Troopships

This list of troopships is only a selection of those where information is readily available. If any more are known of, i.e. with pictures and history details, please E-mail to john.dicks@rafchangi.co.uk

Current List:- (28)
1. Asturias.
2. Athlone Castle.
3. Captain Hobson.
4. Cheshire
5. Chitral.
6. Corfu.
7. Devonshire.
8. Dilwara.
9. Dunera.
10. Empire Clyde.
11. Empire Fowey.
12. Empire Halladale.
13. Empire Ken.
14. Empire Orwell.
15. Empire Clyde.
16. Empire Trooper.
17. Empire Windrush.
18. Georgic.
19. Johan von Oldenbarnvelt.
20. Lancashire.
21. Llangibby Castle.
22. Monarch of Bermuda.
23. Mauretania.
24. Nevasa.
25. Orbita.
26. Orduna.
27. Oxfordshire.
28. Somersetshire.
1. Asturias
This ship was built in 1926 by Harland and Wolff in Belfast, and at that time was the largest motor ship in the world, and was also the first Royal Mail passenger ship with a cruiser stern. Her foreword funnel was a dummy. During her maiden voyage , on the South American service, with Commodore E.W.E. Morrison in command, it was reported that not only was she slow she also suffered from severe vibration. She was subsequently re-engined with two Parsons Reduction Geared Turbines, her bows were re-shaped and new propellers were fitted. These modifications increased her horsepower to 20,000 SHP, and for aesthetic purposes, as well as soot problems, the height of her funnels was increased. She was the Royal Mail’s representative at the Silver Jubilee Spithead Review in 1939 for King George V and Queen Mary.

At the outbreak of hostilities, in 1939, she was converted into an Armed Merchant Cruiser, for use on the South Atlantic patrols, her fore funnel and main mast were removed to improve the capabilities of her anti-aircraft guns. In July 1943 she was torpedoed in the South Atlantic, but was successfully towed to Freetown, some five hundred miles by Zwarte Zee. With her engine room flooded she lay there for two years and was finally abandoned by the Royal Mail. In 1945 she went under tow again, by Zwarte Zee with an escort of seven corvettes, to Gibraltar for temporary repairs before continuing her towed voyage to Belfast for an extensive refit. She became a British government emigrant ship and in 1953 repatriated British troops from Korea. She underwent further refurbishment in 1954 and emerged in full trooping colours.

In 1957 she was sold for breaking, but before her final voyage she played the part of the Titanic in the film “A Night to Remember” at Faslane.

2. Athlone Castle
The s.s. Athlone Castle was built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast, and was launched on 28th. November 1935. She made her maiden voyage on the 22nd. May 1936 and became the first Royal Mail ship to enter Buffalo Harbour, East London, South Africa on 5th. November 1937. On 22nd. December 1938 she inaugurated the new 14 days service to the Cape, called for by the 1936 mail contract. She was Commodore Ship, in a six vessel Union Castle convoy, which transported South African troops to Suez for the North African campaign in 1940, the other ships being the Arundel, Windsor, Winchester, Durban and Capetown Castles. She transported American troop to the U.K. in 1943, in the build up for the following year invasion of Europe, and in all carried approximately 150,000 troops.

She went for an extensive refurbishment in 1946, to Harland and Wolff, and then continued in service for a further nineteen years. Eventually she arrived in Southampton on the 6th. August 1965, having completed her 141st. voyage and ten days later sailed for Taiwan to be broken by the China Steel Corporation, at Kaohsiung, where scrapping actions commenced on the 13th. September 1965.

All the above information taken from the Internet.

3. Captain Hobson
This ship was built by William Denny and Brothers of Dumbarton, for P. Henderson and Company in 1920. She was originally known as the Amarapoora, with accommodation for 150 first class passengers and 142 crew, and was employed on trade with Burma. In 1939 she was refurbished and accommodation was reduced to 124 passengers.

In September 1939 she was taken over by the Royal Navy and converted into a hospital ship with 503 beds, 103 medical staff and 121 crew and was now known as the HMHS Amarapoora. For the next three years she was the base hospital ship off St. Margaret’s Hope, Scarpa Flow. In April 1940 she took part in the evacuation from Norway, transporting a total of 3,063 patients. In October 1942 she was involved in Operation Torch, carrying the wounded from North Africa to the United Kingdom. She was present at the Salerno landings, in September 1943, and was one of the three hospital ships attacked from the air, resulting in her withdrawal to Bizerta, and was subsequently returned to the Clyde, in November of that year, for another overhaul and to be fitted with a further 100 beds. In August 1946 she was paid off by the Royal Navy and taken over by the Ministry of Transport, carrying French nationals from Saigon to Toulon, Dutch from Indonesia to Holland and pilgrims from the Levant to Jeddah. She also repatriated German North African wounded and prisoners of war.

