The SS Volnay (117m 4,610 tonnes) was built in 1910 by Russell & Co Ltd in Greenock. She was purchased by Gow, Harrison and Co of Glasgow. She was a general merchant ship. She was classified as a defensively armed merchant ship, but no detail could be found on her actual configuration during her last voyage.
Her triple expansion engine allowed her to plough the sea at around 10 knots (not confirmed). Her main route was between Canada / USA and the UK. She was on her way from Montreal to Plymouth via Barry. She carried a mixed cargo of butter, jam, tinned meat, coffee, cigarettes, potato crisps and peanuts and timber. In addition, she also carried anti-personnel shells.
On 14th December she was hit by a mine (laid by UC-64 commanded by Erich Hecht) 2 miles from Manacles Rock. The crew were lucky that the shells on board did not explode. The was taking on waters relatively fast and the crew tried to beach her on Porthallow Bay. However, she floundered and sank at her current location. According to a local fisherman, the cargo piled "6-foot high on the beach", giving everyone an un-rationed Christmas.
Her position was considered a danger to shipping and according to a local fisherman, she was dynamited twice (not verified).