval_Gazer, I appreciate your feedback and it's good to hear from you again.

    I have uploaded a photocopy for the log entry dated Thursday, 21st January 1942 - which should read 1943:
    As far as I am aware, the log pertains to the year 1943 only but some January entries still have the old year 1942 showing in error as the online calendar below appears to confirm:
    The SS Kenmare is on a run from Liverpool to Fishguard with 394 tons of cargo. This would appear to indicate that 'cargo' and 'cattle' are viewed as two distinct cargo types - obviously there are no cattle onboard for this trip. It's also interesting to speculate as to what a neutral vessel was doing carrying cargo from one UK port to another - perhaps nothing more mysterious than attempting to cover the cost of a return trip to Ireland with an empty hold!

    I note with interest the word 'missing' in the Place column between the entries "No. 3 Buoy" and "No. 4 Buoy" I wonder if this entry means one of the buoys was out of place or is it that it was just not sighted? If anyone knows the area, I would appreciate if you could let me know if these four buoy positions are still used today.

    The cryptic entry in the yellow box also has me puzzled - if anyone can de-code it for me, I would be grateful.

    The entry in the red box makes reference to an 'examination' vessel; I presume, as this is in wartime UK waters, this is more than just a customs inspection? Is the vessel in question a RN patrol boat?

    BTW guys, there appears to be some sort of automated linkage going on in this new version of the forum software. The word 'Liverpool' in my fist post on this thread seems to have acquired a linkage to a hotel booking site - which I hasten to add, has nothing to do with me - I tried to remove the link last night but there appears to be no way to accomplish this task as far as I can see.


  4. Seaweed

    Seaweed War Hero Book Reviewer

    All sorts of craft were used as examination vessels including private yachts, taken over and commissioned as HM ships and commanded by RNVRs, retired admirals, etc.
  5. janner

    janner War Hero Book Reviewer

    Most were manned, I believe, by Royal Naval Patrol Service men, also known as Harry Tates Navy, litterally a Navy within a Navy, based at Lowestoft for their training and as Seaweed says manned both the Examination Vessels and Minesweepers, all sorts of small craft including Trawlers were taken into service.

    My Father was an Engineman (Stoker Petty Officer) in the RNPS during WWII serving mainly on Sweepers. Their record keeping was almost non existant if his service papers are anything to go by, in the main they just give the depot ship and not the actual boats served on.

    Their web site is worth a look Royal Naval Patrol Service
  6. Seaweed

    Seaweed War Hero Book Reviewer

    That makes sense, Janner as he would have been borne for pay in the depot ship. Same construct goes for submarines which used not to cart their pay ledgers around with them. Plus perhaps quite a lot of swapping around of crew members although initially I suspect the crew were taken up by the Admiralty along with their boat.

    Must have been good fun going chug chug chug in a trawler waiting for a U-boat to take a pop at you.
  7. janner

    janner War Hero Book Reviewer

    During my time in Boats they showed the Boats name with the depot ship in brackets on the same line. This has happened a couple of times on Dads sheet but generally just the depot showing. He's no longer around, as always he wouldn't talk about his experiences when he was still with us. I do know that most of his time was spent on converted sweepers.
  8. The photos you have and those on the wreck site are of the SS Kenmare II built 1921 for The City of Cork Steam Packet Co. They ae not photos of the SS Kenmare, same shipping company, torpedoed Sat 2nd March 1918. (28 lost inc. the Captain, 5 survivors).
    How am I so sure? I am researching the 1918 sinking and came across the same photos that I later showed to a retired Sea Captain whom I knew had served as a cadet with the C of C SPC. He confirmed the photos as being of the later vessel for sure as he had served a period of his cadet service on that ship.
    Hope this is of help and I would appreciate any help with my research.

    David J.
  9. The photos you have and those on the wreck site are of the SS Kenmare II built 1921 for The City of Cork Steam Packet Co. They ae not photos of the SS Kenmare, same shipping company, torpedoed Sat 2nd March 1918. (28 lost inc. the Captain, 5 survivors).
    How am I so sure? I am researching the 1918 sinking and came across the same photos that I later showed to a retired Sea Captain whom I knew had served as a cadet with the C of C SPC. He confirmed the photos as being of the later vessel for sure as he had served a period of his cadet service on that ship.
    Hope this is of help and I would appreciate any help with my research.

    David J.
  10. List,

    Many thanks guys for your feedback; I appreciate the effort - James let me know if I can be of service; glad to help if I can.

    I was trawling through my 1981 copy of "The Long Watch" by Franke Forde in the hope of seeing a reference to SS Kenmare II but none is cited. There is a reference to her predecessor however on page 22 when referring to the fleet owned by the City of Cork Steam Packet Company...

    In relation to examination vessels, later in the same chapter 3, page 25, I found a description of the Meath sinking in 1940.

    Words fail me...


  11. Glad to help and here is another piece of info that maybe of use re SS Kenmare (II).
    The following details, (II) is my insertion, are from the pay book of Captain Paddy Tyndall (rtd) who served on the ship as a cadet.

