The Troopships

1902 to 1922


Kindly Provided by David Milligan

Built: 1902 by William Denny & Bros, Dumbarton.
Tonnage: 6, 309g, 3, 428n, 7, 250 dwt .
Engines: Twin Screw, 2 x Triple Expansion, 6, 130 IHP, 88 RPM. 15.69 Knots (Trials).
Passengers: 38 First Class, 32 Second Class, 2, 444 Deck. 15 Officers, 90 Ratings
Launched on the 5th September 1902, Completed 11th November 1902. Yard No. 666.

Taroba is a lake in Chanda District of the former Central Provinces.

Built at the same yard as her sister Tara with the same problem of passenger distribution she entered service on the Calcutta - Singapore route. She was requisitioned for three periods as a transport between 1914 to May of 1916 during which time she trooped India to Aden, loaded horses and mules at Marseilles for discharge at Basra and finally picked up troops at Suez. She served in the Liner Requisition Scheme from 1917 to 1919 and then returned for service with British India until finally being sold for scrap to purchasers in Genoa on the 13th May 1924 who then moved her on at a profit to other Italian Shipbreakers.


Kindly Provided by David Milligan

Built: 1910 by Barcley Curle & Co. Ltd., Glasgow.
Tonnage 3, 958g 2, 162n 4, 180dwt
Engines Twin Screw 2 x Triple Expansion, 3, 300 IHP. 14.5 Knots (Trials).
Passengers 20 First Class, 15 Second Class and 4, 611 Deck
Launched 23rd September 1910. Completed on 8th November 1910. Yard No. 484

Coconada is a port on the Bay of Bengal.

Coconada along with her sister Chilka were built for the Coromandel Coast Rangoon service. She became an Indian Expeditionary Force Transport from August of 1914 to July of 1916 in the main trooping the Meeruts Karachi - Marseilles and Karachi - Suez.

In November of 1916 she broke from her buoys during a cyclone at Madras leaving her Commander Captain Lime with no other option but to put to sea and ride out the storm. In total darkness he managed to steer his ship through a harbour full of drifting ships in itself a magnificent piece of seamanship with only slight damage to the forecastle caused by the starboard anchor. In May of 1917 she came under the Liner Requistion Scheme and served as an Expeditionary Force Transport from November 1918 until November 1919 where she spent sometime in the Pacific sailing from Vancouver to Hong Kong via Japan. She ran aground six miles south of Gopalpur on the 12th of October 1921 fortunately being successfully refloated and towed to Coconada by the Purnea. She was sold on the 1st of September 1933 to the Scinda Steam Navigation Company of Bombay and renamed Jaladurga. She was requisitioned once more for war duties in February of 1941 and at War's end was transferred to the Singapore - Bangkok trades, it was whilst on these trades that she sank in Bombay. She was successfully raised and repaired and continued on her normal services before being finally called to the colours once more when she carried Indian trrops to Korea in 1953. She was finally sold for scrap in 1954 and work commenced at Bombay in the following year after an incredible 44 years of service.


With thanks to Captain John Cole

Built : 1911 by Workman, Clark Co Ltd, Belfast.
Tonnage: 5, 109g, 2, 345n, 4, 620 dwt.
Engines: Twin Screw, 2 x Triple Expansion, 6, 700 IHP, 12 Knots, 16.6 Knots Trials.
Passengers: 50 First Class, 36 Second Class, 2, 182 Deck.
Launched 14th March 1911, completed 1st June 1911, Yard No. 307.

Egra is West of Balasore, South West Bengal.

For identification purposes Egra was the only 'E' Class not fitted with stockless anchors.

She entered service in August of 1911 and in September of 1914 trooped to Marseilles, she also attended the Basra Landings in the December of the same year and spent the remainder of the war as a Troop Transport. In 1922 she ran aground off Amoy but the remainder of her pre- Second War career was uneventful. She served as a Troop Transport from July 1940 to November of 1946 seeing service Karachi Basra April 1941, August 1941 Bombay- Port Swettenham. On the 26th of November 1943 she was in convoy with Rohna when the latter was sank by a glider bomb and in January of 1945 she was a Supply and Troop Transport for the Kyaukpyu Landings in Burma. Just before decommissioning she grounded in the Hooghly on the 27th of October 1946 and it wasn't until the 7th of November that she was refloated. She remained in service until January 1950 before being sold for scrap to the Steel Corporation of Bombay on the 1st of February at the time she was the longest serving ship in the BI Fleet.


