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Mr. W. Allen and his son Frank collected about six thousand photos of ships over a period of 60 years. The collection was saved from obscurity or destruction by a group of dedicated volunteers who wanted to make it available to everyone with an interest in Merchant Navy history. This was the first part of the Benjidog website and went live in 2007.
The Allens catalogued most of the photographs under shipping companies and recorded basic details of the ships on the backs. They did their best in the days before the Internet but we have found many errors and gaps in their data. Over time the site is being enhanced with more accurate information and I am cleaning up the images. These enhancements started in 2016 and it will be many years before they are completed.
The passenger liner Athenia was torpedoed on 3 September 1939 - the very day that France and Great Britain declared war on Germany. No warning was given and the submarine took no action to help the surviving passengers. The Nazi regime blamed Churchill - not that anyone believed them; the full truth emerged during the Nuremberg Trials of major war criminals that took place in 1945-6.
In 1939, the public had to rely on newspapers and the radio for information so I decided to use contemporary press cuttings and witness statements to provide a picture of what ordinary people would have known at the time. I also have included detailed information about preparations for the International War Crimes Tribunal and the evidence of the fate of Athenia from the trial transcripts.
There are still survivors alive and I have been in touch with some of them. You can read about their reunions.
This section includes histories of many British and Commonwealth battleships and battle cruisers including facts and figures about the ships and their armament, photos and information about service histories.
Most of the research for this section was done by my friend Steve Woodward.
This is a new home for various resources about British India Steam Navigation Company Ltd. that were originally published on the MerchantNavyOfficers.com website which ceased operation in August 2014 following the sad loss of its creator Fred Waddington. I have re-published as much of the content as possible here with the agreement of Fred Waddington's widow Bobbie to ensure that it is not lost.
This is a celebration of Court Line ships and is dedicated to those who sailed in them - particularly during the dark days of World War 2. I hope that reading the history of these ships will encourage you to share my deep respect for the sacrifices made the seamen of the Merchant Navy during times of war who have never been given the official recognition they deserve. Without the supplies brought by convoys and independent voyages, Britain would not have survived. During WW2, these men ran the gauntlet of lurking U-boat wolf-packs and many ships and seamen were lost.
I am particularly grateful to my late friend Stan Mayes who inspired me to undertake this work and for the information and photographs he provided about his trips on Dallington Court; many others have contributed information.
This section is about P&O's ten 'M Class' Passenger ships Moldavia, Mongolia, Marmora, Macedonia, Mooltan, Morea, Malwa, Mantua, Maloja and Medina that were built before WW1 - principally to service the mail route between London and Australia.
My interest in merchant shipping stems from my grandfather who was a steward on Morea and sent postcards back home to my grandmother who kept them in a box. I loved looking at the postcards as a child and still have them safely in a folder. I started gathering information about the 'M Class' vessels nearly 20 years ago and have only just got around to putting my research online.
I came across John Milligen's company whilst researching a member of his family and could find nothing about his shipping ventures on the internet apart from a few glancing references. I also discovered to my surprise that one of the ship models I was given in 2018 was a Milligen collier.
I may not have found all the Milligen ships, and I am sure there is much more to be learned about the history of the company, but at least it's a start.
This section contains the histories of various ships that are either referred to elsewhere on this website, or that were found to be of interest for other reasons. I have included facts and figures about the ships, photos, and information about service histories to the extent that I have been able to discover them.
This is the first comprehensive history of the beautiful 1903 steam yacht Stephanotis and her owners. In her latter years she was a training ship based at the King Edward VII Nautical College in Stepney (King Ted's) under her later name Wendorian.
There is information here about the vessel herself, but most of my effort has been spent in discovering her various owners and researching their lives. I was particularly interested in why her various owners purchased her, what use they made of her, and where they got the money to purchase such an expensive toy.
It has taken several years to track them all down and in the course of my research I have explored the lives of grocers and brewers, sugar refiners and cotton manufacturers, a revolting foreign Duke who spent most of his life killing animals, a P.G. Wodehouse 'drone', whose saving grace was to serve his country in WW1, an organiser of Commonwealth Games, a surgeon who lost his life in WW2, and a collector of cars whose sister was a rodeo performer. It has been quite astonishing!