|Operator:||W.H. Seager & Co Ltd, Cardiff|
|Builder:||Ropner Shipbuilding & Repairing Co Ltd, Stockton-on-Tees|
|Fate:||Sunk on 18 October 1940|
|Class and type:||Steam merchant ship|
The SS Beatus was a steam merchant ship that sailed under the British flag during the Second World War. She took part in a number of convoys, before joining the ill-fated convoy SC-7 in October 1940. She was sunk by a German U-boat during the crossing.
The Beatus was built in 1925 by the Ropner Shipbuilding & Repairing Co Ltd, of Stockton-on-Tees. She served with W.H. Seager & Co Ltd, Cardiff and was homeported in that city. On the outbreak of war she took part in a number of convoys, travelling between UK ports and making several longer voyages to bring vital supplies to Britain. In February 1940 she sailed from Freetown to Liverpool, and made two transatlantic crossings in March and August 1940. In both cases she sailed from Halifax to Liverpool. She returned to the North American coast later in the year, and after collecting a cargo at Three Rivers, she sailed to join convoy SC-7, which was assembling at Sydney, Nova Scotia.
Convoy SC-7 and sinking
The convoy left Sydney on 5 October. On arriving in UK waters it was planned that Beatus would sail to the Tyne and on to Middlesbrough. She carried a cargo of 1,626 tons of steel, 5,874 tons of lumber and a deck cargo of crated aircraft, and was under the command of her master, Wilfred Leslie Brett. The convoy was attacked by a number of U-boats which used wolf pack tactics to overwhelm the escorts. The most deadly attack came during the night of 18/19 October. Between 20.58 and 21.04 hours on 18 October, U-46, under the command of Engelbert Endrass, fired four single torpedoes at the convoy, as it passed some 100 miles west by south of Barra Head. Endrass claimed that he had sunk two ships totalling 8,000 grt, and had damaged a third totalling 7,000 grt. He had however only hit two ships, the Beatus and the Convallaria. Frank Holding, Assistant Steward on Beatus, recalled
'The next thing I heard was this explosion and a sound like breaking glass from down near the engine room. The ship stood still. When I went to the boat deck one of the lifeboats was already in the water, full of water...We knew we were sinking'