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Empire Battleaxe

I sailed in Empire Battleaxe ferrying troops in the Med in 1946/47.Was one of the 'skeleton' crew who returned her to Norfolk, Virginia in 1947.
She was run by Cunard and they returned us home by train to Halifax,Nova Scotia then on Aquitania to Southampton. I have a photo if anyone interested.
Allan.
 

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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
 

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Came back to U.K. from Malta on "Orduna" in 1947 for demob from R.N. Think from senile old memory that she had started picking up out east.
Doug.
 

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Although the Georgic was rebuilt after her disasterous fire in Egypt, she had so much structural damage that she was never again used on the North Atlantic during winter. Unlike sister Britannic she was also never refitted with First/Cabin accommodations.
 

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Troopships - Empire Windrush

Billy Wilson was Master of the Windrush. He was married To Ethel (Effie) one of the daughters of my grandmother's elder sister, Agnes (Aggie). Edgar Kinghorn Myles, Effies brother was awarded the VC in Mesopotamia, and should have been put up for another VC in Persia, but the C-in-C did not want to set a precedent of a double award, so Edgar received a D.S.O. instead. As a family historian, I would be grateful if anyone has any news, anecdotes, etc of Billy, and the Windrush.

Signalman
 

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My father sailed on the Windsor Castle his first trip and was torpedoded in the Med. Gib to North Africa loaded with troops.
Ed Glover
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I'm finding this Thread interesting. What I'm curious to know is how many troops was a purpose built British troopship (BI's, Bibby etc) designed to carry? ie a Battalion, Regiment or what, come to that how many soldiers make up a Regiment/Battalion or whatever?

I ask this as I sailed on the Hadj in Kuala Lumpur(ex.Dilwara) and we carried over 2000 pilgrims and I found it difficult to imagine carrying any more of that number of British troops.

Rgds.
 

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Discussion Starter · #49 ·
Signalman: My older brother went out to Korea on the Empire pride. he was to have come back on the Windrush but she was fully loaded. So, he came back on the Empire Orwel instead. that was the voyage when the Windrush cought fire.
A greaser named "Stockwell" perished on board during that fire (the son of our school caretaker at that time)
Hope you get all the information you are seeking on this site Signalman
 

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Fred,
A lot of info on the Troop Ships, well done, I was lucky enough to be on the Oxfordshire for Her last trip as a Troop Ship, Mombasa to Southampton, 3 Infantry Regiments, Two stops Adan and Gib, I only have One photo of Her.
a clean and good ship. as you said we then went to Air Transport Command.

Les
 

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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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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(==D)
 

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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