Bedenham

 

 

Official Number:                              167577                                                                

Class:                                              Armament Stores Carrier     

Pennant No:                                    Y9    

Laid down:                             
Builder:                                           Ailsa Shipbuilding & Engineering Co Ltd, Troon

Launched:                                        26 September 1938
Into Service:                                    December 1938
Out of service:                                 27 April 1951
Fate:                                                Scrapped

 

Items of historic interest involving this ship: -

 

Background Data:   One of a group of nine coasters which were not normally classed as RFA’s, although some of them, on making deep sea voyages, had a proportion of RFA Officers among their complement. They are included here as the ancestors of the more modern ammunition ships

 

26 September 1938 launched by Ailsa Shipbuilding & Engineering Co Ltd, Troon as Yard Nr 428 named BEDENHAM

November 1938 Captain J H A Hogan appointed in command

December 1938 completed

July 1939 Captain A H Paice appointed in command

24 June 1940 sailed the Tyne in convoy FS203 along with RFA Celerol to Southend arriving pn the 26 June 1940

4 September 1940 sailed Gibraltar in convoy HG43 to Liverpool arriving on 18 September 1940

30 October 1940 sailed Liverpool in convoy OG45 to Gibraltar arriving on 11 November 1940

29 December 1940 sailed Gibraltar in convoy HG49 to Liverpool arriving on 15 January 1941

5 February 1941 sailed Liverpool in convoy OG52 to Gibraltar arriving on 21 February 1941

3 April 1941 sailed Gibraltar in convoy HG58 to Liverpool arriving on 21 April 1941

 

RFA_Bedenham_War_time

RFA Bedenham in war time - guns mounted either side of the bridge and on the stern
Published with permission of Bobby Sinclair

 

24 June 1941 sailed the Clyde in convoy WN145 along with the Admiralty MFA British Lady to Methil arriving on 27 June 1941

11 August 1942 sailed Lyness in convoy WN321 to Methil arriving on 13 August 1941

29 October 1942 sailed Methil in Convoy EN 156/2 to Scapa Flow arriving on 1 November 1942

25 June 1943 Mr W T Green appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

24 September 1943 Captain L M Robertson appointed in command

18 October 1943 at Scapa Flow alongside HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH delivering ammunition

15 May 1944 in General Orders issued this day concerning the provision of Armanent Store Issuing Ships (A.S.I.S.) off the British Assault Area during the Normandy Invasion. The three ships allocated were the Bedenham, Ardgantock and the Axinite with two on station at any time, the third ship being in the UK at Spithead to refuel and reprovision.

10 June 1944 sailed the Solent in Convoy ETC 5 along with HMS SUCCOUR to later become RFA SUCCOUR and RFA CHATTENDEN to Seine Bay arriving the next day

4 July 1944 sailed Southend in Convoy  ETC 27 to Seine Bay arriving the next day

18 June 1946 passed the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing west

3 July 1946 sailed Workington for Plymouth passing the Lloyds Signal Station on the Lizard sailing east

26 August 1946 arrived at Malta from Oran with a Fleet Air Arm Firefly aircraft as deck cargo. The aircraft had taken off to fly to HMS Ocean but it returned to Oran and crashed on landing

24 March 1948 arrived at Malta from Haifa

15 October 1949 sailed Gibraltar for Plymouth

24 May 1950 entered Portsmouth Harbour and berthed at Bedenham Pier

15 June 1950 sailed from Bedenham Pier to sea

9 April 1951 arrived at Devonport and berthed on the Ernsettle Jetty and loaded cargo for Gibraltar and Malta

20 April 1951 sailed Devonport with ammunition and other naval ordanance for Gibraltar arriving 24 April 1951. The ship berthed on No: 39 berth at the Ordanance Wharf. Captain Cyril L Doughty was the ship's Master.

Capt C L Doughty

Captain Cyril L Doughty
early in his career at sea

25 April 1951 commenced discharging cargo from No: 1 hold and loading other cargo for Malta into No: 2 hold.

27 April 1951 whilst continuing to discharg depth charges into a  lighter, one of them ignited. Several men were organised to fight the fire from the quayside, but to no avail. The lighter exploded, causing a second more violent explosion in which the NAV Bedenham broke in two. The bow half of the ship was blown onto Wharf while the remainer sank into the harbour. Thirteen people were killed in the explosion, many were injured and many of the local buildings suffered substantial damage. The Admiralty received many claims for the loss of life, those injured and for the damage, and approximately £250,000 was paid out in indemnity

 

Bedenham_Explosion

RFA Bedenham explodes

Bedenham_afterwards

RFA Bedenham sinking beneath the water

Bedenham_Aftermath

RFA Bedenham - the next day

 

 Press report Aberdeen Even Exp 27.4.1951 Bedenham

Press report from the Aberdeen Evening Express of 27 April 1951

 

Bedenham_Memorial

The Bedenham memorial in Gibraltar

30 April 1951 The Times newspaper reported ...

Times Press Cutting Sea Salvor Bedenham

May 1951 over numerous days an Admiralty Board of Enquiry was held at HMS ROOKE under the Presidency of Captain St John Cronyn DSO Royal Navy

May 1951 RFA Sea Salvor arrived from Malta to salvage the wreck of the Bedenham

October 1951 Gallantry Awards to those involved in the RFA Bedenham explosion were: -

George Cross (posthumously)

Sub Officer George Campbell Henderson, HM Dockyard Fire Service, Gibraltar

Sub Officer Henderson GC

Sub Officer George C Henderson GC

Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (Military Division) 

Captain St John Cronyn DSO Royal Navy

King's Police and Fire Services Medal (for Gallantry) (posthumously)

Chief Fire Officer Albert Alexander Indoe, HM Dockyard Fire Brigade, Gibraltar

Colonial Police Medal for Gallantry

Constable Jospeh Baglietto,

Constable Manuel Felices

George Medal 

Surgeon Lieutenant James Golding Harding Sheppard MB BS Royal Navy

Acting Leading Sick Berth Attendant (Local) Malcolm Hughes D/SMX 868808

Chargeman of Labourers Juan Manuel Cruz, HM Dockyard, Gibraltar

Naval Armament Supply Officer James Keen, HM Dockyard, Gibraltar

Police Constable Michael Orfila, Gibraltar Police Force

British Empire Medal (Civil Division)

Assistant Surgery Attendant Anthony Ballantine, HM Dockyard, Gibraltar

Foreman Vicente Pisarello, REME Garrison Workshops, Gibraltar

Kings Commendation for Brave Conduct

Ambulance Driver Alfredo Banda, HM Dockyard, Gibraltar

1st Class Master of Yard Craft David Stewart Hutcheon, HM Dockayrd, Gibraltar

Chargeman of Skilled Labourers Cecil Neville Knowles, HM Dockyard, Gibraltar

Fireman Driver Alfred McGrail, City Fire Brigade, Gibraltar

Surgery Attendant Francis Joseph Parody, HM Dockyard, Gibraltar

 

 

P5300089

P5300090

 

31 May 1952 the remains of the ship were towed to the Tyne by the tug RFA SAUCY

24 June 1952 the wreck was purchased for demolition by Messrs Clayton & Davie Ltd, Dunston-on-Tyne

 

 

Notes:

 

1. She suffered from a “singing propeller” (a 4 bladed bronze one ) and where possible she was kept out of convoys.

2. Was replaced by RFA AMHERST

 

Additional information

Copyright © 2008 – 2017 Christopher J White

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