In 1948 she was converted into an “austerity” emigrant carrier, with accommodation for 617 passengers and chartered to the International Refugee Organisation, transporting emigrants from Italy to Australia, and acted as a troopship for the North African garrisons in Libya. She was next sent to Alex Stephens, in 1953, for conversion for use on the New Zealand assisted Passage scheme, with accommodation for 584 passengers, and was now renamed as the Captain Hobson, and used on the Glasgow – Wellington service. In August 1953 she sailed from Wellington to Hong Kong to pick up garrison troops, then for the next two years was employed as a troopship between the UK and Hong Kong. In July 1955 she reverted to the New Zealand service, but in late 1956 she was used as a troopship during the Suez crisis.

Her Last voyage to New Zealand started in May 1958, and on arrival in Wellington she was put up for sale, but there were no buyers so she was moved to Bombay and Laid up. She was later sold for scrapping and sent to Osaka for breaking in March 1959.

**********

4. Cheshire
The Cheshire was built in the Fairfield, Govan shipyard in Scotland for the Bibby Line as a passenger liner, and was launched on Wednesday 20th. April 1927.

In 1939 she was aquired by the Admiralty who converted her into a troopship, for use in World War Two, but was re-converted back as a passenger liner in 1948. In 1953 she was once again converted into a troopship, but did not survive for long in this mode.

On 11th. July 1957 she was sent to Newport in South Wales for Scrapping.

Information aquired from the internet, 7.10.2010.

5. Chitral
The Chitral was built as a passenger liner by Alexander Stephen and Sons of Glasgow, and launched on Tuesday 27th. January 1925. She had been ordered by the P. and O. Steam Navigation Company of London for use on the UK – Australia service. She could Carry 203 First Class and 103 Second Class passengers.

The Chitral and her sister ships, the Cathay and Cormorin, were intended to be also used by P and O for the fortnightly Australia mail schedule, although they lacked the reserves of speed really required by mail steamers. In 1930 she was fitted with Bauer-Wach low-pressure exhaust turbines and Wyndham heaters to augment her speed and to improve fuel efficiency.

On the 30.8.1939 she was requisitioned by the Admiralty for service as an armed merchant cruiser and converted by her builders. Her after funnel was removed and seven 6” and two 3” guns were fitted.. In September 1940 she made three trooping voyages to Reykjavic as part of the reinforcement of the garrison in Iceland. In September 1941 she was transferred to the East Indies Fleet and remained in the Indian Ocean until the end of 1943. On the 10th. April 1944 was redelivered from the Admiralty and converted into a troopship by the Maryland Dry Dock Company of Baltimore, USA, during which her second funnel was replaced.

On the 17th. October 1947 she was returned to her owners and reconditioned in London by R and H Green and Silley Weir Limited. She returned to her pre-war black hull and funnels, not adopting P and O’s newer white livery. Her mainmast was removed and her forward well was plated in. On the 30th. December 1948 she re-entered the Australia trade, carrying 740 emigrants on outward journeys in extreme Spartan conditions, and in 1950 assisted with the repatriation of Dutch nationals from Indonesia. Her last sailing for Australia in, February 1953, was beset by mechanical problems, including enforced conversion from quadruple to triple expansion in thirty-six hours, arriving back in London, on the 22nd. March 1953, for the last time.

On the 2nd. April 1953 she was sold for £167,500 to British Iron and Steel Corporation (Salvage) Limited, being handed over for demolition to W H Arnott Young and Company Limited, Dalmuir

All information taken from website http://www.clydebuiltships.co.uk and http://www.clydesite.co.uk

6. Corfu
The s.s. Corfu was launched on Wednesday the 20th. May 1931, for the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, London. Originally it had been the intention to name her the Chefoo, but the name was changed in order to avoid confusion with existing vessels. As a passenger liner she could accommodate 177 First Class and 214 Second Class passengers. Her maiden voyage, from London, was to Hong Kong, via Southampton, Port Said, Aden, Colombo, Penang and Singapore, starting on the16th. October 1931.

On the 14th. September 1939 she was requisitioned by the Admiralty for service as an armed merchant cruiser, and the next day arrived at Belfast for conversion by Harland and Wolff Limited. Her after funnel was removed and eight 6” guns and two 12-pounders were fitted, but after completion of the conversion, at Portsmouth she required further work on the Clyde. In early 1940 she commenced her service as an AMC in the Atlantic ocean, where her turn of speed enabled her to overhaul any suspicious vessels with some ease. On the 10th. October, whilst performing convoy escort duties, she was damaged in a collision with the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes, resulting in a 30 foot long hole in her starboard bow. Escorted by the cruiser HMS Devonshire she was towed, stern first, back to Freetown for emergency repairs, later going on to Calcutta for permanent repairs, after which she took up convoy and escort duty in the Indian Ocean. On the 17th. October 1942 she returned to England for six-month re-armament at Southampton and the Clyde. Nine new 6” guns and other refinements were fitted, including a catapult and three Kingfisher reconnaissance seaplanes.

