War dead Male Born 1919 Died 23/12/1941
CN Co. 4'E Shuntien. Andrew Behan has researched this man:
Fourth Engineering Officer Brynberg was born about 1919, in Poland, the son of Samuel and Bertha Brynberg of Tel Aviv, Israel.
He was employed by the China Navigation Company Limited and was serving, aged 22 years, aboard the S.S. Shuntien (London), which had been requisitioned by the British government during World War Two and converted from a 3.059 gross registered tonnage coastal passenger and cargo liner into a Defensively-Equipped Merchant Ship (DEMS) and used as a prison ship. During the Western Desert Campaign the S.S. Shuntien left Tobruk in Cyrenaica, eastern Libya as a member of Convoy TA 5 bound for Alexandria in Egypt. She was carrying between 800 and 1,000 Italian and German prisoners of war, guarded by more than 40 soldiers of the Durham Light Infantry (DLI). At about 19.02 hours on the evening of 23 December 1941 the Type VIIC German submarine U-559 torpedoed the Shuntien blowing off her stern. Her bow rose in the air and she sank within five minutes without having been able to launch any of her lifeboats. A convoy escort, the Flower-class corvette H.M.S. Salvia, rescued 46 of the 72 ship's officers and men and an unknown number of her prisoners, DEMS gunners and DLI guards. The total number of survivors that H.M.S. Salvia rescued was about 100.
The Hunt-class destroyer H.M.S. Heythorp rescued a smaller number: between 11 and 19. A few hours later, at about 01.35 hours on 24 December 1941, U-568 torpedoed H.M.S. Salvia about 100 nautical miles west of Alexandria. The torpedo broke the corvette in two and poured burning bunker oil onto the sea; no-one survived. The small party of survivors aboard H.M.S. Heythorp was landed at Alexandria. It included only one of the Shuntien's officers, Second Engineer John Hawkrigg.
There is some discrepancy as to Brynberg's first name. As an employee of the China Navigation Company Limited he is shown on their memorial plaque at Swire House with just the initial B and this is how he is recorded on 'The Roll of Honour of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets 1939-1947' at The National Archives, Kew and on the 'Merchant Seamen Lost at Sea' index card record held at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich. However the register held at the offices of the Corporation of Trinity House, show his first name as Robert and this how he appears on Panel 97 of the Mercantile Marine Memorial, Tower Hill. And we checked whether the Polish form of 'Robert' begins with a 'B' - it's just 'Robert'.