Belgian Airman.

The Sinking of the Belgian Airman:

Originally known as Empire Ballantyne, she was built for MoWT and managed by WA Souter & Co. Ltd located in Newcastle upon Tyne. On February 14, 1942, she was transferred to the Régie de la Marine of the Belgian Government and took the name Belgian Airman. At that time she was managed by Compagnie Maritime Beige located in Antwerp.

On April 25, 1942, Belgian Airmen rescued 23 survivors from 3,841 GRT SS Modesta, which was torpedoed and sunk by U-108 at 33°40'N 63°10'W. They took the survivors to Bermuda.

The Belgian Airman was a member of a number of convoys during the war. On January 12, 1943, as a member of Convoy ON 162, she left Liverpool and arrived in New York on February 11. Their captain, Captain H.C. Birmie was the head of the convoy of ships on this voyage. On a return voyage to Liverpool from New York, she was a part of the Convoy HX 229. They departed on February 28, 1943, and arrived in Liverpool on March 15.  On the way, March 4 at 1:50 PM at 44° 15N, 59° 44'W,  it separated from the convoy and proceeded to Halifax, Nova Scotia to reduce the size of the convoy to 60 ships. From here it connected with Convoy HS 229A, which had left New York on March 9, 1943. Belgian Airman joined the convoy in Halifax on March 12. During this voyage, she was carrying a cargo of steel and timber. During the voyage, it struck ice and was diverse to Reykjavik, Iceland,

On April 8, 1945, the Belgian Airman left Houston headed to New York and Antwerp, Belgium.  Onboard was a cargo of sorghum and dairy feed. At 8:50 AM on April 14 the unescorted Belgian Airman was about 70 miles northeast of Cape Hatteras when it was torpedoed and sunk by U-857. One crew member was killed in the attack. The forty-six survivors were rescued by the American Liberty ship Harold A. Jordan.  The survivors were taken to New York.


Built: 1942 Sunk: April 14, 1945
Type of Vessel: Steam Merchant Owner: Belgian Government
Builder: Harland & Wolff Ltd, Govan, Glasgow Power: Diesel
Port of registry: Antwerp Dimensions: 432.7' x 56.3'
Previous Names: Empire Ballantyne  


Here is the location of the sinking: 36° 09'N, 74° 05'W



Total Lost: 1, Survivors: 46

LastFirstDate of DeathPositionHomeAge
 Bergmans Karel April 14, 1945 Donkeyman    


A  listing of the surviving crew: 

Bermot  William DEMS Gunner      
Boogaerts Emiel Able Seaman      
Brownrigg George DEMS Gunner      
Cailloux Ernest Master/Captain      
* Catteau Henri Fourth Engineer Officer      
Chapman Ernest DEMS Gunner      
Claes Roland Ordinary Seaman      
Claeys Frederik Junior Fourth Engineer Officer      
Cohen Ralph Third Radio Officer Jan. 13, 1925   20
Cools Henri Assistant Engineer      
Cupido Issac Galley Boy      
DeWitte David Able Seaman      
** Delpire George L.A. First Radio Officer Sept. 7, 1910    24
Demeersman Pieter Mess Room Steward      
Devisser Pieter Donkeyman      
Dua John Chief Engineer  Officer      
Flores Johan Wiper      
Goethals Theofiel Carpenter      
*** Hoogstege Arent Able Seaman      
Hoyelle Léonard Senior Fourth Engineer Officer      
Huygens Albert Able Seaman      
Jordan John Second Radio Officer      
Lambert Raymond Second Officer      
Laurie George Able Seaman      
Lemoine Adolphe Wiper      
Loyens Jozef Second Cook      
Lus Robert Able Seaman      
Maes Frans Able Seaman      
Marivoet Jacques Second Engineer Officer      
Mintiens Albert Able Seaman      
Neys Willem Mess Room Steward      
Piron Maurice DEMS Gunner      
Put Marcel Chief Cook      
Rousel Gaspard Third Officer      
Tacon Alfons DEMS Gunner      
Talboom Frans Wiper      
**** Talboom Kamiel Boatswain      
*****Van Deert Fernand Chief Officer      
Van Stein Georges DEMS Gunner      
Van Vlierberghe Paul Mess Room Steward      
Vandecasserie Edouard Fourth Officer      
Vanlandeghem Frans Able Seaman      
Vekemans Petrus Steward      
Vermeersch Philippe Cadet      

 * He was an Assistant Engineer on the Jean Jadot when it was sunk on Jan. 20, 1943, by German U-boat U-453.
** He was a Radio Officer on the Belgian Soldier when it was sunk on Aug. 3, 1942, by German U-boat U-553.
*** He was an Able Seaman on the Mokambo when it was sunk on May 1, 1943, by German U-boat U-515.
****He was an Able Seaman on the Bruxelles when it was sunk on June 9, 1942, by German U-boat U-502.
*****He was a Second Officer on the Alex van Opstal when it was sunk on Sept. 15, 1939, by German U-boat U-26 and was Second Officer on the Mercier on June 10, 1942, when it was sunk by German U-boat U-204.

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