The 1939 WILLOWBANK on her maiden voyage

There were 4 ships ordered in 1937 from W Doxford. The ESK,TEES,ETTRICK, and the WILLOW. Only the ESKBANK and the ETTRICKBANK went on to survive the war.

An interesting snap of Auckland taken in 1939. The second big vessel from the left is the new WILLOWBANK completed 3 months earlier in the year that WW2 started. Sadly, she was torpedoed 1 year later when fully loaded with maize.

At 19.38 hours on 12 Jun, 1940, U-46 fired a stern torpedo at a ship in convoy SL-34 about 220 miles west-northwest of Cape Finisterre and missed the intended target, but hit the Barbara Marie that broke in two and sank. At 19.46 hours, another torpedo was fired which hit the forward part of Willowbank and caused the ship to sink by the bow. The master and 50 crew members from Willowbank (Master Donald Gillies) were picked up by the British motor merchant SWedru. Read more at wrecksite.

Credits: ‘’ and the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

1 thought on “WILLOWBANK

  1. Thanks for the pictures of the Willowbank. Master Donald Gillies was my grandad and he was also torpedoed and sunk during WW1 by a u-boat, he was also a captain at this time. I have his wedding picture with a torpedo on his uniform sleeve. I dont know if the ww1 sinking was a Weir line ship also, if you could please inform me of any information about him you may have i would be very grateful.


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