SS Breda

On 23 December 1940 SS Breda was one of the convoy ships at anchor in the Firth of Lorn. She was laden with a wide variety of goods, on route to the Indian Ocean. She was targeted and bombed by German aircraft, and while not directly hit, the force created such damage as to cripple her, and she began to flood. She was taken in tow, into the safety of Ardmucknish Bay, and beached, while efforts were made to salvage her cargo. A storm blew up and the wind and tide took her back into deeper water, where she sunk.
For many years she was still visible, until she was blown up for marine safety. Some cargo remained and some has been recovered over the years.
She is now a very popular dive site.

There are lots of references to the story of the sinking of SS Breda in Ardmucknish Bay during WW2.
Canmore site record

There is a story of a Spy being caught on Tralee Beach with maps : can you help us learn more?

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some snippets

The ship was built at the Nieuwe Waterweg Scheepsbouwmaatschappij ("New Waterway Shipbuilding Company") yard at Schiedam for the Koninklijke Nederlandsche Stoomboot Maatschappij ("Royal Netherlands Steamship Company"). Laid down on 16 December 1919, she was not launched until 2 July 1921, and finally completed on 10 December 1921. The 6,941 GRT ship was 122.69 metres (402 ft 6 in) long, and 17.78 metres (58 ft 4 in) wide, and was powered by two Metropolitan-Vickers steam turbine engines, giving her a top speed of 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph). She had five cargo holds, and could also accommodate up to 87 passengers.1

After the invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940 the Breda fled to Britain, where she was placed under the control of the P&O Line, and armed with a single 4.7-inch (120 mm) gun.2

On 23 December 1940 a group of Heinkel 111s took off from their base at Stavanger in German occupied Norway laden with four 551 -lb bombs and two larger 1,102-lb bombs each. A few hours later they were streaking across Scotland at their fully laden speed of 193mph destined for a raid on convoys forming up in the Royal Navy deep water anchorage, the Oban Roads. There waited the Breda, on a voyage from London to Mombassa, Bombay & Karachi, her holds full with Hawker biplanes, 30 De Havilland Moths, spares, cement and other general goods destined to resupply British Air bases.

The pilot of one Heinkel picked out the Breda as his target and let go his stick of four 551 -lb bombs. The bombs straddled the vessel but the force of the blast nearby shattered internal piping and sheared off a cooling water inlet pipe. The Breda started to flood with water killing all steam and the ship's electrics. She was taken in tow and a course set to beach her on a narrow shallow shelf where hopefully the vessel and her cargo could be saved.

She was successfully beached but when only a fraction of the cargo had been saved, stormy winter seas and tides conspired to pull her off the narrow shelf and she slid into deeper water.3

Cargo : "Breda" SS, a 6.941 ton single-funnel Dutch steamer, built in Holland, 1921. 418 ft x 58 ft. Armed: 4.7 inch on stern. 3.000 tons cement, 175 tons tobacco and cigarettes, three Hawker biplanes, 30 De Havilland Tiger Moths, spare parts for the aircraft, Army lorries and spares, NAAFI crockery, copper ingots, rubber-soled sandals, 10 horses and nine dogs, London for Bombay.

Mary McNiven from Dalvuie Farm, rowed out to the wreck and saved one of the horses.

A book of this story is Stranded At Staffna written by Helen Solomon. First published 1979. ISBN 0 904223 36 1 Printed by A Wheaton & Co Ltd Exeter. Amazon sellers have copies.

It was called Bradshaws, one of the Aga Khans 10 race horses that were on board the Breda. For this rescue Mary McNiven was honoured by the Royal Humane Society.
There were quite a number of horses, in transport boxes, on the deck, with the horses tied in them.
A number of these and other transport boxes floated off the wreck, were dashed on the rocks around the shore, in the Falls of Lora and even got as far as Maiden Island, which was struck by an RAF flying boat on landing. This aircraft broke up after striking the half submerged box, and may still be there; certainly scallop dredgers have found aircraft debris in this area.
Reportedly there were also a casualty from the Home Guard shooting one of the horses in the dark.. having shouted Halt, who goes there, but getting no answer except more movement and horses.
Other horses survived, some of which remained in the area, the last one dying in Oban in 1961.
One of the boxes had a dog sitting on top, and there was the body of a monkey found along the shore at Benderloch with a collar inscribed "SS Breda" around its neck.

The Breda has long been a popular dive site, with some of her remaining cargo being accessible still.
There has even been a wedding "on board" in the mid 1990's (

You can visit her yourself through the wonders of Youtube

and | here is the Divenet tour (The Breda easily qualifies as Scotland's most-dived wreck, and it is not hard to see why.)

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