WW2 and History Collection / Weapons and Equipment / Ships / Country U / United Kingdom / Merchand Ships / s.s. City of Manchester


August 18th, 2015

United Kingdom

s.s. City of Manchester

United Kingdom
Ellerman Hall Line, part of the Ellerman Lines Ltd.
Cammell Laird & Co, Birkenhead
Build Nr.:
Vessle Nr.:
Laid down:
May 2nd, 1935
Torpedoed and sunk by gunsfire on February 28th, 1942

The British cargoliner s.s. City of Manchester, sailing with the Ellerman Lines Ltd, was sunk by the Japanese submarine I-53 (I) on February 28th, 1942 near Tjilatjap, Java.

The s.s. City of Manchester was build by Cammell, Laird & Co. in Birkenhead in 1935 as Nuber 164262 to be used by the Ellerman Hall Line, from the Ellerman Lines Ltd. Not much is known of her voyages prior to the Second World War. Het maiden voyage seems to have been late summer 1935, when she is recorded to have sailed a record breaking voyage in speed from the shipyard in Birkenhead to Capetown and was sailing for Port Pirie, Australia in August 1935. September 28th, 1935 the s.s. City of Manchester left Brisbane, Australia on a voyage to Europe, with final destination Manchester. On December 23rd, 1936, the ship arrived in Auckland, New Zealand. Among her cargo was a Beech C.17L aircraft (ZK-AEU, later with RNZAF as NZ573, construction number 107) destined for the Auckland Aero Club, Auckland. The ship was recorded to enter Sydney Harbor on December 31st, 1936, where she at least delivered another Beech C.17L aircraft (NC16449, later VH-UXP and twice with RAAF as A39-2 and  A39-3, construction number 108). On March 23rd, 1937 the ship is reported to enter the harbour of London. In the summer of 1939 (June/July) the ship was recorded to have undertaken a voyage from New York to Melbourne (from a newspaper article in the Argus, Saturday July 22nd, 1939, stating the ship losts its shipcat Bess in high seas).

March 1941, s.s. City of Manchester took part in Convoy duties to and from Malta. The ship sailed from Haifa on March 19th, 1941 in Convoy MW 6 and arrived at Malta on March 23rd, 1941. The ship left Malta on April 19th, 1941 in Convoy ME 7 in Alexandria on April 20th. On July 16th, 1941 the ship arrived in New York after sailing from Panama on July 10th, 1941.
January 28th, 1942, ss City of Manchester took part in Convoy MS 1 towards Singapore.

The s.s. City of Manchester, under the command of Captain Harry Johnson was, sailing on February 1st, 1942 with Australian troops, arriving in Singapore. After this the ship sailed for Pekan, Malaya. Evacuating about 700 Australian servicemen to Batavia, the ship was diverted to Tjilatjap, and embarked the military. The s.s. City of Manchester left Tjilatjap, Java again on February 28th, 1942. At about 55 km West of Djokjakarta, the ship was hit by two torpedoes and finally sunk with gunfire by the Japanese submarine I-53 (I). In the event three sailers were killed. Six sailers were taken prisoner by the Japanese. The rest of the survivors (126 crewmen, 17 gunners and 13 naval servicemen) were rescued by the USS Tulsa (PG 22) and the USS Whippoorwill (AM 35).

On board the USS Tulsa, Chief Officer Stephen Corner Stephenson Taws died on March 3rd, 1942. Seaman Ali Azam and Apprentice Guy Smith Roberts died on February 28th, 1942. Not known is if this was aboard the s.s. City of Manchester or on one of the rescue ships. Quartermaster Ernest Burnham, one of the POW's taken by the Japanese, died in imprisonment on May 24th, 1945.

Merchant Ship
Standard: 8.917 BRT
Length: 151,9 m
Width: 19,6 m
Power: 1625 shp (shaft horsepower)
Max. Speed: 15 knots
6 SR Turbines, 2 shafts
117 - 130

see also:
The Sinking of s.s. City of Manchester
List of Crewmembers
List of Convoys
Text: Wilco Vermeer
Images: Wilco Vermeer collection (unless stated otherwise)
- British Merchant Navy
- Cofepow
- s.s. City of Cairo
- s.s. City of Manchester - Wrecksite
- s.s. City of Manchester (1851), Wikipedia
- RNZAF Beech C.17L NZ573, NZDAF Serials
- The Mercury, 25 March 1937
© WW2 History Collection, Wilco Vermeer, 2015