Built: William Denny & Bros., Dumbarton.
Tonnage: 5, 128g 2, 759n 4, 750dwt
Engines: Twin-screw 2 x 3 Triple Expansion, 6, 657 IHP. 16.7 Knots (Trials) 1, 194 tons Bunkers.
Passengers: 51 First Class, 39 Second Class and 2, 359 Deck, 26 Officers and 84 Ratings.
Launched 9th October 1911. Completed on 6th December 1926. Yard No. 945

Erinpura is a town in Jodhpur in Rajastan.

The Erinpura was one of seven sisters built at four different shipyards for the Bpay of Bengal/Singapore Straits Service, one of the most successful, profitable and long lasting groups in the History of British India. It was also said that these ships were amongst the handsomest and graceful ships that the Company had ever built, certainly powerful lookers. Erinpura also had the distinction of being the first British India ship built for Eastern Service to be fitted with radio. She was distinguished from her sisters by the fact her Bridge deck extended right aft.

In 1914 she boarded troops at Karachi and joined a massive convoy mainly British India, bound for Marseilles, she then trooped to Sanniya in Iraq. On Christmas Eve of 1914 she ran aground crossing the Muhanrah Bar whilst on passage up the river to Abadan. After applying full power astern she was able to release herself but unfortunately was unable to slow and found herself striking the opposite bank damaging her rudder. After jury-rigging using the aft winches Erinpura was able to make the return voyage to Bombay.

Erinpura in Hospital Ship Livery

In 1915 she was again engaged in trooping this time between Marseilles and Port Said. In August of 1916 she was converted to a Hospital Ship for the Indian Expeditionary Force having 475 beds and a medical staff of 104, she was employed mainly on the Basra-Bombay Service from November 1917 to June 1919 she became an Ambulance Transport on the same route.

On the 15th June 1919 she ran aground homeward bound Bombay/Marseilles on the Mushejera Reef in the Red Sea, ninety-six miles North West of Perim. HMS Topaze answered her call for assistance, lifting all her passengers and troops before transporting them onto Aden. HMS Topaze returned with Perim Salvage Co.'s tug and attempted to pull Erinpura free. Their efforts failed and the ship remained stuck. Even British India ships calling with stores all attempted to pull her off, none succeeded and with the bad weather season approaching the ship was abandoned leaving just a skeleton maintenance crew onboard. It was decided to cut the ship just for'd of the Bridge returning the stern section to Aden and leaving the bow firmly in the grip of the reef. British India had to repurchase the stern section from the insurers and placed an order for a new bow from her original builders Dennys. The Company's ships Waroonga and Kapurthala successfully towed the stern section to Bombay, I believe at this time she was jokingly referred to as the longest ship in the world 'bow in Dumbarton, stern in Bombay'.

Erinpura Bowless

After the bow section was towed out to Bombay the sections were then joined at the Company's Mazagon Dockyard. It was 1923 before she was able to recommence her normal peacetime duties and she continued in this role until being called up for the Munich Crisis in 1938. She was requisitioned for the Liner Division in March of 1940 and had several periods as a personnel ship before attaining permanent status as such in December of 1941. The Erinpura was Commodore Ship under the command of Captain P.V. Cotter in convoy heading for Malta with three other British India ships Karoa, Egra and Rohna along with twenty other Merchantmen escorted by eleven warships when it was attacked thirty miles North of Benghazi by German bombers. The first ship to be hit was a tanker followed a few moments later by the Erinpura being struck by a bomb in one of her holds. With water pouring in everywhere the ship sank within four minutes of the bomb exploding, the Dems Gunners on the Poop led by Gunlayer Albert Whittle maintained a steady firing rate even as the ship stern rose into the air before finally sinking. The Captain's life was saved by Motiur Rahman an Indian seaman who dragged him unconscious onto a life raft, Junior Engineers Mr. E.R. Smith and Mr. C. McGill were not so fortunate going down with the ship along with 54 Indian seamen, three Gunners and 600 Basuto Pioneer Troops.

The attack on Erinpura on the 1st May 1943 caused many casualties including 140 Palestinian Jewish soldiers serving in the 462 transport company of the British army.

The large loss of life is attributed to the fact that all personnel not directly involved protecting the ship or on duty were ordered below decks for their protection. Sadly with the ship sinking so quickly the reverse in this instance was the case.


With Grateful Thanks to David Milligan. BI News Reproduction.

