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  #1  
Old 16th June 2006, 22:01
Ward Breed Ward Breed is offline  
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Troopships

Troopships; the very designation evokes unthinkable thoughts. By 1950, enough random talk got around re the sinking of the 'Lancastria' and a host of other unnamed losses. So when I boarded the H.M.Troopship 'Dilwara' at Southampton middle January 1951, I was not unduly perturbed, except that the Korean War was beginning to get nasty, thus the 'DILWARA' was well packed with servicemen en route for the middle and far East and Japan. Besides, had I not worked on the loading documentation process of similar B.I. vessels at 21 Shed Royal Albert Dock, so she was familiar company. Unlike some servicement, who never having been near a ship before, were upon embarkation, all aglow, like young lads after their their first alcholic pint.

The ship left Sothampton. The weather was atrocious. A troopship is nothing more than a floating overcrowed barracks. It has its own military C.O. At 2200hrs the tannoy blurts out the Evening Hymn and Last Post. You get you head down and before you know where you are the same tannoy system is blaring out 'Reveille' followed by the stirring strains of the Sousa March 'Hands Across the Sea' (will I ever forget those strains). You wake, and you are immediatley conscious of the massed converted holds filled with scantilly constructed bunks, seemingly, as far as the eye could see, but more than this, the marked movement, up and down, side to side under what was an heavy swell.

What's all this leading up to; well in the follow up post I am looking into the highly probable liklihood that the H.M.Troopship 'Dilwara', upon hitting violent weather in the Bay of Biscay, was almost at the point capsizing under the intense pressure of a violent storm. Part 2 to follow:-

Ward
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  #2  
Old 17th June 2006, 20:04
Ward Breed Ward Breed is offline  
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Troopships

2nd Part.

I remember the 'Dilwara' passing the Ushant lights, the seas being quite reasonable. But later that evening, the ship ran into heavy seas; sea-sickness was now getting rife. Some concern was being shown by a member of the crew. "It's getting a little rough, the ship has just had a new messdeck fitted and it seems this has made her a little more unstable in a running sea. Fatty streaky bacon for breakfast in the morning lads".

The evening developed into the early hours and the ship was being tossed in a violent storm over a violent sea. Deep in those converted holds, servicemen were feeling too sea-sick to sleep and too ill to to worry about anything, even their own safety. You feel as though you want to die so "what the heck!" was the general feeling. In spite of this, they were clinging to the structures of their bunks as the sides of the hold were almost forced horizontal by the extreme rolling of the ship. Loose kitbags, equipment; even mess-tins were seemingly up there in the air one moment and falling down on the bunks and gangways, as the ship almost completed a 45 degree fall to the other side.

Whilst the heavy seas were running high up at least to Gibralter, there was no repitition of dreadful experience. It was the following day that it was announced over the Tannoy system, by the ship's Captain, that on three occasions the ship 'was in difficulties' but had safely ridden out the heavy storm. The general view, at the time, was that the H.M.T 'Dilwara' was in rather more serious peril and there were rumours that signal traffic had suggested that this was the case. The next morning it was reported that a Royal Navy destroyer was in near-by attendance to the ship.

I have often wondered if anyone who shared that experience is still around.
Was that particular problem in the Bay of Biscay ever documented anywhere.
It has aways been my opinion that it was something of a near-thing; this view was, at the time, shared by my fellow servicemen and by crew members and lascar seamen, who said that "they were more than a little worried".

One must always be concerned where a Troopship in involved. I am not aware how many souls were aboard that vessel but it is logical to assess the figure as being some 2000-3000 servicemen and crew. Mostly young 18-19 years old National Service personnel, some bound for Korea.

In later years, I saw this fine ship moored at 21 Shed, Royal Albert Dock.
I just stood and looked at her. "Incredible" I said to myself, without really knowing why I used that term.

Ward
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  #3  
Old 18th June 2006, 19:30
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Welcome Ward to the site.It looks as if you can tell a good descriptive story, any more to come. Nearly felt sea sick myself.
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  #4  
Old 18th June 2006, 23:12
benjidog benjidog is offline
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Ward,

I have split your troopship postings into a separate thread as it deserves its own place in the correct forum.

