Christine Quilliam - July '08
In response to anyone knowing George Quilliam, he is
my dad and yes he was on The Reina. He was the Quarter
Master on the wheel when she run aground on the Bermuda
Flats. Please get back in touch to christinequilliamathotmaildotcom
would be great to hear from anyone who knew my dad way
Karen Leckey - May '08
Hello, my father-Tom Donnelly also was aboard the Reina Del Pacifico when the
explosion happened. He also worked in the engine room. He had left the area
to go to the toilet and on his return as he reached for the engine room door
it blew out.
He went down into the engine room and helped to get people out. He always talked
out seeing men with the flesh on their arms hanging off like long gloves. He
never had a decent nights sleep after that-I suppose now we would call it post
Angela Giese - February '08
I am an editorial journalist for a German documentary
called "missing" - we are trying to find
long lost people for their relatives. In this context
I am looking for JOSÉ LUIS PADILLA, who was
working on the REINA DEL MAR in 1958 and/ until 1960.
In 1958 he conceived a son (Michael Baarsch) while
sailing from Peru to Germany who has been looking for
his father José Luis Padilla for now almost
50 years.Maybe somebody can give me some hints or further
details, maybe some of you or your relatives who used
to work on the Reina del Mar even knew him??
To JIM MCLAUGHLIN: If the barmaid was the captain's
daughter..do you have any of her contact details??
If so, please let me know and email me: angela.giese
at endemol.de or give me a quick call: 0049.221.65030-836
or just post something here!
Thank you all so much,
William Kerr - Dec '07
My uncle Bob McKay was badly injured in the explosion,
he lived in Whiteabbey. his back was so badly damaged
that he had to wear a metal brace for the rest of his
life. I was told that the shipyard deducted a half
day's pay from the men who were injured!
William Ian Morrison. - Mar '07
I was also on the Reina DEL pPacifico in 1947 when the
Since then I have been in shipbuilding in Belfast,Sweden
AND Glasgow,then to London where I formed my own company
involved in shipbuilding and ship repairing Worldwide.
Still consultant to various shipyards even at 75 .
Lou Pace - Feb '07
It looks like there are a few posts here from
crew members of the Reina del Pacifico. Does anyone
remember a George Quilliam who may have been a member
of the crew? Is there a listing of the victims of the
engine room explosion? Any information would be appreciated.
Alex Jackson - Nov '06
I remember the explosion of the "rio" quite
well, I lived in Greenisland and can rember seeing the
badly burned who lived locally walking up the Station
road, a terrible sight. There was a Billy Morrison mentioned
in the comments, I wonder did he come from whiteabbey.
I now live in Canada, in Niagara Falls, Ontario, but
still try to make it back every year if possible, Greenisland,
Whiteabbey and Carrickfergus hold terrific memories,
ones I will never forget.
Robbie Champion - Nov '06
Have just stumbled on this article and site while looking
up some info for my son who is interested in the family
history. My father was killed in the Reina del Pacifico
explosion on 9 September 1947. His name was Robert McClure
(more often known as Bobbie), he was 24 years old and
employed as a fitter. He left a loving wife (Ray) and
my brother and myself. I was born 5 weeks after he died
and was called Roberta after him. My father was a talented
sportsman and I am told he was a promising footballer
- playing for some of the Belfast teams in an amateur
capacity - I know Cliftonville was mentioned as one.
I wonder does anyone reading this remember him? Mum
couldn't talk about the tragedy - I think it always
remained too raw for her and indeed she never remarried.
I really wish I had known him.
Mr Lawrence Shaw - Aug '06
My father, Jack Shaw (1912-1993]) served his apprenticeship
with Workman & Clark, Belfast and moved to Harland
& Wolff when they closed down. He often mentioned
the explosion on the Reina del Pacifico having worked
on her at the shipyard, I was 10 years old at the time
and can recall him speaking of the disaster many times.
Dad served on the MV Merchant Prince, MV Robert F Hand,
MV Gold Finder and the MV Chant, which was a three island
tanker. We survived the Blitz in 1941 when we lived
at 11 Whitewell Drive Greencastle and migrated to Australia
on the Mooltan in 1951. I served in the RAN and Australian
Merchant Navy on many vessels over many years, i'm a
grandfather, now retired on the New South Wales Central
Coast. Regards. Laurie Irish Shaw.