Built : Alexander Stephen & Sons Ltd, Govan.
Tonnage: 4, 062g, 1, 677n, 3, 000 dwt.
Engines: Twin Screw, 2 x Quadruple Expansion, 8, 800 IHP, 17.64 Knots (Trials)
Passengers: 50 First Class, 47 Second Class, 1, 250 Deck, 16 Officers, 111 Ratings.
Launched 7th March 1912, Completed 7th May 1912. Yard No. 449.

Aronda is a village in Ratnagiri district, Bombay Presidency.

It was alleged that this vessel was one of the best handling ships in the Fleet during her thirty-year career. She was requisitioned along with her two sisters in August of 1914 as an Indian Expeditionary Force Transport and was used on the Bombay - Karachi to Marseilles - Suez routes. She was released back to her peacetime role in July of 1919 and returned to her Calcutta - Rangoon mail service. With the arrival of the new 'A' Class ships she was sold for scrap to Esmailjee Abdulhusein for breaking at Bombay.


Built: 1912 at Barclay Curle & Co., Glasgow.
Tonnage: 9, 082g, 5, 656n, 9, 900 dwt.
Engines: Twin Screw, 2 x 4 Cylinder Quadruple Expansion 6, 000 I.H.P. 15.7 knots trials, 14.5 Knots Service.
Passengers: 128 First Class, 98 Second Class.
Launched 12th September 1912, completed 18th November 1912. The largest ship in the British India Fleet at this time. Yard No. 497.

Possible corruption of Nuwara Eliya Hill Town and resort in Sri Lanka formerly Ceylon.

Sister ship to Nevasa, the pair were most imposing looking ships and were built for the London - Calcutta Service. A difference of opinion follows. Duncan Haws states that she sailed in convoy from Bombay carrying Indian Troops to Marseilles, Laxton and Perry state that she carried British Troops bound for the United Kingdom, can anybody be definitive. She saw action in the Mediterranean in1915, most notably at Suvla Bay and Salonika as a hospital ship, she then saw service in the Indian Ocean. She returned to the UK in March of 1916 and remained on station with the Home Fleet until September 1918 when she was converted to an ambulance transport and remained as such until July 1919.

After the war Neuralia returned to her rather more mundane task of carrying passengers to and from East Africa with the occasional trip to India. In 1925 both sisters were taken over on a permanent basis for trooping by the Government though both ships until 1928 sailed under BI colours, in this year they both reverted to the white hull, blue riband and buff funnel of troop ships. In the refit of 1925 the passenger numbers changed to 50 cabin class and 1, 050 troop-deck passengers, also the lifeboats amidships were increased to two tiers, during the off-season both ships laid off Netley in Southampton Water.

The Neuralia inaugurated in the summer of 1932 the school cruises to the Baltic and Norwegian Fjords, this ship started a tradition of cruising for children which was to run for the next fifty years broken only by war and the austerity that ensued in Britain after the war. For the next three years Neuralia continued with the summer cruises, she was relieved of these duties by the Nevasa who continued with them until 1937. The Neuralia had returned to her trooping duties and with the start of the Second World War, she found herself renewing old acquaintances with the Australians when she transported them to the Eastern Mediterranean to guard the Suez Canal. After disembarking the troops she then sailed for Cyprus to pick up Cypriot refugees keen to leave the island before its anticipated invasion by the Germans. She then sailed for Dakar to pick up 2, 000 French Colonial troops bound for France, midway through the trip France capitulated and the troops had to be returned to their home port. After putting into Gibraltar the Neuralia then found herself running refugees to Jamaica where a prefabricated village had been erected to shelter them among their number were free French, Gibraltarians, Poles, Cypriots, Jews, Czechoslovaks and Americans all keen to leave Europe. It was on her last voyage that the convoy to which she was attached was repeatedly attacked by U-Boats over a period of several days, many ships were lost but fortunately the Neuralia survived to see more action later.

Neuralia Alongside mpl

Neuralia Boat Drill mpl

In 1941 the Neuralia found herself on trooping duties Bombay - Basra and Madras - Rangoon, with the tide turning against the Allies she once again found herself in the role of evacuation. In February she assisted at the retreat from Burma along with other Company ships carrying refugees from Rangoon along with half the Company stores in her hols. Two days after the fall of Rangoon whilst lying at Madras the Captain (A.A.Kay) was ordered to Port Blair in the Andamen Islands to pick up all those wishing to leave. Escorted by a cruiser the Neuralia made her way across the Bay of Bengal through the Manners Strait which had been mined, passed the reefs outside the port and entered the harbour a feat never achieved before or since for a vessel her size. Having loaded all those wishing to leave the Neuralia sailed in the early hours of the following morning. This time guided by a small launch through the reef which burned a light in her stern.