On 17th. February 1944 she was returned to her owners (P and O) for service as a troopship, a year long conversion being performed by the Alabama Dry-dock Company in America. On the 5th. September 1945 she arrived at Singapore with the first convoy transporting troops sent to re-occupy the city. On 31st. July 1947 450 troops embarked for service in India, walked off the ship, complaining about condition on board. 100 returned aboard, most of the remainder were shipped in another troopship, but 34 were court-martialled.

When she was released to her owners she had sailed about 200,000 miles as an armed merchant cruiser, and another 39,161miles as a troopship, carrying 15,028 troops.

She re-entered commercial service in January 1949, now with only one funnel and a white livery, with capacity for 181 First Class and 213 Tourist Class passengers.

On the 24th. March 1961 she was sold through Mitsu Bussan Kaisha of Japan for demolition. She was handed over in London on the 20th. April and re-named the Corfu Maru, for a cargo only voyage to Japan and subsequently reported as laid up at Osaka. Demolition at Osaka commenced by the Miyachi Salvage Company Limited on the 17th.

7. \Devonshire
The Devonshire was built in 1939 by Fairfield Shipbuilding of Glasgow, as a troopship and made her first trip from Southampton to India, spending the next four years trooping in Australia, the Far East, South Africa And the Mediterranean. In 1943 she took part in the Sicily Campaign, as Command Operations ship, carrying troops for the Salerno landings. Post war she transported troops to the Far East and Korea, and in 1951 was forced to send a “Mayday” call when her engines failed during a gale in the Bay of Biscay, but she managed to restore power and the “Mayday” was cancelled.

She continued trooping until 1962 when she was sold to the British India Line, where she was refitted and continued her career as an educational cruise ship, being renamed the Devonia.

She was scrapped at La Spezia in the Liguria region of northern Italy in 1967.

(Information supplied by Charles White of the RAF Penang/Butterworth Association.)

8. Dilwara
The HMT Dilwara was Built in 1935 by Barclay, Curle and Company of Glasgow, for the British India Steam Navigation Company, starting her long and distinguished career by taking part in King George V1’s Coronation Review. During World War Two she was involved in evacuations from Singapore and Greece, the Madagascar landings and action on the Burma coast, where she was damaged after striking a mine. From 1945 she trooped in the Far East, including the ports of Singapore, Calcutta and Penang, later, in 1956, she took part in the Suez Landings.

In 1960 she was sold to the China Navigation Company, who changed her name to the Kuala Lumpur. After carrying pilgrims to Jeddah over the Years, she was eventually scrapped in Taiwan on 1st. December 1971.

(Information supplied by Charles White of the RAF Penang/Butterworth Association.)

9. Dunera
The 12,615 ton Dunera made her maiden voyage from Southampton to China in September 1937. She was to be closely associated with this port, firstly as a troopship, for twenty-four years, and then as a pioneering educational cruise liner for seven years.

The ship was ordered by the British India Steam Navigation Company, from the Barclay Curle shipyard in Glasgow, and when completed she was chartered by the Government to carry troops. She and her sister ship, the Dilwara, represented a considerable advance on the older troopships. During the Second World War these ships took part in the evacuation from Singapore, and the landings in Madagascar, Sicily and Southern France.

Modernisation and refit work in 1950, at Glasgow, cost nearly one million pounds and Dunera continued in service until trooping by sea finished. She still had plenty of life left in her, and British India embarked on a bold experiment, the Company decided she should continue in service as Britain’s first permanent school cruise liner. During the first year, in her new role, she carried more than 10,000 youngsters.

Her achievements paved the way for the introduction of other retired troopships into cruising operations. Sadly, Dunera was finally broken for scrap in Spain in 1967.

10. Empire Clyde
Built in 1925 for the Leonardo da Vinci, Transatlantica Italiana Soc. di Nav, Genoa . She was originally named the TSS Cameronia. By 1937 she was owned by Lloyd Triestino, Trieste.

She was captured by the Royal Navy on 14th. February 1941 at Kismayu, Italian Somaliland, renamed the Empire Clyde and managed by Ellerman Lines as first a hospital ship and later as a troopship until 1954.

She was then sold for scrap in Hong Kong.

11. Empire Fowey
The Fowey was originally called the Potsdam, but was seized by the Allies at Flensburg in 1945. She sailed for one year as the Empire Jewel before taking on the name of Empire Fowey in 1946, under the management of the P & O Line, and served as a troopship.

In 1960 she was sold to Pakistan and was renamed the Safina-e-Hujjaj. She was scrapped in Karachi during 1976.

12. Empire Halladale
This ship was built in 1922 by Vulcan of Hamburg and was named the Antonio Delfino. She was built for the Hamburg South American Line, and sailed on the Hamburg to River Plate route until 1932. During the Second World War she performed various duties and was captured, together with the Pretoria in Copenhagen in May 1945.

