british Andrew Weir & Co., Bank Line, Inver Transport & Trading, Inver Tankers, British-Mexican Petroleum,Compagnie Venture, Lago Shipping SS Testbank (I) (+1943)
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  Details  
 
general
nationality british
purpose transport
type cargo ship
propulsion steam
date built 1937
is nickname no
status
unknown
details
weight (tons) 5083  grt
dimensions 133.9 x 17.3 x 7.6 m
material steel
engine 1 triple expansion engine
power 524  n.h.p.
speed 12  knots
yard no. 510
call sign
GDDZ  
GDDZ
about the loss
cause lost explosion
other reasons air raid
date lost 02/12/1943  [dd/mm/yyyy]
casualties  max.70rank: 570
about people
builder
Readhead John & Sons Ltd., South Shields
engine by
Readhead John & Sons Ltd., South Shields
owner
Andrew Weir & Co., Bank Line, Inver Transport & Trading, Inver Tankers, British-Mexican Petroleum,Compagnie Venture, Lago Shipping, Glasgow & London
captain
no. of crew 75
about the wreck
depth (m.)
orientation
protected
war grave
updates
entered by Lettens Jan
entered 30/01/2011
last update Vleggeert Nico
last update 19/12/2012
 
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  History  
 
Lettens Jan30/01/2011The British merchant Testbank, owned by Andrew Weir's Bank Line, sank at Bari on 2nd December, 1943 when the nearby ammunition ship John Harvey, loaded with mustard gas bombs, exploded.
Lettens Jan30/01/2011ADRIATIC, 2nd December 1943

German planes bomb Allied shipping at Bari, Italy, sinking and damaging a number of U.S. freighters moored there. John M. Schofield and Grace Abbott are damaged by flying fragments (the latter also by a dud bomb).

The former suffers no casualties among the 44-man merchant complement, 28-man Armed Guard and an indeterminate number of British Army stevedores on board to work cargo while the latter has only one merchant seaman wounded from among her 41-man civilian and 28-man Armed Guard complement. ...

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ref. used: 
 Cressman R. J., Official Chronology of the U.S. Navy in WWII
Lettens Jan30/01/2011BARI BOMBING DISASTER, 2 December 1943

The German air attack on Bari, Italy opened at 1925 hours 2nd December 1943, with bombers (105 Ju-88s) hitting allied merchants unloading supplies for the forces engaged in the battle for Rome.

Fire on ammunition ships John Harvey and bomb hits on John L. Motley caused massive detonations which shattered windows seven miles away. A bulk gasoline pipeline and supply were severed and the gushing fuel ignited engulfing other ships.

Seventeen merchant ships laden with nearly 35,000 tons of cargo were destroyed (5 American, 5 British, 3 Norwegian, 2 Italian, 2 Polish, with another 7 vessels heavily damaged). The port area was closed for three weeks and was only back in operation by February 1944. ...

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About Owners
 
Andrew Weir & Co., Bank Line, Inver Transport & Trading, Inver Tankers, British-Mexican Petroleum,Compagnie Venture, Lago Shipping, Glasgow & London

Andrew Weir entered the ship owning business in 1885 in Glasgow when he purchased the barque SV Willowbank and eventually controlled one of the largest fleets of sailing ships under the British flag. In 1896 the company purchased their first steamship, but it was 1912 before the last sailing ship was sold. In 1905 the company was registered as Bank Line and the head office was moved to London, although the ships continued to be registered in Glasgow.

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About Builders
 Readhead John & Sons Ltd., South Shields
Readhead and Softley (1865~1872)
John Readhead & Co. (1872~1888)
Readhead & Sons (1888~1909)
John Readhead & Sons Ltd. (1909~)
 
 
  History  
 
Lettens Jan30/01/2011ADRIATIC, 2nd December 1943

German planes bomb Allied shipping at Bari, Italy, sinking and damaging a number of U.S. freighters moored there. John M. Schofield and Grace Abbott are damaged by flying fragments (the latter also by a dud bomb).