She was to spend 1943 and up to April of 1944 in either the Far East or the Mediterranean ferrying troops to the likes of Augusta, Tripoli, Taranto, Naples and Algiers. It was whilst at the latter that she was ordered North to Glasgow for refit prior to the invasion of Europe. After refit she sailed for the port of London joining many other ships which were to sail from both London and Southampton on the 5th June bound for Normandy. On the morning of the 6th Neuralia found herself lying off the beaches of Utah and Omaha, in all she made fourteen round trips carrying a total of 27, 055 Officers and men of the Allied Army before returning to London for a major overhaul. In April of 1945 she returned 1, 700 refugees from Port Said to Split, Yugoslavia, on the 1st May whilst en-route Split - Taranto to pick up German Prisoners of War she was mined off Southern Italy and sank 3.5 hours later with the loss of four lives. The loss was not attributed to enemy action because the mine was Italian and Italy by now was an Ally


Built: 1914 By Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd., Newcastle.
Tonnage: 4, 691g 1, 956n 5, 160dwt
Engines: Twin-Screw, 3 Cylinder Triple Expansion, 4, 700 IHP. 16.23 Knots (Trials).
Passengers: 32 First Class, 24 Second Class , 1, 160 Deck.
Refrigerated Space: 3, 190 cu ft fitted in 1939.
Launched 9th June1914. Completed on 11th August 1914. Yard No. 930

Varela is a Cape in Southern Indo-China, now Vietnam.

The first built of her class which consisted of four ships the Valera was one of three launched from the Neptune Yard of Swan Hunter the remaining ship was built by Alexander Stephen & Sons, Govan. The ships were built for the mail run Bombay-Persian Gulf but with the outbreak of war all four found themselves on Military Duty. The Varela actually managed to complete one round trip on her intended commercial route when she was requisitioned on the 2nd of August by the British Government, she had the distinction of being the first British India ship to be called up. Initially she was a supply and despatch ship for the Royal Indian Navy but on the 28th October she acted as Headquarters ship for the Allied landings at Fao/Sanniya in the Persian Gulf. After the landings she embarked the wounded and sailed for Basra where she became the base hospital for the campaign. In October of 1915 she underwent conversion in Bombay to an Indian Expeditionary Force Hospital Ship with 450 beds, she served in the Persian Gulf for the Mesopotamian Campaign and her success in the role assured the conversion and deployment of her sisters in similar employment.

From November 1917 she was officially designated an Ambulance Transport and was not released from these duties until October of 1920; thereafter she returned to her peacetime role in the Persian Gulf. In July of 1927 a bizarre incident took place off the Mekran Coast some twenty miles from the shore. At 1430 the Chief Engineer reported to the Commander Captain Charles J. Halls that one of his firemen was missing. The order was given to turnabout and the ship was set on the opposite course, those not involved in searching the ship acting as lookouts. Varela continued searching until dusk when it was assumed the fireman had drowned and as custom dictates his belongings were sold, monies raised from the sale together with outstanding wages were all entered into the Ship's Official Log. Copies of the log were sent to one and all and on the ship's arrival in Bombay the money was sent to his next of kin in Simla.

On the 23rd July the Captain was sat in the British India Club in Bombay when the Varela's clerk informed him that the fireman in question was back onboard. It transpired that he had boarded the Barpeta, another Company vessel, at Gwadur but had informed no one of his presence consequently he was not on articles not was he on the passenger list as a D.B.S. The Barpeta's Captain who was also in the club registered appropriate surprise when thanked for returning the missing fireman.

The Captain returned to the Varela where the 'lost one' was asked for his version of events, they are as follows: Having finished his watch he went to the galley, picked up a mug of tea, went aft and sat on the Ship's rail. The ship then rolled quite dramatically and he found himself in the sea with the ship disappearing into the distance, he vehemently denied falling asleep, though in my experience I could never be sure whether they were awake or asleep when polishing machinery in the Engine room. It was also recorded in the Ship's log that on that particular day there was a slight sea and swell only.

After the ship disappeared he started to swim in the direction that he estimated land lay, he swam for the rest of the day and all the night. The following day at roughly noon he sighted the floats of fishing lines, after tethering himself to the floats he waited for the arrival of the fishermen. The fishermen duly arrived and the fireman was not only landed ashore but was also taken overland to Gwadur where he boarded the Barpeta.

