Fort Gloucester

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Introduction

Fort Gloucester was built and launched in Canada in 1943 and chartered to the Ministry of War Transport. After serving in many convoys she was seriously damaged by a torpedo on return from the Normandy Landings but survived the war and continued her working life until 1953 when she struck a rock off Trinidad. I have only been able to find photos of the vessel after her renaming as Bedford Prince.

Fort Gloucester
Fort Gloucester after being renamed Bedford Prince in 1950. The exact date and location not known. This is the only known photo of this ship. [1]

Basic Data

Item Value
Type Cargo ship
Registered owners, managers and operators Dominion of Canada
W.A. Souter & Co Ltd. Managers
Builders West Coast Shipbuilders Ltd
Yard Vancouver BC
Country Canada
Yard number 120
Registry London
Official number 168500
Signal letters N/K
Call sign BKVK
Classification society N/K
Gross tonnage 7,127
Net tonnage 4,248
Deadweight 10,000
Length 424.6 ft
Overall Length 439.7 ft
Breadth 57.2 ft
Depth 34.9 ft
Draught N/K
Engines Triple expansion steam engine with cylinder bore 24.5”, 37”, 70” and Cylinder stroke: 48”
Engine builders John Inglis Co. Ltd.
Works Toronto, Ontario
Country Canada
Boilers 3 single boilers operating at 220 psi
Power 505 NHP
Propulsion Single Screw
Speed 11 knots
Cargo capacity N/K
Crew N/K

Additional Construction Information

The Lloyds Register entry for Fort Gloucester for 1945-46 has the following additional information about her:

  • 2 decks
  • Cruiser stern
  • Butts of shell & deck plating electric welded
  • Fitted with radio direction finding and echo sounding equipment

Career Highlights

Date Event
18 May 1943 Completed
1943 Chartered to Ministry of War Transport and managed by W.A.Souter of Newcastle
18 August 1944 Damaged by E-boat torpedo
1948 Transferred to Ministry of Transport and managed by Weider, Hopkins & Co. London
1950 Sold to P.D. Marchessini & Co. London (who seem to be otherwise known as Bedford Overseas Freighters Ltd.) and based in New York. She was renamed Bedford Prince
14 June 1953 Wrecked in Gulf of Paria
December 1953 Broken up at Baltimore

Service in WW2

Convoys

Fort Gloucester took part in a large number of convoys according to information shown in the table below which is provided courtesy of Convoyweb - see External Ref. #4.