Her name was changed to the Empire Halladale and she became a troopship under the management of the Anchor Line until being sent to the breakers yard in 1956.

13. Empire Ken
This ship was built in 1928 as a passenger liner, named the Ubena, for the German East Africa Line. In 1939 she was used by the German Navy as a U-Boat depot ship, but at the beginning of 1945 her use had changed to being a hospital ship.

In mid 1945 she was seized by the Allies at Travemunde, and was renamed the Empire Ken, for use as a troopship.

In 1957 she was scrapped at Dalmuir in Scotland.

Empire Orwell
This ship was constructed by: Blohm and Voss, Hamburg in 1936.

The Empire Orwell started her life as the Pretoria. During World War Two she operated as a hospital ship for the German Navy and later was used for the Evacuation of the eastern territories. She was taken as a war prize in Copenhagen in May 1945 and served as the Empire Doon, under Orient Line management until 1950, when she underwent a major refit and was converted into a troopship and renamed as the Empire Orwell.

She was sold to the Blue Funnel Line in 1958 and renamed again this time as the Gunung Djati, a pilgrim ship, sailing between Indonesia and Djeddah. In 1979 she was sold, once again, this time to the Indonesian Navy and spent her remaining years trooping as the Tanjung Pandan.

She was scrapped in Taiwan in 1987.

15. Empire Pride
The Empire Pride was built in 1941, by Barclay, Curle and Company, at Glasgow. With a tonnage of 8,418grt, a length of 495ft, a beam of 64ft 4in. and a service speed of 16 knots.

She was launched as a troopship on the 15th. May 1941 for the Ministry of War transport with Bibby Brothers and Company as managers and delivered in the following September. With the capacity to carry 2,000 men in wartime she was, in 1945, operated for the Ministry of Transport by Bibby’s in troopship livery.

Replaced by the Devonshire (2) in 1954 she was decommissioned in June of that year and sold to the Charlton Steam Shipping Company of London, a Chandris subsidiary, and renamed the Charlton Pride. She was converted into an emigrant carrier, on the Australia and New Zealand assisted passage run. In 1956 she was purchased by the Donaldson Line for £600,000, reconverted to carry cargo only, at Rotterdam and renamed the Calgaria for their Canadian service. She commenced her first voyage on the 21st. March from Rotterdam to Halifax, Nova Scotia and back to Glasgow and was then positioned to Avonmouth for runs to Canada and South America. In April 1963 she was sold to Forteiza Cia. Nav. And renamed the Embassy for a final loaded voyage to Hong Kong, where she arrived on the 9th. July for demolition.

16. Empire Trooper
Originally built in 1922 by Stettin Maschinbau AG Vulcan of Hamburg, as a German 13,942 gross tonnage passenger steamer she was named the Cape Norte, which was later changed to the Sierra Salvador. When built there was capacity for 2,886 passengers.

On the 3rd. of September 1939, while attempting to return to Germany, in a position off Peenambuco in Iceland, the vessel was captured by HMS Belfast. During the capture the German crew managed to sabotage the ships engines. She was eventually repaired and renamed the Empire Trooper and put into service as a troopship.

She was sent to the breakers yard in 1955.

17. Empire Windrush
The Empire Windrush was built by Blohm and Voss in Hamburg, Germany and was launched on 4th. December 1930. She was delivered to Hamburg-Sudamerikanische Dampfs in 1931, who named her Monte Rosa and used her for cruises. Many of the passengers on these cruises were aboard as privileged Nazi Party members, as part of the Nazi Strength Through Joy programme, intended to reward and encourage party members and as a reward for services to the party.

During the Second World War, the ship was used as a barracks ship at Stettin, then as a troopship for the invasion of Norway, in April 1940. She was later used as an accommodation and recreational ship attached to the battleship Tirpits, stationed in the north of Norway. By 1945 she was in the Baltic, being used as a refugee evacuation ship, rescuing Germans trapped in East Prussia and Danzig by the advancing Red Army.

In May 1945 the Monte Rosa was captured by advancing British forces at Kiel and taken as a war prize. In 1946 she was assigned to the British Ministry of Transport and converted into a troopship. She was renamed the Empire Windrush on 21st. January 1947, for use on the Southampton-Gibraltar-Suez-Aden-Colombo-Singapore-Hong Kong route, with voyages extended to Kure in Japan after the start of the Korean War. In 1948 the Windrush was en route from Australia to England, via the Atlantic, docking in Kingston, Jamaica to pick up the first boatload of West Indian immigrants to take up employment in the United Kingdom. She was only to do this trip once.