The next problem faced by the Captain was how do you make a man rise from the dead without divine intervention, fortunately with the aid of Captain Pringle Curry, the shipping Master in Bombay and the Authorities in Simla a satisfactory outcome was achieved, I'm sure that the fireman's family were quite relieved but having probably spent all the money on a funeral so to speak how he regained control of his property I'm not quite sure.

For the next eleven years Varela's life was quite uneventful and it wasn't until September 1938 that she was once more called up to Active Service for the Munich Crisis. She spent the entire war serving as a Personnel Ship

Varela in Wartime Livery

and continued in that role until 1946 when she returned to her normal peacetime role on the Persian Gulf Service. With the arrival of the Gulf 'D's in 1947 she transferred to the Calcutta-Madras-Rangoon Service and in 1951 made her final voyage to Cardiff carrying of all things COAL!

She was finally sold to Bisco for scrap on the 22nd March 1951, work commenced on the 26th April by Thomas W. Ward Ltd. at Briton Ferry.

B.I. Transports at Port Said, 1915, with two French Armoured Cruisers.
Kindly Supplied by David Milligan.


Built: 1915 by Swan, Hunter Wigham Richardson, Newcastle.
Tonnage: 6, 631g, 3, 229n, 6, 820 dwt.
Engine: Twin Screw, 2 x Triple Expansion, 6, 800 IHP, 15.5 Knots, 18 Knots (Trials).
Passengers: 44 First Class, 64 Second Class, 1, 471 Deck, 197 Crew.
Launched December 1914, completed 24th March 1915, Yard No. 946.

Karoa is an administrive around Bareilly in the former United Provinces.

First of a four ship build 'K' Class, though the Khandalla, last of the four was completed some eight years after Karoa. The ships were built for the Bombay to East and South Africa trades but the first three were requisitioned for War Service on completion. The Karoa became an Expeditionary Force Transport and in September of 1915 was trapped in Suvla Bay by a submarine which was rumoured to be lying outside waiting. She then became the target of batteries of Turkish guns managing to outmanoeuvre some thirty shells, an odd one hit Karoa but fortunately caused only superficial damage. After discharging her troops during the evening the Karoa was able to make good her escape under the cover of darkness. After leaving Marseilles bound for Alexandria in early 1916 she caught fire and had to return to port where with the aid of a fire float the outbreak in the hold was brought under control but alas not before the hold itself had to be flooded. Because of the damage sustained she had to return to England for repairs and in April of 1916 briefly returned to the service for which she was originally intended. She was once more requisitioned for the Liner Division in July of 1917 and managed to see out the remainder of the War uneventfully. After the Armistice she helped to transport Belgian refugees from Southampton back to their Home Country and on completion once more returned to her Bombay Africa Service. She remained on this route until being relieved by the Kenya and Karanja in 1932 eventually finding herself placed on the Calcutta - Singapore Service. She remained as such until being commandeered at the end of September 1938 during the Munich Crisis.

Her service during the Second World War began in the Liner Division but in the September of 1940 she became a Personnel and Military Store ship it was whilst in this role that she assisted at the evacuation of Rangoon. In March of 1944 she was converted into Hospital Ship No. 60 with 411 beds and 89 Medical Staff and continued in this capacity until returning to the Company in the October of 1946.

She commenced on her Calcutta - Singapore Service after refit and then transferred to the Calcutta - Madras - Rangoon Service on the arrival of the new 'S' Class. She was eventually sold on the 3rd May 1950 for breaking by the Steel Corporation of Bombay.


P & O Collection

The final vessel of a four ship 'V' class.

Built : 1917 by Alex. Stephen and Sons, Glasgow. Yard No. 465.
Tonnage: 5, 767g, 2, 043n.
Engines: Twin Screw, Two Triple Expansion, 4, 700 IHP. 16.03 Knots (Trials), Service Speed 12.5 Knots.
Passengers: 29 First Class, 27 Second Class, 1, 605 Deck and 129 Crew.

Her name is possibly a corruption of Wasna, a minor State in the Bombay Presidency.

In 1917 she is taken over by the Government still on the stocks and completed as a Hospital Ship with 613 beds and 125 Medical Staff. She is then sent to join her sisters in the Persian Gulf and in 1918 becomes an Ambulance Transport. In April 1921 she makes her first commercial voyage for BI.

