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Remembered Today:

The Manchester Trader and U65


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I discovered recently that my great-uncle, William Russell Stobo, Chief Engineer, and his captain,F D Struss, were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross after their ship, The Manchester Trader, engaged in a running battle with Submarine U65 in the Mediterranean and was sunk off Pantelleria on 4 June 1917. I haven't been able to find out much more than this, other than a reference to the crew having been taken prisoner, and I wonder if anybody can provide any more detailed information. I never knew my great-uncle or indeed his brother John Stobo, my grand-father, who was also a ship's engineer with Manchester Liners. I know absolutely nothing about his war service. Unfortunately, I have no idea what happened to the DSC medal.All those in the family who might have known are no longer with us, although I never heard it mentioned.



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Details from U Boat.net here (showing only one POW):- http://www.uboat.net/wwi/ships_hit/3866.html

London Gazette here:- http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/30227/supplements/8208

The one casualty appears to have been an RN Rating, Probably gun's crew, if so MANCHESTER TRADER was a Defensively Armed Merchant Ship (DAMS):-

WILLIAMS, Francis A, Leading Seaman (RFR B 1997), 188556 (Po)

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Manchester Trader was sunk after a four-hour long gunnery action with the German submarine. The sole prisoner taken was F. Steffano, the steamer's second mate. Per the German official history (Handelskrieg mit U-booten, Vol IV, page 348), the reason the steamer's master wasn't also taken prisoner is that the survivors had incorrectly claimed that he had been killed during the fire fight.

I can get you a scan of U 65's Kriegstagebuch (KTB, war diary) describing the action. From the British side, it seems that the action is described at length in Volume III of The Merchant Navy.

Best wishes,


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  • 9 years later...

Hello Patrick,

William Russell Stobo was my grandfather. I have his DSC medal and ribbon, still in their presentation case. The medal is engraved: W.R.Stobo Chief Engineer Nov 14th 1917.

I also have the London Gazette of Friday 10 August 1917 in which the award was announced, a page of the Times of Thursday 15 November 1917 on which William's name is listed, among many other names, and various letters, including one from the Chairman of Manchester Lines dated July 23rd 1917 which, as well as telling him of the award, also says that his proportion of the sum to be paid to those on board the Trader is £14/7/6.

Kind regards, John Stobo

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • Admin

Welcome to the forum. @pjac49 has visited the forum recently. You can contact him off forum by using the private messaging facility. Click on his username and then on the envelope icon. 

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