Fresno City (2)

With the recent attention to the involvement of the British Merchant Navy in WW2, particularly with regard to the Arctic Convoys, it seems quite incredible now, to realise how strong the UK’s shipbuilding industry remained throughout the six year conflict; Smiths alone, took delivery of eleven vessels from the North East during the period, and additionally operated five British built “Empire” ships that were subsequently bought into the fleet once the hostilities were over: four other “Empire” ships went to other owners.

Continuing looking at the maiden voyage compliment of these wartime ships, below is a list of Officers for the Fresno City (2), that sailed from Sunderland on 12th June 1942. Fresno City (1) and (2) were both involved in WW2, and neither survived. In fact, Fresno City (2) was sunk less than a year after sailing on her maiden voyage.

From the date she left Sunderland, to her final demise, ten months later, on 12th April 1943, the ship did not touch UK waters. She did, however perform an amazing, near circumnavigation of the globe. In that time, she travelled more than 40,000 nm. From Sunderland, after making her own way to Southend to join up with a coastal convoy, she remained in convoys until 26th June, when she sailed independently from Glasgow to ECUS. There she loaded for the Persian Gulf and the Sub-Continent, with calls at Trinidad and South Africa en route. She then back loaded in India for the UK: general from Bombay and manganese ore from Marmagoa. Amazingly, her route was by both Capes and the Panama Canal, a voyage of almost 15,000 miles, albeit with bunker calls!! From Cristobal she proceeded to Guantanamo in Convoy ZG 25 and Guantanamo to New York in Convoy GN48, arriving on 28th March 1943.

At New York she took on a consignment of Evaporated Milk, and sailed for the UK on 1st April in Convoy HX232; one of 51 allied merchant ships; (Since September 1942, the eastbound convoys were sailing out of New York rather than Halifax). At about 0445 on 12th April, south east of Cape Farewell, the Fresno City was torpedoed by U-563. She was not sunk however, and she struggled on until 1340 before being sunk by U-706.

Her full complement of 45 Officers and men survived and were picked up by Flower Class Corvette HMS Azalea. Two other vessels had been sunk by U-563, and their survivors were also picked up by HMS Azalea. Everyone was landed at Gourock. A fourth ship was also sunk from HX232.

Unfortunately, Fresno City (2) is one of the few ships that we do not have a photograph of. However, this is not surprising. Because of the strict security in place during WW2, it was not possible to photograph Merchant Ships, so it is rare today to come across any such images.

Master:- Randolph Alfred Lawson
Chief Officer:- George Harvey
Second Officer:- George Baker
Third Officer:- Anthony O’Brian
1st.Wireless Operator:- Roger Hazzard
2nd.Wireless Operator:- Robert Blake
3rd.Wireless Operator:- Leonard Ibbotson
Chief Engineer:- Lionel Wainwright
Second Engineer:- John Grant
Third Engineer:- Swan Sinclair
Fourth Engineer:- William Stephenson
Jnr.Engineer:- George Young
Jnr.Engineer:- James Rutter
Steward:- George Baker
Apprentice:- Sydney Gilliat
Apprentice:- James Edmonds
Apprentice:- James McGowan
Apprentice:- Desmond Baker

Mike Jones. Posted on the Forum 08 March 2013.

Disclaimer: The statements on this page are the views of the person who posted them on the forum. The events took place many years ago and in most cases rely on those people's memories, and so we cannot guarantee the accuracy although every effort is made to check it.

Fresno City. Page [1]
Memories from RSL staff. Page No. [1] [2]
Official Loss Report. Page No. [1] [2]