25th July 1940 S.S. LEO sunk off Folkestone

S.S LEO, built in 1908, a steel collier, ex (SPES). Built by Stettiner Oderwerke, Germany, screw, Triple Expansion Steam Engine 128HP, 2 Boilers, lenght 226ft x 34ft beam. Owner Ellerman Wilson Line. Cargo Coal. 1,536 tons.


LEO was part of Convoy No CW8."(Black Thursday" Consisting of 23 ships, mostly Colliers, of which only 11 survived to pass Dungeness a further three being lost further down channel. Leo was attacked at 4pm four JU-87's German Divebomers Attacking her from the Starboard quarter, dropping bombs and Machine gunning her.

On "Black Thursday", July 25, 1940. In convoy "CW8" on that day LEO was placed astern of another collier called the "TAMWORTH". The Merchant Navy gunner on the TAMWORTH was John Gallagher.
He described the end of the LEO like this. "At 4pm the klaxon for action stations blared throughout the ship and out across the water to our mates. Astern the LEO was already closed up. We waved to the gunners on the LEO, they waved back.

Then there was a howl of dive bombers. I fired our stern 12 pounder at them. Walls of spray burst up around us, suddenly four Junker's 87's came rocketing over the waves towards us on the starboard quarter, machine guns going and hitting. My gun wouldn't bear but Eric Speckman on the bridge with our Lewis gun was grinning his head off as he blazed away at them.

Then the planes were over and gone. I looked astern. There was no LEO, a hull steadily shouldering in the waves away behind us. There was just the bottom of a ship rolling in the water, with two men standing on the propeller shaft as the upturned hull drifted astern of the convoy. Moments later Gallager got shot in and blew another JU87 to pieces. And then the TAMWORTH was hit, but was towed to Dover.


Sunk off Folkestone on 25th July 1940


BLACKBURN CHARLES, Greaser, Merchant Navy, Age 44, Son of James William and Sarah Ann Blackburn, of Hull. Husband of Elizabeth Lucy Blackburn of Hull.

LEE WILLIAM TREVER, Second Engineer Officer, Merchant Navy, Age 31, Son of John and Fanny Lee of Hull.

SANDY HENRY, Boatswain, Merchant Navy, Age 55 Husband of Hannah Sandy of Hull.

SMITH ALEXANDER MCDONALD, Greaser, Merchant Navy, Age 45, Husband of Eliza Ann Smith of Hull.

SMITH JOHN EDWARD Fireman and Trimmer, Merchant Navy, Age 35.

SULLIVAN CORNELIUS Able Seaman, Merchant Navy, Age 60

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission

We should remember them.

This shipwreck is not protected as an offical War Grave.

However WW1 mementoes or souvenirs taken by divers from this shipwreck including the bones of the dead, should be reported to the Receiver of Wreck. https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/receiver-of-wreck