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Those that took us out to the Suez Canal Zone,
but better still, brought us back home again.

The Empire Ken

empire ken
Built by Blohm and Voss, Hamburg. 1928.
Original owner: German East Africa Line.
Original name: Ubena
Gross tonnage: 9,000.
Engines: Steam Turbine
Capable speed: 16 knots.
Passengers: 300.
Rebuilt: 1934.
Lengthened by 34’ and gross measurement increased to 9,523 tons.
1939 German Navy, U-Boat depot ship and later a Hospital ship.
1945 Seized by Allies at Travemunde and became a war prize. 
Taken over by British Ministry of Transport.
Converted into a Troopship and renamed the ‘Empire Ken’.
Taken out of service and broken up in 1957.

The Empire Trooper
Built by: Vulcan Works, Hamburg.
Launched in Hamburg 1922.
Original owner: Hamburg – South America Line.
Original name: Cap Norte.
Gross Tonnage: 13,615.
Engines: Low pressure turbines.
Capable speed: 15 knots.
Passengers: 184 first class. 334 second class. 1,368 steerage class.
Captured off Faroes by HMS 'Belfast' and became a war prize.
Converted into a Troopship 1940 and renamed the ‘Empire Trooper’.
Placed under the management of the British India Company.
Had a refit just after the war.  Gross tonnage increased to 14.106.
Accommodation increased to 356 cabin passengers and 924 troops.
Taken out of service: April 1955.
Caught fire the following month whilst anchored at Inverkeithing and sank. Was raised and scrapped.
Sister ship of the Antonio Delfino. Below.)

empire trooper

The Empire Halladale

empire halladale
Built by: Vulcan Works, Hamburg.
Launched: 1921.
Original owner: Hamburg – South America Line.
Original name: Antonio Delfino. (Sister ship of the Cap Norte. Above.)
Gross tonnage: 13.589.
Engines: Low pressure turbines.
Capable speed: 15 knots.
Passengers: 184 first class. 344 second class. 1,368 steerage class.
1940 German Navy barracks ship.
1945 Seized by Allies at Copenhagen and taken in hand to be converted into a Troopship.
Refit and conversion 1946.
Gross tonnage increased to 14,056. Accommodation altered to 200 cabin passengers and 843 troops. Name changed to the
‘Empire Halladale’.
Taken out of service 1955 and broken up in 1956.

The Empire Pride
Built by:  Barclay Curle and Company of Glasgow.
Originally laid down as a cargo ship but converted to a Troopship on government instructions.
Launched:  1941
Placed under the management of the Bibby Line.
Gross tonnage: 9,248.
Capable speed:
The EMPIRE PRIDE was in regular trooping until 1954 when the government ended her management contract with Bibby and offered her for sale.  She had worked throughout the world although her duties in peacetime confined her mostly to trooping routes between the United Kingdom and the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern areas.  She was sold to the Charlton Steamship Co and eventually scrapped in 1963.

empire pride

The Empire Orwell

empire orwell
Built by: Blohm and Voss, Hamburg.
Launched: 1936.
Original owner: German East Africa Line,
Original name: Pretoria.
Gross tonnage: 16,662
Engines: Geared turbines.
Capable speed: 18 knots.
Passengers: 500.
Became a British war prize in 1945.
Taken over by the Ministry of Transport and converted into a Troopship.
Renamed the ‘Empire Orwell’.
She developed engine troubles on her first trooping voyage and had to be towed back from Port Said.
Major refit 1947-1949.
Boilers were replaced, two out of eight turbines removed, and her gross tonnage increased to 18,036 tons. Her accommodation now provided for 171 passengers in first class, 84 in second, 98 in third, 4 RAMC staff in cabins, 30 boys in a dormitory and 1,008 troops.
Taken out of service in 1958 and sold.
After various owners the ship had an overall in 1973 and had MAN diesel engines fitted.  Not bad for a 40 years old ship! 

