The Story of Beaverford
Built: 1928 by Barclay, Curle & Co., Glasgow.
Tonnage: 10, 042g, 6, 060n.
Engines: Twin Screw, 2x 3 Stage Single Reduction Geared Parsons Turbines, 8, 000 SHP. 15 Knots.
Launched on the 28th October 1927, completed January 1928.
A class of five designed for the London - Canada weekly service for all weathers subsequently the hulls were ice strengthened. She made her maiden voyage from Glasgow to Canada on the 21st of January. On the 22nd of February 1940 she was requisitioned by the Admiralty for War Service. On the 5th of November she was part of a thirty-eight ship convoy HX84 which was inward bound across the Atlantic. Commodore of the convoy was Rear Admiral H.B. Maltby whose flag was flying on Reardon Smiths's Cornish City. The sole escort for the convoy was Jervis Bay built in 1921 as a passenger ship on the emigrant trade to Australia she had been taken over by the Admiralty and converted to an Armed Merchant Cruiser in 1939.
Jervis Bay. Picture by Peter Tingey.
Her armaments were seven six-inch guns dating from before the First World War, she carried a crew of 255 and flew the White Ensign, in command was Captain E.S. Fogarty Fegen. At 1700 hrs 1, 000 miles east of Newfoundland the convoy was attacked by the German 'Pocket Battle Ship' Admiral Scheer. The convoy was ordered to scatter and Jervis Bay swung round and in an attempt to protect the convoy steamed towards Admiral Scheer. The Scheer was some ten miles away and as Jervis Bay headed in its direction she dropped smoke floats attempting to screen herself from Scheer's eleven inch guns trying to bring her own six inch guns in range. She never achieved her aim as shell after shell tore into Jervis Bay, destroying the Bridge, Gunnery Centre and killing the Captain along with most of the Officers. Her guns continued to fire but all the shells fell well short of the Scheer, the encounter lasted for twenty-four valuable minutes until Jervis Bay had to be abandoned by the remaining crew who by now numbered only sixty-five. Captain E.S. Fogarty Fegan was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for his bravery along with that of his crew. Another act of extraordinary bravery was when Swedish Captain Sven Olander turned his ship and went to pick up Jervis Bay's survivors.
Meanwhile the Scheer turned her attention to the remaining ships in range and immediately set on fire Eagle Oil's ship San Demetrio, this ship's amazing escape was to be told later in a British Wartime Propaganda film entitled 'San Demetrio, London' starring Robert Beattie. The Scheer set off in pursuit of the convoy and soon overhauled Beaverford. By now darkness was falling and Beaverford's Commander, Captain E. Pettigrew, knew that he along with his ship were doomed so he turned to face Scheer and steamed towards it firing his for'ard four-inch gun. The Admiral Scheer unaware of what was attacking him became cautious and held off allowing his big guns to tear into Beaverford eventually destroying and sinking her along with her entire crew of seventy- seven. Five other ships were to fall to Scheer, they were Fresno City (Reardon Smith) one killed, Kenbane Head (G. Heyn), Maidan (Brocklebank) all ninety killed, Mopan (Elder & Fyffes) 68 taken prisoner and Trewellard (Hain).
With Thanks to Peter Rennie
Built: 1922 for Australian Commonwealth Line.
Launched 17th January 1922, 14, 164 tons, 9, 000 HP, 15 Knots.
Sailed from London on her maiden voyage 26th September 1922 for Sydney and Brisbane. Stripped an L.P. turbine in March of 1923. Had trouble with stowaways when in the Indian Ocean and had to put into Colombo on the 20th of June 1928. Stowaways attempted to set the ship on fire but were removed from Jervis Bay by an armed Marine Guard from H.M.S. Slavol. She was sold to Shaw & Albion Co. Ltd in March of 1933. Seriously damaged by fire when in Newcastle, New South Wales in May of 1936. Taken over by the Admiralty for conversion to an A.M.C. in August of 1939 and fitted out at Hawthorn Leslie. In collision with H.M.S. Sable in thick fog when in the North Sea in November of 1939, the latter had to beach. Sunk when escorting convoy HX 94 on the 5th of November 1940 by Admiral Scheer, Latitude 52.48 North, Longitude 32.15 West.
But for the heroism and devotion to duty of both the crew of Jervis Bay and Beaverford the losses to HX84 would have been much greater and their efforts ensured that the remainder of the convoy were able to escape under the cover of darkness.
Kindly Sent by Jim Franklin on behalf of Downhills Central School.