Winha was in service from 1904 until she ended her life as a block ship during the construction of Mulberry Harbours during the 1944 Normandy Landings.
|Registered owners, managers and operators||Rederi A/B Transatlantic (Lundgren), Gothenburg|
|Classification society||Lloyds London|
|Overall Length||352 ft|
|Engines||Triple expansion steam engine with cylinders of 25", 40 1/2" and 67" bores and 45” stroke|
|Engine builders||N.E. Marine Engineering Co Ltd.|
|Works||Newcastle upon Tyne|
|Boilers||Three single boilers operating at 180 psi|
The Lloyds Register entry for Winha for 1940-41 has the following additional information about her:
- 1 deck (steel)
- Fitted with radio direction-finding equipment
|24 Sep 1904||Launched as Atlantic|
|October 1904||Completed for Rederi A/B Transatlantic, Goteborg, Sweden|
|1929||New owners Rederi A/B Bore, Goteborg.|
|1935||New owners Winha O/Y, Helsingfors, Finland and renamed Winha.|
|1941||Transferred to the UK Ministry of War Transport (MOWT) and managed by Raeburn & Verel, Glasgow|
|1944||Management changed to J & J. Denholm|
|9 June 1944||Scuttled at Normandy to become part of “Gooseberry 3” at Gold Beach|
|Post war (date not known)||Raised and towed to Troon to be broken up|
I have not found any information about the service history of Winha before WW2.
Winha took part in 26 convoys according to information shown in the table below which is provided courtesy of Convoyweb - see External. Ref. #4.
|Gibraltar, Apr 29, 1940||HG.28 (Gibraltar - Liverpool)||Liverpool, May 9, 1940|
|Liverpool, Nov 27, 1941||ON.41 (Liverpool - Dispersed)|
|Clyde, Dec 9, 1941||ON.45 (Liverpool - Dispersed)|
|Liverpool, Jun 2, 1942||ON.100 (Liverpool - Cape Cod)||Cape Cod Bay, Jun 19, 1942|
|Halifax, Jul 7, 1942||HS.22 (Halifax - Sydney CB)||Sydney CB, Jul 9, 1942|
|Sydney CB, Jul 10, 1942||SC.91 (Sydney CB - Liverpool)||Loch Ewe, Jul 23, 1942|
|WN.313 (Loch Ewe - Methil)||Methil, Jul 25, 1942|
|Methil, Aug 17, 1942||EN.125 (Methil - Loch Ewe)||Loch Ewe, Aug 19, 1942|
|ON.124 (Liverpool - Boston)||Boston, Sep 6, 1942|
|Sydney CB, Sep 12, 1942||SQ.36 (Sydney CB - Father Pt)||Father Point, Sep 16, 1942|
|Sydney CB, Sep 30, 1942||SC.103 (NYC - Liverpool)||Liverpool, Oct 14, 1942|
|Oban, Oct 16, 1942||WN.350 (Oban - Methil)||Methil, Oct 19, 1942|
|Methil, Mar 1, 1943||EN.200 (Methil - Loch Ewe)||Loch Ewe, Mar 3, 1943|
|ON.171 (Liverpool - Halifax)||Halifax, Mar 23, 1943|
|Halifax, Mar 25, 1943||HF.44 (Halifax - St John Nb)||St John Nb, Mar 27, 1943|
|St John Nb, Apr 17, 1943||FH.49 (St John Nb - Halifax)||Halifax, Apr 19, 1943|
|Halifax, Apr 25, 1943||SC.128 (Halifax - Liverpool)||Liverpool, May 13, 1943|
|WN.427 (Loch Ewe - Methil)||Methil, May 14, 1943|
|ONS.11 (Liverpool - Halifax)||Liverpool, Jun 19, 1943|
|Liverpool, Jun 19, 1943||ONS.11 (Liverpool - Halifax)|
|Oban, Jul 4, 1943||ONS.12 (Liverpool - Halifax)||Halifax, Jul 18, 1943|
|Halifax, Aug 16, 1943||HS.102 (Halifax - Sydney CB)||Sydney CB, Aug 18, 1943|
|Sydney CB, Aug 21, 1943||SQ.65 (Sydney CB - Father Pt)||Father Point, Aug 23, 1943|
|Red Islet, Aug 29, 1943||QS.66 (Red Islet - Sydney CB)||Sydney CB, Sep 1, 1943|
|Sydney CB, Sep 4, 1943||SC.141 (Halifax - Liverpool)||Liverpool, Sep 17, 1943|
|WN.481 (Loch Ewe - Methil)||Methil, Sep 19, 1943|
|Corncob3||Seine Bay, Jun 8, 1944|
Stan Mayes gave an account of his time on Winha in 1942 HERE. It is clear that she had seen better days by the time he served on her and she had been lashed up to keep her going. Despite this, as can be seen from the list of convoys above, she made a number of trips across the Atlantic. The Sydney destination is Cape Breton rather than Australia. One wonders whether the state of the ship improved from when she was described by Stan, but it seems likely that she was kept going with only essential work being done.
