The Nailsea Manor


In September 1941, the Nailsea Manor, having completed collision repairs at dry-dock in Cardiff loaded 6,000 tons of military stores at Newport in the middle east. They included 4,500 tons of ammunition and mail for the troops. Sailing coastwise in convoy for Belfast took on board a landing craft Tank Mark 11, in four sections with a total weight of 250grt; two sections over hatches on the fore-deck, they were as high as the bridge, and two sections on the after hatches.

Armed with a 4 inch gun, a 12-pounder, two Hotchkiss, four Lewis guns and two PAC rockets, Nailsea Manor joined convoy OS7 (Outward Sierra Leone) of 34 merchantmen. Crew numbered 42 including three DEMS gunners, two Maritime Regiment gunners and one Royal Navy Petty Officer in charge of the Landing Craft.

Nine days later (1 October) west of Cape Blanco encountered bad weather and ran into trouble. With a strong wind from the south-west and a heavy swell, it was necessary to drop astern and hove to, together with Ger-y-Bryn and Hazelside, which were similarly loaded, in order that deck cargoes, which had started to move, could be secured. In company with HMS Violet later proceeded on the voyage and as the weather moderated increased speed with the intention of catching up with OS7. On 9 October, making 10 knots, course 165 degrees, sea rough with a north-east wind, force 5/6, the weather was fine and clear.

At 0245 hours the following morning, visibility good with a half moon, the torpedo struck. The position 18.45N 21.18W and the Nailsea Manor started to list to starboard. The deck cargo was hanging over the port side. Beneath, a mass of flame could be seen the shelter deck where the mail had been stowed. In No 4 hold below, between where lorries and trucks had been secured lay some 1,000 tons of ammunition.

U-126, about 500 yards off on the port side, crash-dived as her commander, Lieutenant Ernst Bauer, caught site of the escort coming up fast from astern. Making good his escape Bauer went on to be decorated with the Iron Cross, his total tally being 24 ships of 115,876 grt sunk and four ships of 29,997 grt damaged.

The crew abandoned ship and at 0325 hours all of the survivors were picked up by the corvette H.M.S. Violet. Later that day H.M.S. Violet caught up with convoy OS7 and the crew of the Nailsea Manor were transferred to Empress of Hong Kong.

U-126 launched 31st December 1940, commissioned 22nd March 1941
Conning Tower Emblem, Queen of Hearts.

Commanders:
LT, CDR, Ernst Bauer, March 1941 to Feb. 1943
LT, CDR, Siegfried Kietz, March 1943 to July 1943.

U-126 is sunk by RAF, Wellington (R) No. 172 Squadron 3rd July 1943 in the bay of Biscay, all 55 crew lost

View of Empress of Hong Kong whilst transfering survivers of the Nailsea Manor ( from H.M.S Violet )

Survivors of the Nailsea Manor being rowed across to the Empress of Hong Kong.