    S.S. Kenmare (II)
    Owner: City of Cork Steam Packet Co. Ltd.
    O.N.: 143487
    Gross: 1672.74 tons
    Net: 693 tons
    Registered at Cork.

    Re S.S. Kenmare (I). To date I have been unsuccessful in sourcing a photo or picture but have discovered a photo of the S.S. Inniscarra, sunk May 1918, which was built 1903 by same builders and appears to be almost identical in tonnage and dimensions to Kenmare. Therefore I am presuming both ships to be almost identical. Comments on that presumption would be appreciated please.

    On another point, Kenmare was sunk 2nd March 1918, on 16th March 3 bodies were found washed up on 3 almost adjacent beaches in Nth Co Dublin. Only 1 of the bodies was identified CWGC :: Casualty Details and to my knowledge this is the only identified burial from the sinking. The wreck site is almost 60kms north of east from the site of body finds and 40kms north west of Anglesey. Furthermore contemporary newspaper accounts of the finds describe the bodies as being ‘in good condition and not long in the water’. Presuming all 3 bodies came from the same wreck the reports prompt 2 questions;
    1. How did the bodies travel the 60kms distance in 2 weeks?
    2. After 2 weeks in sea water how could the bodies be so described?
    I would speculate that these 3 could have survived the sinking and got themselves into or onto something that floated, drifted westwards and eventually succumbed to exhaustion, dehydration or exposure.
    Again comments on this speculation would be appreciated please.
    David J.
  12. David & List,

    Thanks for the additional information on SS Kenmare II. I will keep an eye out for photographs of her predecessor. Can you confirm that Kenmare I was not renamed at any point in her career?

    Your supposition on the recovered remains may well be correct; it seems too long a period from the sinking to the recovery date for them to have drown on the first day and then for identification to be possible - however I am not an expert in the field.

    I have been trying to find some of the entries in the "Place" column of the log entries entered while in UK waters. My findings to date are marked in red on the chart extract uploaded here. If anyone can do better, especially in relation to the buoy positions, I would be very grateful.


  13. List,

    In looking again at the reference to the buoys in the 'Place' column of the log, I am wondering if these buoys are in fact marking a safe passage lane through a minefield rather than being purely navigational in nature? In the log extract below pertaining to a voyage from Dublin to Liverpool on Saturday, 16th January 1943, it shows that after passing (Point) Lynas, the ship steams by a series of buoys having first reached a point termed ‘Western’ at 7:32AM.
    I wonder if the point termed ‘Western’ is in fact the entry point into the safe channel of the minefield? I am also puzzled by the entry in the ‘Time’ column circled green – can anyone make this out?

    By pure coincidence, I have at last got myself a copy of Captain Cowie's "Mines, Minelayers and Minelaying" as recommended by Naval_Gazer back in the 1919 Diary ID thread. The book was published in 1949 and is long since out of print but it is a brilliant read if you are interested in the subject. I have extracted a portion of one map in the back of the book below which shows the extent of British minefields in UK waters during WWII:
    Note the three small fields in the Irish Sea. Does anyone know why or for what purpose these small 'island' fields were sown?

    I read elsewhere in the book last night that when sites were being selected for minefields at the commencement of WWI, it was decided to sow small fields near prominent headlands where it was thought that U-boats would use such headlands to fix their positions.

    On page 137, I note two distinct periods of sowing fields in the Irish Sea during WWII, one early in the War and the other towards the end of the conflict - both appear to pertain to anti U-boat measures - see page extract below:[​IMG]
    While it appears that minefields in the Irish Sea were almost exclusively anti U-boat rather than anti surface craft, I am still at a loss as to how the red 'islands' on the map extract were selected. Were they used like ‘flankers’ on a driven pheasant shoot, diverting birds over the guns? I may be misinterpreting the wording above in relation to the second period dealing with the Schnorkel boats, but it sounds to me as if this was the purpose of the islands sown apparently at random in the middle of the Irish Sea - i.e. to force the U-Boats into killing zones.

    Comments and corrections welcomed and appreciated.


  14. List,

    I have tracked down a copy of British War Office Sheet 4072 which may have been issued to neutral vessels when they obtained their 'navicerts' from the UK authorities. It shows at least 10 of the waypoints in the log entry for Saturday, 16th January 1943 - that's if I am interpreting the entries correctly:
    I now see that the entries in the 'Place' column of the log are almost exclusively referring to either lighthouses or light vessels. My extract from Sheet 4072 is too wide to show on the forum so I have uploaded it here.

    Apart from the 'Berth - 01:05AM' and 'Breakwater - 01:21AM' entries, I believe I have nailed all the waypoints on the Irish coast. These two are obviously somewhere inside Dublin Port (now probably owned by every Irish tax payer for the next 300 years!).

    On the UK side, I am almost sure that the 'Rock - 10:55' and 'Tower - 11:12' entries refer respectively to Perch Rock Lighthouse and Victoria Tower, - both would be passed as the SS Kenmare made her way through Liverpool Docks to arrive at the Lairage (cattle holding pens) at 12:25PM.

    What is still not yielding though is the location of the 'Western - 07:32' waypoint and the following five buoy waypoints. I can now see that all six must be somewhere within Liverpool Bay.

