Aldington Court(1929)

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Introduction

The name Aldington Court was used by Court Line for two ships:


Aldington Court (1929) was in service from 1929 until she was sunk by enemy action in 1942 so had a working life of 13 years; she was Court Line's first motor ship. I will simply refer to her as Aldington Court on the rest of this page.

Aldington Court
Aldington Court - photo by Walter E. Frost - date not known - location probably near Vancouver. [4]

Basic Data

Item Value
Type Cargo ship
Registered owners, managers and operators The British United Steam Ship Co.
Managers Haldin & Philipps Ltd. London
Builders W.Pickersgill & Sons Ltd.
Yard Southwick
Country UK
Yard number 224
Registry N/K
Official number 161230
Signal letters N/K
Call sign LDGJ
Classification society Lloyd’s Register
Gross tonnage 4,891
Net tonnage 2,979
Deadweight 9,200
Length 405.6 ft
Breadth 55.5 ft
Depth 25.1 ft
Draught 25ft 2in
Engines 2-stroke cycle single acting oil engine (2S.C.SA), 3 cylinders with bore 22 11/16" and stroke 91¼".
Engine builders William Doxford & Sons Ltd.
Works Sunderland
Country UK
Power 482 NHP
Propulsion Single screw
Speed 10 knots
Cargo capacity N/K
Crew N/K
Aldington Court
Aldington Court - date and location not known. [1]

Additional Construction Information

The Lloyds Register entry for Aldington Court has the following additional information about her:

  • She had one steel deck and one shelter deck
  • Fitted with electric light and Wireless direction finding apparatus
  • Fitted with an oil engine

Career Highlights

Date Event
23 Jun 1929 Launched by Pickersgill
May 1929 Completed
26 May 1930 Sailed from London on maiden voyage for Vladivostock under charter to Glen Line with Glen funnel colours and houseflag
1936 Owners restyled Court Line Ltd. - same managers
31 Oct 1942 Sunk by enemy action

Service Pre WW2

According to Middlemiss, External Reference #4, Aldington Court sailed from London on her maiden voyage on 26 May 1930 for Vladivostok under charter to Glen Line with Glen funnel colours and house flag. She was the first motor ship for the company and the builder, and the 1850 BHP 2-cylinder engine performed well at her service speed of 10 knots.

Unlike many of the Court Line ships, Aldington Court does not appear to have been laid up during the years of the 1930s depression. She was used to take coal to Melbourne (including during a coal strike in Australia) and grain from Hobson's Bay to Melbourne, and also transportation of lumber from Vancouver to Sydney or Melbourne, and sugar from Cairns to Japan or India.

Aldington Court
Aldington Court - date and location not known. [2]

Service in WW2

Aldington Court took part in 30 convoys before being sunk according to information shown in the table below which is provided courtesy of Convoyweb - see External Reference #5. Independent voyages during this period are also included.

