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  #51  
Old 18th July 2007, 21:52
stan mayes stan mayes is offline  
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Not a mention of the " Queens "they carried about 9000 troops each..Other large troopships during the war were Mauretania - Pasteur - Aquitania -Dominion Monarch .
Almost all ferries served as troopships during the war.
I was in DUKE of YORK 14 March to 24 May 1945. On trooping service Tilbury to Ostend with one round trip daily..staying overnight in Tilbury Docks while we took in coal bunkers..
Apart from many service personell we carried VIPs from the entertainment world .Top bands -Henry Hall - Norrie Paramour - Oscar Rabin - Harry Roy - Joe Loss - Carrol Gibbons and their vocalists...
Approaching Ostend on 16 April a tanker just ahead of us struck a mine and exploded into a huge fireball ..It was GOLD SHELL and many crew were killed.
During our occasional runs ashore in Ostend we saw bars and cafe's on fire and their owners having their heads shaved in the streets .. they were accused of collaboration with the Germans during their occupation..
DUKE of YORK was in Tilbury Docks on 8th May and preparing to sail when we heard the wonderful news - the war in Europe had ended !!!!! It was VE Day...The ship was almost deserted within minutes with crew and service people making for the nearest pubs.
Consequently the ship sailed late...
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  #52  
Old 24th July 2007, 15:38
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Cool

Another one that I have not noted in the lists is the Bibby Line Derbyshire(2) originally an Armed Merchant Cruiser but was converted in 1941 (think) back to trooping and remained so until after the war when she reverted to Bibby and after refits commenced running to Burma until her demise.
Noted one mention of the Empire Trooper - interesting vessel - built in 1922 by Vulcan Werke Hamburg. Launched 8th May 1922 as Cap Norte for Hamburg South America Line. Chartered to North German Lloyd in 1932 and renamed Sierra Salvada until 1934 when she reverted to owners and original name. On 3rd Sep 1939 she was at Pernambuco and on 9th Oct she was attempting to reach Germany when intercepted by HMS Belfast in severe weather off Iceland. She was captured and converted in 1940 to a troopship, managed for the MOWT by B.I. Damaged by gunfire from the Admiral Hipper on 25th Dec 1940 700W of Finisterre. May 42 she took part in the Madagascar landings. Rebuilt in 1949 with accommodation for 336 cabin and 924 troops being then painted white. Sold to Thos W Ward Inverkeithing in 1955 for scrap. Caught fire at anchor and sank. Refloated and on 19th June scrapping commenced. Some history!

Picture attached of her as Empire Trooper.

