SS City of Oxford

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Name: SS City of Oxford
Owner: Ellerman and Papayanni Lines
Builder: Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd., Newcastle Upon Tyne
Completed: 1926
Fate: Sunk on 15 June 1942
General characteristics
Tonnage: 2,759 tons
Length: 102 m (334.64566929133 ft)
Beam: 14 m (45.9317585302 ft)
Draught: 6 ft 40 in (2.8 m)
Propulsion: 3 cyl triple expansion engine power
306 n.h.p.
Speed: 10 knots
Crew: 89

The SS City of Oxford was a steam merchant ship built in 1926 by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd., in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and sunk by a German submarine on 15 June 1942. Displacing 2,759 tons she entered service with the Ellerman and Papayanni subsidiary of Ellerman Lines, and served during the Second World War.

On her final voyage under Master Alfred Norbury, she was in "position No.54 in the convoy, being the last ship in the 5th column",[1] part of Convoy HG 84 [2] travelling from Lisbon to Garston, and had called at Gibraltar on 9 June to join with the 36th Escort Group under the command of Captain "Johnnie" Walker. She was carrying two thousand tons of iron ore and three hundred tons of cork [3]

The convoy was sighted approximately 300 nautical miles to the west of Cape Finisterre early in the morning of 15 June 1942 by U-552, under Kapitänleutnant Erich Topp. Following a preliminary skirmish around 0400 hrs, Topp fired three torpedoes at the convoy between 0432 and 0434 hrs. The City of Oxford was the second of two ships to be struck [4] ; the first being the SS Thurso.

According to an oral history recounted by Cpt. "Johnnie" Walker, following the Thurso‍ '​s sinking:

Darkness had time to close in tightly again before the SS City of Oxford shuddered to a standstill under the impact of an internal explosion caused when the torpedo pierced her hull and detonated inside a cargo hold. She sank while the ships following her were altering course round her heavily listing hulk.[5]

One crew member was lost in the sinking, the 43 survivors were picked up by the rescue ship Copeland before being transferred to the corvette HMS Marigold, and then the Bittern-class sloop HMS Stork [6] and landed at Liverpool.


  2. ^ Convoy HG-84, accessed 2 Jan 2012.
  3. ^ City of Oxford Cargo Ship 1926-1942 the Wreck Site, accessed 2 Jan 2012.
  4. ^ City of Oxford (British Steam Merchant). Ships Hit By German U-Boats During WWII,, accessed 2 Jan 2012.
  5. ^ Captain John Frederick Walker: Splice the Mainbrace Part Three An Archive of WW2 People's Memories - Written By the Public, Gathered By the BBC, accessed 2 Jan 2012
  6. ^ HMS Stork, sloop Naval-History-Net, accessed 2 Jan 2012

Coordinates: 43°41′N 18°2′W / 43.683°N 18.033°W / 43.683; -18.033