The Empire Clyde
Built by: Beardmore and Company of Glasgow.
Launched: 1919. Construction completed in 1921.
Original name: Cameronia.
Gross tonnage: 16,280
Engines: Steam turbines.
Capable speed: 17 knots.
Passengers: 265 first class. 370 second class.  1,150 third class.
In 1935 CAMEROMIA was taken over by the British government for a few trooping voyages to the Middle East after which she had a refit in 1936.
In 1940 and was taken over for full conversion to a troopship and was the largest troopship to take part in the allied landings at Normandy.
The Cameronia had an illustrious war record, participating in the North African, Sicily and Normandy landings.  Between September 1939 and August 1945 she steamed 321,323 miles and carried 163,789 men. 
1953 renamed the Empire Clyde.
She was sold for scrap in 1957 and was broken up.

empire clyde

The Empire Fowey
empire fowey
Built by: Blohm & Voss, Hamburg
Launched: 1935.
Original name: Potsdam.
Gross tonnage: 17,528.
Capable speed:
Passengers: 286.
Became a British war prize in 1945.
She sailed for one year as the Empire Jewel.
1946. Refitted by Harland and Wolff as a Troopship and renamed the Empire Fowey operating under the management of P&O.
In 1960 she was sold to Pakistan and became the Safina-e-Hujjaj. She was scrapped in Karachi in 1976.

The Empire Windrush
Built By: Blohm & Voss in Hamburg
Launched: 1930.
Original name: Monte Rosa.
Original owner: Hamburg - South American Line.
Gross tonnage: 13,882.
Engines: Diesel.
Capable speed: 14.5 knots.
Passengers: 1,372 Tourist class, 1,036 Steerage class.
1944. The German Navy. Used as a repair and accomodation ship for the damaged battleship Tirpitz.
1945. Captured at Keil and became a British war prize.
1946. Taken over by the Ministry of Transport, repaired, refitted and converted into a Troopship.
Renamed the Empire Windrush in 1947.

empire windrush

empire windrush on fire                empire windrush on fire
On 28th Mar.1954 while on voyage to England, she caught fire in the Mediterranean near Cape Caxine, Algeria, following an engine room explosion. Four crewmen in the engine room were killed. 1,498 passengers and the rest of the crew were saved.
The destroyer HMS Saintes tried to tow the ship to Gibraltar but she sank the following day.

The Empire Test
Empire Test

Built by:  John Cockerill, Hoboken.
Launched:  1922.
Original name:  Thysville.
Original owner: Belge Maritime du Congo who later merged with
Lloyd Royal.
Gross tonnage:  8,300.
Capable speed:  14 knots.
Acquired by the Ministry of Defence in 1947 for trooping and renamed Empire Test.
Her final trooping voyage was in Oct.1952 and was scrapped in 1953.

Thanks to Suez Vets Max Jenkins and Edward Reid-Smith for reminding me about the 'Empire Test'.

The Empire Wansbeck
Launched:  1943.
Original name: Linz.
Original owner:  North German Lloyd.
Gross tonnage.  3,374.
Capable speed:  15 Knots.
Became a British war prize in 1945, taken over by the government, converted into a troopship and renamed 'Empire Wansbeck'.
Used as a troopship until 1961 and then sold.  It was eventually scrapped in 1980.

The 'Wansbeck' didn't do the full run to Egypt but will be remembered by many Suez Vets who went to the Zone via the Medloc Route.  It transported troops between Harwich and the Hook of Holland at the start of their journey.
The Empire Wansbeck
Thanks to Suez Vet Bryan Hollingsworth for telling me about the 'Empire Wansbeck' and supplying the photo.

The Empire Medway
Empire Medway
Built by: Napier Miller & Co, Glasgow.
Launched: 1929.
Original owner: Furness Withy & Co Ltd.
Original name: Eastern Prince.
Gross tonnage: 10,926.
Capable speed: 16.5 knots.
1940. Requisitioned and converted into a Troopship.
1943. Had a refit which gave her a capacity for 2,150 troops.
1945. Used as an accommodation ship at the Yalta Conference.
1946. Purchased by the Ministry of Transport.
1950. Renamed as the 'Empire Medway'.
1953. Scrapped at Faslane.

Larry Martin went out to Egypt on the 'Empire Medway' in February 1952.

The Cheshire

Built by: Fairfield, Govan.

Launched: 1927.
Original owner: Bibby Steamship Co.
Gross tonnage: 10,550.
Capable speed: 15.5 knots.
1939. Requisitioned by the Admiralty.
1940. Torpedoed. (No more details.)
1948. Restored to owners as a passnger ship.
1953. Converted again for trooping.
1957. Scrapped at Newport, Monmouthshire.

