View Full Version : Christopher Medland Merchant Navy

11-27-2011, 10:36 AM
Christopher Medland Merchant Navy

Merchant Navy Service ( 1922 to 1960 )

Submitted by:

David Medland : son of Christopher Medland

Christopher Medland first served in The Merchant Navy in 1922. In 1929 during the Great Depression Christopher found himself berthed in North America. He was unable to sign on a ship to get home to the United Kingdom due to the fact that there were very few positions vacant because of the depression. He worked for the Ford Motor Company for two years during which time he sent money home to his family.

He signed on with many different Shipping Lines during his service with the Merchant Navy and went all over the world including South America, the West Indies, Africa and all points of the compass.

Then came World War II in 1939. Christopher was still in the Merchant Navy and because of the threat of marauding U-boats the convoy system was organised in the hope that this would mean less merchant ships would be sunk - safety in numbers !! At this time Christopher was a fireman / donkeyman in the engine rooms of the ships he sailed in.

While Christopher was sailing with the convoys the Luftwaffe were bombing Liverpool on a regular basis as it was the the main port on the West Coast for the convoys to berth when they returned from Canada and America. Christopher worried about his family that lived in Liverpool 8 ( Toxteth ) in Violet Street.

Christopher was torpedoed three times while in the Atlantic on convoys and was lucky to escape from the engine rooms on all three occasions.

In 1942 / 1943 when the German U-boat wolf packs were at their height, a convoy Christopher’s ship was part of, was returning from America when the convoy Commodore ordered them to scatter. The ship Christopher was on thought they had been torpedoed after a loud crashing sound. The ship though damaged at the bow was not sinking as she was still seaworthy. They carried on to Liverpool. When the ship arrived in Mersey Bay waiting to dock a small ship arrived and she was escorted to the dock. On the dockside stood an Admiral of the Royal Navy waiting to meet the Captain and crew. After the order to scatter had been given, the ship had actually collided with a partly submerged U-boat and sank it.


Christopher was declared unfit for further service on 19th December 1942. The reason was : he was the on SS Nicoya that was torpedoed by a U-Boat. see details below and log book entries and details of U553. The log book entry is the fourth attached thumbnail

the SS Nicoya was later lost on 05-11-42, sunk by U-553 with the loss of six of her crew. She was the first ship to be torpedoed in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, to open that area of attack by the U-boats. At the time she was sailing alone.

* a 3-island vessel with no derrick posts and masts atop winch houses
* listed at 5,400 gross tons, 3,300 net tons, 6,300 deadweight tons
* 400 feet long, 51 foot beam, 26.9-foot draft
* coal-fired reciprocating steam engine driving a single shaft
* built 1929; rated at 13.5 knots; she had accomodations for 12 passengers


During his service as a Merchant seaman he led an interesting life and experienced many happy and sad episodes over the years.

After leaving the Merchant Navy he worked on a dredger at Garston docks Liverpool. In 1953 he applied for a job at ICI in Northwich Cheshire. At that time ICI had an agreement with the local council to allocate council houses to new ICI employees. He was allocated a house in Barnton. (a small village on the outskirts of Northwich) Consequently the family moved to Northwich. He first worked in the boiler rooms which generated the power for the ICI factories at Winnington and Wallerscote. At a later date a vacancy occured for deck hand and cook on the MV Polythene, a coaster belonging to ICI. The Polythene travelled up the River Weaver to Runcorn then through the River Mersey to Glasgow and then returned to Northwich. This journey was undertaken on a weekly basis. Christopher continued in this occupation for a few years until he had a bad heart attack. When he was fully recovered ICI gave him a job in the mail room of their Northwich office.

Christopher retired from ICI and then went to work at the Westminster Bank in Northwich as a customer usher.

This is the story of the life of a man who sailed the world from 1922 until 1942 when he was no longer considered fit enough to be sailing the seven seas. He served his country during World War 11 by sailing in the Atlantic convoys. He was awarded the following medals The 1939 - 1945 Star, The Atlantic Star and the World War 11 Medal. He worked hard all his life and cared for his family. All his children are very proud of him.

Christopher Medland passed away on the 17th January 1982.

Details of the U-Boat 553 that sank the SS Nicoya


Ordered 25 Sep 1939
Laid down 21 Nov 1939 Blohm & Voss, Hamburg (werk 529)
Launched 7 Nov 1940
Commissioned 23 Dec 1940 Kptlt. Karl Thurmann (Knights Cross)
23 Dec 1940 - 20 Jan 1943 KrvKpt. Karl Thurmann (Knights Cross)
10 patrols
23 Dec 1940 - 1 Apr 1941 7. Flottille (training)
1 Apr 1941 - 30 Nov 1942 7. Flottille (front boat)
1 Dec 1942 - 20 Jan 1943 3. Flottille (front boat)
Successes 12 ships sunk for a total of 61,390 GRT
1 warship sunk for a total of 925 tons
2 ships damaged for a total of 15,273 GRT

Missing, presumed sunk, in the mid North Atlantic after going missing in January 1943. 47 dead (all hands lost).

