The Royal Fusilier was a steel steamship built by Caledon Shipbuilding Co Ltd., Dundee (Yard No 285) and launched on 27 September 1923. Her dimensions were 290.2′ x 41.2′ x 18.0′ and she had a gross tonnage of 2187gt. Powered by a 339 nhp triple expansion steam engine also made by Caledon.
The Royal Fusilier was requisitioned by the Ministry of Shipping for convoy duties early in World War Two and successfully steamed up and down the British North Sea coast between Southend and Methil on more that twenty sorties. On 1st June, 1941 convoy FN474 set off from Southend heading for various ports along the east coast. Among the ships the Royal Fusilier was en-route to Leith with a general cargo with a crew of twenty seven men. On June 3rd the convoy was attacked by German Heinkel JU88 bombers seven miles east of Amble, Northumberland. The Royal Fusilier sustained a direct hit and although no-one aboard was seriously injured but the ship was badly damaged.
The Amble lifeboat was called to the ship while the rest of the convoy steamed on and safely removed the crew. Two escort destroyers stayed with the stricken steamship and, once it was clear that the ship was not going to sink immediately determined to take the Royal Fusilier in tow and attempt to get her to safety. The crew were allowed back on board their ship and the tow north to the Forth began. The slow journey went well but, as they approached the Forth of Forth she started to develop a serious list. This time there was no saving the ship. The crew once more disembarked and the Royal Fusilier finally sank beneath the waves two and a half miles north east of Bass Rock.
The Wreck Today
The wreck of the Royal Fusilier lies in position 56°06.412’N, 02°35.391’W in 39 metres and is oriented 010/190°. The wreck is large and still fairly intact with the stern rising highest from the seabed. The wreck lies on its port side and is well buried into the seabed but still makes an impressive sight.