Departure Convoy/Independent Arrival
Victoria Bc, May 29, 1943 Independent Balboa, Jun 16, 1943
Cristobal, Jun 23, 1943 ZG.35 (Cristobal - Guantanamo) Guantanamo, Jun 27, 1943
Guantanamo, Jun 28, 1943 GN.68 (Guantanamo - NYC) New York, Jul 5, 1943
New York, Jul 8, 1943 HX.247 (NYC - Liverpool) Loch Ewe, Jul 20, 1943
WN.457A (Loch Ewe - Methil) Methil, Jul 24, 1943
Methil, Jul 26, 1943 FS.1178 (Methil - Southend) Southend, Jul 28, 1943
Southend, Aug 9, 1943 FN.1095 (Southend - Methil) Sunderland, Aug 10, 1943
FN.1104 (Southend - Methil) Tyne, Aug 21, 1943
Sunderland, Aug 21, 1943 FN.1104 (Southend - Methil)
Tyne, Aug 22, 1943 FN.1105 (Southend - Methil) Methil, Aug 23, 1943
Methil, Aug 25, 1943 EN.272 (Methil - Loch Ewe) Oban, Aug 26, 1943
Liverpool, Aug 28, 1943 OS.54KM (Liverpool - Convoy Split)
Gibraltar, Sep 10, 1943 KMS.25 (Gibraltar - Port Said) Malta, Sep 15, 1943
Syracuse, Sep 27, 1943 not reported Malta, Sep 28, 1943
Malta, Oct 5, 1943 KMS.27 (Gibraltar - Port Said) Alexandria, Oct 10, 1943
Alexandria, Oct 25, 1943 MKS.29 (Alexandria - Gibraltar) Augusta, Oct 28, 1943
Augusta, Nov 1, 1943 AH.7 (Augusta - Barletta)
Bari, Nov 10, 1943 HA.8 (Bari - Augusta) Augusta, Nov 12, 1943
Augusta, Nov 17, 1943 MKS.31 (Port Said - Gibraltar) Algiers, Nov 21, 1943
Algiers, Dec 4, 1943 UGS.24 (Hampton Rds - Port Said) Augusta, Dec 8, 1943
Augusta, Dec 12, 1943 AH.12 (Augusta - Bari) Brindisi, Dec 15, 1943
Brindisi, Jan 5, 1944 HA.16 (Bari - Augusta) Augusta, Jan 7, 1944
Augusta, Jan 10, 1944 GUS.27 (Port Said - Hampton Rds) Bizerta, Jan 12, 1944
Bizerta, Jan 16, 1944 MKS.37 (Port Said - Gibraltar) Bone, Jan 18, 1944
Bone, Jan 31, 1944 KMS.39 (Gibraltar - Port Said) Augusta, Feb 3, 1944
Augusta, Feb 8, 1944 VN.20 (Augusta - Naples) Naples, Feb 9, 1944
Naples, Feb 27, 1944 NV.23 (Naples - Augusta) Augusta, Feb 29, 1944
Augusta, Mar 1, 1944 KMS.42 (Gibraltar - Port Said) Alexandria, Mar 5, 1944
Alexandria, Mar 11, 1944 MKS.43 (Port Said - Gibraltar) Augusta, Mar 17, 1944
Augusta, Mar 17, 1944 AH.31 (Augusta - Bari) Taranto, Mar 18, 1944
Taranto, Mar 24, 1944 HA.32 (Bari - Augusta) Augusta, Mar 26, 1944
Augusta, Mar 26, 1944 UGS.35 (Hampton Rds - Port Said) Alexandria, Mar 30, 1944
Alexandria, Apr 10, 1944 MKS.46 (Port Said - Gibraltar) Augusta, Apr 15, 1944
Augusta, Apr 16, 1944 AH.37 (Augusta - Bari) Taranto, Apr 18, 1944
Taranto, Apr 21, 1944 HA.37A (Taranto - Augusta) Augusta, Apr 23, 1944
Augusta, Apr 24, 1944 MKS.47 (Port Said - Gibraltar) Algiers, Apr 29, 1944
Algiers, May 3, 1944 GUS.38 (Port Said - Hampton Rds) Casablanca, May 7, 1944
Casablanca, May 10, 1944 SL.157 (Freetown - r/v WITH MKS 48)
SL.157MK (r/v SL 157/MKS 48 - Liverpool) Loch Ewe, May 22, 1944
WN.586 (Loch Ewe - Methil) Methil, May 24, 1944
Methil, May 25, 1944 FS.1463 (Methil - Southend) Southend, May 27, 1944
Southend, Jun 14, 1944 FN.1388 (Southend - Methil) Tyne, Jun 15, 1944
Tyne, Jul 18, 1944 FS.1517 (Methil - Southend) Southend, Jul 20, 1944
Southend, Jul 26, 1944 ETM.46 (Southend - Seine Bay) Seine Bay, Jul 27, 1944
Seine Bay, Jul 30, 1944 FTM.53 (Seine Bay - Southend) Southend, Jul 31, 1944
Southend, Aug 13, 1944 ETM.60 (Southend - Seine Bay) Seine Bay, Aug 14, 1944
Seine Bay, Aug 17, 1944 FTM.70 (Seine Bay - Southend)
In tow Southend, Aug 20, 1944
In tow London, Feb 20, 1945
London, Jun 9, 1945 Independent Sunderland, Jun 11, 1945
Independent Tyne, Jun 20, 1945
Sunderland, Jun 20, 1945 Independent

The Normandy Landings

Fort Gloucester was involved in the Normandy Landings and was returning to London in convoy FTM 70 when the convoy was attacked by E-boats. Fort Gloucester was damaged by a torpedo fired by one of the E-boats near Dungeness. The British referred to these motor torpedo boats as E-boats but the Germans called them Schnellboot or S-boot (fast boat).

According to Stan Mayes, the E-Boat was from 8 S-Boot Flotilla, and the torpedo blasted a large hole on the port side amidships into No, 3 hold. She was beached near Folkestone in a sinking condition where she remained for six months until being salvaged and towed to Tilbury Docks where she arrived on 20 February 1945. After being laid by for some weeks she entered dry dock there for temporary repairs.

There is a brief account by Stan who sailed on her during her journey to Sunderland for repair on the Benjidog Recollections website HERE.

Service post WW2

In 1950 Fort Gloucester was sold to P.D. Marchessini and was renamed Bedford Prince.

On 14 Jun 1953 Bedford Prince struck a rock in the Gulf of Paria off Trinidad. This was originally named Golfo de la Ballena (the Gulf of the Whale) by Christopher Columbus. She was first towed to New Orleans, then on to Baltimore where she was broken up.

Bedford Prince
This is is a cutting from the Sarasota Journal dated Monday June 15 1953 describing how Bedford Prince had to be abandoned by her crew. [2]
Bedford Prince
This is is a cutting from The Times dated 16 June 1953. [3]

Bedford Prince was broken up at Baltimore in December 1953.

Image Credits

  1. By courtesy of Stan Mayes
  2. By courtesy of The Sarasota Journal
  3. By courtesy of The Times