War Survivor Eaglescliffe Hall
By James Donahue
253 feet the Eaglescliffe Hall was never meant to be anything more than a bulk freighter on the Great Lakes. Its length defines
the vessel as a “canaller,” which means it was designed to enter the lakes via the old Welland Canal locks. But
when war came, this Canadian ship joined the North Atlantic merchant fleet, serving allied forces during the Second World
The ship was launched in 1928 at South
Bank, Middlesbrough, England, for the Hall Corporation of Canada. When the war began, the Hall was refitted for ocean duty
and began carrying material vital to the war effort. The ship did not escape German attacks, some of its crew perished, but
the vessel miraculously survived the war and returned to the lakes.
The Eaglescliffe Hall was part of the ill-fated Convoy SC-7, steaming from Sidney, Nova Scotia, that fell under
heavy U-boat attack in October, 1940. The convoy was poorly escorted and a number of vessels were sunk. The Hall had fallen
behind the convoy and was not seen by the Germans. The ship was able to pick up survivors in the water and safely reach port.
The Hall made several more dangerous trips in convoys. While anchored
off Sunderland in August, 1941, the ship was attacked by German bombers. One bomb fell into the hold but it failed to explode.
The second bomb hit the side of the ship and glanced off, also failing to detonate. But a third bomb hit the engine room,
killing the chief engineer, one other sailor, and wounding several other men. The freighter did not sink and was towed into
Tyne for repair.
In 1955 the old freighter
was sold to Colonial Steamships Ltd and renamed the David Barclay. It left the lakes once again in 1961 after being sold to
Kingcome Navigation Ltd. of Vancouver, BC. The company tore away the superstructure, removed its engines and converted it
for use as a lumber barge. It sank that October while under tow off British Columbia.