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ex-USS PCE833, ex-HMS Kilham, ex-Sognefjord, ex-Orion, ex-Orion II, ex-Corona, Orient Explorer /+ sisters

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    Originally posted by orionboy View Post
    While looking for more info abt hms kilham i found this one:
    It seems that there are more people to find some info of the vessel=)

    Yet another gem of a link - thanks.

    As there were apparently few accidents on board Kilham, the grandfather of the poster TomTom on that site MUST be the crewmember that lost his arm in the 40mm Bofors gun accident that I have related in my my father's memories. So now we have a name, and TomTom has an invitation to join us here.

    Additionally, somebody else has posted up exercise and mission dates for the Kilham that I have not seen elsewhere which differ from our father's memories; ie after her collision, apparently Kilham was laid up in dry dock for 5 months, not the 6 weeks as recalled by Smokey.


    "Re: HMS Kilham
    Posted by: David H (IP Logged)
    Date: March 24, 2009 08:28AM
    KILHAM built at Chicago, commissioned into Royal Navy 10 October 1943. Trials in North American waters - in November 1943 at Halifax and early December 1943 at New York.
    end- December 1943 to February 1944 work up at Bermuda
    March 1944 assigned 50th Escort Group at Freetown, Sierra Leone.
    14 November 1944 badly damaged in collision with merchant ship "African Dawn" off Freetown.
    December 1944 - May 1945 under repair at Dakar.
    July 1945 returned UK and laid up in reserve at Sheerness.
    Sold December 1946 to Armand Pittman & Company; subsequently converted to merchant ship 'Sognefjord'"

    So altogether a good link.
    Last edited by Paul Cobb; June 10th, 2009, 22:42. Reason: Adding website link


      Originally posted by orionboy View Post
      To Paul or Barry:
      Does your father remember anything about hms kilchrenan, because in the norwegian book is a mention that hms kilham and hms kilchrenan were in same escort group.Thats also a funny coincidence that they ended both here in Finland to sail almost together ,Orion from Hamina and Kristina brahe from Kotka
      (neighbour cities)And of course adding that they scrapped hms kilchatten(Capri corne) here as well.I also read from the book (its hard to understand,because i only know a swedish little bit ,but they are similar languages)that hms kilkenzie (later m/s Nadodd as cargo ship)and hms kildwick (m/s sunnfjord)were in same escort groups.
      Orionboy: I think that the names of individual sister ships that did specifics are rather hazy for my father, now.

      A couple of bits that might be relevant are:

      1) From my father's story: "The navy had a tradition, practiced on some ships (including the Kilham), whereby on Christmas Day the captain and the youngest rating on board would swap roles for the day. Christmas 1944 was spent in Freetown and the youngest crew member just happened to be Smokey, so he and the captain switched hats, jackets and Christmas meals and the captain had to sit with the ratings and carry out Smokey's orders - to the merriment of the crew. Neat tots of rum were only allowed on special occasions - including Christmas, so Smokey ordered 'neaters' to be issued all round. He then asked an officer to send a message to the other 2 'Kil' Class ships that were also moored at Freetown inviting their captains to join him on board Kilham to celebrate Christmas. Both actual captains obliged him and turned up by boat for drinks."

      One of these COULD have been Kilchrenan.

      2) The photo you show which is in Freetown harbour looks to have been taken at exactly the SAME time as the famous one of Kilham (see page 5 of this thread). She appears to be moored just in front of Kilham (judging by the position of buidings in the background. This would suggest that their operations could well have been closely linked.

      3) I believe the Kilbride and others were based in Gibraltar and it appears that they patrolled the West African coast from Gib to Dakar where the Kilham and others then patrolled from Dakar to Lagos while being based at Freetown. Whether still more then patrolled from Lagos to further south I haven't discovered as yet.

      It seems to me that the navy appeared to be quite systematic or 'neat' in how they allocated things concerning these ships, ie they seemed to keep the ships in numerical order together. Even the selling off to Norway after the war shows that this involved BEC 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8. So it would seem logical that they may well have kept BEC 4 (Kilchernan) with BEC 7 (Kilham) and other(s), but this is only my supposition. Try registering with and asking the question on there. One person posted precise details on Kilham's dates etc (see above) so they may be able to answer your query.

      One thing your book MIGHT be able to answer, was the ship called Kilchrenan or Kilchernan? Records seem unclear on this!
      Last edited by Paul Cobb; June 11th, 2009, 00:13.