The Vasna considered herself to be the best of the 'V's and gave herself the title 'Queen of the Gulf'. In 1927 she carries troops to Shanghai during the crisis and in 1938 is requisitioned for the Munich Crisis. In September 1939 she is converted to Navel Hospital Ship No. 4 at the Mazagon Dockyard, Bombay, has 278 beds and 73 Medical Staff. Commissioned on the 2nd October she joins the East Indies Squadron. She transfers to European waters in 1940 and on the 21st December suffers superficial damage whilst in Liverpool during one of the many air raids on the port at that time. She is based at Scapa Flow and had previously taken part in the evacuation of Norway. In the Spring of 1941 she spends three months on relieving duties with the South Atlantic Squadron based at Freetown before returning once more to the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow. Her only mishap occurred during the night of the 15th March 1942 when she collided with and sank the coaster Miriam Thomas in St. George's Channel. She transfers to the Eastern Fleet based in Ceylon and takes part in the Madagascar landings in October 1942. In 1943 she sees service in the UK and Mediterranean and is seconded to the Army for the allied Landings at Sicily. In 1944 she returns to the Eastern Fleet and in September takes part at the landings in Burma. In January 1945 she is present at the invasion of the Islands Ramree and Cheduba. July 1945 she is part of the British Pacific fleet and in October carries Australian ex-prisoners of war home to Sydney from Okinawa. She was the only British Hospital Ship in Japanese waters. The war over she is refitted to commence her normal peacetime role on the Persian Gulf service and continues until being sold for scrap to Bisco and arrives at Blyth in April for breaking up.

Vasna as hospital ship during World War II.  P & O Collection


With Thanks to David Milligan. Originally Shown in BI News.

Built: 1920 by Barclay, Curle & Co Ltd, Glasgow.
Tonnage: 3, 129g, 1, 428n, 3, 450 dwt.
Engine: Single Screw, Triple Expansion, 3, 000 IHP, 668 NHP, 12 Knots, 14.2 Knots (Trials).
Passengers: 10 First Class, 38 Second Class, 1, 503 Deck.

Chantala is possibly Chantapilly in Madras. This ship's construction was delayed by the First World War and although a sister to the three previous 'C' Class ships built for the Arakan Coast mail run she was built at a different shipyard. For identification purposes she had no Samson Posts on the forecastle, her funnel was larger in circumference and the aft lifeboats were positioned higher. She remained on the Arakan run for the next nineteen years without event and after brief service as a Personnel Ship in 1939 was taken over by the Royal Navy in January of 1940 and converted to an Armed Boarding Ship. She was armed with two four-inch guns, a twelve-pounder and was based in Aden from the February. In July and August of 1940 she helped strengthen the garrison at Berbera and then assisted with the withdrawal of troops. After refit in Bombay she took part in the re-occupation of Berbara in March of 1941. She continued on patrol in the Gulf of Aden before being ordered to Alexandria for rearmament after which she re-emerged with high angle two twelve-pounders, two twenty-millimetre Breda, two two-pounders and eight Lewis guns.

She completed four supply trips to Beirut and Haifa after which she sailed to Tubruck carrying 680 reinforcements for the garrison which was under siege. After disembarkation she back loaded 700 prisoners of war on the 7th of December and set sail shortly after which she struck a mine and sank, fortunately in shallow water. Some prisoners of war and two crew were lost and her hulk remained in situ until being raised in August of 1951 and towed to Savona for breaking.


Built: 1921 by Barclay, Curle & Co Ltd Glasgow.
Tonnage: 8, 963g, 5, 453n, 11, 080 dwt.
Engine: Twin Screw 2 x 2 Metrovick Turbines 4, 000 BHP. 13.6 Knots (trials) Coal then Fuel Oil.
Passengers: 103/67 First Class, 41/77 Second Class, various changes in accommodation resulting in 176 One Class 1946.
Refrigeration Space: 1, 000 cu ft. 6, 185cu ft from 1937.
Launched on the 15th October 1921, completed 14th December 1921. Yard Nos. 586.

From BI Sunday. With grateful thanks to Captain John W. Cole

Mantola is a village in Rewa State, Central India.

One of a class of eight built for the UK- East African - India service. She suffered a major fire in holds 4, 5, 6 at Kidderpore Dock and arson was suspected but after an inquiry it was decided that it was a case of spontaneous combustion in her cargo of jute. Apparently a Tanganykan couple met whilst on board her, married and travelled on her for the next thirty years before settling down to retirement aboard the ship. She suffered two more fires in her holds, one in 1936 and the other in 1939 on both occasions there were no casualties. Mantola entered the Liner Division in April of 1940 and spent some time trooping to the Middle East from India and East Africa, she served the whole of the war without incident before being released from the Liner Division in the July of 1946. She returned to her normal peacetime role until being sold to Bisco for breaking by Hughes Bolckon Shipbreaking Co Ltd of Blyth. Work commenced on the 4th May 1953. Sadly the photograph above was taken at the breaker's yard prior to demolition hence there are no lifeboats in evidence.