Hawkey01

Last edited by hawkey01; 14th December 2009 at 11:31..
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  #53  
Old 16th February 2008, 21:27
John Williams 56-65 John Williams 56-65 is offline  
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Hi all you troopship enthusiasts. I have only joined SNs in the past week and I have been looking through the threads for just such a thread as this one. I served in the RAF in Egypt in the early fifties and returned to UK on the Lancashire. Eight months after my demob I joined the MN and spent the next nine years sailing on the troopships Cheshire and Devonshire as ships plumber.I have much knowledge about those ships and what it was like to sail on them. I hope over the coming weeks to be able to tell you of my experiences on them. As I had an association with the Bibby Line lasting over a period of seventeen years from 1948 to 1965 I have quite a bit to say and I must warn you that I do have a habit of letting my tongue or in this case my finger [I type with one only] run away with me. So stand by your beds. Incidentally I see the Empire Windrush mentioned quite often on this thread. As a member of another site dedicated to RAF personell who served at one particular camp in Egypt I came across a piece by a fellow airman who was aboard the Windrush when she caught fire. He wrote an excellent eyewitness account of the events of that day and posted it on that site. I shall have to contact him and seek his permission to reproduce it on here.
So prepare to have your ear oles bashed. John Williams AKA Plumbs
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  #54  
Old 20th February 2008, 07:42
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Mike S Mike S is offline  
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My grandfather John Graham "Nutty" Almond was Master of the Empire Windrush for quite a while.
I am not sure of the dates however I suspect he took her over shortly after she was refitted after the war. I know he was Master when she brought the very first West Indian immigrants into the UK; around 1948 I seem to recall. She was always a bit of a nightmare down below he used to say and made some comment about the location of the emergency fire fighting pump. He died in 1968 and I am now 67 so please forgive the dodgy memory!
He retired in the early fifties after taking Sussex on her maiden voyage however of course I can recall seeing the pictures of the Windrush burning in the Med as a kid at school. The weather was calm and it was a well organised evacuation. The only people lost were in the engine room after I think an explosion if I can recall. Others may know more accurate info.
Amazing to read her name after all these years...........
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  #55  
Old 20th February 2008, 13:32
sailingday sailingday is offline  
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new australia 1954/55, out to australia with 10 poms, empty to kure , Pusan returned to brisbane with aussie and kiwi troops, back up to Hong Kong Singapore, for brittish soldiers, docked Southampton Dec31, we were allowed ashore to celebrate the New Year, but the poor old squaddies had to remain on board.
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  #56  
Old 20th February 2008, 14:07
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Did my first foreign voyage in Asturias as 3rd R/O. then went to Korea on Empire Medway. that was 1951
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  #57  
Old 22nd February 2008, 20:49
John Williams 56-65 John Williams 56-65 is offline  
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Originally Posted by John Williams 56-65 View Post
Hi all you troopship enthusiasts. I have only joined SNs in the past week and I have been looking through the threads for just such a thread as this one. I served in the RAF in Egypt in the early fifties and returned to UK on the Lancashire. Eight months after my demob I joined the MN and spent the next nine years sailing on the troopships Cheshire and Devonshire as ships plumber.I have much knowledge about those ships and what it was like to sail on them. I hope over the coming weeks to be able to tell you of my experiences on them. As I had an association with the Bibby Line lasting over a period of seventeen years from 1948 to 1965 I have quite a bit to say and I must warn you that I do have a habit of letting my tongue or in this case my finger [I type with one only] run away with me. So stand by your beds. Incidentally I see the Empire Windrush mentioned quite often on this thread. As a member of another site dedicated to RAF personell who served at one particular camp in Egypt I came across a piece by a fellow airman who was aboard the Windrush when she caught fire. He wrote an excellent eyewitness account of the events of that day and posted it on that site. I shall have to contact him and seek his permission to reproduce it on here.
So prepare to have your ear oles bashed. John Williams AKA Plumbs
I had an on/off association with the troopship Devonshire over a seventeen year period. My first contact with her was in February 1948 when I started an apprenticeship with the ship repair company Grayson Rollo and Clover Docks in my hometown of Birkenhead. This company did almost all the repairs and maintenance on the ships of the Bibby Line on their return to Liverpool after a voyage. Over the five years of my apprenticeship I think I worked on all the B L ships and got to know them very well. The Devonshire was one of the first ships I ever worked on and one of my favourites. When I first saw her it was a cold snowy February morning and she looked pretty drab to say the least. She was rust streaked which was made worse by her paintwork. She was still in her wartime colours of Battleship Grey. A vast difference to what became her normal peacetime appearance of a White hull with a broard Blue line all round,and with funnel, masts and lifting gear a buff colour.
When my apprenticeship was coming to an end I had to register for National Service along with thousands of other young men in those days. Most went into the forces at eighteen but some for various reasons were able to defer their enlistment till later. As I was serving my time as a Marine Plumber I was able to delay my entry into the forces till I was 21. I wanted to join the RAF but was told that in order to get in the RAF rather than the army,and in order to get the RAF trade of my choice I would have to sign on for three years instead of the 2 years of NS. If you are wondering why I am talking about military service on a seamans website I can only ask you to bear with me, as much of what I am typing is relevant to my subsequent story. Strangely enough although I was in the RAF I was never very far from ships and the sea.
I spent the first ten months of my RAF service in a Coastal Command Station in Cornwall [St Eval] It was from here that they flew Shackleton aircraft on marine reconaisance and and search and rescue flights out over the Western Approach`s. These aircraft carried lifeboats in their bomb bay for dropping wherever they were needed. I was lucky enough to make my first flight on one of these aircraft out over the Atlantic for several hundred miles. My outstanding memory of that flight was that we flew very low alongside a large passenger ship whose name I have long since forgotten. We must have passed at a distance of just a couple of hundred yards and at wave top height. I was in the rear turret looking up at the passengers on the deck waving at us. A wonderful memory.
This idyllic life came to an abrupt end when in October 53 I was posted to Egypt. The Suez Canal Zone. I had heard stories of life out there from some of the old hands some of whom had served there themselves and what I was hearing from them was not at all encouraging. I discovered that what I had heard was not quite true, It was worse. I still had two years and two months to complete my service and I couldn`t have served it in a worse place. I was facing the prospect of finishing my service in Egypt with little or no chance of getting home for a leave. Any seamen who have travelled down the canal will know how hot and uncomfortable it can be there but they are unlikely to know much of what was going on there in the early fifties. In the years since first going to Egypt I have travelled the length of the canal quite a few times and it always seemed to be rather a pleasant place apart from the heat. Travelling from Port Said to Suez the western bank appears to be well covered in vegetation and rather peaceful,but it was much like a swan on a pond. The swan floats along sedately but under the surface it is paddling like the clappers. In the earl fifties it was anything but peaceful Unknown to the population at home there was a war going on there. We were on active service and men were being killed. I use the word men but they were mostly eighteen and nineteen year old boys. In the period 1951 to 1954 there were over seven hundred killed which is more than have so far been killed in Iraq and Afganistan together. If any of the older generation can remember sailing down the canal in those years they may remember the searchlights flashing on the shore, that was us guarding the camps which were inside barbed wire and in some cases surrounded by minefields too. Those camps were very reminicent of the POW camps in the old films. Life for me wasn`t all doom and gloom as my first posting within the zone was RAF Kabrit. A fighter station at the southern end of the Great Bitter Lake just where it joins the southern part of the canal to Suez. Here on a Sunday morning I could walk across the airfield and go down to the Kabrit Canal control station. There if I was lucky with my timing I could watch the ships passing through. They were almost within spitting distance and if I was very lucky I would see ships I knew from home. My mates must have thought I was mad the first time we went there as I indulged in that old MN custom of shouting ," Any Scousers aboard or any Geordies etc" Of course I hadn`t been to sea myself but I knew the routine as I had heard it many times in the docks of Merseyside. If nothing else it made me feel I wasn`t all that far from home. After Kabrit I was posted to a Royal Engineer post and which proved to be the best posting of the four I had in the zone. I was living on a floating workshop with a cabin to myself, on the great Bitter lake helping service the RE`s fleet of Z craft. A type of tank landing craft that was used for transporting stores up and down the canal. Eventually my time in Egypt was coming to an end and I joined the troopship Lancashire to return home. I had been flown out to Egypt and now I was to experience what it could be like at sea for a change.
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  #58  
Old 27th February 2008, 13:08
dr bob duncan dr bob duncan is offline  