Departure Convoy/Independent Arrival
Independent Downs, Sep 19, 1939
Southend, Oct 5, 1939 Independent Dunkirk, Oct 7, 1939
Dunkirk, Oct 9, 1939 Independent Downs, Oct 10, 1939
Southend, Oct 13, 1939 OA.19 (Southend - Dispersed)
Independent Cristobal, Nov 4, 1939
Balboa, Nov 4, 1939 Independent Los Angeles, Nov 18, 1939
Los Angeles, Nov 18, 1939 Independent Vancouver, Nov 23, 1939
Vancouver, Nov 27, 1939 Independent Chemainus, Nov 28, 1939
Chemainus, Nov 28, 1939 Independent Victoria Bc, Nov 29, 1939
Victoria Bc, Dec 1, 1939 Independent Port Alberni, Dec 2, 1939
Port Alberni, Dec 9, 1939 Independent Balboa, Dec 28, 1939
Cristobal, Dec 29, 1939 Independent Halifax, Jan 13, 1940
Halifax, Jan 14, 1940 HX.16 (Halifax - Liverpool) Milford Haven, Jan 27, 1940
Milford Haven, Jan 30, 1940 Independent Cardiff, Feb 1, 1940
Cardiff, Mar 18, 1940 Independent Milford Haven, Mar 19, 1940
Milford Haven, Mar 20, 1940 OB.113 (Liverpool - to OG 23F)
OG.23F (to - Gibraltar) Gibraltar, Mar 28, 1940
Passed Gibraltar, Mar 28, 1940 Independent Alexandria, Apr 5, 1940
Alexandria, Apr 13, 1940 Independent Port Said, Apr 14, 1940
Suez, Apr 15, 1940 Independent Aden, Apr 20, 1940
Aden, Apr 21, 1940 Independent Fremantle, May 13, 1940
Fremantle, May 13, 1940 Independent Wallaroo, May 18, 1940
Wallaroo, May 29, 1940 Independent Capetown, Jun 27, 1940
Capetown, Jun 28, 1940 Independent Freetown, Jul 12, 1940
Freetown, Jul 16, 1940 SL.40 (Freetown - Liverpool) Methil, Aug 6, 1940
Methil, Aug 7, 1940 FS.245 (Tyne - Southend) Spurn Head For Hull, Aug 8, 1940
Spurn Head ex HULL, SEP 27, 1940 FN.291 (Southend - Methil) Methil, Sep 28, 1940
Methil, Sep 30, 1940 OA.222 (Methil - r/v WITH OB 222)
Independent Capetown, Nov 2, 1940
Capetown, Nov 4, 1940 Independent Durban, Nov 9, 1940
Durban, Nov 12, 1940 Independent Aden, Nov 29, 1940
Aden, Dec 3, 1940 BN.10 (Bombay - Suez) Suez, Dec 10, 1940
Port Said, Dec 12, 1940 Independent Alexandria, Dec 13, 1940
Alexandria, Dec 29, 1940 Independent Port Said, Dec 30, 1940
Suez, Jan 3, 1941 BS.12 (Suez - Dispersed) Port Sudan, Jan 7, 1941
Port Sudan, Jan 12, 1941 BS.12C (Port Sudan - Aden) Aden, Jan 16, 1941
Aden, Jan 17, 1941 Independent Lourenco Marques, Feb 1, 1941
Lourenco Marques, Feb 17, 1941 Independent Capetown, Feb 23, 1941
Capetown, Feb 23, 1941 Independent Freetown, Mar 11, 1941
Freetown, Mar 13, 1941 SL.68 (Freetown - Dispersed)
Independent Halifax, Apr 4, 1941
Halifax, Apr 9, 1941 SC.28 (Halifax - Liverpool) Oban, Apr 29, 1941
Oban, May 2, 1941 WN.122 (Clyde - Methil) Methil, May 5, 1941
Methil, May 6, 1941 FS.482 (Methil - Southend) Immingham, May 8, 1941
Immingham, May 13, 1941 Independent Hull, May 14, 1941
Spurn Head ex HULL, MAY 30, 1941 FN.473 (Southend - Methil) Methil, Jun 1, 1941
Methil, Jun 3, 1941 EC.27 (Southend - Clyde) Loch Ewe, Jun 5, 1941
Independent Takoradi, Jul 13, 1941
Takoradi, Jul 20, 1941 Independent Lagos, Jul 21, 1941
Lagos, Aug 1, 1941 Independent Freetown, Aug 7, 1941
Freetown, Aug 15, 1941 SL.84 (Freetown - Liverpool) Liverpool, Sep 8, 1941
Liverpool, Sep 27, 1941 Independent Clyde, Sep 28, 1941
Clyde, Oct 4, 1941 OS.8 (Liverpool - Freetown) Freetown, Oct 26, 1941
Freetown, Oct 30, 1941 Independent Takoradi, Nov 5, 1941
Takoradi, Nov 10, 1941 Independent Lagos, Nov 12, 1941
Lagos, Nov 16, 1941 Independent Port Harcourt, Nov 17, 1941
Port Harcourt, Nov 19, 1941 Independent Calabar, Nov 20, 1941
Independent Calabar, Nov 20, 1941
Calabar, Nov 26, 1941 Independent
Calabar, Nov 26, 1941 Independent Takoradi, Nov 27, 1941
Takoradi, Dec 1, 1941 Independent Lagos, Dec 3, 1941
Lagos, Dec 9, 1941 Independent Takoradi, Dec 11, 1941
Takoradi, Dec 17, 1941 Independent Freetown, Dec 22, 1941
Freetown, Dec 26, 1941 SL.96 (Freetown - Dispersed)
Independent Liverpool, Jan 18, 1942
Liverpool, Feb 5, 1942 not reported
Holyhead, Feb 7, 1942 BB.134 (Belfast Lough - M Haven)
not reported Swansea, Feb 9, 1942
BB.134 (Belfast Lough - M Haven) Swansea, Feb 9, 1942
Independent Milford Haven, Feb 20, 1942
Swansea, Feb 20, 1942 Independent
Milford Haven, Feb 21, 1942 OS.20M (M Haven - Belfast Lough) Belfast Lough, Feb 22, 1942
Independent Capetown, Mar 29, 1942
Capetown, Apr 24, 1942 Independent Bombay, May 16, 1942
Bombay, May 17, 1942 Independent Karachi, May 20, 1942
Karachi, Jun 3, 1942 Independent Mombasa, Jun 16, 1942
Mombasa, Jun 23, 1942 Independent Capetown, Jul 6, 1942
Capetown, Jul 8, 1942 Independent Trinidad, Aug 2, 1942
Trinidad, Aug 4, 1942 TAW.11 (Trinidad - Key West) Key West, Aug 13, 1942
Key West, Aug 20, 1942 KN.132 (Key West - Hampton Roads) New York, Aug 25, 1942
New York, Aug 28, 1942 Independent Philadelphia, Aug 29, 1942
Philadelphia, Sep 16, 1942 Independent New York, Sep 17, 1942
New York, Sep 20, 1942 NG.307 (NYC - Guantanamo) Guantanamo, Sep 27, 1942
Guantanamo, Sep 27, 1942 GAT.9 (Guantanamo - Trinidad) Trinidad, Oct 3, 1942
Trinidad, Oct 9, 1942 Independent

