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GALWAY CASTLE was built in 1911 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 7988grt, a length of 452ft 4in, a beam of 54ft 4in and a service speed of 13 knots. Similar to the Grantully Castle she was the last ship to be delivered before the company was taken over by Royal Mail. In August 1914 she was requisitioned as a troop ship for deployment in the German West Africa campaign against Windhoek. After the German colony was taken over by General Botha in 1915 she reverted to commercial service as the only remaining Union-Castle vessel. On 3rd August 1916 she was attacked by a German bomber near the Gull lightship but the bomb, although scoring a direct hit, failed to explode. She went aground on the Orient Bank at East London on 12th October 1917 but was refloated five days later without any damage. At 07.30 hrs on 12th September 1918 when two days out from Plymouth, she was torpedoed by U-82 and broke her back. At the time she was carrying 400 South African walking wounded, 346 passengers and 204 crew members. So severe was the damage that it was thought that she would sink immediately and it was apparent that U-82 was lining up for another attack. In the rush to abandon ship several lifeboats were swamped by the heavy seas and many finished up in the sea. However, the U-boat did not mount a further attack and the Galway Castle continued to wallow for three days. Destroyers were summoned by radio to rescue survivors who were taken back to Plymouth where it was ascertained that 143 persons had perished. HMS Spitfire remained in attendance and took off the skeleton crew before she finally sank. (Photo: UCPSC 02/63)

GLOUCESTER CASTLE was built in 1911 by Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 7999grt, a length of 450ft 7in, a beam of 56ft 2in and a service speed of 13 knots. She was built for the Intermediate service. On 24th September, 1914 she was commissioned as a 410 bed hospital ship and in April 1915 took part in the Dardanelles campaign carrying the Portsmouth Battalion of the Royal Marines. On 30th March 1917, although clearly identified as a hospital ship, she was torpedoed by UB-32 in the English Channel whilst on passage from Le Havre to Southampton. Fortunately, only 3 of the 399 passengers died during the transfer to rescuing trawlers but it took two weeks to tow the ship to safety for repair. In April 1919 she resumed commercial operations on the Intermediate service and later on the Round Africa service. But her slow speed earned her the name 'Go Slowster Castle'. In 1926 she was replaced by the Llandaff Castle and reverted to Intermediate status until 1939 when she was laid up at Netley in Southampton Water. On 21st June 1942 she sailed from Birkenhead and on 15th July, off the Ascension Islands, was shelled and sunk by the German surface raider Schiff 28,Michel. Out of 154 persons on board 82 crew members, 6 women, 2 children and 3 male passengers were killed. The surviving 57 crew members, 2 women and 2 child passengers were taken aboard the German supply ship Charlotte Schliemann and taken to Japan for internment. The commander of the Michel, Von Ruckteschell, was found guilty of war crimes and imprisoned at Spandau in 1946.(Photo: UCPSC 03/139)

GUILDFORD CASTLE was built in 1911 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 7995grt, a length of 450ft 7in, a beam of 56ft 2in and a service speed of 13 knots. Sister of the Gloucester Castle and the Galway Castle she undertook the first intermediate sailing which terminated at Mauritius in July 1914. When the First World War broke out she participated in the first troop convoy to Europe and on 22nd September 1914 was commissioned as a hospital ship with 427 beds. During the German West and East African campaigns in 1915 she remained in Southern African waters where she was more occupied with coping with disease rather than war wounds. On 10th March 1918, while inbound to Avonmouth, she was hit by a torpedo which failed to explode. She was decommissioned on 9th November 1918 and returned to commercial service initially on the Intermediate service in 1920 and then on the round Africa service. On 31st May 1933 she was in collision with the Blue Funnel ship Stentor in the estuary of the River Elbe when two people lost their lives, an accident for which the pilot was blamed. She was beached on the following day and declared a total constructive loss. (Photo: UCPSC 15/63)

LLANDOVERY CASTLE (1) was built in 1914 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 10639grt, a length of 500ft 1in, a beam of 63ft 3in and a service speed of 15 knots. She was the first ship to be completed under Royal Mail ownership following the takeover in April 1912 and the first solely designated for the East Africa trade. She was also the first ship to be given the name of a Welsh castle at the behest of the new Chairman Sir Owen Philipps, himself a Welshman, and it was his intent that the ship compete with the Deutsche Ost-Afrika Linie. In 1915 she was transferred to the mail run when regular ships were requisitioned for war service.. She was commissioned as a hospital ship on 26th July 1916 with 622 beds and 102 medical staff and attached to the Canadian Forces. She became the company's last WW1 casualty when on 27th June 1918 at 9.00 pm whilst on a North Atlantic crossing from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Liverpool she was attacked without warning by German submarine U-86 (Kapitan Patzig) 118 miles southwest of Fastnet. She was displaying a brightly illuminated Red Cross sign and could not have been mistaken for anything other than a hospital ship. The ship sank within 10 minutes and not content with merely sinking the vessel Kapitan Patzig turned his guns on the helpless lifeboats and sank all but one. 24 people including the master, Captain Sylvester survived, being picked up HMS Lysander, but 234 others, including 88 medical staff, perished as a result of this act of German barbarity. Fortunately the ship was not carrying any patients. Two officers of the U-86 were jailed for four years by the German Supreme Court for war crimes but both 'escaped' shortly afterwards.