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sailed on the Cheshire from Southampton to Normandy beach on 8 June 1944 as a member of the Duke of Wellingtons Regt, We went down the side on scrambling netting into small landing craft.
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  #59  
Old 27th February 2008, 20:47
John Williams 56-65 John Williams 56-65 is offline  
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I see many members referring to the old troopshipswith the prefix HMT or HMTS. I know many of the servicemen we carried on the Devonshire were under the impression that HMT meant Her/His Majesties Troopship. An easy enough assumption to make. It actually stood for Hired Military Transport. Those ships were owned and managed for the MOWT by civilian companies under contract to the government and crewed by civilian Merchant Seamen and women. As far as I am aware it is only vessels of the Royal Navy that bear the prefix HMS.
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  #60  
Old 27th February 2008, 21:13
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Ian6 Ian6 is offline  
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Hi
I was 4/0 in P&O's Strathmore in 1960, the Captain, Leonard Henry Howard, was rather short and affected an absentminded approach but was actually very sharp. His previous command had been Empire Fowey and he was prone to dispatching Bell Boys with messages to various parts of of the ship with military names as used in Empire Fowey, but non existent in Strathmore. After a while the Bell Boys learnt to go for a smoko instead of hunting.
Ian
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  #61  
Old 28th February 2008, 22:00
John Williams 56-65 John Williams 56-65 is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Williams 56-65 View Post
I had an on/off association with the troopship Devonshire over a seventeen year period. My first contact with her was in February 1948 when I started an apprenticeship with the ship repair company Grayson Rollo and Clover Docks in my hometown of Birkenhead. This company did almost all the repairs and maintenance on the ships of the Bibby Line on their return to Liverpool after a voyage. Over the five years of my apprenticeship I think I worked on all the B L ships and got to know them very well. The Devonshire was one of the first ships I ever worked on and one of my favourites. When I first saw her it was a cold snowy February morning and she looked pretty drab to say the least. She was rust streaked which was made worse by her paintwork. She was still in her wartime colours of Battleship Grey. A vast difference to what became her normal peacetime appearance of a White hull with a broard Blue line all round,and with funnel, masts and lifting gear a buff colour.
When my apprenticeship was coming to an end I had to register for National Service along with thousands of other young men in those days. Most went into the forces at eighteen but some for various reasons were able to defer their enlistment till later. As I was serving my time as a Marine Plumber I was able to delay my entry into the forces till I was 21. I wanted to join the RAF but was told that in order to get in the RAF rather than the army,and in order to get the RAF trade of my choice I would have to sign on for three years instead of the 2 years of NS. If you are wondering why I am talking about military service on a seamans website I can only ask you to bear with me, as much of what I am typing is relevant to my subsequent story. Strangely enough although I was in the RAF I was never very far from ships and the sea.
I spent the first ten months of my RAF service in a Coastal Command Station in Cornwall [St Eval] It was from here that they flew Shackleton aircraft on marine reconaisance and and search and rescue flights out over the Western Approach`s. These aircraft carried lifeboats in their bomb bay for dropping wherever they were needed. I was lucky enough to make my first flight on one of these aircraft out over the Atlantic for several hundred miles. My outstanding memory of that flight was that we flew very low alongside a large passenger ship whose name I have long since forgotten. We must have passed at a distance of just a couple of hundred yards and at wave top height. I was in the rear turret looking up at the passengers on the deck waving at us. A wonderful memory.
This idyllic life came to an abrupt end when in October 53 I was posted to Egypt. The Suez Canal Zone. I had heard stories of life out there from some of the old hands some of whom had served there themselves and what I was hearing from them was not at all encouraging. I discovered that what I had heard was not quite true, It was worse. I still had two years and two months to complete my service and I couldn`t have served it in a worse place. I was facing the prospect of finishing my service in Egypt with little or no chance of getting home for a leave. Any seamen who have travelled down the canal will know how hot and uncomfortable it can be there but they are unlikely to know much of what was going on there in the early fifties. In the years since first going to Egypt I have travelled the length of the canal quite a few times and it always seemed to be rather a pleasant place apart from the heat. Travelling from Port Said to Suez the western bank appears to be well covered in vegetation and rather peaceful,but it was much like a swan on a pond. The swan floats along sedately but under the surface it is paddling like the clappers. In the earl fifties it was anything but peaceful Unknown to the population at home there was a war going on there. We were on active service and men were being killed. I use the word men but they were mostly eighteen and nineteen year old boys. In the period 1951 to 1954 there were over seven hundred killed which is more than have so far been killed in Iraq and Afganistan together. If any of the older generation can remember sailing down the canal in those years they may remember the searchlights flashing on the shore, that was us guarding the camps which were inside barbed wire and in some cases surrounded by minefields too. Those camps were very reminicent of the POW camps in the old films. Life for me wasn`t all doom and gloom as my first posting within the zone was RAF Kabrit. A fighter station at the southern end of the Great Bitter Lake just where it joins the southern part of the canal to Suez. Here on a Sunday morning I could walk across the airfield and go down to the Kabrit Canal control station. There if I was lucky with my timing I could watch the ships passing through. They were almost within spitting distance and if I was very lucky I would see ships I knew from home. My mates must have thought I was mad the first time we went there as I indulged in that old MN custom of shouting ," Any Scousers aboard or any Geordies etc" Of course I hadn`t been to sea myself but I knew the routine as I had heard it many times in the docks of Merseyside. If nothing else it made me feel I wasn`t all that far from home. After Kabrit I was posted to a Royal Engineer post and which proved to be the best posting of the four I had in the zone. I was living on a floating workshop with a cabin to myself, on the great Bitter lake helping service the RE`s fleet of Z craft. A type of tank landing craft that was used for transporting stores up and down the canal. Eventually my time in Egypt was coming to an end and I joined the troopship Lancashire to return home. I had been flown out to Egypt and now I was to experience what it could be like at sea for a change.
The Date; 9th December 1955. This must rate as one of the best dates in my life. I was on my way to Port Said to join the troopship Lancashire to go home for demob and bring to an end the longest and most uncomfortable twenty six months of my life. I, along with a few other lucky airmen were to join the Lancashire and hopfully be home in time for Xmas. I had already spent two Xmas`s and three birthdays in the Suez Canal Zone, and would be very pleased if I never saw the place again.
On arrival at the ship I could hardly wait to get aboard and renew my aquaintance with the old tub.But what a surprise I got when I finally went aboard. This wasn`t the Lancashire I remembered from four or five years previously.. She had changed quite a lot in the years since I was last aboard her. I realised she had had an extensive refit in more recent times and it was certainly an improvement. One of the most important things as far as troopdeck passengers were concerned was that the old hammocks had gone and had been replaced by Standee beds. In addition the eating arrangements for the troops was a cafeteria style arrangement instead of eating where you slept. Perhaps a word of explanation wouldn`t go amiss here. Pre refit the troopdeck bulkheads and deckheads were lined with hangers for slinging hammocks. The hammocks being stowed in racks attatched to the bulkheads. Beneath the hammocks were long tables maybe twenty feet long with a bench seat of equal length placed beside the table. The hammocks were slung over the tables which were of course securely fastened to the deck The hammocks being stowed away in the morning and slung up at night. The Standee bunks which replaced them were not such an improvement as they first appeared. They were certainly more comfortable than hammocks especially to men who were not used to hammocks, but they had disadvantages of their own. These Standees bunk were placed three either side of poles welded to the deck and deckhead and hinged three one above the other each side of the poles. They could be folded back in the morning and hooked back with chains till the evening. The bottom bunk was about a foot above the deck and the other two bunks spaced out above it. Once you were in you were often disturbed by the others climbing up to reach the upper bunks. This could happen several times during the night and more often if your mates had been drinking in the canteen or were suffering with sea sickness. If you needed the toilet during the night you had to go up two decks if you were unlucky enough to be in the lowest troopdeck. These troopdecks were huge, stretching the full width of the ship and divided fore to aft by watertight bulkheads. There were six troopdecks which could accomodate between eight hundred and a thousand troops.
The cafeteria was an improvement on the original system in that there was a separate eating area, [I won`t call it a dining room,that would be going too far.] You queued for your meal which was served on a large tray which was divided into partitions for the main meal and a sweet . You were lucky in poor weather to reach a table without slopping it all together in one horrible mess, or sliding in a mess some other poor sod had spilt. There were other drawbacks which I won`t go into here. I will tell more about troopship ways and layouts when I come to talk about the Devonshire.

