Ships 2

Eaglescliff Hall

Ships 3

Eaglescliffe Hall

War Survivor Eaglescliffe Hall

By James Donahue

At 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 War.

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.