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01dGobbo
20th March 2009, 21:54
Hi

At about 0600 on 8 Sep 1940 the SS Empire Bison, an elderly 5000 ton tramp steamer, was attacked by a German aircraft. The position of the attack was 55' 17N 18' 03W, which is about 278 nautical miles West of Ireland; the ship was three days into a voyage from Liverpool to Halifax, Canada.

A witness to the attack wrote:

"The Sunday after we left at six in the morning a Jerry spotted us. He glided in from the stern. The first thing we knew he opened fire with his machine gun and shot down our wireless aerial. .... He dropped three bombs astern trying to hit our rudder and propeller. Then he dropped two amidships,one fell between the port lifeboats and the other opposite the ???? bunker. They were close because they have caused two big indents in the ship's side. a good job they did not go through or they would have set fire to our fuel oil. Then he dropped three bombs close to our bow. thank Heaven he did not get a hit. He cirled round firing small cannon shells and using his machine gun ...."

There was no description of the aircraft type but a newspaper report originating in the USA and reproduced in a West Hartlepool (UK) local paper referred to a twin engined bomber.

I have made enquiries about this on RootsChat.com and on mercantilemarine.org and one respondent suggested that I post on this board. What I would like to know is if there are any German records of this incident and if so what was the aircraft type and squadron and how do I get hold of a copy of the record?

All the best

Gobbo

Chris Goss
22nd March 2009, 13:41
A FW 200 of I/KG 40 took off at 0008 hrs on a weather recce & anti-shipping mission & reported dropping 4 x SC250 & 12 x SC 50 bombs on the "Empire Scout" in location 25W/5520. Would this match?

01dGobbo
22nd March 2009, 22:03
Hi Chris

Thank you very much for this suggestion. The Empire Scout was a captured German ship, about half the tonnage of the Empire Bison, a ship bought from the Americans. I do not have much knowledge of the movements of the Empire Scout - she was in a convoy that arrived in UK about 31 Aug 1940 so it is just possible that she was turned round and dispatched about 5 Sep 1940 in the same convoy as the Empire Bison and perhaps also became a straggler.

Please forgive my ignorance but I do not understand the positional data "location 25W/5520".

I was interested that you report the FW 200 as carrying more than 5 bombs: I was worried by my sailor's report of 8 bombs as I had thought hitherto that the FW 200 only carried 5.

All the best

Gobbo

PS The Empire Scout is not listed as a part of convoy OB 209, see http://www.convoyweb.org.uk/ob2/index.html?ob.php?convoy=209!~obmain

Chris Goss
22nd March 2009, 22:58
I guess they could have mistaken identity of ship & the numerics are the German Planquadrat location. I would suggest it is the same attack as on your ship

01dGobbo
23rd March 2009, 21:16
Hi Chris

I think that I agree with you. The ship's radio aerial was destroyed in the first pass so it would not be able to transmit an SOS and consequently the aircrew would have to try to read the name. The Empire Bison had not had that name for much more than two months and it may not have been known to the intelligence officer debriefing the crew. However just to be sure I do need to try to check on the movements of the Empire Scout.

I have struggled to understand the Luftwaffe Gradnetzmeldevefahren as explained on

http://www.stormbirds.com/eagles/

and I think that location 25W/5520 is roughly 54 N, 15 W, which is close enough to the ship position estimate of 55 N, 18 W (at 0600 the ship would be at least 18 hours beyond its most recent positional fix). Was 0008 hrs the time by GMT or an hour ahead of GMT? If the ship was adjusting its time to keep in step with latitude then I guess the plane was 6-8 hours into its flight when the attack started.

Please do you have any further information about the flight?

Thank you very much for your help.

All the best

Gobbo

Chris Goss
23rd March 2009, 21:42
0008 hrs would have been 2 hours ahead of GMT, one hour ahead of BST. I am afraid that this is all I have on the flight

01dGobbo
24th March 2009, 21:41
Hi Chris

Thank you for all your help.

I have managed to get a copy of the movement card for the Empire Scout from the National Archive (Documents on line BT 389/11 image 697/700). This shows that the ship docked at Bristol on 1 Sep 1940 and did not leave the port until 14 Sep, when it moved across to Cardiff. Thus it could not have been out in the Atlantic on 8 Sep and bombed by the Condor. This just confirms your opinion that the ship bombed was indeed the Empire Bison.

Is the information about the flight in an archive that I can access?

All the best

Gobbo

Tony Kearns
24th March 2009, 23:15
Hi,
The Irish Military DRS for that date reported that "The SS Empire Bison (British) was attacked by aircraft 300 miles west of Malin Head at 06.10 hrs. on the 8th instant" HTH
Tony K

Chris Goss
25th March 2009, 10:03
This was a one line report in the Luftflotte 3 Einzelmeldung

Tony Kearns
25th March 2009, 11:48
This was a one line report in the Luftflotte 3 Einzelmeldung

Interesting. The Irish report would have come from either Valentia or Malin Head radio stations. These stations re transmitted the information and it seems to have been picked up by the German radio system as well as the British.