For the moment I want to talk about my first voyage to sea. As the ship was still boarding more troops till fairly late at night we weren`t due to sail till the morning. We spent the evening exploring as much as we could, which wasn`t much, as we were confined to the troopdeck area which consisted of the forrard third of the ship. Eventually we went to our troopdeck and turned in. We were woken to the obvious sounds of the ship getting ready to leave,and after getting dressed we went on deck to watch our departure.
Unfortunately it was blowing half a gale and we soon went below to grab our greatcoats. We weren`t used to this cold weather after becoming aclimatised to the heat further down the canal .As we passed the breakwater at the entrance to the harbour we could feel the ship starting to roll a bit, and more than a bit once we had cleared it. We were headed to Famagusta in Cyprus so we were heading north with the wind blowing strongly from the west .After a while there were more than a few being sick although I am pleased to say I wasn`t one of them,but I did feel pretty awful. As it was a bit stuffy below decks I decided to get out of the wind and stay up top in the fresh air. After an hour or so the sergeant in charge of our troopdeck came along and asked if any of us were interested in photography. Without thinking, I said I was. Right he said, You and your three mates are on the cinema projectionists fatigue party. Three years service and i walked straight into that one,.when I ought to have known better. However it proved to be one of the best mistakes I ever made. As was the custom on troopships, as many of the troops as possible are given jobs around the ship, helping out in all the departments where they could be found something to do. We were lucky as all we had to do was put out the seating for film shows, and carry the projectors and cans of film around to wherever they were needed. In this way we were allowed to go to parts of the ship which were normally out of bounds to the troops First class[ Officers and their families of course] Second class [SNCOs and their families] and Third Class [Other Ranks Families.] and even on one occasion in the European crews mess room.. We also got to see all the films too.
We arrived at Famagusta the following morning by which time the wind had died down and all was calm. It was just as well it had, as we had to anchor about a mile off shore as we were too big to go alongside. Our new troops and passengers were brought out to us by the Royal Engineers Z Craft. the very ones I had spent so much of my time working on some ten months earlier. We left Cyprus during the afternoon and headed for Malta where we embarked even more troops and at the same time we had the chance for a run ashore. After leaving Malta it was full steam ahead for Liverpool as we weren`t due to call into Gib as we sometimes did, in fact we passed it in the night and few saw it. The voyage from Cyprus to Liverpool was a nice smooth one as even the dreaded Bay of Biscay behaved itself. This was December of course and the weather became noticably colder the closer we got to UK. So much so that by the time we were picking up the Liverpool pilot off Point Lynas it was starting to snow. This wa a cause of great excitement among the troops as most of us had not seen any rain for a couple of years, much less snow.By the time we were entering the Mersey there was quite a covering of snow and there were snowball fights galore going on, on deck. As we drew alongside the Landing Stage this all came to a halt as we lined the ships side to watch what was going on. I got a lovely surprise when I heard my name being called and saw all my family standing there, except for a younger brother who was away in the Cheshire regiment. As I was the eldest of seven there was quite a gathering. Unfortunately they weren`t allowed aboard and I wasn`t allowed ashore,so we had to content ourselves with shouting backwards and forwards across the forty or fifty feet between the ship and the stage.After a while I had to tell them to go home as they must have been half frozen. My mother came back the following morning and accompanied me to Lime St station as I had to travel to RAF Innesworth near Cheltenham for demob. I was home again the next day just in time for Xmas and finished with the RAF,my official demob date being 28th January. The first thing I did on getting home was to take off my uniform never to wear it again.
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  #62  
Old 8th March 2008, 22:42
John Williams 56-65 John Williams 56-65 is offline  
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The Date; 9th December 1955. This must rate as one of the best dates in my life. I was on my way to Port Said to join the troopship Lancashire to go home for demob and bring to an end the longest and most uncomfortable twenty six months of my life. I, along with a few other lucky airmen were to join the Lancashire and hopfully be home in time for Xmas. I had already spent two Xmas`s and three birthdays in the Suez Canal Zone, and would be very pleased if I never saw the place again.
On arrival at the ship I could hardly wait to get aboard and renew my aquaintance with the old tub.But what a surprise I got when I finally went aboard. This wasn`t the Lancashire I remembered from four or five years previously.. She had changed quite a lot in the years since I was last aboard her. I realised she had had an extensive refit in more recent times and it was certainly an improvement. One of the most important things as far as troopdeck passengers were concerned was that the old hammocks had gone and had been replaced by Standee beds. In addition the eating arrangements for the troops was a cafeteria style arrangement instead of eating where you slept. Perhaps a word of explanation wouldn`t go amiss here. Pre refit the troopdeck bulkheads and deckheads were lined with hangers for slinging hammocks. The hammocks being stowed in racks attatched to the bulkheads. Beneath the hammocks were long tables maybe twenty feet long with a bench seat of equal length placed beside the table. The hammocks were slung over the tables which were of course securely fastened to the deck The hammocks being stowed away in the morning and slung up at night. The Standee bunks which replaced them were not such an improvement as they first appeared. They were certainly more comfortable than hammocks especially to men who were not used to hammocks, but they had disadvantages of their own. These Standees bunk were placed three either side of poles welded to the deck and deckhead and hinged three one above the other each side of the poles. They could be folded back in the morning and hooked back with chains till the evening. The bottom bunk was about a foot above the deck and the other two bunks spaced out above it. Once you were in you were often disturbed by the others climbing up to reach the upper bunks. This could happen several times during the night and more often if your mates had been drinking in the canteen or were suffering with sea sickness. If you needed the toilet during the night you had to go up two decks if you were unlucky enough to be in the lowest troopdeck. These troopdecks were huge, stretching the full width of the ship and divided fore to aft by watertight bulkheads. There were six troopdecks which could accomodate between eight hundred and a thousand troops.
The cafeteria was an improvement on the original system in that there was a separate eating area, [I won`t call it a dining room,that would be going too far.] You queued for your meal which was served on a large tray which was divided into partitions for the main meal and a sweet . You were lucky in poor weather to reach a table without slopping it all together in one horrible mess, or sliding in a mess some other poor sod had spilt. There were other drawbacks which I won`t go into here. I will tell more about troopship ways and layouts when I come to talk about the Devonshire.

