SS Empire Byron
|Owner:||Ministry of War Transport|
|Operator:||Haldin & Philipps Ltd|
|Port of registry:||Sunderland|
|Builder:||Bartram & Sons Ltd, Sunderland|
|Launched:||6 October 1941|
|Out of service:||5 July 1942|
|Fate:||Torpedoed and sunk by U-703|
|Length:||416 ft 8 in (127.00 m)|
|Beam:||56 ft 5 in (17.20 m)|
|Depth:||34 ft (10.36 m)|
|Propulsion:||1 x triple expansion steam engine|
|Crew:||49, plus 19 DEMS gunners|
Empire Byron was a 6,645 GRT cargo ship which was built in 1941 for the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT). Completed in January 1942, she had a short service career. Empire Byron was torpedoed and sunk on 5 July 1942 by German submarine U-703 while a member of Convoy PQ 17.
The ship was 416 feet 8 inches (127.00 m) long, with a beam of 56 feet 5 inches (17.20 m) and a depth of 34 feet (10.36 m). She was propelled by a triple expansion steam engine which had cylinders of 23.5 inches (60 cm), 38 inches (97 cm) and 66 inches (170 cm) diameter by 48 inches (120 cm) stroke. The engine was built by North East Marine Engine Co (1938) Ltd, Newcastle upon Tyne. She had a GRT of 6,645 and a NRT of 4,796.
- PQ 12
- QP 9
- PQ 17
Convoy PQ 17 departed Reykjavík on 27 June 1942 and scattered at sea on 5 July. Empire Byron had started her voyage from Hull. She was carrying a cargo of 15 aircraft, 30 tanks, 2,455 tons of military stores and six vehicles. On 4 July, Empire Byron was hit by a torpedo dropped by a Heinkel He 111 of II/KG 26 and was damaged, straggling behind the convoy. at 08:27 (German time) on 5 July, German submarine U-703 fired another torpedo, which sank Empire Byron with the loss of six crew and a passenger at Coordinates: . A second passenger was taken prisoner. He was landed at Narvik, Norway on 15 July. The remaining 62 survivors were rescued by HMS Dianella and landed at Archangelsk on 16 July.
The ship's captain, John Wharton MBE, and the 3rd Radio Officer, R Phillips, were each awarded a Lloyd's War Medal for Bravery at Sea for their actions in the sinking of Empire Byron. In the case of Phillips, the award was posthumous. Those lost on Empire Byron are commemorated at the Tower Hill Memorial, London.
Official Numbers and Code Letters
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- "Lloyd’s War Medal for Bravery at Sea (Part Two)". BBC. Retrieved 1 January 2010.
- "Ship Index A-F". Brian Watson. Retrieved 20 May 2011.