Grenville Redmond - Aug '06
My Dad, Bob Redmond (d. 1988) worked in H&W before,
during and just after the 2nd WW as an engineer and
draughtsman. He told me of this incident in which he
lost some of his friends. He recalled how it affected
everyone at the yard. I work overseas mostly, but have
lived in Whitehead for 20 years (the bright orange house
on the promenade!) and love to see the H&W ships
or oil exploration vessels or whatever going in and
out of the lough. I don't think my Dad was on the Reina
del Pacifico at the time, but he would have liked it
that people remember men like Fred Johnston, Charlie
Thompson, etc. Thanks for this article.
Next time you or your parents are visiting Whitehead
please rap our door and come in for a cup of tea and
Anthony Quelcutti - Aug '06
My father was a Gibraltar evacuee. He is about 68 years
old. He has an older brother aged about 80 who is very
knowledgeable about what happened. They were in Kensington
and then on to Northern Ireland and back to kensington.
My father is Jose Quelcutti and my uncle Oscar.
Eleanor Boyd (nee Morrison) - July
My dad, Billy Morrison, survived the explosion. He was
down in the engine room at the time and took the full
force of it. After miraculously surviving it and spending
the next six years in and out of hospitals (he was over
90% burned). I'm glad to say that he's still alive at
the age of 94! He's had a very productive and fulfilling
life, despite his appearance, and he attributes his
survival to his faith in God.
Jim Mclaughlin - June '06
I have been following this story with interest since
my post Aug. 04 (Jim McLaughlin). Daphne Hamill posted
her recollections about the Reina and the survivors
of the Repulse and Prince of Wales. A shiver ran up
my back, My father worked on the reina, and my wifes
uncle was killed on the repulse aged 20. They say its
a small world.
Bettina - May '06
I have just bought a cigarette case with this ships
name and picture on. It has been interesting reading
about this ship and all your comments. It is just sad
it had terrible consequencies connected to it
Robert Johnston Gibraltar - Jan '06
Hi, I found your site whilst looking into our family
tree my grand father Frederick Johnston was the chief
engineer on the Reina when the explosion occurred. He
survived the blast but died some days later in hospital.
He had served on the ship through out the 2nd war when
it was used as a troop carrier and had been in the british
artillery in the 1st war. His son Trevor served with
P.S.N.C in amongst other ships the REINA DEL MAR, the
pacifico's sister ship until he retired ....... regards
to your father.
Joe Gingell, Gibraltar - Jan '06
I am carrying out a research about the Gibraltar evacuees
during World War Two and find the comments about the
Reina del Pacifico very interesting. From 1944 to 1950
there were about 7000 Gibraltar evacuees living in camps
in Northern Ireland. In my research I found out that
a few evacuees worked in the Belfast shipyard. These
workers lived at a camp in Carryduff.
On the day of the explosion there was a Gibraltar employee
working on the Reina del Pacifico during her trials.
His name was Leo Guilliano, a plumber working in the
boilers’ room. Ten minutes before the accident
this employee decided to go aloft to wash his hands
for the tea break and was lucky enough to escape the
brunt of the explosion. I have photographs of the Gibraltar
employees on the deck of the Reina del Pacifico. I have
also photographs of the Gibraltar evacuees in the different
camps in Northern Ireland. The presence of the Gibraltar
evacuees in Northern Ireland came about as result of
the outbreak of the Second World War when the bulk of
the civilian population in Gibraltar had to be evacuated.
The majority of these evacuees went to London where
they stayed until July 1944. As a result of the flying
bombs, of a total of 13500 evacuees in London 6500 were
repatriated to Gibraltar after the war. The remainder
7000 were taken to Northern Ireland were many remained
in exile for almost 6 years because of the acute shortage
of accommodation in Gibraltar.
I would be very grateful to get in touch with anyone
who would like help with my research about the Gibraltar
evacuees. I am particularly interested in any information
regarding the Gibraltar evacuees in London, at the transit
camps in Neilston and Bridge of Weir in Scotland or
Chorley in Lancashire and later in Northern Ireland.
Norman Gibson - Jan '06
My father was on the Reina del Pacifico from April to
May 1945, en route to what he called his "own"
ship, HMS Hunter, an Escort Aircraft Carrier that went
on to Ceylon and Singapore. In Singapore, some of the
Hunter's officers were present at the signing of the
Japanese surrender on 12th September. [From my father's
personal journal]. I was only five at the time of the
explosion on Reina del Pacifico and have no idea if
my father would have learned of the tragedy after the
War. He himself died in 1978.
