February 27th 1941
At 8.30a.m. the W/op received a blue warning from Land's End.
At 9.23a.m. the Anchises was attacked by a lone Dornier
flying at a height of 200ft. The attack came from over the
stern, when 2 bombs were dropped by the ships side without doing
any damage. Then he attacked from forward and 2 more bombs –
which missed the stern but damaged the propeller and again he
attacked from the stern and dropped 2 more bombs on the
starboard side, which sprung the plates, thus letting water into
the engine room and stoke hold. The plane came back twice. Each
time machine gunning
shelling trying for the lifeboats, in the meantime our gunners
stuck to their guns and fired about 70 rounds of ammunition when
both our guns jammed, after tracer bullets were seen to enter
the plane, and silencing one of their guns, and their engine was
heard to cough as they made off. The only casualty was one
Chinaman with a bullet through the fleshy part of his thigh.
At 10.30a.m. the Capt. Gave the order for all passengers,
steward, firemen to take to the boats, as the ship had started
to list and the barometer was going down. While the sailors
stayed onboard in case we could salvage her. All the six boats
got away without a single hitch.
12 noon the Carpenter took soundings and reported 4B dry and
5 dry all hatches dry with water up to the 2nd
platform in the Engine room. The Capt. Send us round to look for
food we went to the bake house and found plenty of bread,
nothing was found in the pantry or galley. The storerooms were
all locked and the storekeeper had the keys with him in one of
At 2p.m. we received an acknowledgement from the commander of
the Western approaches to our S.O.S. telling us that a man of
war was sent to our assistance.
2.30p.m. the Capt told us that we could go anywhere in the
ship and take anything we liked, but leave the booze alone. Just
then the sparks received another blue warning from Land's End.
So this was not our chance to explore, as we had to go down
below to take cover.
By now the wind was rising. At 4p.m. the carpenter took
another soundings and water was halfway up to the third platform
in the engine room just over the cylinders. All except the
lookout man remained below till dark. From 4p.m. onward the
carpenter took soundings every hour. The water was gaining at
the rate of about a foot an hour at 9p.m. he reported 4B
leaking through the water tight doors. 2ft 2in of water in.
10p.m. no 5 (tank) started leaking. (7.30.The wireless op
received a message from the man o-war). Saying that she was
20mls north of us proceeding at 10knots and that she should be
up to us by 9.30 and if she wasn't we were to burn a flare every
half hour. At 9.30 she was not in sight so flare was lit and one
of the boats answered us, and as we couldn't put the flare out
we had to throw it over the side and still it wouldn't go out.
So every half hour after, we sent a rocket up. In answer to our
rocket of 12.30 a destroyer morsed to us when she came up to us
the mate morsed to her telling her to look to the boats first.
At 12.30 I was sent with a message to Mr. Mathias the 2nd
mate who was with the wireless op, telling him that the captain
wanted him when he asked me to stop with the w/op to keep him
company for 5 min which lasted for 12hrs.
57’ N 13º 17’ W
February 28th 1941
10a.m. Barry came to the wireless room and said “Its all
over sparks”, and we thought it was going down there and then
but what really happened was a Corvette had come to sight over
the horizon aft. So with that sparks said to me "You take these
code books to the old man, and I'll bring the log book. Down to
the old man we went he was standing on the after end of the boat
deck starboard side with Mr. Morgan the 2nd mate,
discussing the best way to lower the lifeboat with such a sea
running, when we went up to them, the old man told me to dump
the code books over the side, and make sure they sink.
10.30a.m .The corvette came up as near as possible to the
ship. The old man told us to get the boat ready and to pour the
oil we had on the prom deck into the water. I went into the
lifeboat with R.D. Jones and the stuff we dumped out included 4
dozen ice cream cups, 50lbs sugar, 5lbs tea, 10 blankets, 2 doz
plates, 13 bottles of gin, 4 bottles whiskey, 5 bottles brandy,
20 packages of personal goods, 2 sextants, 4 compasses and the
11a.m. Capt James gave the order to abandon ship, Al and
Dougie (2 A Bs) were detailed off to lower the boat, while all
hands bar the skipper got in the boat (l was in the forward
end). Then Al and Dougie slowly lowered the boat to about 6 ft
off the water, and another 6 with a rush, but the forward half
jammed somewhere and for a minute everybody thought that their
last minute had come But Al managed to clear it in time and
saved the boat from turning head over heels. The boat dropped
with an even keel and Al and Dougie climbed down o.k. to the
boat and Captain James tried to do the same but he fell and hurt
his side on the gun whale. We then tried to push the lifeboat
from the ship side using the oars but as they were old all the
oars snapped and we had to use our hands to prevent the boat
from being trapped under the ship's counter we then drifted out
from the lee of the Ship the waves were 40 ft high and we were
at the mercy of wind and sea.
The corvette H.M.S. Kingcup then had to maneuver to a
position to get alongside.
But in doing so the lifeboat was sucked under the Corvette's
bow and was smashed in two It was then that the captain of the.
. . .
[The account ends
here but I believe this is when Captain James of the Anchises,
already hurt by the fall, was lost along with one of the
Quartermasters as 20 men were spilled into the water].
The Remaining Anchises Crew that Staid Onboard
|1 Sargent Major
Shipmates of Robert Prys
Owen of Pencaenewydd (Blue Funnel Line 1937 – 1946) waiting to
abandon ship. In there somewhere is Doug Jardine, Dickie,
Barry, Robert A Jones, Joe O’Neill and William. Behind the
camera Robert Owen, 18 years old a keen amateur photographer at
this stage but after he lost another camera in the Indian Ocean
he gave it up!