John Eric Barker who died on the ss North Britain in Atlantic Convoy ONS5

February 07, 2010

hi mac

have visited your website with marvelous results. have also tried to find more info. on my uncle. Fourth Egnineer
Officer John Eric Barker who died on the ss North Britain in Atlantic Convoy ONS5,sunk on the 5th May 1945. My dad was heard saying he was out of the ship but went back down, is there anywhere where I could view survivors comments, am finding the National Archives web site daunting.

many thanks.
j rennie (ne Barker)


Here is John. recorded on the Merchant Navy Memorial Tower Hill London. His name is on Panel 74. You cannot access their records on the net, and need to visit the Memorial to personally view Panel 74.

Please note ONS 5 sailed in 1943 not 1945 and the attack on John's ship was in the early morning on May 5 1943.

In my account I said that on the night of May4/5 Great Britain had developed boiler problems and had become a straggler some miles astern of the convoy.

Her convoy cruising station had been leading column 9, ie she was in the front row of the convoy, the 9th.ship from the left, to become a straggler makes that ship very vulnerable, you are no longer in the bosom of the convoy, and the escort can no longer offer any protection.

U 707 had dived under the convoy, and surfaced about 5 miles astern to find Great Britain a sitting duck for her torpedoes, she was gone in 69 seconds with only 11 survivors collected by Northern Spray commanded by Lt Commander Downer, and I correspond with his son.

Now in column 1 about the third ship was Harperly, she was sunk, and Cyril Hill was a survivor, Cyril is still around at 93, and I talk to him by E Mail.

A Canadian company has recently made a documentary CONVOY, and I was instrumental in having Cyril be interviewed for that film. I understand it was recently shown in UK and Canada, it drew an audience in UK of 1.6 million, and some 350,000 in Canada. It is still to air in the US.

For my help the company is sending a copy of the DVD's involved.

In any convoy formation, the left, front, right and rear columns, all give marauding U-Boats a clear shot with their torpedoes.

John Eric Barker

U-707 from uboat.net

Sinking of North Britain from uboat.net


February 07, 2010 8:32 PM

would love more info on the dvd with a view to purchasing a copy. Are there any survivors from SS
North Britain left? or any accounts of what they witnessed? I have 5 grandsons, all eager to learn more
about their great uncle John.

with many,many thanks for your marvelous web site, its been the only one i have been able to make sense of.

j rennie


The Canadian E mail for the Convoy DVD 's is to Frank Gairdner.

May I suggest you tell Frank I gave you his EMail address and why you would like to obtain a copy?

I am not aware of any survivors from North Britain, nor any comments from that night.

Any still around would be a good age by now.

Thank you for your kind comments about AHOY. I am beholden to Terry Kearns my web master in Atlanta Georgia who puts up all my research and subsequent scribblings.

Best regards,

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