William Sloan & Co. - Q Ships WW II
BEAULY and ORCHY formerly owned by William Sloan & Co., of Glasgow and employed in trading between the Clyde, Belfast and Bristol. Strongly built, coal burning vessels of between 1000 and 1500 tons with high bulwarks and a long fore well deck. Their top speed was 10.5 knots and their coal consumption varied between 12 and 24 tons daily. After being reqisitioned by Vice Admiral Gordon Campbell VC., they were renamed LOOE and ANTONINE respectively.
For their Q Ship role they were armed with 4inch guns concealed in the holds behind dropping shutters. Two 12pounders. one of which was desguided as a crane and the other mounted on the poop in full view as a defenceivly armed merchant ship weapon. 2x18inch torpedoe tubes on the well deck and 2 Depth Charge Throwers and a row of depth charges concealed in a deck house aft.They were also fitted with an Asdic set and a degausing girdle.
To take command of the LOOE Campbell selected a Commdr Francis Halley Ashton an experienced destroyer commander who at the outbreak of the war was serving on the training staff at the RN Barracks, Portsmouth. Command of the ANTONINE was given to Cmdr Charles Vincent Jack, a retired officer who had left the Navy in 1931 and had seen considerable service in small ships.
Given a complementof between 70/80 officers and men. conditions on board were therefor exceedingly cramped and uncomfortable but such a large number was necessary in order to allow for a panic party to abandon ship while leaving behind sufficient hands to man the hidden weapons. Each ship carried between 700/800 tons of timber below decks for floatation purposes.
It had been arranged for the ships to be converted at Chatham Naval Dockyard . The work was put in hand at once and it was hoped to get the ships away before Christmas but because of the ememys magnetic mine campaign, the yard became overwhelmed with damage repair work which was ruled as being of higher priority. The offivcers had all been appointed before the end of October 1939 and they spent a miserable winter living on board the partially converted ships with nothing to do. The weather was so severe that the dockyard basin which the ships were lying was completely frozen over.
Thus it was not until April1940 that LOOE and ANTONINE were ready for service. On completion each vessel sailed north for the North Western Approaches. Their operational area extended from Torry Island off the tip of Ireland outwards to St Kilda and the Flannan Islands thence Nort eastwards to the Faroes. South to the Orkneys and down through the Minches. Each ship was to remain at sea for a period of ten days at the end of which she could put into port to give the crew a brief rest and take on fuel and stores. Coaling however, was labourious and never took less than 12 hours. Both ships needed to carry 50tons as deck cargo.
Was given this scrap of Clye Ship History and though it was worth saving. Will follow up with Sloans Steamer photos.