The Cheshire

The Charlton Star
The Charlton Star
Built by:  J Cockerill SA, Hoboken Belgium  
Launched: 1921.
Original owner:  
Compagnie Belge Maritime du Congo.
Original name:  Elisabethville 

Gross tonnage: 8,851.
Expansion steam
Capable speed: 14 knots.
Requisitioned by the Ministry of War Transport for use as a troopship in 1940.
Sold in 1950 to Charlton Steamship Co and renamed 'Charlton Star'.
In 1952, during the Suez Crisis, she was used as an accommodation ship
at Tobruk
Served as a troopship until 1957. Sold again in 1958 and scrapped in 1960.

With thanks to Suez Vet Graham Horlington for letting me know about the 'Charlton Star'.

The Otranto

Built by: Workman Clark, Belfast. (?)
Launched:  1927.
Original owner.  
Orient Line
Served as a troopship during and after WW2.  Was later converted to one-class operation and scrapped in 1957.

There was an earlier troopship named 'Otranto' which sank after colliding with another ship in a severe storm off the N.E. coast of Ireland in 1918.
I have been unable to find more details of the second 'Otranto'.

Thanks to Max Jenkins who sent the photo of the 'Otranto' and who went out to the Canal Zone on her.

The Empress of Australia

empress of australia
Built by: A G Vulcan, Hamburg.
Launched: 1913.
Original name: Admiral Von Tirpitz.
Original owner: Hamburg -America Line.
Gross tonnage: 21,833.
Capable speed: 19 knots.
Passengers:400 first class, 144 tourist class and 632 third class.
Work on her stopped at the outbreak of war in 1914. Apportioned to Britain by the War Reparations Committee, she was completed in 1920 and was used for trooping duties.
1922. Renamed the Empress of Australia.
1939. Was used to transport the King and Queen on the Royal Tour of Canada. She was then employed as a troopship until 1952 when she was sold for scrap.

The Captain Hobson

Built by: Denny & Brothers, Dumbarton.
Launched: 1920.
Original name: Amarapoora.
Original owner: British & Burmese SN Co.
Gross tonnage: 8,173.
Engines: Steam triple expansion.
Capable speed:
1947 Used by the Ministry of Transport as a
Troop Ship / Hospital Ship.
Scrapped in 1959.

Captain Hobson

The Dillwara
the Dilwara

Built by: Barclay Curle & Company Glasgow.
Launched: 1935.
Original name: Kuala Lumpur.
Original owner: British India Steam Nav Co
Gross tonnage: 11,050
Engines: Five cylinder Doxford~type opposed piston oil.
Capable speed: -
Sold in 1960 and eventualy scrapped 1972 in Kaohsiung.

The Dunera
Built by: Barclay Curle & Company, Glasgow.
Launched: 1937.
Original name: -
Original owner: -
Gross tonnage: 11,161
Five cylinder Doxford~type opposed piston oil.
Capable speed: 16 knots.
In July 1943 the 'Dunera' took part in the Sicily landings  and in September 1944, she carried the headquarters staff for the US 7th Army for the invasion of southern France.
Trooping charter ended in 1960.
In 1967 she was sold and scrapped at Bilbao.

the Dunera

The Lancashire
the Lancashire

Built by: Harland & Wolff, Belfast
Launched: 1917.
Original name:
Original owner: The Bibby Line but taken over under the Liner Requisition Scheme
Gross Tonnage: 9,542
Capable speed: 15 knots
1930. Converted to permanent troopship.
1944. Commodore ship for the Juno Beach D-Day landings.
1946. Reconditioned into a peacetime troopship and mainmast removed.
Scrapped at Barrow in 1956.

The Somersetshire
Built by: Harland & Wolff, Belfast
Launched: 1921.
Origial name:
Original owner: Chartered to The Royal Mail Steam Packet Co.
Gross tonnage: 7,450
Engines: -
Capable speed: -
1927. Convered to a troopship with accomodation for 1,300 men.
1939. She was requisitioned and converted into HM Hospital Ship.
In 1942 she was torpedoed in the Mediterranean but managed to limp to Alexandria.
1948. She was decommissioned.
1953. She briefly returned to trooping but was broken up in 1954.

the Somersetshire
The 'Somersetshire' mainly trooped to the Far East and East Africa but was used on a few occasions for Egypt and the Middle East.
She has been included here because most of us will have sung that song where she is mentioned.  The one that starts:
"We're leaving Khartoum by the light of the moon".   I bet you have all sung it in the NAAFI.

