Catalogue description Registry of Shipping and Seamen: War of 1939-1945; Merchant Shipping Movement Cards

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Details of BT 389
Reference: BT 389
Title: Registry of Shipping and Seamen: War of 1939-1945; Merchant Shipping Movement Cards

The cards give the name of a ship and details of its movements, namely, the ports at which it docked, and passage between ports. They also record the location (by latitude and longitude) and date a ship was sunk. It should be noted that the cards do not always reflect changes in the ship's name and that it may be necessary to search for a ship under its various names.

Digital copies of Merchant shipping movement cards 1939-1945 can be searched and downloaded.

Date: 1939-1946

The cards are presented in alphabetical order by ship's name. Historically many vessels have had their names changed, sometimes on more than one occasion. In some cases, not all the cards relating to a vessel have been amended to reflect the latest name-change. In these instances the cards have been separated and placed alphabetically according to the name shown without a deletion. To have have kept all the cards together would have rendered them out of alphabetical order (in contravention of the specification) with possible adverse consequences for the list. Modern entries giving wholesale name-changes to a ship's multiple set of cards could not be made to historic records. In any case, there might be a legitimate reason why only some cards indicate the latest name, i.e. giving a true reflection as to when the name-change was made.

Related material:

Log book and Crew Agreements to be found in BT 381

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Former reference in its original department: Ships movement cards
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen, 1872-1992

Physical description: 44 box(es)
Access conditions: Available in digital format unless otherwise stated
Immediate source of acquisition:

in 2003 Registry of Shipping and Seamen

Custodial history: These records have only been held at the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen.
Accumulation dates: 1939-1946
Selection and destruction information: These cards have been selected as they reflect the economic, social and demographic condition of the UK, as documented by the state's dealings with individuals, communities and organisations outside its own formal boundaries ( of PRO's acquisition policy).
Accruals: Series is not accruing.
Administrative / biographical background:

Under an Admiralty instruction during World War II masters of merchant ships were ordered not to record in the tabular section of the log book the ports at which their ships called or details of their voyages in case this information got into enemy hands. Instead, these details were recorded on movements cards held and maintained at the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen.

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