Can I also draw your attention to an earlier thread started some time back by Billyboy - http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/showthread.php?t=2228

Regards,

Brian
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  #5  
Old 19th June 2006, 07:52
Ward Breed Ward Breed is offline  
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Brian

Being new to the forum, I am still finding my way around. Had I known of Billyboys Thread ' Troopships' then I would have most certainly posted my contribution there. Perhaps my post should be re-posted there as Billyboys Thread contains so much vital information on the subject of Troopships.

Having been alongside ships most of my life and having had family on such wartime R.N. ship as H.M.S. Dunnottor Castle, (AMC) H.M.S 'Shropshire' (Prior to transfer to R.A.N), H.M.S.Bellona (Cruiser-Russian convoys), my perception of ships was perhaps a little more acute than others around me on that voyage. As such, the experience has lived with me. I have always felt the need to 'tell', and this wonderful site is where the story should be related.

As for the rest of the voyage, this made up for Biscay experience. As the age group who were old enough to read and hear about the Western Desert Campaign, and who had dodged Bombs, V1's. V2 Rockets, it was something to see, with our own eyes, the Rock of Gibralter, the outline of the Atlas Mountains, Tripoli (from an off shore position, and the most impressive of all, Tobruk. The 'Dilwara' stood off-shore admidst the many wrecked, bombed ships lying around and outside the harbour. We watched as flat-boats carried Mauritius Pioneer Corps Troops from the ship to the shore. These images stay in the mind.

And then, the 'Dilwara' was saving one further surprise for me. We were moored at Port Said, having entered port at night. Early next morning we were up on deck. A ship was just leaving the Port cofines and entering the Med. The ships name was clearly visible. It was the 'PORT HUON'. by a strange coincidence the last ship I worked with prior to my leaving the Port of London to commence my National Service. Such strange coincidences always seem to happen to me!

Saw many ships, troopships, and others passing through the Suez Canal. But never will I forget those French Troopships passing through on their way to
Indo China. Never saw any make the return trip! They were packed from stem to stern with bodies in uniform. No noise, no waving no nothing. It seems that those poor guys knew what was in front of them and of course, Dien Bien Phu was awaiting them. Very sad images. As I said at the beginning of this post 'Troopships; the very designation evokes very deep thoughts.


Ward

Last edited by Ward Breed : 19th June 2006 at 08:31.
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  #6  
Old 25th November 2008, 12:47
John Williams 56-65 John Williams 56-65 is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ward Breed View Post
2nd Part.

I remember the 'Dilwara' passing the Ushant lights, the seas being quite reasonable. But later that evening, the ship ran into heavy seas; sea-sickness was now getting rife. Some concern was being shown by a member of the crew. "It's getting a little rough, the ship has just had a new messdeck fitted and it seems this has made her a little more unstable in a running sea. Fatty streaky bacon for breakfast in the morning lads".

The evening developed into the early hours and the ship was being tossed in a violent storm over a violent sea. Deep in those converted holds, servicemen were feeling too sea-sick to sleep and too ill to to worry about anything, even their own safety. You feel as though you want to die so "what the heck!" was the general feeling. In spite of this, they were clinging to the structures of their bunks as the sides of the hold were almost forced horizontal by the extreme rolling of the ship. Loose kitbags, equipment; even mess-tins were seemingly up there in the air one moment and falling down on the bunks and gangways, as the ship almost completed a 45 degree fall to the other side.

Whilst the heavy seas were running high up at least to Gibralter, there was no repitition of dreadful experience. It was the following day that it was announced over the Tannoy system, by the ship's Captain, that on three occasions the ship 'was in difficulties' but had safely ridden out the heavy storm. The general view, at the time, was that the H.M.T 'Dilwara' was in rather more serious peril and there were rumours that signal traffic had suggested that this was the case. The next morning it was reported that a Royal Navy destroyer was in near-by attendance to the ship.

I have often wondered if anyone who shared that experience is still around.
Was that particular problem in the Bay of Biscay ever documented anywhere.
It has aways been my opinion that it was something of a near-thing; this view was, at the time, shared by my fellow servicemen and by crew members and lascar seamen, who said that "they were more than a little worried".

One must always be concerned where a Troopship in involved. I am not aware how many souls were aboard that vessel but it is logical to assess the figure as being some 2000-3000 servicemen and crew. Mostly young 18-19 years old National Service personnel, some bound for Korea.