The Windrush returned to her trooping duties and in February 1954 set off on what proved to be her final voyage, sailing from Yokohama and Kure to the U.K. with approximately 1,500 recovering wounded UN veterans of the Korean War. This voyage was plagued with engine breakdowns and other defects, taking ten weeks to reach Port Said, from where the ship sailed for the last time. An enquiry later found that an engine room fire began after a fall of soot from the funnel fractured oil-fuel supply pipes. The subsequent explosion and fire killed four crew members. The fire could not be fought because of the lack of electrical power for the pumps, and the back-up generators were unusable. The burnt-out hulk of the Windrush was taken in tow by the destroyer HMS Saintes but in worsening weather she sank before first light on Monday the 30th. March 1954.

18. Georgic
The Georgic was built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast in 1932 for the White Star Line. She was the final ship to be built for the White Star fleet. She differed from her sister ship, the Britannic, completed two years earlier, in a number of respects. The Georgic was designed on ambitious lines with an almost straight stem, cruiser stern and the then fashionable squat funnels with the tops parallel to the deck. Unlike her sister the Georgic had a rounded bridge front. Slightly larger than the Britannic, her original accommodation was for a total of 1,636 passengers, comprising 479 cabin class, 557 tourist class and 600 third class. The Georgic’s forward funnel was a dummy, used as a radio room and engineers’ smoke room.

On the 11th. March 1940 Cunard – White Star were informed that she was to be taken out of commercial service, and on the 19th. April sailed to the Clyde, where she was converted into a troopship for 3,000 men. At the end of May the Georgic assisted in the evacuation of British troops from Andesfjord and Narvik, and as soon as she had landed these men at Greenock she sail to assist in the withdrawal from Brest and St. Nazaire. She was under repeated air attack but was fortunate not to be hit; her crew were highly commended by the soldiers that she rescued. She was bombed again on the 14th. July 1941 by German aircraft whilst ay anchor off Port Tewfik, her fuel caught fire and ammunition exploded in the stern area, she was beached on the 16th. July half-submerged and burnt out. On 14th. September it was decided to salvage her so the hulk was raised, plugged and towed away by the Clan Campbell and the City of Sydney. After a series of adventures and incidents she eventually arrived at Karachi on the 31st. March 1942, where temporary repairs were made. She then sailed on to Bombay (Mumbai) where she was dry-docked for hull cleaning and further repairs. On 20th. January 1943 she returned to Liverpool, under her own power, before going on to Belfast. On 12th. December 1944 she re-emerged with only one funnel and a stump foremast. She was now owned by the Ministry of Transport, with Cunard-White Star as managers.
During 1945 the Georgic trooped to Italy, the Middle East and India. On Christmas Day she arrived at Liverpool with troops from the Far East, including General Sir William Slim, C-in-C South East Asia. In September 1948 the Georgic was refitted by Palmers and Co. at Hebburn for the Australia and New Zealand emigrant trade. She retained her White Star livery, and could accommodate 1,962 one-class passengers. In January 1949 she made her first sailing on the Liverpool – Suez – Freemantle – Melbourne – Sidney run with 1,200 “assisted passages”, however when leaving the landing stage she sustained damage when a rope fouled one of her propellers and she had to re-dock.
In the winter of 1954-55 the Georgic resumed assisted passage voyages to Australia, and on the 16th. April 1955 she arrived at Liverpool with troops from Japan. She was then offered for sale, but the Australian Government chartered her for the summer. The Georgic’s final voyage was from Hong Kong to Liverpool with 800 troops, where she arrived on the 19th. November 1955. On 11th. December she was laid up at Kames Bay, the Isle of Bute pending disposal.

In January 1956 the Georgic was sold for scrapping and on the 1st. February that year she arrived at Faslane for demolition by Shipbreaking Industries Limited.

**********

19. Johan von Oldenbarnvelt
This ship was built at the Nederlandse Scheepsbouw Maatschappij dockyard 194 in Amsterdam, and was launched on the 3rd. August 1929. Construction was completed on the 13th. March 1930, after which she made her maiden voyage, under the flag of Stoomvaart Maatschappij Nederland of Amsterdam. Her four classes of passengers comprised 366 first class, 280 second class, 64 third class and 60 fourth class, and she carried a crew of 360.

At the beginning of World War Two she had been chartered by the Holland America Line to sail to New York, but as was the case with many liners she was sent to Harland and Wolff, in Belfast, in 1940, for conversion to a Troop Transport Ship. She was able to carry 4,000 troops and came under the management of the Orient Line, but still retained her Dutch crew. After the fall of the Dutch Eastern Colonies her port of registration, for the rest of the war, was changed from Batavia to Willemstad Curacao. During the war she had sailed through Enemy-infested waters without damage, and became known as the” Lucky Ship”. At the end of the war, still attached to the British Ministry of Shipping as a trooper, she went to Bombay and collected 3,668 troops, half being Allied POW’s awaiting repatriation. When she reached Southampton, on the 29th. October 1945, she received a tumultuous welcome.