For the moment I want to talk about my first voyage to sea. As the ship was still boarding more troops till fairly late at night we weren`t due to sail till the morning. We spent the evening exploring as much as we could, which wasn`t much, as we were confined to the troopdeck area which consisted of the forrard third of the ship. Eventually we went to our troopdeck and turned in. We were woken to the obvious sounds of the ship getting ready to leave,and after getting dressed we went on deck to watch our departure.
Unfortunately it was blowing half a gale and we soon went below to grab our greatcoats. We weren`t used to this cold weather after becoming aclimatised to the heat further down the canal .As we passed the breakwater at the entrance to the harbour we could feel the ship starting to roll a bit, and more than a bit once we had cleared it. We were headed to Famagusta in Cyprus so we were heading north with the wind blowing strongly from the west .After a while there were more than a few being sick although I am pleased to say I wasn`t one of them,but I did feel pretty awful. As it was a bit stuffy below decks I decided to get out of the wind and stay up top in the fresh air. After an hour or so the sergeant in charge of our troopdeck came along and asked if any of us were interested in photography. Without thinking, I said I was. Right he said, You and your three mates are on the cinema projectionists fatigue party. Three years service and i walked straight into that one,.when I ought to have known better. However it proved to be one of the best mistakes I ever made. As was the custom on troopships, as many of the troops as possible are given jobs around the ship, helping out in all the departments where they could be found something to do. We were lucky as all we had to do was put out the seating for film shows, and carry the projectors and cans of film around to wherever they were needed. In this way we were allowed to go to parts of the ship which were normally out of bounds to the troops First class[ Officers and their families of course] Second class [SNCOs and their families] and Third Class [Other Ranks Families.] and even on one occasion in the European crews mess room.. We also got to see all the films too.
We arrived at Famagusta the following morning by which time the wind had died down and all was calm. It was just as well it had, as we had to anchor about a mile off shore as we were too big to go alongside. Our new troops and passengers were brought out to us by the Royal Engineers Z Craft. the very ones I had spent so much of my time working on some ten months earlier. We left Cyprus during the afternoon and headed for Malta where we embarked even more troops and at the same time we had the chance for a run ashore. After leaving Malta it was full steam ahead for Liverpool as we weren`t due to call into Gib as we sometimes did, in fact we passed it in the night and few saw it. The voyage from Cyprus to Liverpool was a nice smooth one as even the dreaded Bay of Biscay behaved itself. This was December of course and the weather became noticably colder the closer we got to UK. So much so that by the time we were picking up the Liverpool pilot off Point Lynas it was starting to snow. This wa a cause of great excitement among the troops as most of us had not seen any rain for a couple of years, much less snow.By the time we were entering the Mersey there was quite a covering of snow and there were snowball fights galore going on, on deck. As we drew alongside the Landing Stage this all came to a halt as we lined the ships side to watch what was going on. I got a lovely surprise when I heard my name being called and saw all my family standing there, except for a younger brother who was away in the Cheshire regiment. As I was the eldest of seven there was quite a gathering. Unfortunately they weren`t allowed aboard and I wasn`t allowed ashore,so we had to content ourselves with shouting backwards and forwards across the forty or fifty feet between the ship and the stage.After a while I had to tell them to go home as they must have been half frozen. My mother came back the following morning and accompanied me to Lime St station as I had to travel to RAF Innesworth near Cheltenham for demob. I was home again the next day just in time for Xmas and finished with the RAF,my official demob date being 28th January. The first thing I did on getting home was to take off my uniform never to wear it again.
After spending a great Xmas and New Year with my family and my old mates I had to find a job to get some money together. This wasn`too hard as the firm that had employed you before you went in the forces was duty bound to r-employ you on your return, for a while at least.. So I went back to the yard which I had left some three years earlier. After a while it was as though I had never left. My time in the RAF was soon put to the back of my mind and I picked up more or less as I had left off. I had finished my apprenticeship on low wages and within a week was away in the RAF. Now for the first time I was earning a mans wage and as a result I was living it up. Among the other things I enjoyed was making up for the enforced celibacy of the three years just gone .and giving the local girls the pleasure of my company. However this life wasn`t to last for long. Some seven months after my return from Egypt my foreman sent for me and asked me if I had ever considered going to sea. I hadn`t of course, nor did I want to, especially after what I considered to be a rough first day on a ship at sea. He told me that he had been contacted by the Bibby Line Marine Superintendant and asked if he had anyone who would be available to join the Cheshire as Ships Plumber. As I was the right age, and with the right amount of experience, and was also single, I was the .one best suited for the job. But I didn`t want it. I had already been away for three years and was starting to enjoy life with money in my pocket,Why would I want to go away again so soon? Apparently Bibby Line had a new troopship being completed on the Clyde, [ The Oxfordshire.] Their plan was to send their longest serving plumber to join her.This meant they needed a third plumber to take over the Cheshire while the man from the Cheshire moved up to the Devonshire. After a bit of thought I decided that as the Cheshire was about to make a round the world voyage I would be a fool to turn down this opportunity. Besides if I didn`t enjoy it I could always pack it in after that one voyage. When I finally joined the Cheshire a few days before sailing day, the man I was relieving was still aboard her. I knew him quite well as I had worked with him in the shipyard four or five years earlier. He first went to sea while I was away in the air force. After a tour around the ship when he showed me what would be required of me he went off on leave and I was then on my own.
The Cheshire wasn`t a regular troopship but a ship that had been used to take 10 Poms as emmigrants to Australia,and as there was need at that time for troopships she was pressed into service as a trooper without any of the usual refit beforehand. She didn`t have troopdecks or any of other things you would expect to find on a regular troopship. She had six berth cabins, a luxury as far as the troops were concerned. As in other troopships she also carried a regular military complement who were responsible for administration and discipline among the troops. This consisted of about a dozen or so army medics and various Senior NCOs in charge of military stores and the Orderly Room. In the forces everything starts and finishes in the Orderly Room, the section that oversees everything else. They were led by a Lt Colonel and a couple of junior officers and a Regimental Sergeant Major of the Cheshire Regiment. I mention him particularly because he figured in later events during the voyage.
After picking up our troops from the Liverpool Landing stage we were off headed for Kingston [Jamaica] and then through the Panama Canal to Honolulu. After giving our troops a couple of days ashore we then headed down to Xmas Island to drop off the troops who were mostly Royal Engineers, and who were doing preparatory work for the Atomic Bomb Tests that were scheduled for the following year [ Operation Grapple] After returning to Honolulu with an empty ship we had a great four days to do some sightseeing ourselves before heading off across the Pacific en route to Singapore where we were to pick up more troops to return them to UK.. It was a couple of days after leaving Singapore that we received a call for medical assistance from a tanker some fifty miles ahead of us. As we had a fully equipt hospital and the neccesary medical staff we rendezvoued with the tanker at about 11AM that day. Of course as this was something rather unusual all the troops were on the side where all the action was taking place with me amongst them, all with cameras at the ready. The story was, that one of the crew who had been drinking heavily since leaving Japan, had attacked the ships cook.with a large knife and had cut him up rather badly. Our response was to send one of our motor lifeboats across with the army doctor and a couple of military policemen to control the knifeman and fetch the pair of them back for attention in the ships hospital. This was when things started to get a bit fraught. The RSM, whom I taken a dislike to from the first time I met him, ordered all the troops back to the other side of the ship out of the way. Of course they had no option but to obey his order. I stayed put as I considered myself to be well out of the way. He spotted me and came over and said, " That means you too" That was the wrong thing to say to me as I had finished taking orders from people like him some eight months before and told him I wasn`t taking orders from him. On later reflection I realised that I could have been in the wrong but I wasn`t about to do his bidding. He was getting a bit hot under the collar by this time as a few of the troops were watching all this and it wasn`t doing his authority much good. He walked away and muttered that I hadn`t heard the last of this. About 4 in the afternoon I was sent for by the captain. I knew what it was for of course and duly reported to his cabin. Sitting there was the O/C Troops, the RSM, and the Captain. It was obvious they had been dicussing the days events and before I could say anything in my defence I was given a right dressing down and then told to get out. As I made my way back to my cabin I remember thinking "My first trip to sea and probably my last" I didn`t like that as by this time I was beginning to enjoy the sea life. I expected a bad discharge at least.