Built: In 1922 by Barcley Curle and Co. Ltd., Glasgow.
Tonnage: 8, 965g 5, 453n 11, 081dwt
Engines: Twin-screw 2 x 3 Stage Brown Curtis Turbines, 4, 320 BHP. 12.7 Knots (Trials)
Passengers: 103/67 First Class, 41/77 Second Class. 1927 First Class 127/91, 1933 180 One Class.
Refrigerated Space: 1, 000 cu ft, 6, 185 cu ft from 1937.
Launched 28th December 1921. Completed on 23rd March 1922. Yard No. 588

Malda is a town and district in Bihar, North of the Ganges.

The Malda was one of eight 'M' Class ships built just after the First World War and one of six built at the Glasgow yard of Barclay, Curle. She spent most of her life on the East African Service and on the 2nd May 1924 went to the aid of the stricken Hain Steamer Treneglos which had lost her propeller, she eventually towed her to Marseilles. In September 1928 she carried the Prince of Wales and his brother, the Duke of Gloucester from Britain to Mombassa for their Eastern Tour.

There followed a series of minor events which included colliding with the Charles Racine, a quarantine hulk anchored off Beira, she then ensnarled her propeller with one of the hulk's cables which required the help of divers before she could proceed. Four months later she was driven ashore by a typhoon on the 1st of February again at Beira and it wasn't until the 8th February that a flood tide refloated her, fortunately with no damage sustained. There followed a fire in No. 4 tween deck while in the Arabian Sea on the 19th December 1931, again with no structural damage to the ship and finally a cargo transporter collapsed across her decks in Port Sudan on the 25th April 1932. Thankfully the rest of the 1930's proved uneventful until the Second World War started. She was taken over for Naval Duties for a year from May of 1940 and then joined the Liner Division. After conversion to a personnel ship she sailed from Calcutta bound for Colombo in the company of another BI ship, Indora, and four other merchantmen. The convoy was under the command of Captain H.M. Edmondson onboard the Malda. At 0700 on the morning of the 6th April the convoy was sighted by a Japanese aircraft which flew low crossing the Malda's bow, Cadet Thompson opened fire, to no effect and the aircraft responded with its own machine guns before flying off. A short while later smoke could be seen rising astern of the convoy, which in the event turned out to be two cruisers and a destroyer of the Japanese Navy. They opened fire on the convoy sinking first the Blue Funnel ship Autolycus before the convoy scattered, they then turned their attention on the Malda which was soon ablaze when shell after shell struck her in the accommodation area. Captain Edmondson soon realised the hopelessness of the situation and gave orders to abandon ship, the rest of the ships' Officers and crew started to make the boats ready for lowering but shells still reigned down on Malda. Some of the lifeboats managed to get away, others smashed whilst still on the falls, with no other option left open to them the remainder of the crew had to jump overboard. A short time later the ship listed to starboard and finally sank. All six ships of the convoy were sank that day in less than three quarters of an hour, the Indora's Captain managed to get all his boats away before his ship was sank and assisted in picking up survivors. The survivors made landfall at various places along the Indian coast. Of the Malda's compliment Mr. W.A. Davis 4/E and Mr. E. Sale 5/E were lost along with 23 Indian crew, two Indian crew from the Indora also perished.

The fate of Mr; Davis and Mr. Sale are graphically described by an eyewitness in 'Valiant Voyaging' by Hilary St. George Saunders, it really didn't seem appropriate to outline them on this page. However worthy of note is the manner in which the men of the convoy were abandoned to their own fate by the departing Japanese warships.


Built: 1922 by Charles Hill & Co. Bristol.
Tonnage: 2, 304g 1,317n 3, 050dwt
Engines: Twin-screw 2 x 6 Cylinder North British 4S, C.S.A. 1, 200 IHP. 10.96 Knots (Trials), 8/9 Knots Service.
Passengers: 20 First Class, 24 Second Class, 306 Deck.
Launched 17th November 1921. Completed on 18th August 1922. Yard No. 146

Kindly Supplied by David Milligan. Originally Shown in BI News.

Dumra is a small port in Orissa, a village in Kathiawar, and waterfalls/rapids in Bengal.

