The Merchant Navy Crest


A tribute to the British Merchant Navy - they also served!

The Red Duster

Chief Engineer Robert Faulds

I am very grateful to Robert and Walter Faulds for this account of their father's sea time. Robert Faulds served, and was torpedoed, during both world wars. The CITY OF CAIRO was his last ship and not surprisingly he was declared medically unfit for further sea service in November 1944.

Both Robert's sons Robert and Walter saw active service during World War II. Walter was in the Army and was serving in India in 1942; he was able to visit his father onboard CITY OF Cairo in Bombay just before her final voyage.

Robert Jnr served in the Merchant Navy and was torpedoed himself on 2nd December 1942 while serving on another Ellerman Hall vessel ss CITY OF BATH. He was landed at Trinidad where he learned that his father's ship had been torpedoed.

R.A. Faulds (1882 - 1969)

Chief Engineer R. Faulds

Chief Engineer Robert Faulds

My father was born in Tillicoultry in 1882. He served his engineering apprenticeship from 1898 until 1902 in Patons Mill in Tillicoultry where his father was Chief Engineer. He went as a journeyman to a steam locomotive builder in Glasgow for two years until 1904. Wishing to go to sea as an engineer he joined the Hall Line in Liverpool, which had just become part of the Ellerman group, and spent some three months working as a shore engineer. He got his first sea going appointment as 5th Engineer on the CITY OF AGRA for a trip to India in 1905.

He was promoted after his first voyage and gradually rose through the ranks serving in 6 different vessels and gaining his certificates of competency until he was promoted from Second Engineer on the CITY OF NAPLES in Cape Town to be Chief Engineer of the RYDAL HALL in Lourenco Marques in 1913. He stayed in that ship for four years until December 1917 when the RYDAL HALL was torpedoed and sunk in the English Channel with the loss of 23 lives. My father was rescued from a life raft after a few hours.

He then served in the CITY OF NAPLES until 1919 when he left the Hall Line to take up a post as superintendent for the United States Shipping Board in Falmouth. This appointment lasted until 1923 and was terminated when the United States Shipping Board determining that all their employees should be United States citizens.

My father then resumed service with Ellermans and was appointed Chief Engineer of a new vessel CITY OF SINGAPORE. He made a voyage to the Far East and the second voyage was from the UK to the USA and thence to Australia. At Adelaide the vessel's cargo went on fire with considerable loss of life amongst the crew and the local firemen of Adelaide. The ship was considered a constructive total loss, was bought by a Dutch salvage company, towed back to the builders yard in Hartlepool and rebuilt and resumed service with Ellermans until torpedoed and lost in 1943.

My father served on another six vessels until joining the CITY OF WINCHESTER in 1937. The ship was engaged on the UK, USA, New Zealand and Australian trade making two round trips each year with refrigerated and general cargo. The war interrupted this regular pattern and in May 1941 the vessel was torpedoed and sunk off West Africa. This ship had been torpedoed in the first war in 1918 but had not sunk and had reached port safely. The torpedoing in 1941 was not as benign and after the ship was sunk the survivors spent fourteen days in the lifeboats before being picked up by a Norwegian vessel and taken in to Accra in the Gold Coast. Being severely bruised and battered by the lifeboat crushing his legs against the rescue vessel when he was climbing on board my father spent some time in hospital before returning to the UK.

After leave and when he had recovered he was appointed to the CITY OF CAIRO as Chief Engineer in November 1941. He completed a round voyage to India and commenced a second voyage to India in May 1942. It was on the homeward leg of this voyage en route from Cape town to Freetown that the CITY OF CAIRO was torpedoed and sunk. It was an odd coincidence that Chief Officer Montgomery of the Clan Line vessel that picked up the survivors, of Captain Rogerson's boat, including my father, was a school friend of my brother. My father was on St Helena for some weeks before passage was arranged across to Brazil, thence to Baltimore and finally to Liverpool. He reached home sometime in the spring of 1943 and was quite frail, not surprising since this was his third instance of having survived a torpedoing and subsequent lifeboat ordeal and he was then 61 years of age. I was at home when he arrived as result of my ship CITY OF BATH having been torpedoed in the South Atlantic in December 1942. In November 1944 my father was declared unfit for further sea service.