        Originally posted by Barry Cobb View Post

        I'll ask Dad if he remembers Tom's Grand Father as he may recall the incident when someone lost an arm.


        I'm sure that the following incident would have been TomTom's grandfather -


        On one occasion at Freetown during a practice session, a shell became jammed in one of the Bofors guns. There was a set procedure for removing a jammed shell which involved using rope to haul it out backwards from the breech. However, 2 of the crew amazingly used a ram to try pushing it through the FRONT of the barrel. The shell exploded; one man was blinded, the other lost his arm, which landed at Smokey's feet who then helped apply a tourniquet to the wounded crew member."

        Originally posted by Barry Cobb View Post

        PS Paul, not sure about the 'dodgy' photo of the 3 of us in 1979, but I suppose we were young (& hung-over if I recall)
        We NEEDED a drink to get through that crossing!


          Final Captain of HMS Kilham

          Brother Barry found the following re the final skipper of HMS Kilham on

          Thorpe, James Athole *

          * first names in the Navy List initially given as: Innes Athole

          Prob. T/S.Lt. 03.05.1940

          T/Lt. 03.05.1941 (reld < 04.1946)

          MBE 19.05.1942 salvage Lucellum* 19.12.41 [investiture 07.07.42]


          29.06.1940 - (02.)1941.....HMS Coila (armed yacht)

          (12.1941).....British Naval Liaison Officer, French Ship "Senateur Duhamel"

          (08.1942).....British Naval Liaison Officer, French Ship "Le Lavandou" (chasseur)

          05.1944 - (07.1945).....HMS Kilham (escort)

          Our father dimly recalls having 2/3 skippers. One skipper would certainly have been overseeing:
          the commissioning into Royal Navy 10 October 1943
          trials in North American waters - in November 1943 at Halifax and early December 1943 at New York
          end December 1943 to February 1944 work up at Bermuda
          March 1944 assigned 50th Escort Group at Freetown, Sierra Leone.

          Some time between Feb and May this skipper was apparently sent back to the UK. Would Kilham have been minus a skipper for a period?

          Thorpe took over in May 1944 and stayed until laying up in July 1945.
          Collision with merchant ship "African Dawn" off Freetown was 14 November 1944 under Thorpe's command, so there must have only been 2 skippers.


            hms kilham/hms kilmore

            Well it seems according to smokey, that the hms kilham had very colorful start with her crew...maybe it did bring some good luck for the ship, because its still sailing=)

            Well i also have being busy in the internet searching info of all kil-class vessels,and i found some more info abt hms kilmore/uss pce 841.The info i found from one Greek shipforum( some images,but its hard to trying understand Greek language, but what i understand it was running for two different companies startind i think in 1949 as m/s despina and from 1969 as m/s evangelistria to 1974 and i think scrapped after that.Thats the first conversion to as passenger ferry outside Norway of these vessels that i can confirm after seeing these pics.Abt the rest kil-vessels i cannot say anything at this point, but the HUNT IS ON!

            I found also small clip from port of Piraeus in Greece where you can see little bit of m/s despina


              hms kilmore

              Some pics "loaned" from the greek site:

              Last edited by orionboy; June 13th, 2009, 00:32.


                hms kildary

                Hello again !

                I was very lucky again to find some info of these vessels.
                Here is a link to m/s rio vouga ex hms kildary/uss pce 831 and also info of hms kilmalcolm/uss pce 836(in spanish)


                  A Greek Tragedy


                  Ralf's post no 36, p2 shows a concise summary of the fate of the Kil Class ships. There appear to be a few with Greek names, most with unknown fates:

                  PEC 835 - HMS Kilhampton - US Navy - Giorgios F - unknown
                  PEC 837 - HMS Kilmarnok - US Navy - Arion - lost 1951
                  PEC 838 - HMS Kilmartin - US Navy - Marigoula - Unknown
                  PEC 840 - HMS Kilmington - US Navy - Athinai - Unknown
                  PEC 841 - HMS Kilmore - US Navy - Despina - Unknown

