SS City of Johannesburg

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SS City of Johannesburg.jpg
Career Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
Name: SS City of Johannesburg
Operator: Ellerman Lines Ltd, London
Builder: Barclay, Curle & Co, Whiteinch, Glasgow
Yard number: 581
Launched: 23 May 1920
Completed: 1920, as the Melford Hall
Fate: sunk on 23 October 1942
General characteristics
Class and type: Steam merchant ship
Tonnage: 5,669 tons
Length: 417.2 feet
Beam: 54.8 feet
Crew: 89

The SS City of Johannesburg was a British merchant steamer, sunk in the Second World War. She was built by Barclay, Curle & Co, of Whiteinch, Glasgow for Ellerman Lines Ltd, of London in 1920, originally being named SS Melford Hall. She was renamed SS City of Johannesburg in 1926 and was homeported in Liverpool.

Career and sinking

Her final voyage was to take her from Calcutta to the United Kingdom, calling at Colombo on 6 October and later at Cape Town on the way. She carried 7,750 tons of general cargo, including pig iron, cotton, jute and tea, under the command of her master, Walter Armour Owen.

At 23.12 hours on 23 October 1942, she was travelling unescorted off East London South Africa, when she was spotted by U-504 commanded by Fritz Poske. The U-boat torpedoed the City of Johannesburg, and succeeded in sinking her. Two of the 89 crew were lost, but the master and 12 crew members were picked up by the Dutch merchant Zypenberg, which transported them to Durban. Another 54 crew members were picked up by the British merchant Fort George and landed at Port Elizabeth, with the final 20 crew members being picked up by the King Edward, which took them to Cape Town.


Coordinates: 33°20′S 29°30′E / 33.333°S 29.5°E / -33.333; 29.5