In 1946 she resumed her services on the Amsterdam – Batavia route, after a refit in the shipyards. She transported survivors from the Japanese concentration camps, and in 1950 was used to transport Dutch immigrants to Sydney. During this time she had also transported batches of British servicemen to various destinations. (According to members of the RAF Changi Association who had the pleasure of travelling on her.)

Subsequently she was refitted specifically to transport immigrants, who could be accommodated to a total of 1,414, not quite double her original number of 770 passengers. In 1959 she underwent a refit to make her suitable for world cruising, and was now able to carry 1210 passengers in tourist class..

In 1962 the Johan van Oldenbarnevelt was sold to a Greek ship owner and was renamed the Lakonia and began cruising between Southampton and the Canary Islands, and it was on this route that she met her end. On 22nd. December she was destroyed by fire, with over 1,000 people on board the quick spreading blaze swept throughout the ship causing the deaths of 128 personnel, the remainder taking to the life boats. One week later, whilst being towed by the Norwegian salvage tug Herkulus, she sank to her grave on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, about 250 miles west of Gibraltar.

20. Lancashire
This ship was built in 1914 for the Bibby Line, and in 1930 she was converted into a troopship,

She was operating in the Far East at the fall of Singapore.

Her last known trooping date was 1956.

21. Llangibby Castle

The Llangibby Castle was built by Harland and Wolff in Glasgow and was launched on 4th. July 1929, being completed on 21st. November 1929. This ship originally had accommodation for 250 First Class passengers, 200 Third Class and 220 crew.

She commenced her maiden voyage on 5th. December on the Round Africa service. In 1934 Union Castle introduced Round Africa cruises and Llangibby’s Third Class accommodation was converted to Tourist Class, a First Class ticket costing £105 with a Tourist costing £40. Still on her scheduled service she sailed from London in April 1940 and arrived at Genoa where, due to Italian hostility, the passengers were prevented from going ashore. A short while later all British ships were ordered out of the Mediterranean by the Admiralty.

On arriving at Falmouth from Capetown on the 6th. July the Llangibby Castle was requisitioned and converted for use as a troopship, as she was the ideal battalion carrying size. She commenced trooping South and East Africa, and during a night time air raid was damaged by bombs when in Liverpool on 21st. /22nd. December 1940, ten other ships were also damaged, including another Company ship the Roxburgh Castle. When bound for Singapore, carrying 1,400 troops, she was torpedoed by the U-402 just north of the Azores, on the 16th. January 1942, her stern and after gun were blown right off killing twenty-six with another four missing, presumed dead. Bad as this was it was lucky for the troops onboard who would have otherwise arrived in Singapore just in time to be taken prisoner by the Japanese, Fortunately her propellers were not affected and she was able to make way, albeit at only nine knots, during which time she was repeatedly attacked by a Focke-Wulf Condor aircraft, but was able to beat it off.

The Llangibby Castle was built by Harland and Wolff in Glasgow and was launched on 4th. July 1929, being completed on 21st. November 1929. This ship originally had accommodation for 250 First Class passengers, 200 Third Class and 220 crew.

She commenced her maiden voyage on 5th. December on the Round Africa service. In 1934 Union Castle introduced Round Africa cruises and Llangibby’s Third Class accommodation was converted to Tourist Class, a First Class ticket costing £105 with a Tourist costing £40. Still on her scheduled service she sailed from London in April 1940 and arrived at Genoa where, due to Italian hostility, the passengers were prevented from going ashore. A short while later all British ships were ordered out of the Mediterranean by the Admiralty.

On arriving at Falmouth from Capetown on the 6th. July the Llangibby Castle was requisitioned and converted for use as a troopship, as she was the ideal battalion carrying size. She commenced trooping South and East Africa, and during a night time air raid was damaged by bombs when in Liverpool on 21st. /22nd. December 1940, ten other ships were also damaged, including another Company ship the Roxburgh Castle. When bound for Singapore, carrying 1,400 troops, she was torpedoed by the U-402 just north of the Azores, on the 16th. January 1942, her stern and after gun were blown right off killing twenty-six with another four missing, presumed dead. Bad as this was it was lucky for the troops onboard who would have otherwise arrived in Singapore just in time to be taken prisoner by the Japanese, Fortunately her propellers were not affected and she was able to make way, albeit at only nine knots, during which time she was repeatedly attacked by a Focke-Wulf Condor aircraft, but was able to beat it off.

She arrived safely at Horta on 19th. January and was given fourteen days to affect temporary repairs, after which she sailed on 2nd. February, escorted by three Destroyers and an Admiralty Tug. The following day a battle ensued with a U-boat pack, which the Destroyers won with HMS Westcott sinking the U-581. As it soon became increasingly difficult to steer her, with out a rudder, she was eventually towed into Gibraltar on 8th. February. After spending fifty-seven days awaiting a replacement rudder, which never materialised, she set sail, with her escorts, bound for the UK some 1,400 miles distance, arriving home on 13th. April having travelled 3,400 miles since losing her stern and rudder, steering with her engines only. For this accomplishment Captain Bayer was subsequently awarded the C.B.E.

