10 thoughts on “The M.V. Willowbank, built 1960 and one of a 21 ship order from Wm Doxford in Sunderland. This name was used a record 5 times by the Bank Line, and was the first vessels name, and the name of the last vessel built for the company.

  1. Joined in Sydney 1968/69 as 6th Engineer made 4th, did copra run, back to UK, then French Charter, back to Aussie, memories not the best but I do recall myself and Chief Engineer being the only aussie’s onboard that trip, all great blokes to work/play with, fond memories.


    1. Hi Frank – We must have been shipmates – This is some of my memories

      At Sydney we had the phone connected and then immediately had the nurses onboard for parties. Sailed the East coast then upto PNG which was still administered by Australia – Got the copra expeller wet in Rabaul and as a consequence had to take a deviation to take coal from Newcastle NSW to Japan then back to Rabaul

      On the voyage back to Europe we sailed from Madang to Bordeaux – it took a long 42 days as one of the cylinders of the duxford had to be disabled – we had some Aussie passengers who stayed in the hospital – they were not happy as they ran out of beer. We also got short of water and had to chase rain clouds. I was the Jnr deck apprentice – the other apprentices were Simon Fitch and Alastair Wood. The Captain was OJ Brown. The Chief Mate was a drunk – The uncert 3rd was a nice guy and had a guitar – the second mate was also a decent fellow.

      The Chief Engineer was accompanied by his wife . There was a German uncert 3rd engineer

      The electrician was Farquhar MacKenzie – if you google Farquhar MacRae MacKenzie you will get a link to his passing

      Steve Groombridge


      1. Hi Steve
        Mate I cannot place you, the memory isn’t quite what it used to be but some of your comment certainly struck a nerve.
        The skipper and I had a falling out, think he was ex Royal Navy anyway he demanded everyone eating in the Mess must be dressed appropiately, I refused and was banished to the engineers mess for the duration.
        After reading your post my comment on the Chief Engineer was wrong, we were the only 2 x aussies onboard on the trip back, after Bordeaux
        I remember the 3rd Engineer’s name was Arno or something like that, also the 2nd Engineer he certainly liked a drink, mind you didn’t we all!!
        Your mentioned the run to Japan from Rabaul, as I recall we hit 2 typhoons off the Philipines on the way to Nagoya, where myself and the 2nd Lecky, Mally Woodcock had our shore leave stopped for holding the ship up from leaving port.
        Remember Farquar, big scotsman, knew his stuff!!
        Also remember the Madang to Bordeaux run, believe it was one of the longest runs of a Bank boat.
        Were you still onboard when we had the bunker spill, think it was Rotterdam? also when we had the scavenge fire in the main engine, spent about 30hrs on and off stopping, then at slow ahead, in an attempt to extinguish the fire
        Where are you domicile mate, UK or elsewhere, you never know could catch up one day, mind you the body might not agree with travelling.
        Anyway great catching up, as I said great times and even better shipmates.


        1. Hi Frank –

          Thans for your reply – I live in the UK – would love to meet but probably will not happen – Keep safe


  2. I joined the MV Willowbank in Liverpool 1st April 1975, paid off 14th October 1975, U.K. – Continent- Pacific Islands fun.


    1. Hi there,
      My Dad was on the Willowbank accompanying kit for a caving expedition to Papua New Guinea in 1975. He remembers being tarred and feathered as he crossed the equator!


all comments welcome!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s