Loss of Aldington Court

Aldington Court was reported to have been sunk on 31 October 1942 by German submarine U-172 - at that time commanded by Kptlt. Carl Emmermann (Knights Cross).

According to Uboot.net - External Reference #6, she was on a voyage from Philadelphia and Trinidad bound for Saldanha Bay and Alexandria carrying goverment stores and general cargo including coal, tractors, fuel and beer. She was torpedoed at 22:21 at position 30°20' S, 02,°10' W. Of her complement of 44 (32 crew and 10 gunners), 34 were lost including the Master.

At 22.21 hours on 31 Oct 1942 the unescorted Aldington Court (Master Alfred Stuart) was hit by two G7a torpedoes from U-172 while steaming on a non-evasive course at 10 knots in fine weather about 1000 miles west of Port Nolloth, South West Africa. The ship had left Trinidad in convoy TRIN-16 which was dispersed during the night of 11/12 October. The torpedo tracks were seen to approach from the starboard beam, but it was too late to take avoiding action and they struck below the bridge and just forward of the engine room. The explosions threw up a considerable amount of debris, destroyed both starboard lifeboats, wrecked the gun nest on the starboard side of the bridge and collapsed the bridge ladders.

The crew of 32 and twelve gunners (the ship was armed with one 4in, one 12pdr, two 20mm and four machine guns) began to abandon ship in the lifeboats on the port side with great difficulties as it was a very dark night with no moon and the ship soon listed 35° to starboard. The jolly boat in charge of the third officer was launched with 13 men in it and the only intact lifeboat was in charge of the chief officer and left within five minutes with 15 occupants. Others jumped overboard and swam to rafts that were released. The master, second officer, second radio officer and a gunner were still aboard when the ship rolled over and sank about 10 minutes after being hit. They clung to wreckage until two men were picked up by each boat. The U-boat approached the s urvivors about 15 minutes later and the Germans asked for the master, but on being told that he had not been saved they ordered the chief officer to come aboard. He was taken below for questioning after being blindfolded, asked about the name of the ship, the cargo and port of destination and handed a pack of 20 cigarettes before he was sent back to his lifeboat.

At daylight the lifeboat took aboard six men from a nearby raft and the area was searched for four missing men: three gunners who had been on duty at the stern gun and the first radio officer who was still sending out distress signals when the ship sank. The jolly boat only had capacity for seven men, so the number of survivors was reduced from 15 to 10 by transferring five men to the lifeboat. The master took charge of the bigger boat and set sail towards South Africa, ordering the jolly boat to keep as close as possible, but the lifeboat eventually drew ahead as it had more sails and was last seen about 40 miles east-southeast of the sinking position during the morning of 3 November. It was never found: the master, 21 crew members and six gunners were lost.