The former suffers no casualties among the 44-man merchant complement, 28-man Armed Guard and an indeterminate number of British Army stevedores on board to work cargo while the latter has only one merchant seaman wounded from among her 41-man civilian and 28-man Armed Guard complement.

Samuel J. Tilden is hit by two bombs and catches fire; 17 of the 209 embarked troops perish as the soldiers abandon ship. The 41-man merchant crew and the 28-man Armed Guard remain at their posts to battle the blaze that eventually burns out of control and forces her crew off the ship. Ten of the ship's civilian complement die in the conflagration.

John L. Motley, carrying a cargo of ammunition, is hit by at least three bombs; direct hits and near-misses set nearby John Bascom afire; four of 44 merchant seamen perish as do 10 of 28 Armed Guard sailors. The survivors, in addition to one passenger, abandon ship as the flames burn out of control. Her mooring lines burnt through, John Bascom drifts near the burning John L. Motley, which explodes, killing all on board (42 of the 46-man merchant complement and 22 of the 29-man Armed Guard) (the only survivors are on shore at the time of the attack and thus escape the fate of their shipmates).

Debris from John L. Motley damages gasoline tanker Aroostook (AOG-14), 41°06'N, 16°52'E, and sets fire to Lyman Abbott. John Harvey, moored originally between John L. Motley and Joseph Wheeler, is showered by burning debris, and catches fire herself, drifting into the harbor where she explodes, showering debris on the unfortunate Lyman Abbott.

Tragically, John Harvey's cargo includes mustard gas which subsequently kills and injures many of the local inhabitants, in addition to harming many among the 42 merchant seamen and 29 Armed Guards on board Lyman Abbott. Consequently, 2 of the ship's civilian crew and one Armed Guard sailor, in addition to the ship's sole passenger, succumb to shrapnel wounds or mustard gas burns.

Joseph Wheeler is hit by one bomb that touches off her ammunition cargo and the ship disintegrates, killing all on board: 15 of 41 merchant seamen and 13 of the 28-man Armed Guard, in addition to the single passenger, perish in the cataclysmic blast. Fifteen Armed Guard sailors and 26 merchant sailors escape the fate of their shipmates only because they were away from the ship, on shore, when she explodes.
ref. used: 
 Cressman R. J., Official Chronology of the U.S. Navy in WWII

Lettens Jan30/01/2011BARI BOMBING DISASTER, 2 December 1943

The German air attack on Bari, Italy opened at 1925 hours 2nd December 1943, with bombers (105 Ju-88s) hitting allied merchants unloading supplies for the forces engaged in the battle for Rome.

Fire on ammunition ships John Harvey and bomb hits on John L. Motley caused massive detonations which shattered windows seven miles away. A bulk gasoline pipeline and supply were severed and the gushing fuel ignited engulfing other ships.

Seventeen merchant ships laden with nearly 35,000 tons of cargo were destroyed (5 American, 5 British, 3 Norwegian, 2 Italian, 2 Polish, with another 7 vessels heavily damaged). The port area was closed for three weeks and was only back in operation by February 1944.

In total, 800 crew and civilians lost their lifes in the fire, explosions and poisoning by mustard gas that was on board John Harvey.

List of ships lost:

ALLIED MERCHANTS

John Harvey (US Liberty, 7177 gt)
John L. Motley (US Liberty, 7176 gt)
John Bascom (US Liberty, 7176 gt)
Joseph Wheeler (US Liberty, 7176 gt)
Samuel J. Tilden (US Liberty, 7176 gt)
Fort Athabasca (Canadian, 7132 gt)
Fort Lajoie (Canadian, 7134 gt )
Testbank (British, 5083 gt)
Lars Kruse (British, 1897 gt)
Devon Coast (British, 646 gt)
Bollsta (Norwegian, 1832 gt)
Norlom (Norwegian, 6412 gt)
Lom (Norwegian, 1268 gt)
Lwow (Polish, 1409 gt)
Puck (Polish, 1065 gt)
Frosinone (Italian, 5202 gt)
Barletta (Italian, 1975 gt)

OTHER:
Inaffondabile (Italian)
 
 
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