                  Originally posted by Ralf__ View Post

                  Further additions to the list:
                  PEC 827 - HMS Kilbernie - MS Haugesund - Scrapped 1997
                  PEC 828 - HMS Kilbride - MS Jylland - Scrapped 1988
                  PEC 829 - HMS Kilchatten - MS Stavanger - MS Kong Sverre - MS Capri Corne - Scrapped in Finland
                  PEC 830 - HMS Kilcheranan - MS Sunnhordland - Kristina Brahe (Existing)
                  PEC 831 - HMS Kildary - Rio Vouga, Spain (Cargo Ship Scrapped 1980
                  PEC 832 - HMS Kildwirek - Sunnfjord - Sunk on tow, 1983
                  PEC 833 - HMS Kilham - Sognefjord - Orion - Orient Explorer (Existing)
                  PEC 834 - HMS Kilkenzie - Nadodd (Cargo Ship) - Scrapped 1978
                  PEC 835 - HMS Kilhampton - US Navy - Giorgios F -Unknown
                  PEC 836 - HMS Kilmalcom - Rio Aqueda, Spain (Cargo Ship) - Unknown
                  PEC 837 - HMS Kilmarnok - US Navy - Arion - lost 1951
                  PEC 838 - HMS Kilmartin - US Navy - Marigoula - Unknown
                  PEC 839 - HMS Kilmelford - US Navy - Unknown
                  PEC 840 - HMS Kilmington - US Navy - Athinai - Unknown
                  PEC 841 - HMS Kilmore - US Navy - Despina - Unknown

                  PS The Greek photo links don't appear to work for me? (Edit: they now do!)
                  Last edited by Paul Cobb; June 17th, 2009, 01:48. Reason: Addition to 'PS'



                    removed personal photos
                    Last edited by orionboy; July 30th, 2010, 23:21.


                      m/s orion

                      removed personal photos
                      Last edited by orionboy; July 30th, 2010, 23:26.


                        Thanks for continuing to post photos of the Orion, Orionboy. It's plain to see you had/continue to have a strong affinity with the ship.

                        Is your own father aware of how this thread has grown?

                        One update - Orionboy's link to an enquiry re Kilham on '' (and Barry and myself replying) has had a heartfelt thankyou reply added. Hope this link develops further.


                          m/s orion/kilham

                          removed personal photos
                          Last edited by orionboy; July 30th, 2010, 23:31.


                            'Smokey's Story', part 5

                            Finally got round to showing our father some of the photos from this thread - a treat for Fathers' Day. It set off the reminiscenses so I'm able to add another little tale that enlightens more about life on board the Kilham during WWII and might bring a smile:

                            Smokey's Story (continued)

                            Further to the earlier revelation about the initial steering problem in Chicago Harbour on the first trial, the collision was with a boom and succeeded in rearranging the whole shape of the bows!

                            The battle with ice on first voyage was when they emerged from the St Lawrence River into the Gulf of St Lawrence. The sea WAS rough, but was also icing up. They had to ensure they didn't become icebound, but whenever a wave crashed over the ship, it froze - and all crew had to lend a hand to chip the ice off.

                            Once on patrol duties (which could last for up to 28 days at a time) the food became very monotonous. In order to last in a hot climate, the food kept on board was not fresh, but included powdered potato and various dried foodstuffs. All the crew longed for some decent fresh food. Even though HMS Kilham never fired a shot in anger, the crew were put through weapons drills and this included testing the depth charges.

                            On one such occasion, in the estuary leading into Freetown with the current running strongly, a depth charge was fired. Usually when this happened, stunned fish would appear. The resulting explosion this time produced a 4'-5' (1.5m) rock salmon that floated to the surface, dead.

                            This fish would have provided a fresh meal for the whole crew, so one of the engine crew dived overboard to try to retrieve it. Each time he tried to grab the large fish, it slipped from his grasp, then the current took him and he lost the fish anyway. The crew then had to stage a rescue mission to recover the engineer!

                            In summary to the whole of his wartime exploits, Smokey points to episodes like where his best friend Speedy lost his life, and he wonders if it was all worth it.


                              Orient Explorer

                              I just got this e-mail from Tracy at Seniborneo:
                              Hi Captain,
                              So sorry for the delay in getting back to you - things are so busy right now! Today I started compiling all of our OE photos into one folder that I will send you the link for - this will take me a couple of days. I received an email from a gentleman from your blog who would like to come and stay with us. I hope that you will make the journey out here one of these days - it would be great if you all could make it out together!! So please - I beg your patience.
                              I promise to have this together by the end of the weekend.
                              Kindest Regards,

                              Reverting when link received. Who is going visiting I wonder?


                                Originally posted by ombugge View Post
                                Who is going visiting I wonder?
                                I'd love to, but this time it ain't me... some day however, I'll be there I can guarantee.
                                With best regards from Jan-Olav Storli

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