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Thread: WWII, City of Benares

  1. #1
    Location Kensington drone_pilot's Avatar
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    Mar 2007

    Default WWII, City of Benares

    The City of Benares was a passenger ship, the largest of Ellerman's City built in 1936 for service between England and India. On Friday, September 13, 1940, she sailed from Liverpool in a convoy of nineteen ships bound for Canada. She carried 406 crew and passengers including 101 adults and 90 children being evacuated to Canada by the Children's Overseas Reception Board.

    Four days, 600 miles out to sea, the destroyer HMS Winchelsea and two sloops, who had been escorting the convoy, departed to meet eastbound Convoy HX71. Despite a standing order to disperse the convoy and let all ships proceed on their own, Rear Admiral Mackinnon delayed the order. Shortly after 10pm the City of Benares was torpedoed by U-boat, U-48. The order to abandon City of Benares was given but due to rough conditions and Force 5 winds, lowering the boats was difficult and several capsized. Two hundred and forty five lives were lost either from drowning or exposure. Rescue did not arrive until 14:15 the following afternoon when HMS Hurricane arrived on the scene and rescued 105 survivors.

    Only 13 of the children survived, and 6 spent seven days in a live boat before being rescued by HMS Anthony. The Evacuation Overseas scheme was eventually abandoned; one positive result of the tragedy was the decision to have all convoys accompanied by rescue escorts

    The Children's Overseas Reception Board had safely evacuated 2 664 children, 1 532 to Canada, 576 to Australia, 353 to South Africa and 203 to New Zealand and it is believed that another 11,000 children went by private arrangement, over 6 000 to Canada and the remainder to the United States.

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  2. #2
    Re-member Ged's Avatar
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    Dec 2006
    Here, there & everywhere.


    There is a book. The children of the Benares. It tells of how the poorer kids were brought down to school halls to stay the night before the sailing whereas the richer families could afford to put their children in an hotel. It's a tragic tale.

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