Our next port of call was Mombasa where we put all our troops into a transit camp while we went down to Dar es Salaam and picked up a regiment of the Kings East African Rifles and took them to Mauritious and then returned with the regiment they were replacing to Dar. After that it was back to Mombasa to pick up our original troops from Singapore and return them to UK. We were due to return to UK via the Suez Canal but I was disappointed when instead of turning north to go up the Red Sea we went south to Capetown and back up the West Coast of Africa.This was due to the 1956 Suez fiasco when British and Frech troops reinvaded Egypt when Nasser nationalised the canal I was looking forward to going through the canal as I wanted to see it from the deck of a ship instead of watching the ships from the desert sands. As far as I was concerned it was likely the only chance I would get to go through the canal.
We reached Liverpool at the end of that voyage almost exactly twelve months to the day when I first arrived at the Liverpool landing stage on my return from Egypt. After all our troops had left the ship it was the turn of the ships company to see the customs in one of the passenger lounges. As I left the lounge the captain was walking down the deck towards me and called me over. He asked me to take a look at his shower as it had been playing up. He then asked me if I would be doing the next voyage. " Oh ! Yes Sir" I replied, "And I`ll nip up and fix your shower before I go on leave." Not only was the events of a couple of months earlier forgotten, but I was dicharged with a double V. G. However the next voyage was only a quick three week round voyage to Cyprus and then the ship was to be sent for scrap, and it was back to the ship yards again for me. BUT NOT FOR LONG.