In later years, I saw this fine ship moored at 21 Shed, Royal Albert Dock.
I just stood and looked at her. "Incredible" I said to myself, without really knowing why I used that term.

Ward
Hi Ward; I have just caught up with your two posts re Troopships. You seem to have been rather unfortunate in travelling on Dilwara when she hit such rough weather. As one who has spent eight years on a troopship as a crew member I can assure you that, that first voyage of yours is not typical, but rather the exception. Of course any ship can encounter the occasional rough trip, but the Dilwara in common with most of the troopships at that time were pretty good sea ships. I know first trippers always think they are in unusually rough weather when they get their first taste of just how hairy things can get, but to more experienced seamen such conditions as you describe are fairly common place. I never forgot my first sea voyage when I returned to UK for demob aboard the Lancashire after my stint on the Suez Canal in 55. We had a rough passage from Port Said to Cyprus and I thought that was so bad, it almost put me off going to sea when the opportunity arose eight months later. I learned that that sort of weather was fairly commonplace and in fact wasn`t really rough at all compared to how it can get.
I remember when my children were younger and got frightened during thunder storms, I used to tell them that the house we were in had stood there for fifty years and never been struck by lightening, so why should it be hit now? I suppose something similar could be said about ships. Not much comfort when you are in the middle of a rough one,but the ship must have experienced similar such weather in the past and survived.
One point in your estimate about the passenger numbers. A more realistic figure would be nearer 1500 aboard ship in total. Those ships normally carried betwen 800 and 1000 troops on the troop decks with a further 300 Officers, SNCOs, and families in cabin accomodation. With ships company a total of 1500, give or take 100 would be nearer the mark.
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  #7  
Old 26th November 2008, 12:20
jimmyc jimmyc is offline  
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I belive HMT L11 is The Dilwara
and in this photo in the Australian War Memorial Is the Captain of the ship
H A Moore
I have been searching for 4 years information about the captain
as he was captain of SS Duchess of Atholl when torpedoed 10/10/1942
my father was onboard at the time
http://cas.awm.gov.au/photograph/P00830.002
and from the ships list
DILWARA / KUALA LUMPUR 1935
was a 11,080 gross ton ship, length 516.9ft x beam 63ft, one funnel, two masts, twin screw and a speed of 14 knots. Accommodation for 104-1st, 100-2nd class and 1,157 troops. Built by Barclay, Curle & Co, Glasgow, she was launched as a permanent troopship for British India Steam Nav.Co on 17th Oct.1935. She took part in King George VI's Coronation Review and then trooped mainly to South Africa and Suez. In April 1941 she took part in the evacuation from Greece, and in 1942 was converted to an infantry landing ship. She was involved in the Madagascar landings, and in 1943 took part in assaults on the Burma coast where she was damaged by a mine. She trooped between Singapore - Calcutta - Andaman Islands, and Siam - Penang in 1945. Rebuilt to 12,555 tons in 1949-50 and hammocks replaced by bunks, she could then carry 125-1st, 96-2nd, 104-3rd class passengers and 790 troops. She took part in the Suez Canal landings in Aug.1956 and in Nov.1960 was bought by the China Navigation Co and renamed KUALA LUMPUR. Refitted, she was used as a pilgrim ship to Jeddah and was eventually scrapped at Taiwan in 1971. [Merchant Fleets by Duncan Haws, vol.11, British India S.N.Co.]

Last edited by jimmyc : 26th November 2008 at 12:26.
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  #8  
Old 20th November 2009, 15:56
DJIanB DJIanB is offline  
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I went to Hong Kong on the Dilwara as a babe in arms. Came back on her when I was about three years old. I come from an Airforce family. Any idea how long the journey would have taken? That was 1950 - 53 ish.
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Old 20th November 2009, 17:03
Klaatu83 Klaatu83 is online now  
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When I was a cadet I sailed on the training ship Empire State IV, which had originally been built in 1942 as the U.S. Army troop ship Henry Gibbons. On one occasion, in Antwerp, we invited the public on board and I was amongst those delegated to conduct guided tours. I vividly recall one very interested German tourist who finally remarked, "During the war I used to sink these things in my U-boat!"
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  #10  
Old 20th November 2009, 19:55
Lancastrian Lancastrian is offline  
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