Geoffrey Osborne - Dec 05
I was apprentice in Tilbury docks 1950 -1955. I worked
later in London docks with second engineer from Reina
del Mar and he was second on Reina del Pacifico. He
had been in six episodes but was on the sister ship
when that occured. He gave me good advice where to stand
during manoeuvering. I noted on later explosions the
positions of dead and injured, especially when reversing
after running on heavy fuel. The main advance from the
Reina del Pacifico was the introduction of wire rope
ladders to enable access after explosions. The later
monitoring devices eliminated crank case explosions.
Mr Hunter was on the Murmansk convoys and gave me the
answer to a question - why do some ships have steam
supplies in their water intakes? It was to prevent blockage
Phil Palmer - Oct '05
My grandfather (aged 96) was on the Reina del Pacifico
for 2 transports in 1944 I think he was Chief Writer
He is still alive and well and living in Teignmouth,
Steve Ryan - August '05
My father was on this ship sometime in 1950/1 but I
know very little else. I think that he was the 4th 5th
engineer if that is the correct term. His name was Ronnie
Ryan and he died at the very young age of 41 in 1968.
It would be interesting if anyone recognises the name.
Charlotte White (nee Thompson ) -
I was very interested to read Ann Downey`s article on
the Reina del Pacifico. My father Charlie Thompson was
one of the badly burned and only survived for nine days.
I was the oldest of three, and my youngest brother was
just six weeks old at the time of the accident.
My Brother and I live in England and I was interested
to read that Robert Downey had a house in Whitehead
N.Ireland as my brother`s mother-in law also lives in
Whitehead. He was on holiday there when I found the
article and I immediately contacted him with the news.
He rang an R. Downey listed in the telephone book but
got no responce. We will keep on trying .....
Thank you Ann Downey for this information. after such
a long time it was really good to read your letter.
Russell Thompson - August '05
My Father Charles Thompson was killed on the Reina del
in 1947. I was 5 weeks old at the time. My mother Lily
Thompson didn't talk much about what happened and I
am keen to hear from anyone who knew my father.
James Mc Master - July '05
I was an apprentice joiner in the shipyard when the
terrible explosion occurred on the Reina Del Pacifico
at sea. I remember standing on the deck of the MV Debret
as the Reina Del Pacifico was towed back into the shipyard.
Shipyard workers stood with their caps off and their
heads bowed as the crippled ship passed by. The shipyard
was absolutely silent. There were many lunchtime concerts
held and collections taken for the relatives of the
victims. The talents of the workers in the concerts
was unbelievable. Irish tenors, ventriloquists, comedians
Kevin Hendstock, Qld Australia - May
I used to see the Reina Del in the Mersey as a small
boy. I resolved that, one day, I would become the Capt
of the Reina Del Pacifico . In 1981, I flew from Australia
to the UK, bought a yacht, a Westerly 33, and sailed
it to Istanbul from the Solent , with my wife and young
schoolgirl daughter We lived aboard her for 3 years.
I wrote to Harland and Wolfe in Belfast to tell the
the story of the schoolboy who made a resolution to
become master of the Reina Del Pacifico ................and
made ...if but by proxy . They sent me a 10x8 photo
of the Reina Del Pacifico.
I was on a cruise on the Fairstar out of Sydney . It
was the Captain's cocktail party . The Capt was P&O.
The steward at the entrance to the saloon asked me my
name to relay it to the Capt.
I said " Capt Hendstock of the Reina Del Pacifico
The Capt roared with laughter when I told him my Reina
Del was Westerly ketch only 10.6 tons.
Maurice R. Dawe - May '05
Interesting to read this article, I am from Northern
Ireland but at the time of the incident I was in South
Africa on the Royal navy cruiser HMS Nigeria. My brother
who was in the RAF came home from South Africa in 1945
on the Reina Del Pacifico. It was a tragedy that never
should have happend. Incidently I too live in Canada,
in the city of Barrie, Ontario.
Allan Gadd - March 05
Hi. My dad was on the Reina Del Mar as a deck hand travelling
to Canada mainly. He was in the merchant navy. His other
ships include Boniface, Empress of Canada and Bernard.
His name is Frank Gadd. If anyone realises the name
I am sure he would love to get in touch. His main routes
were Liverpool to Brazil.