11-27-2011, 11:19 AM
A big 'VG' to you David, for sharing. A very colourful life...from Emerald to Violet (or visa-versa?). :)

Good luck in happening upon people from your past.
We do have a few ex-merchant seamen as members here who at the moment are not enjoying the best of health. As you will know some ailments queue-up to be introduced to folk as they get on in years. A belated happy birthday to you also. :)

Quite a strong resemblance between yourself and your father.

11-27-2011, 11:45 AM
Thats a fantastic collection, of the history you have, of your father.
My dad was in the Merchant Navy too and has sadly passed away but I haven't got anything like the info you have on you're father. Really an interesting read, thanks Dave for sharing it.


11-28-2011, 09:32 AM
Thanks to all for reading my post on my Dad.
All WW II Merchant Seaman especially those that lost their lives should be remembered.

11-28-2011, 02:35 PM
Thanks to all for reading my post on my Dad.
All WW II Merchant Seaman especially those that lost their lives should be remembered.

Hello David

Thank you so much for sharing that wonderful information and collection of documents and photographs concerning your father's life and career as a merchant seaman. Fabulous.

I am bringing your post to the attention of an American friend of mine whose father was also a merchant seaman. My friend Robert is trying to bring about greater public attention to the service of U.S. merchant seamen in wartime.

Best regards


11-28-2011, 03:57 PM
The SS Chagres...


The SS Chirripo...


The SS Casanare...


---------- Post added at 03:57 PM ---------- Previous post was at 03:27 PM ----------

All WWII Merchant Navy losses...


The SS Historian...


The wreck of The Basil...


The wreck of the SS Boniface (1917)...


11-28-2011, 05:14 PM
Hello Dave.. Loved reading about your Dad.

11-28-2011, 05:20 PM
Marvellous post :handclap: very interesting :PDT11

11-28-2011, 06:17 PM
see in one o his discharge books that he sailed on the chirrapo that was one of my ships a banana boat to the west coast of africa ,tiko . but itmay have been the earlier ship as they sometimes called the same name after scrapping one,

11-28-2011, 06:26 PM
Hello Chris,

Many thanks for your kind remarks about my Dad.

I am so pleased that you are letting your friend Robert know about it. I wish him every success in his quest to gain American Merchant seaman their rightful place in American history. They should be. And those that were lost are remembered.

Please let me know of any progress he makes.

Take care and best wishes,


brian daley
11-29-2011, 03:28 PM
Hi Dave,
just finished reading your post's,fascinating stuff. We are both of the same vintage and have many common memories. Your dad's story was special though,I have never seen so many discharges in one post,phenomenal!. Your dad was truly special in that he was an allrounder, he served his timed on deck as an A.B. ,as well as down below as a fireman/trimmer and 4th engineer. Not many folk can boast of such a career. You have done your father proud and I thank you for sharing your memories and posting the pictures.
I too sailed on the Chirripo, the new one ,in the 60's.

11-30-2011, 09:12 AM
Hello Brian,

Thanks for reading my post on my Dad.

Thanks to Oudeis.


12-06-2011, 02:41 PM
Him David what a wonderfull story, unfortunatly he was before my time so I never met him.

I was 1948-- 1954 now aged 78 going on 21

Thanks for sharing, I only wish I could find sat least one of my shipmates, guess they could be dead by now.

Wish our Merchant Navy was still afloat so I could join again, loved every minute of it and mates were mates.

Take care to all of you here.

My best


02-20-2012, 09:08 PM
David, well done, i know the satisfaction compiling such a beautifull tribute to your Dad, has been.
I have done a fare bit on my in-laws, but yours far out ways any i have done:handclap:
Congratulations to you. Your Dad will sure be proud of you.:handclap:
And a big thankyou for sharing it all with us xxx:)

02-21-2012, 08:19 AM
Many thanks to you all for the tributes paid to my Father.

It was a pleasure to read them all.

We all owe a huge debt to those many MN sailors who lost their lives in WW II.

It is a shame that the British The Merchant Navy these days is not as prolific as it was. And that shipping companies mainly now sail under foreign flags of convenience.

It is also a pleasure to have read your personal stories too like Maurice(UK) .

Thank you.