"Vita" Royal Navy Hospital Ship

M29
9th May 2007, 12:17
Any one got stories or pictures of this ship? She was a BI Liner converted to Royal Navy Hospital Ship for WWII. My father sailed on her working in the operating theatre. Amongst other exploits, she was involved in the Sicilly and Italian Landings. She also spent time in the Indian Ocean. She was unusual in that most Hospital ships came under the Royal Army Medical Corp. The medical staff like my father and surgeons were all RN, the Captain & other officers were mostly MN.

Best wishes
Alan Melia

gdynia
9th May 2007, 12:25
Alan

Please Find

Vita, was owned by British India Steam Navigation Co Ltd, and was completed in October 1914 by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd, Wallsend. She was 4691 gross tons, 1955 net tons, and 5160 deadweight tons. Dimensions were 390.1 feet length, 53.3 feet breadth, 24 ft depth. She had twin props and two triple expansion engines giving 4700 ihp and 12.5 knots. Her passenger capacity when new was 32 first class, 24 second class, and 2694 deck, Immediately upon completion she was put into military service as a troopship, and her first voyage was from Bombay to the Persian Gulf with troops, and her next voyage was to France. She carried on trooping duties until 1916 when converted into a hospital ship with 475 patient berths. She was returned to British India in 1918, and in 1922 was put into regular commercial service on the Bombay-Karachi-Bushire-Basra run.

She continued in this service to 1939. Prior to this she had made some voyages to and from the UK. In May 1940 she was converted at Bombay into naval 'Hospital Ship No 8', and by September of that year her base port was Aden. In March 1941 she transferred to the eastern Mediterranean, and on 14 April, during the withdrawal of the British 8th Army, was attacked by German dive-bombers when she was leaving Tobruk for Haifa with over 400 wounded troops. A near miss lifted her stern out of the water and this put her engines and dynamos out of action.

The destroyer HMS Moorhen towed the disabled ship back to Tobruk. After the wounded patients had been disembarked, Vita left Tobruk on 21 April for Alexandria in tow, and in the course of this voyage escaped damage in two more bombing attacks. From Alexandria, on one engine and without electricity, she limped back to Bombay for repairs. When repairs were completed she went again to Aden.

In 1942 Vita was based at Trincomalee, and on 9 April went out from that port to pick up survivors from the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes and her escort destroyer HMS Vampire, both of which had been sunk by Japanese aircraft. When Vita appeared on the scene, the Japanese ceased attacking and she was able to pick up 595 survivors. In December 1942 Vita acted as a hospital ship for the landings at Diego Suarez, Madagascar. In the following year, and for 1944 she served, apparently without incident in the Mediterranean and in the Indian Ocean. In April 1945 she was at the Burma landings at Kyaukpyu, and the following month at Rangoon. She was now based at Cochin, and operated hospital voyages between Madras and Chittagong. In September 1945 she was again based at Trincomalee. In May 1946, following a refit, she resumed commercial service, and this lasted another seven years. She was sold on 20 may 1953 to Tulsiram Bhagwandas for scrapping at Calcutta.

M29
9th May 2007, 12:45
Many thanks for this information, excellent, didn't realise she was a hospital ship in both WW's also didn't know she went back into service after WWII.

Best Wishes
Alan Melia

ste hanley
28th August 2010, 18:36
hi Alan

ive come across your thread on the HS Vita. my granddad, jimmy iddon, served on the Vita from 1943 and i have his old photo album which lists all the places he visited and has some photos of the ship crew and other things. i also have a couple of menu's for new year and programmes for pantomimes that the crew did. i cant find a Melia in the cast list but there are a lot of autographs of and places of abode on the back of 1 of the menus one of which is J Melia Cheshire, is this your father by any chance. if you want to get in touch i,ll be more than happy to supply you with as much info as you like

