Built at the Akers Mek Verks, Oslo and launched on 23rd October 1935 the MV Taurus measured 408.6′ x 55.3′ x 25.2′ and weighed 4767 gross tons, 2879 net tons. She had a 7 cylinder SCDA oil engine by Akers delivering 748 net horse power. She was owned by Wilhelm Wilhelmsen of Tonsberg in Norway.
In March 1940 MV Taurus left Greenock for Freetown, Sierra Leone arriving on 9th April. She spent the next month on various voyages between West African ports before she finally loaded up with a cargo of 7000 tons of groundnuts, palm kernels and cocoa to make the return journey to the UK. On 10th May she joined convoy SL74, a large convoy of 46 merchant ships with 14 escorts, off Sierra Leone heading for Liverpool and other ports along the British west coast. She safely arrived at Oban on June 3rd and departed the following day in a smaller coastal convoy WN136 bound for Methil on the Forth where she would join one further convoy and head for her final destination of Hull.
They passed safely through the Pentland Firth and turned south down the Scottish east coast but on the 6th, just after midnight, the convoy came under attack by a group of German bombers. Taurus had 3 machine guns fitted for defensive purposes and the three gunners opened fire as soon as the aircraft attacking them came in range but the bomber completed its attack run and drop a stick of bombs at the ship. Three of the bombs narrowly missed the Taurus but exploded in the water just astern of the ship on her port side. Although the bombs missed the ship the shock waves were enough to cause significant damage to the ship’s hull which soon began letting in water. It was not long before the engine room flooded and she started to sink by the stern and list to port. Soon the engines were stopped and the ship was plunged into darkness as power failed. Her radio was now useless so the captain ordered distress signals to be sent out using a morse lamp.
At around 2:15 am Taurus was taken in tow by HMS Tarantella and they headed towards Montrose, the closest port on the Scottish mainland. When, at 3:00am, another bomber attacked Tarantella let got the tow line for fear she too would be hit. The bomber again missed the Taurus but the bombs exploded close to her port bow causing further damage to the already leaky hull. The tow was picked up again but, with the ship sink ever faster, they decided to try to reach Johnshaven. By 5:30am, with worsening weather, it was clear that the ship was going to sink so the crew were ordered to abandon ship. Thankfully everyone safely disembarked into the boats and were picked up by HMS Chrysolite. The attempted tow continued for another hour but it was obvious that they were not going to make the shore so the towline was dropped and the Taurus slipped beneath the waves at 6:22am. In the same attack the steamship Queensbury was also sunk close by.
The wreck of the Taurus lies in position 56°48.519’N, 002°12.911’W (WGS84) and sits upright in 43 metres oriented 110°/290°. The damage to the hull caused by the German bombs in clearly visible but otherwise she is substantially in tact. As with most wrecks along this coastline the wreck is tidal and therefore a slack water dive.