The Dumra along with her sister ship Dwarka were built by a shipyard not normally associated with British India, that of Charles Hill, Bristol. With the disappearance of German control of Tanganyika after the First World War British India placed both ships on the Coastal East Africa Service using Mombassa in Kenya as the base. Normally the Dumra operated the Northern Service which ran twice a month to Tanga, Zanzibar, Dar-Es-Salaam, Lamu, Kilwa, Ruvu Bay, Mocimboa, Ibo and Mikindini leaving the Southern route to her sister. Besides her usual ship's compliment she carried twenty-one Arab stevedores to work the cargo in the more unusual ports at which she called.

During the Kismayu Landings in Somaliland she was the Commodore ship for General Cunningham's South African and African Troops. She also carried 200 stevedores to unload stores, which included petrol and water. For her protection she was armed with a four gun anti-aircraft battery. The landing was unopposed as the Italians prior to the convoy sailing had moved to positions North of the Juba River, after a return trip which took a month she back loaded an anti-aircraft battery and various captured Italian field guns to transport them to the Middle East. Until May of 1941 Dumra along with the Sofala (bought to run alongside Dumra when the Dwarka was scrapped in 1937) plied between Mombassa and the Somali Coast carrying supplies. General Cunningham observed that in other campaigns it has been a case of the dog wagging the tail but in this case it is the tail wagging the dog. The tail being composed of the Dumra and Sofala.

The Dumra continued to serve in the Liner Division but on 5th June 1943 whilst on passage between Madagascar and Durban she was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine, U-198. The lifeboats were lowered but Captain W.C. Cripps ordered that they stand by because he thought that the ship wouldn't sink. Seconds later another torpedo struck home and the Dumra sank within seconds, of those remaining on board all were rescued by the lifeboats except for the Captain and a Junior engineer, Mr. S.G. Barnes, seventeen crew also died either as a result of the initial torpedo attack or from injuries sustained. The submarine surfaced and took off one of the lifeboats the Dumra's Chief Engineer, Mr. H.T. Graham as a prisoner, he was never seen again. The remaining crew all landed at the St. Lucia lighthouse the following day. U-198 herself was sunk in August 1944 off the Seychelles.


Built: 1922 by Vulcan Werke, Hamburg.
Tonnage: 13, 615g, 7, 922n.
Engine: Twin Screw 2 x 3 Cylinder Triple Expansion 6, 300 IHP. 13.5 Knots.
Passengers: 184 First Class, 334 Third Class, 1, 368 Steerage, Crew 211.
Launched on the 8th May 1922, completed September 1922 for Hamburg Sudamerikan D.G. as Cap Norte. Yard Nos. 632.

Kindly Supplied by David Milligan. Originally Shown in BI News.

She made her maiden voyage on the 14th September Hamburg - South America- Buenos Aires and her sister was called Antonio Delfino. Her speed was increased to 15 knots with an I.H.P. of 8, 300 when she had low pressure turbines fitted. In 1932 she was charted to Norddeutscher Lloyd and renamed Sierra Salvada two years later she reverted back to Cap Norte and continued on her South American service. Whilst attempting to return to Germany after war had been declared she was intercepted by HMS Belfast

HMS Belfast

who sent over a boarding party before her Captain could scuttle the ship on the 9th October. In the November of the same year she became a Block Ship when she was anchored across the harbour at Scapa Flow. In 1940 she was converted to a troopship in Newcastle and renamed Empire Trooper owned by the M.O.W.T. and managed by British India. She was in convoy W.S. 5A when it was attacked by the German Heavy Cruiser Admiral Hipper which

Hipper Class

displaced some 18, 400 when fully loaded. The convoy was composed of twenty Merchant Men with escorts when the Admiral Hipper attacked at dawn on Christmas Day 1940 when some 700 miles west of Finisterre. The Berwick (hit herself),

Berwick Class

Bonadventure and Dunedin all cruisers drove off the Hipper but not before she had hit two Merchant Men one of which was Empire trooper killing two of her crew. In 1942 she took part in the landings at Majunga and for her the rest of the war was uneventful, she continued trooping until 1949 when she arrived in Falmouth for refit. After refit her passenger capacity changed to 336 Cabin Class and 924 Troops and her gross tonnage changed to 14, 106. For a further six years she continued in her role as a trooper until being sold to Bisco for breaking in April of 1955. She was towed to the yard of Thos. W. Ward Inverkeithing from Southampton by the tugs Masterman and Tradesman and arrived at the breaker's yard on the 14th April. Whilst at anchor she caught fire and sank in the May but on the 9th of June she was raised and work commenced.

Troop Ships 1924 to end