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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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