RFA Beechleaf


Previous name:                      Olnos
Subsequent name:                 Limicana, Ch N Katan, Stanbridge    Eurofeld

Official Number:                     139200

Class:                                      Emergency Wartime Construction LEAF Group Freighting Tanker

Pennant No:                           Y7.154

Laid down:
Builder:                                   Richardson Duck & Co Ltd, Stockton on Tees
Launched:                              26 October 1916
Into Service:                           8 March 1917
Out of service:                        1920
Fate:                                       Sold out of service commercially


Items of historic interest involving this ship: -


Background Data:   During WW1, eighteen vessels of varying types were acquired second hand and converted or purchased and converted while on the stocks, or in a few cases building as tankers. Some were converted after serving with the Dummy Battleship Squadron by the insertion of cylindrical tanks in their holds. All were originally intended to operate as RFA’s, however owing to reasons of international law and the operation of the US Neutrality Act, these oilers became Mercantile Fleet Auxiliaries being renamed with the LEAF nomenclature and placed under civilian management although operationally they remained under Admiralty control


22 October 1916 launched by Richardson, Duck & Co Ltd, Stockton as Yard Nr: 649 named RFA OLMOS for the Shipping Controller

November 1916 placed under management of Lane & MacAndrew Ltd, London and renamed BEECHLEAF. Base port Devonport

8 March 1917 completed as an oiler transport

26 May 1917 arrived River Clyde

31 May 1917 an Admiralty report on this ship showed she had completed only one round trip from the UK to Port Arthur, Texas during which she had suffered a serious defect to her engine with a low pressure cylinder cracking  resulting in her having to stay 16 days at Port Arthur (including loading time) and 12 days on the River Clyde for fitting of a new cylinder - source MT23/808 at the TNA

7 June 1917 sailed the River Clyde

14 November 1917 at 19°35N 39°08E Greaser James Galbraith discharged dead - natural causes

3 January 1918 was attacked when in the Mediterranean by a submarine - the torpedo missed.

9 February 1918 transferred to the Director of Transports after it was decided that all tankers under commercial management were to be run by them

11 April 1919 at Gibraltar Bosun K Satoyama discharged dead - influenza 

23 May 1919 sailed Baton Rouge for Lough Swilly

7 June 1919 at 38°20N 67°18W badly damaged by fire. Firemen Nakataro Yanai discharged dead with burns and shock. Third Engineer badly burnt. Engines and steam steering gear put out of action. Taken in tow by US Army Transport Westhaven. Towed to Ambrose Light, New York.