All information gathered from the internet.

22. Monach of Bermuda
The Monarch of Bermuda was built by Vickers-Armstrong of Newcastle in 1931, for Furness Withy and Company. With her sister ship, the “Queen of Bermuda”, they were two of the worlds luxury liners, docking at Hamilton each week, they were known as “the millionaires ships”. The Monarch of Bermuda 22,424 gross tons, powered by steam turboelectric propulsion, driving four screws, giving a service speed of 19 knots. Accommodation was provided for 799 passengers in First Class and 31in Second Class. She carried a crew of 456.

At the start of her career she was on the New York – Bermuda service, and served this run from 1931 to 1939. When she was built she had three funnels, but in 1947 she caught fire, while undergoing a refit in Hebburn-on-Tyne. She was originally declares a total loss, but was rebuilt in Southampton by Thorneycroft and re-emerged as the “New Australia”, in 1949, with only one funnel and made her first voyage in 1950, leaving Southampton for Sydney, Australia carrying migrants to their new home. She returned to the United Kingdom via Japan, where she picked up British troops returning back home.

She was used again as a troopship in 1951, picking up Moluccan troops to take them back to Holland. Again during the Korean war she was used as a troopship, carrying Australian soldiers to Pusan. The Shaw Savill and Albion Line used her from 1950 to1957 on the emigrant run down to Australia.

She was sold to the Greek Line in January 1958, and renamed the “Arkadia”; rebuilt and modernised by Blohm and Voss, Hamburg, now with a carrying capacity 150 First Class and 1150 Tourist Class passengers. Her first voyage, in this guise, was from Bremerhaven to Montreal, via Cherbourg-Liverpool-Greenock-Quebec, was on the 22nd May 1958. A further refit, again by Blohm and Voss, changed the passenger ratios to 50 First Class and 1337 Tourist Class.

Her final voyage was in November 1966, after which she was laid up in the River Fal. On the 18th. December 1966 she arrived at Valencia in Spain for scrapping.

23. Mauretania (2)
The Mauretania (2), the largest ship to be constructed in an English shipyard at the time, was the first liner to be built for the newly formed Cunard White Star Line. She was built by Cammell Laird of Birkenhead and launched on 28th. July 1938, and made her maiden voyage, from Liverpool to New York on the 17th. June 1939. On 11th. August she made a final pre-war voyage to New York and was then hired by the British government and defensively armed with two 6 inch guns and some smaller weapons, painted battle grey, and was then despatched to America at the end of December, where she lay idle for some three months, until it was decided to use her as a troopship.

On 20th. March 1940 she sailed from New York to Sydney, through the Panama Canal, to be converted to her new role, leaving Sydney at the end of May, with the Queen Mary and the Aquitania, transporting 2,000 troops to the Clyde. During the early stages of World War Two she transported Australian troops to Suez, India and Singapore but later mainly served in the North Atlantic. When hostilities ceased the Mauretania made several further voyages, for the Government, repatriating troops, mainly between Canada and Singapore. She returned to Liverpool on the 2nd. September 1946, was released from Government service, and immediately went into Gladstone Dock to be reconditioned by Cammell Laird and Co.

After a complete overhaul, and refurbishment of the interior, she made her first two post-war crossings to New York starting on 26th. April 1947, using Liverpool as her home port, but was thereafter based at Southampton. At the end of 1947 she began to be used as a cruise liner, during the winter months, to the West Indies and the Caribbean, these were the so called “dollar earning cruises” to assist the shattered British economy. For the next ten years she served the Southampton to New York route during the summer, and operated on cruises from New York during the winter.

On her annual overhaul at Liverpool in December 1957 the opportunity was taken to upgrade her by fitting air-conditioning throughout, but by 1962 the writing was on the wall and she was facing stiff competition from more modern ships, and was beginning to lose money for Cunard. On 28th. March 1963, after the passenger accommodation had been adjusted to accommodate 406 First Class, 364 Cabin Class and 357 Tourist Class, she began a new service calling at New York, Cannes, Genoa and Naples. This however was a failure and by 1964 she was mainly employed cruising from New York to the West Indies.

The ship’s final voyage was a cruise of the Mediterranean, which left New York on 15th. September 1965, and it was announced that on her return, to Southampton, she would be withdrawn from service and sold. By the time that she arrived at Southampton, on the 10th. November, she had already been sold to the British Iron and Steel Corporation.

On the 23rd. November she arrived at Ward’s shipbreaking yard in Inverkeithing.

