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Christopher Medland Merchant Navy

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9 years 4 months ago - 8 years 9 months ago #1197 by davemed
davemed created the topic: Christopher Medland Merchant Navy
Merchant Navy Service ( 1922 to 1960 )

Submitted by:

David Medland : son of Christopher Medland

Christopher Medland first served in The Merchant Navy in 1922. In 1929 during the Great Depression Christopher found himself berthed in North America. He was unable to sign on a ship to get home to the United Kingdom due to the fact that there were very few positions vacant because of the depression. He worked for the Ford Motor Company for two years during which time he sent money home to his family.

He signed on with many different Shipping Lines during his service with the Merchant Navy and went all over the world including South America, the West Indies, Africa and all points of the compass.

Then came World War II in 1939. Christopher was still in the Merchant Navy and because of the threat of marauding U-boats the convoy system was organised in the hope that this would mean less merchant ships would be sunk - safety in numbers !! At this time Christopher was a fireman / donkeyman in the engine rooms of the ships he sailed in.

While Christopher was sailing with the convoys the Luftwaffe were bombing Liverpool on a regular basis as it was the the main port on the West Coast for the convoys to berth when they returned from Canada and America. Christopher worried about his family that lived in Liverpool 8 ( Toxteth ) in Violet Street.

Christopher was torpedoed three times while in the Atlantic on convoys and was lucky to escape from the engine rooms on all three occasions.

In 1942 / 1943 when the German U-boat wolf packs were at their height, a convoy Christopher’s ship was part of, was returning from America when the convoy Commodore ordered them to scatter. The ship Christopher was on thought they had been torpedoed after a loud crashing sound. The ship though damaged at the bow was not sinking as she was still seaworthy. They carried on to Liverpool. When the ship arrived in Mersey Bay waiting to dock a small ship arrived and she was escorted to the dock. On the dockside stood an Admiral of the Royal Navy waiting to meet the Captain and crew. After the order to scatter had been given, the ship had actually collided with a partly submerged U-boat and sank it.

Christopher was declared unfit for further service on 19th December 1942. The reason was : he was the on SS Nicoya that was torpedoed by a U-Boat. see details of U553 below.

the SS Nicoya was later lost on 05-11-42, sunk by U-553 with the loss of six of her crew. She was the first ship to be torpedoed in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, to open that area of attack by the U-boats. At the time she was sailing alone.

* a 3-island vessel with no derrick posts and masts atop winch houses
* listed at 5,400 gross tons, 3,300 net tons, 6,300 deadweight tons
* 400 feet long, 51 foot beam, 26.9-foot draft
* coal-fired reciprocating steam engine driving a single shaft
* built 1929; rated at 13.5 knots; she had accomodations for 12 passengers

During his service as a Merchant seaman he led an interesting life and experienced many happy and sad episodes over the years.

After leaving the Merchant Navy he worked on a dredger at Garston docks Liverpool. In 1953 he applied for a job at ICI in Northwich Cheshire. At that time ICI had an agreement with the local council to allocate council houses to new ICI employees. He was allocated a house in Barnton. (a small village on the outskirts of Northwich) Consequently the family moved to Northwich. He first worked in the boiler rooms which generated the power for the ICI factories at Winnington and Wallerscote. At a later date a vacancy occured for deck hand and cook on the MV Polythene, a coaster belonging to ICI. The Polythene travelled up the River Weaver to Runcorn then through the River Mersey to Glasgow and then returned to Northwich. This journey was undertaken on a weekly basis. Christopher continued in this occupation for a few years until he had a bad heart attack. When he was fully recovered ICI gave him a job in the mail room of their Northwich office.

Christopher retired from ICI and then went to work at the Westminster Bank in Northwich as a customer usher.

This is the story of the life of a man who sailed the world from 1922 until 1942 when he was no longer considered fit enough to be sailing the seven seas. He served his country during World War 11 by sailing in the Atlantic convoys. He was awarded the following medals The 1939 - 1945 Star, The Atlantic Star and the World War 11 Medal. He worked hard all his life and cared for his family. All his children are very proud of him.

Christopher Medland passed away on the 17th January 1982.

Please Visit :

Details of the sinking of the U-Boat 553 :


Ordered 25 Sep 1939
Laid down 21 Nov 1939 Blohm & Voss, Hamburg (werk 529)
Launched 7 Nov 1940
Commissioned 23 Dec 1940 Kptlt. Karl Thurmann (Knights Cross)
23 Dec 1940 - 20 Jan 1943 KrvKpt. Karl Thurmann (Knights Cross)
10 patrols
23 Dec 1940 - 1 Apr 1941 7. Flottille (training)
1 Apr 1941 - 30 Nov 1942 7. Flottille (front boat)
1 Dec 1942 - 20 Jan 1943 3. Flottille (front boat)
Successes 12 ships sunk for a total of 61,390 GRT
1 warship sunk for a total of 925 tons
2 ships damaged for a total of 15,273 GRT


Missing, presumed sunk, in the mid North Atlantic after going missing in January 1943. 47 dead (all hands lost).


Every day is a new day.

Last Edit: 8 years 9 months ago by davemed. Reason: Additions

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