Last voyage of the Silverfir

Having returned from the POW camp my grandfather met my grandmother, she of the Feeneys, and proceeded to have three children including my aunt on the left and, rather crucially for me, my mother on the right.

Having returned from a prisoner of war camp, my grandfather met my grandmother, she of the Feeneys, and proceeded to have three children, including my aunt, left, and, rather crucially for me, my mother on the right.

Thanks to research done by my cousin John–he, too, of the Feeney chin in the previous blog–I found out about another family story connected to New York which involved my grandfather.

During World War II he was a merchant seaman—though we believe he was only 16 when he joined, probably using his height to get away as being older than his true age—aboard the Silverfir, a 4,347 tonne British cargo ship, built in 1924 by William Doxford & Sons in Sunderland.

On 16 March 1941, the Silverfir was sunk by the German battleship Scharnhorst, while on a voyage from Manchester to New York (it had been due to dock in New York on 23 March 1941).

Forty survivors were taken as prisoners of war on board the raider, including my teenager of a grandfather, who then spent the rest of the war at POW Camp Milag Nord, Westertimke, near Bremen in Germany. Afterwards, he returned to Sunderland and the rest is history–albeit a rather important one from where I sit and write this blog.

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