The jolly boat made about 4 knots over the next days until the wind dropped and continued by pulling at intervals for a week, making very little progress. Thirst became a problem as they were unable to collect rain water despite seeing heavy squalls passing ahead and behind the boat. Once a large whale passed the boat several times and almost capsized it. In the afternoon on 13 November, a ship was sighted and the survivors attempted to attract its attention by igniting all three available smoke floats; these either malfunctioned or had no effect. They were eventually spotted after the third officer climbed the mast and waved with a shirt.

The City of Christiania picked up the seven crew members and three gunners, hoisted their boat on board and unsuccessfully searched for the other lifeboat. The overcrowded jolly boat had sailed 260 miles in 13 days and everyone in it complained about swollen feet as they could barely move. The survivors were landed in Montevideo on 26 November, where the boatswain was taken to a hospital. During the rescue he had to be lifted aboard with a rope as he could no longer move his legs and one of them had to be amputated in the hospital as it was gangrenous. The remaining survivors were repatriated on the ship which had rescued them, arriving in the UK on 2 Feb 1943.

Submarine U-172

U-172 appears to have been one of the more successful German submarines and was commissioned on 5 November 1941. By the end of the war she claimed to have sunk 26 Allied ships totaling 152,080 grt.

According to Uboat.net - External Reference #6, U-172 was herself lost mid-Atlantic on 13 December, 1943 after a 27 hour fight. This occurred west of the Canary Islands, at position 26°29' N, 29°58' W. The U-boat was sunk by depth charges and Fido homing torpedoes from Avenger and Wildcat aircraft (VC-19) of the American escort carrier USS Bogue and by some 200 depth charges from the US destroyers USS George E. Badger, USS Clemson, USS Osmond Ingram and USS Du Pont. There were 13 dead and 46 survivors.

Roll of Honour

Merchant Navy Casualties

The Roll of Honour below lists 25 Merchant Seamen who are known to have died as a result of the sinking of Aldington Court. This data has extracted from the CWGC database.

Surname Forenames D.O.D. Rank Cemetery/Memorial Grave Ref. Additional Information
Abbey Edwin Stanley Burney 31/10/1942 Second Engineer Officer Tower Hill Memorial Panel 4. Age 32
Connolly Frank Northmore Croad 31/10/1942 Able Seaman Tower Hill Memorial Panel 4. Age 43. Son of Margaret Sleeman, of Plymouth.
Daly Henry 31/10/1942 Cook Tower Hill Memorial Panel 4. Age 59
Davies Alec 31/10/1942 Able Seaman Tower Hill Memorial Panel 4. Age 24
Freeman Edwin 31/10/1942 Cabin Boy Tower Hill Memorial Panel 4. Age 18. Son of John Freeman, and of Anne Freeman, of Flixton, Lancashire.
Gimenez Antonio 31/10/1942 Able Seaman Tower Hill Memorial Panel 4. Age 48
Goodfellow Harry 31/10/1942 Chief Engineer Officer Tower Hill Memorial Panel 4. Age 43. Son of James and Jane Goodfellow; Husband of Mildred B. Goodfellow, of Fulwell, Sunderland, Co. Durham.
Grice David Ewan 31/10/1942 Third Radio Officer Tower Hill Memorial Panel 4. Age 21. Son of Robert John and Margaret Cecelia Grice, of Maesteg, Glamorgan.
Hamlet George 31/10/1942 Deck Boy Tower Hill Memorial Panel 4. Age 19
Hampton Kenneth David 31/10/1942 Fourth Engineer Officer Tower Hill Memorial Panel 4. Age 19. Son of Alec John and Dorothy Alma May Hampton, of Fulham, London.
Harvey James Alfred 31/10/1942 Deck Boy Tower Hill Memorial Panel 4. Age 19. Son of Mrs. E. F. Harvey, of Canton, Cardiff.
Henshaw James 31/10/1942 Ordinary Seaman Tower Hill Memorial Panel 4. Age 21. Son of Owen and Sarah Jane Henshaw, of Birkenhead.
Hepburn James Keith Roger 31/10/1942 Second Officer Tower Hill Memorial Panel 4. Age 25. Son of Albert and Ada Hepburn; Husband of Irene Elsie Hepburn, of Ipswich, Suffolk.
Hon Gordon Joseph 31/10/1942 Galley Boy Tower Hill Memorial Panel 4. Age 18. Son of Charles Anthony and Beatrice Hon, of Birkenhead.
James Glyndwr 31/10/1942 Junior Engineer Officer Tower Hill Memorial Panel 4. Age 29
Murphy William 31/10/1942 Cabin Boy Tower Hill Memorial Panel 4. Age 18. Son of William and Elizabeth Murphy, of Chorlton, Lancashire.
Nelson William Ivor 31/10/1942 Third Engineer Officer Tower Hill Memorial Panel 4. Age 30. Husband of Violet R. Nelson of Rumney, Cardiff.
Newbold Reginald Albert 31/10/1942 First Radio Officer Tower Hill Memorial Panel 4. Age 28. King's Commendation For Brave Conduct. Son of Alfred Mark and Florence Teresa Newbold, of Lee, London.
O'hagan John 31/10/1942 Chief Officer Tower Hill Memorial Panel 4. Age 51. Son of John and Mary O'hagan.
Rigden Frederick Sandford 31/10/1942 Chief Steward Tower Hill Memorial Panel 4. Age 49. Son of William Sandford Rigden and Mary Jane Rigden; Husband of Alice Rigden, of Whitby, Yorkshire.
Stuart Alfred 31/10/1942 Master Tower Hill Memorial Panel 4. Age 45. Son of Mr. and Mrs. F. Stuart, of Whitby, Yorkshire; Husband of Elsie Margaret Stuart, of Whitby.
Ummus Christian 31/10/1942 Donkeyman Tower Hill Memorial Panel 4. Age 40
Wells Andrew Joseph 31/10/1942 Cabin Boy Tower Hill Memorial Panel 4. Age 18. Son of andrew and Margaret Wells, of Town Hill, Swansea.
Welson David Albert 31/10/1942 Junior Engineer Officer Tower Hill Memorial Panel 4. Age 23. Son of Edwin Albert and Margaret Ellen Welson, of Verwig, Cardiganshire.
White James Gerard 31/10/1943 Junior Engineer Tower Hill Memorial Panel 4. Age 27

