Penarth Dock, South Wales - 150 years - the heritage and legacy  
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Volume Four - An Era of Change, Uncertainty, Depression & War - Activity at the dock during World War II . . .

I was originally not aware of any shipping casualties at Penarth Dock or The Ely Tidal Harbour until a member of the forum "Captain" Ben Salter made a post about a steamer lost in the Ely in 1941. Thank you Ben.

The s.s. 'Lunan' was built at the Montrose Shipbuilding Company of Scotland in 1909 for the Grangemouth Steamship Company. She was a small freighter of 363 gross registered tons, 42.2 m long x 7.3 m beam and had a three cylinder triple expansion engine which made her capable of 9.2 knots. In 1927 she was sold to R. Taylor & Sons Limited at Dundee and she worked the coal route from Newport and the Ely Tidal Harbour to the Portishead power stations when in 1941, she was lost and only one of her crew survived. One source suggests that it was a German IX Air Corps aerial mine and other sources suggest German bombing was the cause of the loss.

The Captain provided the link to a "Rootsweb" [152] article which I have taken the liberty of reproducing here in full because I felt it provides such a vibrant and touching account of the loss of a ship and its crew:

"This morning I had a wonderful letter via snail mail from an old Gentleman who was a merchant seaman during WW2. He is trying to find a photo of a ship called the 'Lunan'. The 'Lunan' sank on July 4th 1941 in the Ely River near to the near Ely harbour. This gentleman was aboard the 'Tredegar' a steam barge that was taking coal to Portishead power station. He says that the 'Lunan' and the 'Tredegar' were loading coal at the four jetties at Ely harbour and were waiting for the early morning tide. The 'Tredegar' being of lighter draught floated off first. He remembers being between the Wrack buoy and the East Cardiff buoy when he looked astern to see a huge ball of flame. This ball of flame turned out to be the 'Lunan', the incident happened more or less over the subway between Cardiff and Penarth. If anyone comes across a picture of the S.S. 'Lunan' in their searches please keep me in mind."

The writer continued that he then found the following reference: "Volunteer T. E. O'Lear King's Commendation for Brave Conduct UNIDENTIFIED GLAMORGANSHIRE (CARDIFF) BATTALION "For bravery and devotion to duty in helping to rescue a survivor after S. S. 'Lunan' hit a mine and sank on 4th July 1941."At about 1.20 a.m. on 4th July 1941 a loud explosion was heard by personnel on duty at Victoria Wharf, Cardiff. A cloud of black smoke began to form some two hundred yards from the dockside and it was clear that a mine or delayed-action bomb had exploded.


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