Last edited by John Williams 56-65; 8th March 2008 at 22:50..
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  #63  
Old 9th March 2008, 16:23
JimC JimC is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fred henderson View Post
As built troopships: -

Dilwara (1936) - Sold 1960 for use as Haj pilgrim carrier, scrapped 1971.
Dunera (1937) - Withdrawn 1961 and converted into scholars cruise ship. Scrapped 1967.
Ettrick (1938) - Torpedoed & sunk on return voyage from North Africa 1942.
Devonshire (1939) - Withdrawn 1962, also used for scholars cruises. Scrapped 1967.
Nevesa (1956) - Withdrawn 1962, also used for scholars cruises. Scrapped 1975.
Oxfordshire (1957) - Withdrawn 1962. To Sitmar as Fairstar. Australian based cruises. Scrapped 1997.

Conversions: -

Empire Windrush (1931) Caught fire and sank in Mediterranean 1954.
Empire Waveney (1929) Caught fire and destroyed at Liverpool during conversion 1945.
Empire Medway (1929) Scrapped 1953.
Empire Fowey (1935) - Withdrawn 1960. Used for pilgrim service Pakistan - Jeddah and off-season voyages to Africa & Far East. Scrapped 1976.

I am sure that if there were any other dedicated troop ships around, one of our members will produce the details.

The entire trooping fleet was retired 1962/3 and replaced by air transport. It follows therefore that none are around today.

Fred
MV 'Circassia' built 1937 (Anchor Line)
Converted to AMC and names HMS Circassia in 1939.
Became troopship in 1940/41
returned to civvy service in 1945
Sold to Dutch (I think) in mid 1960s and used as Cadet Training ship (this may not be true as there were three such ships exactly the same - Circassia, Cilicia and Caledonia. I belive the first Caledonia was sunk and a new one built from the original 1930s plans went into service in 1946.

JIm C.
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Old 18th March 2008, 08:17
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pafecru pafecru is offline  
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Does any one have some more info on the EMPIRE PRIDE, like the voyages she made, interrior photographs, troop capacity and so on.

Hans.
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Old 18th March 2008, 12:14
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Pakistan Troopship

1958-59 Sailed as 3/0 and 2/0 on BISNCo's Aronda carrying troops from West Pakistan to East Pakistan for government of Pakistan. We carried upto 2 battalions at a time along with the "camp followers" which included the regimental rag. This meant that Aronda had well over 2000 souls on board,allowed by the Simla rules. For us it was a very easy job, with a good social life in Karachi, the only gripe I had was after keeping the 12 to 4 or should I say the first watch, the bugler would arrive on the bridge at 0530hrs and sound reveille, this only lasted until I was promoted to 2/0 and kept the 4to8. Some of my memories of Aronda are doing rounds after coming off watch at 2000hrs and seeing the squadies queuing up for their production line jump in the rag, they were well turned out in KD complete with waterbottle and bayonet. I never discovered what the bayonet was for. Another incident was when the drummer boy stabbed the sergeant major in the stomach whilst resisting the man's sexual advances, in the eyes of the military the boy was in the wrong and they had no sympathy for the lad. On another occaision an air force officer was returning to Karachi from East Pakistan on a charge of murdering his batman. Placed in a cabin under guard, he disarmed the guard and entered the 1st class saloon at dinner time threatening all with the guards rifle. We were not involved in any of these incidents, but as interested spectators of military behaviour it was some what enlightening.
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Old 18th March 2008, 22:55
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Dulcibella Dulcibella is offline  
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Troopships

