Re: British ship Bennevis
Posted by: Bill Watt
Date: December 17, 2001 12:01PM
This further information may be of interest Bruce -
On 6th. Dec. the 8,130t Bennevis was ordered out of Hong Kong by the British naval authorities with instructions that she should tow an 800-ton lighter to Singapore. The master, Capt. Wilson, informed that the instructions were highly confidential, was told to ask no questions and to sail in accordance with orders.
The 1918 built Bennevis was a stout old ship, she had been badly damaged during the blitz on London during Sept. 1940 when nine of her crew were killed and after resuming her regular Far East trade had endured several convoy battles and once came close to being sighted by a surface raider. On sunrise on 7th. Dec., the sea calm and with a quiet cloudless sky everyone set about their normal Sunday duties. With no radio report of the opening of hostilities, Capt. Wilson was not unduly suspicious about two destroyers which approached until he received a signal that on no account was he to use his radio and he was to follow the leading ship. When he queried the instructions Capt. Wilson observed that both vessels had their guns trained upon him, one of which signalled "Captured and strike colours". Bennevis was then guided to Hainan Island where a Japanese party boarded and took over the vessel. The crew, apart from four who died, remained in prison camps until released by the Allies in Sapt. 45.
Source - The Red Duster at War, by John Slader