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The Enemy Below by zulumike The Enemy Below by zulumike

Artwork Representation:

On March 21, 1941, the British steam merchant ship SS Benwyvis was sailing in convoy SL.68 with a cargo of rice, lead, timber and and 150 tons of tungsten ore from Rangoon via Capetown when she was torpedoed by U-105. The approximate position was 20.00N, 26.00W (N of the Cape Verde Islands). M/V King Edgar rescued seventeen crew members and took them to Freetown. One survivor was rescued by a French vessel after spending twenty-eight days in a life-boat and landed in Madagascar. The master (Henry John Small), thirty-two crew members (all from Leith) and one DEMS gunner (name unknown) were lost. It should be noted that tungsten was a very valuable metal used in the making of armor steel, electronics, machining tools, radar, armor piecring shells………..over 15,000 war items used tungsten.

Statistics show that the allied merchant marines was a dangerous job during WW II:

Total Losses for Allied Merchant Marines

In 1942, the average sinking of Allied merchant ships was thirty-three ships each week.

If we look at the total Merchant Marine Navy losses during World War 11 the figures look like this:

British Merchant Marine: 25,070 Men Killed 2,426 Ships Sunk

US Merchant Marine: 6,838 Men Killed 848 Ships Sunk (+1800 Naval guards Killed). 1 out of 23 U.S. Merchant Marine seaman were killed during WW2.

Canadian Seamen 1,146 Men Killed

The failure of the Japanese to sail their merchant ships in convoy without adequate protection was one of the most appalling blunders in naval history, which resulted in the loss of 63% of their merchant shipping and contributed to their losing the War.

Of the 5,150 Allied merchant vessels sunk during WWII, 2,828 were sunk by Axis submarines. In the end, the U-boat fleet suffered extremely heavy casualties, losing 793 U-boats and about 28,000 submariners (a 75% casualty rate, the highest of all German forces during the war).

Let us not forget these brave seaman who supplied the war material and supplies during WW2.

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RD-DD1843 Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2014
The U-boat campaign of 1940-42 was devastatingly affective against  England at the time, and for a time against the U.S. (from Dec. 1941 to the summer of 1942 U-boats considered their cruises in "Operation Drumbeat" against the U.S. their "happy time" for the number of almost effortless, sitting duck kills.  After the summer of 1942, with growing use of sonar and convoys, it became less so, and by 1943 the reversal really being felt with more and more submarines being sunk.  I believe at the end of the war 8,000 German submariners had been lost trying to continue their fight. 
InfiniteRespect Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
And they also lost 40,000 out of the entire sub corps, which was 46,000 men

Also did you happen to get that info out of the book ''Battle of the Atlantic'' by Andrew Williams?
RD-DD1843 Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2015
No.  I saw a program about the story on the History Channel late last year.
InfiniteRespect Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
umhlali Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2014
Great painting Mike, but unfortunately you have the wrong "Benwyvis" depicted. The one you have painted was built in 1957 as the "Waroonga" for the British India Steam Navigation Company, then was transferred within the organisation  to the P&O Line (Peninsular & Oriental Steam Nav Co) and renamed "Pando Point' she was sold in the 1970's to the Ben Line and renamed "Benwyvis".The ship sunk in 1941 was built in 1929 and was considerably different in appearance.

I am an ex British merchant seaman, and a Marine artist, and the first thing I realised that you have to do is research and accuracy when painting on commission, otherwise sadly you get people like me on your back.......I love your light effects and the way you have captured the ocean, really lovely...I do hope I haven't offended you, but I do have hundreds of ship photographs including both "Benwyvis'es" actually there were 5 in all the last one built for the Ben Line in1966.

Kind Regards
Ian Boyd ,Hillcrest South Africa
zulumike Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I do appreciate your feedback and critique. Thank You.

i do try to take my time in the research of my artwork out of the respect of the men and women involved with the subject. I missed this one. I will verify my next work more closely.

its nice to here from a professional artist with your talent and background and to make a new  friend with the appreciation of nautical art. 

Can you send me a photo of the ship that was sunk in 1941? If not I will pull this work and replace with another maybe. I wanted to show the perils and danger of the Allied Merchant Marines during WW2. 

Cheers, Mike
umhlali Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2014
Hi Mike,
Thanks for your reply, I'll try to send a photo of the 1929 Benwyvis to you but I'm new to the site  and still finding out how it works !

I appreciate your sentiment regarding the Allied Merchant Navies in WW2, there is a wonderful Memorial to all the British and Commonwealth seamen who perished  just doing their job at Tower Hill in London, it has a sort of eerie feel about  which is hard to describe. Every ship lost is there with all the names of the crew member who didn't make it.....

Anyway lets see if I can send the picture, perhaps you can give me a few tips...
All the Best
zulumike Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Try sending it to my email as an attachment:

Thank You,

BillyNikoll Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
warrior1944 Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2014
Stunning painting there of a sinking :)
zulumike Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank You, appreciate the feedback.
Midway2009 Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
A casualty of the U-boats. :salute:
MensjeDeZeemeermin Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2014
A noble image, well-composed, with a noble sentiment behind it.. The Black Gang almost never got out.
zulumike Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you, you are correct, the "Black Gang" were usually the last to escape due to the location of the engine room and boilers at the very bottom of the ship.

The 'down-below' seamen were responsible for working the boiler rooms and their adjacent coal bunkers. Collectively, they were known as the 'Black Gang', a term that lasted well into the diesel era. Strictly speaking, 'Black Gang' referred to the trimmers and firemen - the men in the stokeholds and the bunkers. 'Stoker' and 'fireman' are two different titles for the same job, but the term 'fireman' is almost exclusively used on ships. The normal 'Black-gang' might consist of six firemen, two trimmers and a 'peggy'; altogether, on a '3-watch' ship, a total of 27 men.
MensjeDeZeemeermin Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2014
I once walked and wriggled to the Orlop on a Liberty Ship, through the engine room.  I realized that the crew at that level had almost no chance of survival.
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Submitted on
July 22, 2014
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