The 'Derrynane'

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by Isabelle Procter (née Robb)

The Derrynane

S. S. Derrynane passing under Lions' Gate Bridge, Vancouver, Canada

Magnus RobbBuilt at Burntisland Shipyard in 1938
Owned by McCowen & Gross Ltd., London
Length: 430’ 6”
Beam: 57’
Draught: 25’ 4”
Displacement: 4896 tons
Service Speed: 11.5 knots
Launch: 29 June, 1938

The S.S. Derrynane unfortunately had a very short working life. After only two years in service, she was sunk on 12 February 1941 by the German Heavy Cruiser, Admiral Hipper, under the command of Commandant Wilhelm Meisel. She had left Freetown, South Africa, on the 30 January 1941 in convoy SLS.64, that originally had consisted of 22 ships of Norwegian, Greek and British origin. At the time of the Admiral Hipper attack, there were 19 vessels. Seven of the 19 were sunk with huge loss of lives. All hands on the Derrynane were lost at sea (36). The Germans claimed that 14 vessels from the convoy were sunk. Meisel received the Knight's Cross on his return to Germany.

This research has been undertaken in memory of my father, Magnus Robb (pictured right on the Derrynane) from Burntisland, who not only worked on the construction of the Derrynane, but also sailed on her. He joined her crew as 4th Engineer in August of 1938 and left her in April of 1940 to work in the shipyards in Leith, Edinburgh. He died in 1991 from Asbestosis (Lung Cancer), probably as a result of exposure to the asbestos that was used to lag Engine Room pipes. I have a collection of postcards that he brought back from his travels. My Father thoroughly enjoyed his years in the Merchant Navy and would say, “I’ve been all over the world, and many other places.” Also in my possession are photographs of Derrynane crew members. I am currently trying to trace their relatives so that I can send them the photographs. [Note by webmaster (2018): We have been unable to get in touch with Isabelle Procter recently. If you can help, please contact us.]

The Derrynane's war service 1939-41
(From the Arnold Hague Convoy Database, with the kind permission of Don Kindell)

Departure Date

Departure Port

Arrival

Arrival Port

Convoy No.

04-Oct-39

Yokohama, Japan

05-Oct-39

Kobe, Japan

Indep

15-Oct-39

Kobe, Japan

05-Nov-39

Port Alberni, B.C. Canada

Indep

08-Nov-39

Port Alberni, B.C., Canada

09-Nov-39

Chemainus, via Nanaimo

Indep

13-Nov-39

Chemainus, B.C. Canada

15-Nov-39

Vancouver, B.C. Canada

Indep

20-Nov-39

Vancouver, B.C. Canada

26-Nov-39

Los Angeles, USA

Indep

28-Nov-39

Los Angeles, USA

27-Dec-39

Sydney, Australia

Indep

12-Jan-40

Sydney, Australia

18-Jan-40

Pt. Pirie, Australia

Indep

25-Jan-40

Pt. Pirie, Australia

 

Fremantle, Australia

Indep

03-Feb-40

Fremantle, Australia

26-Feb-40

Aden, Yemen

Indep

26-Feb-40

Aden, Yemen

04-Mar-40

Suez Canal, Egypt

Indep

05-Mar-40

Port Said,Egypt

16-Mar-40

Gibraltar

Indep

20-Mar-40

Gibraltar

30-Mar-40

Swansea, Wales

HG 023

11-Apr-40

Swansea, Wales

11-Apr-40

M. Haven

Indep

13-Apr-40

M. Haven

14-Apr-40

Formed OG 26F

OB 128

14-Apr-40

Formed at Sea

19-Apr-40

Detached

OG 026F

19-Apr-40

Det Ex OG 26F

24-Apr-40

Cape Verdes, South Africa

Indep

05-Aug-40

Cape Verdes, South Africa

24-Apr-40

Capetown, South Africa

Indep

01-Sep-40

Capetown, South Africa

16-Sep-40

Freetown, Sierra Leone

Indep

19-Jan-40

Freetown, Sierra Leone

20-Sep-40

Freetown, Sierra Leone

SL 048

27-Sep-40

Freetown, Sierra Leone

17-Oct-40

Liverpool, England

SL 049

08-Nov-40

Liverpool, England

13-Nov-40

Dispersed

OB 240

13-Nov-40

Disp Ex OB 240

12-Dec-40

Capetown, South Africa

Indep

14-Dec-40

Capetown, South Africa

20-Dec-40

Durban, South Africa

Indep

04-Jan-40

Durban, South Africa

06-Jan-41

L. Marques

Indep

10-Jan-41

L. Marques

15-Jan-41

Capetown, South Africa

Indep

15-Jan-41

Capetown, South Africa

29-Jan-41

Freetown, South Africa

SL 064S

30-Jan-41

Freetown, Sierra Leone

12-Feb-41

Sunk by "Admiral Hipper"

 

Further information can be found on Mike Holdoway's Convoy Web. There are excellent photographs of the Admiral Hipper at Maritime Quest. Those lost in the attack on the Derrynane are commemorated on Panel 35 of the Tower Hill Memorial in London. Further information on SLS.64 and other good links can be found at Axis History Factsheet.

My father and some of his siblings were used as models in Andrew Young's painting, “The Bridge of Life”, that now hangs in the Court Room of Burntisland Burgh Chambers. His brother, Al, was the model for the young fellow playing the recorder; his sister, Meg, was the Bridesmaid in blue; and my father was the young boy with the drum, right at the end of the procession.

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