Despite her sorry state, Winha had one final important contribution to make to the war effort as described below.
Winha was one of 60 old or damaged ships that were earmarked to be scuttled to form a protective breakwater for the Mulberry Harbours constructed to support the D-Day landings. These barriers were called Gooseberries and the invasion plan called for five of these structures - one at each landing beaches Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword.
Winha was one of the ships destined to become part of 'Gooseberry 3' at Gold Beach. The code name for the block ships was 'Corn Cob'; the ships
forming Goosberry 3 were:
HMS Alynbank, Alghios Spyridon, Elswick Park, Flowergate, Giorgios P., Ingman, Innerton, Lynghaug, Modlin, Njegos, Parkhaven (added later to repair damage), Parklaan, Saltersgate, Sirehei, Vinlake, Winha
Further information on all the ships related to the Mulberry Harbours can be found at External. Ref. #13.
An Account of the Scuttling of Winha
A recent article in the Kirriemuir Herald External Ref. #11 from Mr John Macdonald of Kirriemuir provided an account of the scuttling :
A 91-year-old Forfar man doesn't have much difficulty in recalling the events of June 6, 1944. For John Macdonald played a role in the D-Day landings that, as important as it was, is rarely ever mentioned in footage of an event that marked the turn of the tide in world war two. Indeed, he was aboard a cargo ship that sailed all the way to the coast of France only to be blown up as part of an elaborate plan to create the breakwaters that would make it easier for the Allies to pour men and equipment on to the beaches in the days and weeks that followed perhaps the greatest moment in world history.
John popped in to the "Dispatch" office last week, to tell the story of "the block ships" that helped form the artificial harbour off the code-named Sword beach near Arromanches in France. He explained that the story of "the block ships" is one that gets little mention in coverage of the annual anniversary of the D-Day landings.
"Yet all these block ships were sunk to form the breakwaters for a mulberry harbour - an artificial port created to aid the landings," he adds. "The ships in question were the oldest merchant navy vessels around at the time, earmarked by the Royal Navy for this specific purpose. "They were all manned by Merchant Navy personnel, who came under the direct orders of the Royal Navy."
Mr Macdonald joined his ship, tied up at Rosyth Docks, on April 22, 1944. "It was the SS Winha, said to have been bought from a Greek company. It weighed approximately 1000 tonnes and was 45 years old.
Mr Macdonald joined the SS Winha as second engineer, and found that it had already been loaded with all types of ballast - sand, rocks, bricks, etc. "We all knew that the plans for the ship were for it to be sunk, for the charges had already even been laid." Ahead of sailing, there wasn't a lot for the crew to do. "Apart from watch-keeping, all we did every day was sit in the saloon along with the young deck officers, playing cards and other games."
"I forget the exact day we set sail from Rosyth - sometime in late May I think. We proceeded in convoy up the east coast, heading for the Pentland Firth and then round to continue down the west coast of Scotland. "Our maximum speed was about five knots, depending on the currents. "We eventually reached the mouth of the Bristol Channel at around 6 pm on Sunday, June 4."
"It was a beautiful summer's night and, to our amazement, out of the horizon, from Bristol, came the American and British battle fleets, first the battleships, then the destroyers and so on. "The following morning, all these naval ships passed us again, heading back towards Bristol. "We didn't know at the time that we were witnessing the lead-up to D-Day, which had to be postponed for 24 hours due to bad weather."
"We remained anchored off the Bristol Channel, and the order came for us to pack up our belongings for shipment home, left with only the clothes we stood in and two days' survival rations. "Nothing was to be left on board the SS Winha."
"We finally set sail for Christchurch on the south coast of England - and by the time we were nearing our next destination the invasion of France was underway. "I was on watch, and went on deck to have a look at what was happening around me. It was a sight I'll never forget - with the sky a mass of planes, all heading for France. "Our orders were to proceed to Arromanches, an artificial port created for the Normandy landings. "There, our ship was to be one of a number to be sunk to create two breakwaters to assist with the landing operations".
"On Friday, June 9, 1944, at 1.10 pm the SS Winha was manoeuvred into position, secured to the bows of SS Modlin. "The entire crew was then evacuated from the ship by a naval vessel, ahead of our ship's sinking, to be transferred to a Liberty ship. Fully loaded, this vessel headed back to England."
It is understood that at some later date the scuttled Winha was raised and towed to Troon to be broken up.
- From External Ref. #13
- By courtesy of Stan Mayes and digitally enhanced by Brian Watson