24. Nevasa
The Nevasa was built to celebrate the company’s centenary in 1956 and spent her first few years as a troopship, however, as National Service came to an end, and air transport became more efficient the ship was made redundant and was laid up in the river Fal in 1962 for two years. She was then converted and became the Bibby Line’s third and largest educational cruise ship in 1964/5. Her powerful machinery gave her a greater range than the other educational cruise ships, and her anti-roll stabilisers provided greater comfort.

She ran alongside the s.s. Uganda between 1968 and 1974, however she was suddenly withdrawn from service in January 1975, and sent to the breakers in Taiwan, she had become a victim of the 1970’s oil crisis.

25. Orbita
The Orbita was built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast in 1914. She was the sister ship to the Orduna. Due to the needs of World War One she initially entered service as an auxiliary cruiser/troopship for the Admiralty.

In1919 she was released by the Admiralty and refitted for passenger service. In 1921 she was chartered to the Royal Mail Line for use on the Hamburg – Southampton – New York route. Later she was sold, with the Orduna, to the Royal Mail Line. In 1926 she returned to passenger service after a refit.

In 1941 she was requisitioned by the Admiralty for use as a troopship once again, and continued as such until 1946, and was then used to carry immigrants to Australia and New Zealand.

In 1950 she was broken for scrap by Thos. W. Ward of Newport, Monmouthshire.

Information provided by David Croft Archivist for the R.A.F. Seletar Association and the R.A.F. Butterworth/Penang Association.

26. Orduna
The Orduna was built by Harland and Wolff, Belfast, in1913 for the Pacific Steam Navigation Company. She was a 15,507 gross tonnage ship, length 550.3 feet, beam 67.3 feet with one funnel and two masts. Her triple screws gave her a speed of 14 knots. There was passenger accommodation for 240 First Class, 180 Second Class and 700 Third Class.

Launched on 2nd. October 1913 she left Liverpool on her maiden voyage to Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo and Valparaiso on 19th. February 1914. She made two voyages on this run and was then chartered to the Cunard Line and used on their Liverpool to New York service until 1919. On 1st. April 1920 she resumed her Liverpool – Rio de Janeiro – Montevideo – Valparaiso sailings and on 28th. May 1921 commenced Hamburg – Southampton – New York voyages under charter to the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, who subsequently purchased her in 1923. Rebuilt and converted to oil burning engines and with passenger accommodation now of 234 First Class, 186 Second Class and 483 Third Class. In 1927 she returned to the Pacific Steam Navigation Company and resumed the Liverpool – Rio – Montevideo – Valparaiso service. In 1930 she transferred to Liverpool – Panama – Valparaiso sailings and stayed on this route until 1940. In July 1940 she sailed from Liverpool to Lisbon, repatriating French nationals after the fall of France, sailing fully illuminated at night under an International Safe Conduct guarantee.

In February 1941 she was requisitioned as a troopship, and after the fall of Madagascar she carried the Vichy French governor and his staff from Tamatave to Durban, and then on her homeward voyage carried 500 French naval officers and ratings to the United Kingdom, to join the Free French forces. On the fall of Abyssinia she took part of the West African Division from Berbera to Durban where they were transhipped, and was later to be employed ferrying American troops from Oran to Naples, in the final phase of the Italian campaign.

In August 1945 she was to be the Commodore ship of the invasion force which was to re-occupy Malaya, which was not to be. After the surrender of Japan she carried 1,700 prisoners of war from Rangoon to Liverpool, arriving in September. After this she carried out trooping voyages to the East Indies, Indo-China and Japan, and in October 1946 took the last British troops from French North Africa. She completed her last trooping voyage, from Liverpool to Singapore and back in November 1950.

By now, after ten years of steady trooping, offering little time for refitting or proper maintenance, and at thirty-six years of age, she was in very poor shape and of little further use as a passenger ship, so she was decommissioned and laid up in November 1950.

In 1951 she was sold as scrap and broken up at Dalmuir in Scotland.

Information found on the inter-net.

27. Oxfordshire
The Oxfordshire was built for the Bibby Line and the Ministry of Transport, as a troop carrier until 1962 when she was released back to the Bibby Line who sold her to the Sitmar Corporation in 1964. Renamed the Fairstar, she commenced sailing between the United Kingdom and Australia, carrying 1,870 passengers in one class.

In 1973 she was stationed in Sydney and started a new life cruising between the Antipodes and South-East Asia, nicknamed the “Funship”, she provided many with memorable holidays in the tropical sun.

With the take over of the Sitmar Corporation, by P & O, she was refitted and repainted and continued cruising and sailing for another eight years, before escalating maintenance costs took their toll, and she was despatched to the breakers in India.

28. Somersetshire
The HMS Somersetshire was originally built for the Bibby line, but in 1927 was permanently converted into a troopship. In the period from 1939 to 1946, for the duration of the Second World War, she was used as a hospital ship.

In 1948, after further conversion work, she became one of the ships used to transport British emigrants to Australia.

In 1954 the HMS Somersetshire was scrapped.

Comments are closed.