The Blue Funnel Line

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Ellis Jones

1914 ~ 1942

On April the 1st 1942 the Japanese imperial navies mobile force, under Vice Admiral Ozawa, steamed into the bay of Bengal. It was quite a formidable sight with four heavy cruisers Kumano, Suzuyo, Mikuma, and the Mogami, one light cruiser Chokai, and five destroyers Ayanami, Yugiri, Asgiri, Shirakumo and the Shikaze. They split into two groups, the southern group stayed in the shipping lanes between Ceylon (Sri lanka) and the straits of Malacca, while his northern group consisting of the two heavy cruisers Kumano and Suzuya and the destroyer Shirakumo headed for Calcutta India’s large and busy port on the river Ganges. On the 4th Ozawa's ships sink the 4,291-ton British merchant vessel Silkswort. The next day a merchant convoy of seven ships left Calcutta for the U.K. via Durban South Africa, and on the 6th just 50 miles east of the port of Puri, (19.40N 86.50E) they came under attack from Ozawa’s fleet.

 

Cruiser "Kumanao"

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Bay of Bengal

Autolycus

 

In the ensuing slaughter four vessels were sunk including the 4,986-ton American Export lines vessel Exmoor, Blue Funnel’s 7,621-ton Autolycus, 9,066-ton SS Malda and the 2,440-ton Shinkuang. Sadly on that fateful day twenty eight year old Ellis Jones from Tyn Lon Fawr, was one of sixteen men that lost their lives on the "Autolycus". He is remembered with an inscription on the war memorial outside Nebo Chapel.

 

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Tyn Lon Fawr

Ellis had been at sea since he was a boy, and below are three other Blue Funnel ships he had sailed on.

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Teucer

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Patrocolus

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Eurymedon

 

Remember Them?

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Autolycus  was built in 1922 by Hawthorn Leslie & Co. Ltd at Hebburn-upon-Tyne with a tonnage of 7621grt, a length of 459ft 2in, a beam of  56ft 4in and a service speed of 14 knots. Sister of the Eumaeus she was built for the China Mutual Steam Navigation Co.

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On the 25th of November 1944, in Santa Cruz harbour, Philippines. At 14:45, the Japanese cruiser “Kumano” was attacked by aircraft from Task Force 38's USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) and they hit the portside with five torpedoes and four 500-lb. bombs. At 15:15, she capsized and sank in 108 feet of water at (15-45N, 119-48E) Captain Hitomi and 440 crewmen went down with her.

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Thanks to Mrs W Jones for the Blue Funnel vessels photographs.

 

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