    If the buoys are marking a minefield as per my earlier supposition, then the field must have been laid as part of a harbour defence measure. I am still not sure if minefields would have been marked by buoys however - it seems a bit counter productive - perhaps the buoys are navigational in nature after all, but then what is the waypoint 'Western' referring to?


  15. Pat,

    You are correct in your assessment of the purpose of the minefields. They were to allow the concentration of anti-submarine efforts in certain areas transited by merchant shipping.

    Essentially, there are four types of minefield:

    • Offensive - mines laid in enemy territorial water or waters under enemy control to deny him free use of his sea lines of communication or access to his own ports, harbours and anchorages.

    • Defensive - mines laid in international waters or international straits with the declared intention of controlling shipping in defence of sea communications.

    • Protective - mines laid in friendly territorial waters to protect ports, harbours, anchorages, coasts, and coastal routes.

    • Tactical - mines laid for a specific purpose or operation or as part of a formation obstacle plan laid to delay, channel or break up an enemy advance.
    These defensive and protective minefields weren't marked by buoys but the shipping channels through them were. These were swept at least once daily by locally-based minesweepers. Other buoys acted as markers for navigational hazards.

    The entry you have circled in green is "Obsc" meaning obscured, probably owing to mist or fog.
  16. Naval Gazer & List,

    I appreciate the clarification - can I ask you what you make of the waypoint entered as 'Western'. It appears to me to refer to the (western) enterance point of the cleared channel, but I may be mistaken. I found an interesting footnote marked by an asterisk in the entry for Wednesday 27th January 1943:
    The footnote appears to read:

    This would seem to indicate that ships' masters had some choice when they approached the western edge of the minefield.

    The fact that three of the six buoys were obscured from view on the 16th January voyage must have been a worrying experience if the purpose was to mark a clear channel through the minefield. I see from this reference that German mines were also present in Liverpool Bay, causing the loss of the SS Munster in the Queens Channel on the night of the 6th/7th February 1940; all crew and passengers were rescued. The Munster was the first Irish ship lost in WWII.


  17. Wasn't the Munster lost to U30? (yes, confirmed via the link) And there was another 1 or 2 more casualties to this strip of mines U30 laid.

    I seem to have an idea there was a lightship far west of the Bar light Vessel (may be getting mixed up with a pilots boat/station). This might be your 7:32 reference. Probably not. But as it is war and with the wish to keep shipping to known, and swept, lanes, could buoys 2 to 6 be markers for such a lane extending eastwards to the bar light vessel? The man who I'd have asked has just died. :-(

    Of course, the Formby and Crosby points being landmarks on the foreshore.

    Also, this is the first I've ever heard of minefields inside the Irish Sea. I have read of them at the North and St Georges channels in both wars .. but never read of them actually 'inside'. But I don't claim to know everything. That said, I'd be more comfortable with the idea of them being laid there in WW1 and would be quite uncomfortable with the idea that they were there in WW2! I'fd say they were more of a danger to our shipping than Uboats in WW2. [Maybe they were teporary fields laid during the 2 distinct periods Uboats were active inside the Irish Sea [early 1940 and the late war Schnorkel campaign]

    These are the B&I boats? The cattleboats? They delivered the cattle/sheep to the Birkenhead side but their usual berth was at Princes Dock.

    Sorry I can't help more, it's a long time since I was looking this area of our history up.

    p.s. I will go get my MD&HB book out [Western Gateway] and see what approach and channel markings that mentions.
  18. Hi SM
    I've read the thread properly now. I see the mines laid in WW2 were in response to Uboats in the Irish Sea in early war and during the late-war snorkel campaign. I'm still surprised by this...

    The 'Western' station was the pilot station to the 'west' of Liverpool, that's where the 'western' comes from. The ships coming from the Northern Channel picked up the Liverpool pilot at the Bar LV. It was those coming from the south and around Anglessey would meet a pilot boat at this 'western' station and it appears it was eastwards of Pt Lynas. It then makes sense to me that there is a lines of buoys marking a shipping lane straight to the bar LV. Buoys 1 or 2 to 6. This lane would be swept for mines frequently saving them sweeping the complete Irish sea/Liverpool Bay.

    I think the missing buoy the man remarked on was a normal event as they did occasionally lose their moorings and wash ashore. He's just keeping all actions and incidents occuring during the voyage noted down in his log.

    In Liverpool now is a 'big' pilot boat called the Edmund Gardner. Her forbears would spend a week anchored off Anglessey, recieving and en-shipping pilots from inward and outward vessels. The 'Port Lynas pilot station' is the same thing as the 'Western Pilot station', different names for the same thing. [the pilot boats now are small things that look like lifeboats, they sail out for each ship]

    The inspection boat: makes sense to me as the authorities don't know whence cometh this strange boat. If she's from Eire, she may have duties to pay, etc. Plus there's the more warlike roles.

    The trip from english port to port was just a normal bit of coastal trade. I note the way the man navigates by landmark along the coast, picking up and marking each point and headland as he passes.
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2011
  19. Hello, our family have the original ships wheel to this ship we believe. Photo attached

    Attached Files:

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