DEMS Gunners

The Roll of Honour below lists 7 DEMS gunners who are known to have died as a result of the sinking of Aldington Court. This data has extracted from the CWGC database.

Surname Forenames D.O.D. Rank Cemetery/Memorial Grave Ref. Additional Information
Brown Edmund 31/10/1942 Gunner Chatham Naval Memorial Panel 67, column 1. Age 21. Royal Artillery 6/3 Maritime Regiment. Son of Richard Henry and Amy Gwenville Brown.
Dixon Sidney George 31/10/1942 Able Seaman (DEMS Gunner) Portsmouth Naval Memorial Panel 63, column 3. Assigned to H.M.S. President III, service No. P/JX 334970. Son of Mark and Florence May Dixon, of Walsall Wood, Staffordshire.
Dobson James William 31/10/1942 Lance Bombadier Chatham Naval Memorial Panel 67, column 1. Age 33. Assigned to Royal Artillery 6/3 Maritime Regiment. Son of James and Mary Dobson; husband of Anne Dobson, of Bournemouth, Hampshire.
Harrup Joseph 31/10/1942 Able Seaman Plymouth Naval Memorial Panel 65, column 2 Age 31. Assigned to H.M.S. President III, service No. D/JX 266378. Son of Frank and Maud Harrop; husband of Nellie Harrop, of Edgeley, Stockport, Cheshire.
Maddock Frank 31/10/1942 Able Seaman Portsmouth Naval Memorial Panel 64, column 2 Age 21. Assigned to H.M.S. President II, service No. P/JX 235927. Son of Charles Henry and Mabel Maddock.
May George Edward 31/10/1942 Gunner, Royal Artillery Chatham Naval Memorial Panel 67, column 2. Age 21. Assigned to Royal Artillery 6/3 Maritime Regiment. Son of Edward George and Elizabeth May, of Bon-Y-Maen, Glamorgan.
O'Donnell Patrick 31/10/1942 Gunner, Royal Artillery Chatham Naval Memorial Panel 67, column 2 Age 35. Assigned to 6/3 Maritime Regiment. Son of Margaret O'Donnell, of Edinburgh.
Tower Hill Memorial
This is a photo of the panel on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission memorial at Tower Hill commemorating Aldington Court.[3]
Poppies

Image Credits

  1. By courtesy of Stuart Smith
  2. From Brian Watson's personal photo collection
  3. Taken by Brian Watson in 2010
  4. By courtesy of the City of Vancouver archive and placed in the Public Domain