regards

Ste Hanley

blackwater
28th August 2010, 20:53
2 pix of her as Hospital Ship No 8

Richard Maskiell
30th August 2010, 15:10
Alan

Please Find

Vita, was owned by British India Steam Navigation Co Ltd, and was completed in October 1914 by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd, Wallsend. She was 4691 gross tons, 1955 net tons, and 5160 deadweight tons. Dimensions were 390.1 feet length, 53.3 feet breadth, 24 ft depth. She had twin props and two triple expansion engines giving 4700 ihp and 12.5 knots. Her passenger capacity when new was 32 first class, 24 second class, and 2694 deck, Immediately upon completion she was put into military service as a troopship, and her first voyage was from Bombay to the Persian Gulf with troops, and her next voyage was to France. She carried on trooping duties until 1916 when converted into a hospital ship with 475 patient berths. She was returned to British India in 1918, and in 1922 was put into regular commercial service on the Bombay-Karachi-Bushire-Basra run.

She continued in this service to 1939. Prior to this she had made some voyages to and from the UK. In May 1940 she was converted at Bombay into naval 'Hospital Ship No 8', and by September of that year her base port was Aden. In March 1941 she transferred to the eastern Mediterranean, and on 14 April, during the withdrawal of the British 8th Army, was attacked by German dive-bombers when she was leaving Tobruk for Haifa with over 400 wounded troops. A near miss lifted her stern out of the water and this put her engines and dynamos out of action.

The destroyer HMS Moorhen towed the disabled ship back to Tobruk. After the wounded patients had been disembarked, Vita left Tobruk on 21 April for Alexandria in tow, and in the course of this voyage escaped damage in two more bombing attacks. From Alexandria, on one engine and without electricity, she limped back to Bombay for repairs. When repairs were completed she went again to Aden.

In 1942 Vita was based at Trincomalee, and on 9 April went out from that port to pick up survivors from the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes and her escort destroyer HMS Vampire, both of which had been sunk by Japanese aircraft. When Vita appeared on the scene, the Japanese ceased attacking and she was able to pick up 595 survivors. In December 1942 Vita acted as a hospital ship for the landings at Diego Suarez, Madagascar. In the following year, and for 1944 she served, apparently without incident in the Mediterranean and in the Indian Ocean. In April 1945 she was at the Burma landings at Kyaukpyu, and the following month at Rangoon. She was now based at Cochin, and operated hospital voyages between Madras and Chittagong. In September 1945 she was again based at Trincomalee. In May 1946, following a refit, she resumed commercial service, and this lasted another seven years. She was sold on 20 may 1953 to Tulsiram Bhagwandas for scrapping at Calcutta.

Some clarifications to the above. Vita was damaged by German dive bombers off Tobruk 14 April 1941 and her engine room flooded. The destroyer that assisted her was not Moorhen but HMAS Waterhen, which took off 432 patients (wounded Australian and British troops being evacuated from Tobruk) and 42 medical staff. Vita repaid the debt to the RAN on 9 April 1942 by rescuing survivors of Waterhen's sister ship HMAS Vampire.

ste hanley
31st August 2010, 22:10
thanks blackwater, i'll post some of my pics as soon as i get my scanner working again

angelavrussell
22nd November 2010, 22:41
Hi,
You may be interested to know that my middle name is Vita, and my mothers name is Vita.
She was named after the hospital ship that her father was the Chief Orderly on in WW1.
The doctor, Dr Platt, who delivered my mum in 1921 had been in the Army and treated as a wounded soldier on the ship by her father, Lewis Haywood.
Lewis was a keen photographer and she has a number of photographs of the ship and crew taken by my grandfather.
Does anyone else have a story like this to share.

Angela V Russell

R58484956
23rd November 2010, 15:28
Greetings Angela and and a warm welcome to SN on your first interesting posting. Bon voyage.

David J Walker
6th December 2012, 21:36
My late father [Walter Walker] served on HS Vita 1944-45 as sick bay artificer, some photo's were posted on 'Ahoy there' website April 2012, if you've not googled it already please do so,would be happy to share any info with anyone who has family/relatives who served on the Vita.

Regards

Dave Walker

Steve P
10th December 2013, 17:28
Just returned from a holiday in Sri Lanka. While in Kandy we visited the Commonwealth War Cemetery where we came across the grave of Yong Foo Tak, Fireman, SS Vita, 15 February 1942.

As always, the cemetery was immaculate. Met the head gardener who was about to retire after 42 years.