Domala was an 8,441 ton cargo liner which was built in 1920 and launched as Magnava. Following damage sustained in an air attack in 1940, she was rebuilt as a cargo ship and renamed Empire Attendant. In 1942 she was torpedoed and sunk with the loss of all crew.
|Port of registry:|
|Builder:||Barclay Curle & Company, Whiteinch, Glasgow|
|Launched:||23 December 1920|
|Completed:||14 December 1921|
|In service:||30 December 1921|
|Fate:||Sunk by U-582, 15 July 1942|
|Length:||450 ft (137.16 m)|
|Beam:||58 ft 3 in (17.75 m)|
|Depth:||32 ft 9 in (9.98 m)|
|Propulsion:||2 x SCDA diesel engines (North British Diesel Engine Company) 1,085 hp (809 kW)|
|Speed:||12 knots (22 km/h)|
|Capacity:||158 Saloon class passengers, 11,000 tons of cargo (Domala)|
|Complement:||50 crew, plus 9 DEMS gunners (Empire Attendant)|
Domala was the first ship in the British India Steam Navigation Company's fleet powered by diesel engines. She was built by Barclay, Curle and Company, Whiteinch, Glasgow and launched on 23 December 1920 as Magnava and completed as Domala on 14 December 1921. Her engines were built by the North British Diesel Engine Works, Whiteinch. Domala made her maiden voyage on 30 December 1921, arriving at Bombay, India on 27 January. A speed of 13.5 knots (25.0 km/h) was reported, consuming 17 tons of fuel oil per day. From Bombay, Domala sailed to Karachi, India before returning to London. Domala had accommodation for 158 saloon-class passengers and 11,000 tons of cargo.
She was used on the service to and from Calcutta. On 6 October 1927, she collided with the British cargo ship Sagama River in the River Humber, severely damaging her. On 12 August 1934, Domala ran into the stern of Thames Barge Shannon at Erith, Kent. In 1940, Domala was sent to Antwerp to collect a number of Indian seamen who had been repatriated by Germany. On 2 March 1940, she was attacked by a Heinkel He 111H bomber of KG26 which dropped two sticks of bombs, setting Domala on fire. The order to abandon ship was given but the bomber machine-gunned the ship. A total of 108 of the 291 people on board the ship were killed. The Dutch ship Jong Willem rescued 48 survivors, despite being attacked herself. HMS Viscount assisted in the rescue. Surgeon Lieutenant MacDonald was Mentioned in Despatches for his zeal and devotion to duty, and skill in attending to the wounded survivors. Chief Officer Brawn and Cadet Duval, both crew on Domala were awarded Commendations for their actions. Avro Anson aircraft of 48 Squadron assisted in the rescue. On fire, Domala was towed to the Solent where she was beached. On 19 March, she was towed to Southampton where the decision was made to convert her to a cargo ship. Domala was requisitioned by the Ministry of War Transport and renamed Empire Attendant.
Cadet Bernard John Duval, Merchant Navy was awarded the King's Commendation for Brave Conduct for services aboard the M.V. Domala for "services when the ship was bombed and damaged" and Lloyd's War Medal for Bravery at Sea
The citation reads: "The ship was attacked during darkness by an enemy aircraft, which dropped a bomb, putting the main engines out of action and setting her on fire. She also carried a number of lascars captured from various vessels by an enemy raider, who were being taken home. Many were hurt and some killed. At great risk to himself, Cadet Duval, a lad of seventeen, gave a fine example of bravery, doing all he could to save his second officer’s life".
As a result of the attack, questions were asked in Parliament by Manny Shinwell about the lack of use of the guns carried on Domala in her defence. Winston Churchill replied that the aircraft that attacked Domala had been initially misidentified as a friendly one, which was why the guns were not manned. A British destroyer also misidentified the aircraft. It was also asked why the gunners were not always manning the guns. In India, there was public anger towards Germany as a result of the attack. Eighty-one of those killed were Indian citizens.
Empire Attendant was entirely reconstructed. She was placed under the management of Andrew Weir & Co (Bank Line). Empire Attendant took part in a number of convoys during the war.
- HX 97
- HX 120
- OS 33
Convoy OS 33 sailed from Liverpool on 1 July 1942. On 10 July 1942 Pelican reported that Empire Attendant had broken down for the seventh time and was straggling, being at least 20 miles (32 km) behind the convoy. At 03:30 hrs CET on 15 July, she was torpedoed and sunk by U-582 off the west coast of Africa at 23°48′N 21°51′W with the loss of all 59 crew. The crew are commemorated on panel 38 of the Tower Hill Memorial.
Domala was powered by two 8-cylinder diesel engines, type 4SSA. Cylinders were 873 mm bore, 1194 mm stroke. The engines were built by the North East Diesel Engine Company. Domala was capable of 12 knots (22 km/h).
Official number and code letters
Official Numbers were a forerunner to IMO Numbers.
Domala and Empire Attendant had the UK Official Number 146266 and used the Code Letters GDMV
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- See: 2012
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