Phil Smith - March 05
I travelled on the Reina from Liverpool to Bermuda via
La Rochelle and Santander in April 1955 aged three,
with my mother. I remember the cabin and the dining
room, which seemed quite grand. I also recall seeing
the ship from under the dockside sheds, where there
were rail tracks, before we embarked in Liverpool. Our
trip was uneventful, but in November 1957 my grandparents
travelling on the same route, woke up one night between
Bermuda and the Azores to find the ship dead in the
water, with banging coming from the engine room.
On arrival at Bermuda, we on the steam tender Chauncey
M Depew, had to wait out at Five Fathom Hole for her
late arrival, since she could not get in through the
reef before nightfall. Normally she would have proceeded
to Murray's Anchorage, a safe and calm place to lie.
Her draught was more than any of the harbours would
On the Reina's last trip in 1958, she was travelling
down the Irish Sea outward bound on her usual route,
when another engine room explosion occurred. I don't
know whether there were any injuries, but the ship was
towed into I think, Fishguard, where the passengers
disembarked. I see that she was taken from there to
Newport to be broken up. I am afraid she was somewhat
I remember seeing her at night at anchor in Murray's
Anchorage, in April 1958 during her penultimate outward
voyage, on what was to be her final visit to the Island.
I live in Poole, England nowadays...
Daphne Hamill - November '04
I have just found the article on the demise of the above
ship. My father, mother, brother, and myself travelled
on the Reina del Pacifico in July 1942 from Durban via
Capetown to Liverpool. We travelled with the survivoirs
of the Repulse and Prince of Wales. These two ships
were torpedoed by the Japanese.
Helen Francey, Sydney, Australia -
Your posting on the Reina del Pacifico brought back
memories for me. In the late 1950's I was working at
Woolworth's, High St, Belfast. One of our customers
was a gentleman who had suffered dreadful burns, especially
to the facial area. I remember being told that he was
a survivor of the Reina del Pacifico disaster. Although
I knew little about it I never forgot the name of the
ship, or that gentleman who had suffered so much.
Kind Regards. Helen Francey.
Jim Mclaughlin - August '04
My father Jim Mclaughlin was a riveter on the Pacifico
fortunately he was not in the engine room at the time
of the accident however he told me after the accident
workmen wanted to cut a plate out of the side shell
to allow access to the injured and were prevented from
doing so by a manager who was more interested in minimizing
damage to the ship than saving men. The manager was
physically removed by workers and the plate was burned
My dad also worked on the sister ship Reina del Mar
and later sailed on her to Peru where he worked for
several years in a shipyard there. Many years later
after his retirement we dropped into a bar in Portavogie
for a pint, and on the wall was a picture of the Reina
del Mar, we asked the barmaid about this and she told
us her father had been the captain of the ship.
Robert Downey - 9 August '04
I would be very interested in corresponding with anyone
related to Harland & Wolff during this time
Karen Leckey - 9 August '04
My Dad, Tom Donnelly, was a survivor of this accident
too. He was only 24 at the time.
He had left the engine room and when he returned, as
he reached for the door, the explosion blew it out towards
him. He spoke about the day sometimes. He recalled seeing
men with the flesh hanging off their arms like gloves,
having been scalded and of helping to carry people to
safety. It traumatised him, he never slept properly
after that. I suppose nowadays it would be called post
traumatic stress disorder.
Many years later he and a colleague broke into a house
that was ablaze to try to rescue a mother and two children.
The mother was dead from smoke inhalation, but when
they found the children they had been burned and the
flesh had fallen away from their bones too, it brought
it all back again to him.
Reina del Pacifico was something he carried with him
Joseph Todd - 5 August '04
My Dad came from Ballymena and was working in the shipyards
for Harland and Wolff from 1946 to 1949 before leaving
for Canada.Iwas raised in Mississauga as well.Mum and
Dad still reside there. He may have some knowledge to
Davy Wilson - 7 July '04
The manager who was the overseer at most of H&W launches,
Mr Watt, he gave me my instructions for the launch of
the Krossfonn. Mr Watt also survived that explosion.
I believe he was badly scarred. A very pleasant man.
Phil Johnson - July '04
My Father, William Johnson, was in the engine room
that day and survived, he died last year aged 78. He
spoke often about the disaster and together we searched
for the reports of the enquiry. He died in a nursing
home in Liverpool, on his wall was a photo of the Reina