28 June 1919 sailed New York for Lough Swilly

28 August 1919 sold to Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Co Ltd

24 September 1919 arrived at Port Arthur from the River Tyne

1 January 1920 sailed Dartmouth for Bermuda

13 March 1920 sailed Tampico for St Catherine's Point

13 May 1920 arrived New Orleans from Amsterdam

16 May 1920 sailed New Orleans for Le Havre

26 August 1920 sailed Avonmouth for Tampico

18 September 1920 sailed Tampico for LEFO

5 December 1920 arrived at Philadelphia

9 December 1920 sailed Philadelphia for Tampico

27 December 1920 berthed at Port Eads from Tampico

12 January 1921 berthed at Port Eads and reported as such in the New York Tribune of the next day

19 January 1921 berthed at Port Arthur from New Orleans

24 May 1921 arrived at Tampico from Rotterdam

22 July 1921 sailed Tuxpan for the UK

28 July 1921 passed Bermuda for LEFO

15 August 1921 berthed at Avonmouth from Tampico

17 August 1921 sailed Avonmouth

24 August 1921 sailed Liverpool for Key West

1921 renamed Limicana

14 September 1921 arrived at Tampico

22 September 1921 reported by wireless that she was 54 nm east of Key West



SS West Haven which towed ex RFA Beechleaf into New York


20 October 1921 berthed at Shellhaven from Tuxpan

5 November 1921 berthed at Avonmouth for bunkers

7 November 1921 sailed Avonmouth for Key West

29 November 1921 arrived Tampico from Avonmouth

12 March 1922 sailed New Orleans for Tampico

2 April 1922 berthed at New York from Tampico, Mexico

29 July 1922 arrived at Galveston from Amsterdam

3 August 1922 sailed Tampico for LEFO

2 November 1922 sailed Tuxpan for LEFO

16 January 1923 sailed Tampico for LEFO

19 January 1923 at 49°37N 17°25W Sailor Ah Chon discharged dead - drowned

19 February 1923 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing west

22 April 1923 arrived at Venice from New Orleans

5 July 1923 arrived at Las Palmas

24 September 1923 reported by wireless her steering gear was disabled

24 January 1924 arrived at Liverpool from Suez

12 March 1924 arrived at Tampico from Stockholm

1 August 1924 sailed Tuxpam for LEFO

16 October 1924 arrived at Tampico from Liverpool

30 December 1924 sailed Houston for Southampton

25 February 1925 arrived at Tampico from Rotterdam

1 March 1925 sailed Tuxpam for LEFO

20 April 1925 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing west

28 April 1925 sailed Tampico for LEFO

23 May 1925 sailed Tampico for LEFO

16 November 1925 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing east

25 January 1926 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing east

9 February 1926 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing west

17 April 1926 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing west

2 January 1917 arrived at Shell Haven

10 January 1927 at Smith's Dock, River Tyne for refit or repairs

17 February 1927 transferred to N.V. Petroleum Maatschappij, La Corena name unchanged

19 February 1927 sailed the River Tyne for Fayal for orders

12 April 1927 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing west

1927 purchased by Naptha Industrie und Tankager AG, Berlin and renamed CH. N. KAHAN

5 August 1930 sailed Aberdeen for Fayal

22 February 1933 sailed Liverpool

12 August 1933 sailed Falmouth

23 September 1933 berthed at Ardrossan from Curacao

9 November 1933 berthed at Manchester

12 May 1934 arrived at Port Said

1935 purchased by Europaische Tanklager und Transport AG, Berlin name unchanged

3 June 1937 sailed Falmouth

1937 purchased by Stanhope Steamship Co Ltd ( J.A. Billmeir, Manager ) London and renamed STANBRIDGE

1 October 1937 bombed by insurgent forces while as the tanker Stanbridge she was in Gijon harbour, Spain. The ship suffered damage to her bridge, a hole in the side (6 feet across) and various deck gear was damaged.

22 May 1939 while outbound from Hamburg was in collision with ss Serula when off Beachy Head in thick fog. Both ships were damaged. Reported in the Times Casualty report from Lloyds of 23 May 1939 refers

30 June 1939 at Eppendorf Hospital, Hamburg Donkeyman Ali Ahmed discharged dead from TB. He had been admitted into the hospital on 29 April 1939 

1939 sold to Europaische Tankreederei, Hamburg renamed Eurofeld

While ss Eurofeld was taken over by the Kriegsmarine and acted as a tanker for the German Battlecruiser Aldmiral Sheer.

3 September 1939 en-route from the Dutch Indies to Germany when war was declared. Due to engine defects ordered to go to Tenerife, Canary Islands. After approximately twelve months put to sea to refuel the commercial raider 'Widder' 

4 November 1939 was taken over as a unit of the Kriegsmarine

3 September 1940 sailed Santa Cruz de Teneriffe

16 September 1940 refuelled the German raider WIDDER


German Commercial Raider Widder


12 November 1940 with the Nordmark - (later to become RFA Northmark) Eurofeld RAS'ed with the Admiral Scheer - fuel, ammunition and provisions - in the Atlantic at 25N 45W. Spares from NORDMARK helped to patch up her engine

21 December 1940 met up with the German Auxiliary Cruiser THOR and commenced to refuel her the following day

26 December 1940 rendezvoued at a point codenamed Andalusien in position 15.00 S 18.00 W with ADMIRAL SCHEER,the German auxiliary cruisers THOR and PINGUIN and the captured British refrigerated ship DUQUESA

6 January 1941 met with the German tanker Nordmark and the Pinguin’s prize ship, the 8,998-ton former Norwegian tanker Storstad

10 January 1941 took on 1200t of fuel from NORDMARK

13 January 1941 embarked more than 100 prisoners from NORDMARK and was ordered to run for France

5 February 1941 met up with the German Auxiliary Cruiser THOR again and  refuelled her

2 March 1941 arrived at St. Nazaire without being detected by the Allies and brought prisoners with her (Merchant Seaman from ships that the Admiral Scheer and various German merchant commercial raiders had sunk)

24 September 1944 was scuttled at St Nazaire as the Allies approached the City. Salvaged and broken up in 1950.

Additional information

Copyright © 2008 – 2018 Christopher J White

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