british Ulster Steamship Co. - G. Heyn & Sons Ltd. - Head Line SS Kenbane Head [+1940]
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nationality british
purpose transport
type cargo ship
subtype/class WWI B-class standard cargo ship (br.)
WWI B-class standard cargo ship (br.) Balzac SS (+1941)
propulsion steam
date built 1919
is nickname no
weight (tons) 5225  grt
dimensions 127.4 x 15.8 x 8.53 m
material steel
engine triple expansion engines, single shaft, 1 screw
power 3000  i.h.p.
speed 11  knots
yard no. 445
about the loss
cause lost gunfire - shelled
date lost 05/11/1940  [dd/mm/yyyy]
casualties  max.23rank: 629
about people
Workman, Clark & Co. Ltd., Belfast
engine by
Workman, Clark & Co. Ltd., Belfast
last owner
[1]Ulster Steamship Co. - G. Heyn & Sons Ltd. - Head Line, Belfast
SS Kenbane Head [+1940]
period 1919 ~ 1940
prev. owners
[2]TSC - The Shipping Controller (WWI), London
SS Kenbane Head
period 1919 ~ 1919
captain Milner T.F.
no. of crew 45
about the wreck
depth (m.) 2200 max. / -- min. (m)
war grave
[2] Hocking C., Dictionary of Disasters at Sea during the Age of Steam
entered by Claes Johnny
entered 05/02/2009
last update Lettens Jan
last update 13/08/2011
[1] Lettens Jan13/08/2011
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copyright: Frost Family
 copyright: Frost Family  copyright: UK Hydrographic Office copyright: Unknown - onbekend - inconnu 
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Lettens Jan13/08/2011CONVOY HX-84

The German battlecruiser Admiral Scheer sailed on 14 October 1940 and her first target was convoy HX-84 from Halifax Nova Scotia, which had been identified by B-Dienst radio intercepts. Admiral Scheer's seaplane located the convoy on 5 November 1940 and, believing it to be unescorted, Admiral Scheer closed in.

However, as the convoy appeared over the horizon, one vessel sailed out to challenge her. The HMS Jervis Bay , commanded by Captain Edward Fegen, was an armed merchant ship and was the only defence for the convoy. Owing to insufficient Allied warship numbers at this early stage in the war, convoys received destroyer escorts only on the last three days of their journey.

HMS Jervis Bay with her eight 6 in (15 cm) guns was hopelessly outclassed, but the German ship had to deal with her before pursuing the convoy, which had already begun to scatter and make smoke. Admiral Scheer succeeded in sinking six other ships, Kenbane Head, Beaverford, Fresno City, Maidan, Mopan, Trewellard and setting the tanker San Demetrio on fire (later salvaged).

The damage inflicted by Admiral Scheer would have been far greater, had it not been for the sacrifice of courageous HMS Jervis Bay and her heroic crew.
Frost Elizabeth28/11/2012My grandfather, Capt George Todd Pickford, was the first Commander of the Kenbane Head. He worked for the Ulster Steamship Company for around 24 years. He sailed her in 1919 from Belfast to New Orleans, and on the return journey had to stop off in May 1919 at Newport News in Virginia to refill the bunkers because there was a coal strike on. He was taken ill with peritonitis at the time, was takenashore, and died in hospital there.

Because he died ashore, and not on the ship, the company refused to give his wife a widow's pension. My father's Uncle, Lord Sterndale, who was at the time the Master of the Rolls, tried to intervene and persuade them to give her the pension, but they still refused. I have his letter among our family archives. His widow had six children, although by then my father was 19 and earning his living in Spanish Honduras. Nonetheless, she was left with no income, despite her husband working for the company for so long - including during WWI. A book has been written about the sinking of the ship, called "Sinking of the Kenbane Head" by Sam McAughtry. His brother was on board when it was attacked during WWII died when it sank.
Claes Johnny05/02/2009Following the engagement with Jervis Bay engaged the SCHEER caught up with KENBANE HEAD and sunk her with the loss of 23 men. Capt. Milner was among the survivors.
Lettens Jan28/08/2008UK hydro member
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