Although not a troop ship per se, the former Migrant ship "New Australia" was used to carry troops to the Korean War. She was the former "Monarch of Bermuda" (Furness Withy) that caught fire in Liverpool and subsequently was rebuilt as a Migrant Ship under the auspices of the Board of Trade. She was managed by Shaw Savill & Albion Line and carried their houseflag.

On voyages to Australia she would carry British migrants and, after arriving at Sydney and disembarking her passengers, would then pick up Australian troops and take them to Korea. After unloading the troops she would then return to England to embark the next batch of migrants. I and my late parents were passengers aboard her in May 1953.

Dulcibella
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  #67  
Old 18th March 2008, 23:28
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John Rogers John Rogers is offline  
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Geoff,to answer your question on how many troops there are in a battalion or regiment. In a battalion there is around 700 men, in a regt approx a 1,000, it depends on the type of unit Inf,Eng,or support troops. But the rule of thumb is about 18,000 to 20,000 thousand troops in a division with all supporting units. Thats in the old army,the modern day army has been trimmed way down.

John.
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Old 25th March 2008, 22:30
John Williams 56-65 John Williams 56-65 is offline  
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John is right in his figures re the numbers of men in a Battalion and a Regiment. I often refer when talking of the various battalions we carried on the Devonshire as a regiment. In this I am wrong as I should be refering to them as the 1st Battalion the Cheshire regiment or the 2nd Battalion the South Wales Borderers etc. A full regiment in peacetime is I would think almost unheard of and few peacetime troopships could carry a full regiment anyway. It is only in wartime such as the 2nd WW when regiments were at full strength. The Battalions were further divided into Companies and even further divided into platoons.
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Old 27th March 2008, 21:35
alex page alex page is offline  
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In the late 50's when I served on the Dilwara we sometimes carried a full battalion .I remember taking a battalion of the Duke of Cornwalls L.I to the West Indies and bringing back the 2nd batt; of the Black Watch . On the Nevasa we had a large number onboard as we doubled up with troops from the Dunera in Malta when the Suez canal was closed for the short trip to Famagusta.
alex
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Old 4th July 2008, 20:11
golden dawn golden dawn is offline  
 
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golden dawn

Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith Adams View Post
No one has mentioned the White Star (Cunard) Liner "Georgic" which operated as a troopship in WWII and lost one of her funnels during a bombing raid and continued as a troopship throughout the Korean War principaly ferrying
troops from Australia to and from Korea. My brother was a Quarter Master on
her at the time... she was always painted grey. Snowy
I sailed on the MV Georgic in 1951 From liverpool on my way to Korea with the First Battalion KOSB .We landed at HongKong.We were there for a few Months before sailing to Korea on the Empire Trooper
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Old 22nd September 2010, 17:10
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Cool Empire Orwell.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cheddarnibbles View Post
[U]Empire Orwell Ex Empire Doon; Pretoria was operated by Alfred Holt from Nov.'58 til Feb.'62 as a pilgrim ship sailing from Indonesia to Jeddah under the name GUNUNG DJATI .She replaced TYNDAREUS
Later she was sold to the Indonesian Government for Hadji use and finally as a troopship.
Broken up in 1987.
She was not looked upon as a favourite assignment amongst midshipmen of that era.!!!
Hi There.
I did six trips on the Empire Orwell.Happiest
ship that I sailed on.Started in crew mess,then
leading hands mess,then officers mess and
ended as First Mess Room Steward.This was
back in 1956.

Dave Williams(R583900)
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Old 6th April 2011, 07:54
Dannemois Dannemois is offline  
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Lusitania

Would anyone have a postcard of the Lusitania in the old harbour at Cape Town, South Africa taken from the top of Table Mountain? I am trying to replace a lost card sent home by my grandfather during the First World War and would appreciate a copy.

Regards, Roy
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Old 6th April 2011, 08:06
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Williams View Post
Hi There.
I did six trips on the Empire Orwell.Happiest
ship that I sailed on.Started in crew mess,then
leading hands mess,then officers mess and
ended as First Mess Room Steward.This was
back in 1956.

Dave Williams(R583900)
Then perhaps i should thank you for getting my older brother safely home from the Korean war Dave.
He went out on the Empire Pride and was scheduled to come back on the Windrush. However she had a full load apparently and he was shipped back on the Orwell.
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  #74  
Old 5th September 2011, 09:44
yesterlady yesterlady is offline  
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Just found this wonderful site; and looking for anyone who travelled on the Windrush or the Orwell; we went from Singapore to Sri Lanka on the Windrush; and Orwell from Sri Lanka back to UK, Windrush 1952/3 (circa) and Orwell 1956/57. the Orwell was bringing back hospitalised troops from ???. I am just doing a European project on capturing memories of the 1950's for the next generation, and this was a very important period as you all know, so memories are important. Any help would be appreciated. 5 other countries involved in the "capturing" of memories.
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  #75  
Old 5th September 2011, 10:31
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Click HERE for another thread on troopships
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