The Westralia
The Westralia

Built by: Harland and Wolff, Belfast
Launched: 1929
Original owner: Huddart Parker Ltd (Australia)
Gross tonnage: 8,108
Engines: 2 Harland and Wolff oil
Capable speed: 14 knots
Following the declaration of war she was requisitioned for war service
as an Armed Merchant Cruiser on 2 November 1939 and commissioned as HMAS WESTRALIA at Sydney on 17 January 1940.
In service for the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces until 1949
when was chartered to the British Ministry of Transport for use as a Troopship. After service in the Mediterranean she returned to Sydney in March 1950.  Sold in 1959 and eventually scrapped in 1961.

My thanks to Suez Vet Stan Briggs for telling me about the 'Westralia' and supplying the photo.

 The Georgic
Built by:  ?
Launched:  1931.
Original owner:  White Star Line.
Gross tonnage:  27,759.
Engines:  Diesel electric.
Capable speed:  19 knots.
Requisitioned by the Admiralty for troopship duties during WW2.
In 1941 the Georgic was docked at Port Tewfik and was bombed by German aircraft. The stern was badly damaged and it settled at the bottom of the shallow water.
Refloated and refurbished 1942-1944 and resumed service as a troopship in 1945.
After returning to civilian duties it was scrapped in 1956.   

The Georgic
With thanks to Suez Vet Reg Porter for telling me about the 'Georgic'. Reg went out to the Zone on this ship in 1950. 

The Strathnaver
Photo The Strathnaver
Built by:  Vickers Armstrong Ltd, Barrow in Furness   
Launched:  1931.
Original owner:  P and O.
Gross tonnage: 22,547
Engines:  Steam turbines.
Capable speed:
The first and third funnels were dummies.
The Strathnaver was requisitioned by the Government for service as a troopship in 1940.  During and after the war she carried troops to the Middle East.
Her last trooping run was in November 1947 when she dropped off troops at Port Said before going on to Singapore.
After returning to civilian duties she was eventually sold for scrap in 1962.
With thanks to Suez Vet Rod Amey for letting me know about the 'Strathnaver'.  

The Atlantis
Built by: Harland and Wolff, Belfast.
Original owner: Royal Mail Lines.
Original name:  'Andes'.
Engines: L.P. Turbine.
Capable speed: 16 knots
Commissioned as Armed Merchant Cruiser 1915. Participated in sinking
of German raider 'Greif' off the Shetland Islands.
Refitted in 1929 and given the new name 'Atlanis'.
Acquired by Ministry of War Transport in 1939.
Scrapped on the Clyde in 1952.

The Atlanis
With thanks to Suez Vet Cyril Blackburn for telling me about the 'Atlantis'. He sailed to Egypt on her arriving at Port Said 12th January 1952.

The Orduna
The Orduna
Built by:  Harland and Wolff, Belfast.
Launched:  1913.
Original owner:  Pacific Steam Navigation.
Gross tonnage:  15,507.
Capable speed:  14 knots.
Became a troopship in 1941.
In August 1945 she was the Commodore Ship of the invasion force which was to re-occupy Malaya, and after the surrender of Japan she carried 1,700 prisoners of war from Rangoon to Liverpool in September.
She completed her last trooping voyage in November 1950.
In 1951 she was sold for scrap and broken up at Dalmuir.
With thanks to Mike Berry who sailed to Egypt on the Orduna in April 1950.

The Devonshire
Built by:  Fairfield Ltd, Govan, Glasgow.
Launched:  1938.
Original owner: Bibby Line Ltd.
Gross tonnage: 11,275.
Capable speed: 16 knots.
1942: Equiped with landing craft as a Landing Ship- Infantry. Carried assault craft to the Salerno and D-Day landings.
1953: Refitted by the builders. Permanent berths and cafeteria catering introduced. Now carried 320 passengers and 825 troops. Tonnage increased to 12,773.
1961: Ministry of Transport charter ended.
1962: Bought by the British India Steam Navigation Co. for 175,000.
Scraped in 1967.
The Devonshire
With thanks to Suez Vets Eric Meeres and John Latham for reminding me about the Devonshire.

If I have missed out any ship that did the Egypt trooping, let me know
and I will try to find a photo and the details and add them to this page.

Click HERE to go to the 'INDEX' page.

Webmaster:  Richard (Dick) Woolley

e-mail address:  [email protected]
Keep the flag flying.