LLANSTEPHAN CASTLE was built in 1914 by Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Co at Glasgow with a tonnage of 11348grt, a length of 500ft 5in, a beam of 63ft 3in and a service speed of 15 knots. Sister of the Llandovery Castle she was given the name because Sir Owen Philipps was Lord of the Manor of Llanstephan. She was built for the Intermediate Round Africa service. and was, in 1914, the only company ship to remain in commercial service although under government control. In April 1915 inbound at Zanzibar she was ordered back to Durban because the German light cruiser Koenigsberg was operating in the area. In 1917 she was eventually requisitioned for work on the transatlantic service. Following the end of hostilities in 1918 the Prime Minister of South Africa, General Botha, returned to South Africa on her after signing the Treaty of Versailles. She reverted to the Round Africa service in 1920 and during that year repatriated passengers from the Saxon when she lost her rudder. In August 1940 she evacuated 200 children to South Africa. During the Second World War, in 1941, she was commodore ship for the first Allied convoy to Russia from Liverpool to Archangel after Germany's attack on Russia on 22nd June. She was transferred to the Indian Navy in 1944 for troopship work and in 1945 acted as a Landing Ship Infantry (LS(I)) to the East Indies fleet with 18 landing craft manned by Indian Navy personnel. After a refurbishment she resumed commercial operations in 1947 and continued until March 1952 when she was broken up by J. Cashmore at Newport, Monmouthshire for the British Iron & Steel Corporation.
(Photo: UCPSC 15/170)

POLGLASS CASTLE was built in 1903 by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Newcastle with a tonnage of 4631grt, a length of 390ft, a beam of 51ft 5in and a service speed of 10 knots. She was completed in October 1903 as the Reichenfels for D. D. G. Hansa of Bremen. When the First World War broke out on 4th August 1914 she was at Colombo and promptly seized by the Admiralty and placed under the management of Grahams & Co. She was transferred to the Shipping Controller, placed under the management of Union-Castle and renamed Polglass Castle in 1916. The Union-Castle Line never actually owned her. Repurchased by Hansa in 1921 she reverted to Reichenfels and was broken up at Bremen by A. G. Weser in 1933.

CHEPSTOW CASTLE was built in 1913 by Short Bros at Sunderland with a tonnage of 7494grt, a length of 425ft 6in, a beam of 56ft 4in and a service speed of 12 knots. She was built as the Anglo-Brazilian for Lawther & Latta's Nitrate Producers Ltd and, in 1915, was acquired to augment ships requisitioned for war service and renamed Chepstow Castle. In 1927 she was the first ship to berth at the newly built port at Walvis Bay and was broken up in 1933.
IPU was built in 1905 by Fredrikstad Mek. Verkstad at Fredrikstad with a tonnage of 686grt, a length of 191ft 1in, a beam of 33ft 1in and a service speed of 10 knots. She was built as the coastal cargo vessel Ipu for Empreza de Nav. Lorentzen of Para in Brazil and acquired by Union-Castle in 1915 for service at Beira. Sold to Glendinning Steamship Co. of London in 1923 she was renamed Chyko and in February 1925 was wrecked after stranding.

CARLISLE CASTLE was built in 1913 by Northumberland Shipbuilding Co at Newcastle with a tonnage of 4325grt, a length of 400ft, a beam of 53ft and a service speed of 10 knots. She was built as the Holtye for F. S. Holland & Co. and purchased by Union-Castle in 1915 who renamed her Carlisle Castle. On 14th February 1918 during a voyage from Portland, Maine to London with grain and general cargo, she was torpedoed by UB-57 near to the Royal Sovereign lightship in the English Channel. Amazingly, six weeks later, the UB-57 sank Blue Star's Broderick which settled on top and across the wreck of the Carlisle Castle.

CRAWFORD CASTLE was built in 1910 by Northumberland Shipbuilding Co at Newcastle with a tonnage of 4464grt, a length of 380ft, a beam of 49ft and a service speed of 10 knots. She was built as the Hova for F. S. Holland & Co. and acquired by Union-Castle in 1917 who renamed her Crawford Castle. In October 1926 she was the first Union-Castle ship to dock in the new harbour at Kilindini, Mombasa. She was sold to W. Kunstmann of Stettin in 1930, renamed Victoria W. Kuntsmann and broken up in 1937.

CARLOW CASTLE was built in 1917 by Northumberland Shipbuilding Co at Newcastle with a tonnage of 5833grt, a length of 400ft, a beam of 53ft and a service speed of 10 knots. Delivered in February 1917 for the cargo service she remained with the company until 1930 when she was sold to Mitchell, Cotts & Co and renamed Cape St. Columba. Under her new owners she continued to serve in the South African market occasionally on charter to Union-Castle. She was sold to Carras Bros of Chios in 1935 and renamed Adelfotis. On 1st May 1943 she was torpedoed by U-182 in the Atlantic.

LEASOWE CASTLE was built in 1917 by Cammell Laird & Co at Birkenhead with a tonnage of 8106grt, a length of 488ft 6in, a beam of 58ft 2in and a service speed of 17 knots. She was laid down in 1915 as the Vasilissa Sophia for the National Steam Navigation Co. of Greece for management by Embericos Bros. However, work was suspended for some months and during that time she was transferred to the British subsidiary, Byron Steam Ship Co. of London, in anticipation that she could be finished in time to be requisitioned by the Government for trooping duties. Having been acquired under the Liner Acquisition Scheme she was eventually launched on 5th April 1917, named Leasowe Castle and placed under Union-Castle management but never being owned by them. She began service trooping between Alexandria and Marseilles. On 20th April 1918 she was torpedoed by U-35 off Gibraltar while serving as an ambulance transport ship but managed to reach port for repairs. Five weeks later, on 27th May, 1918 she was torpedoed by UB-51 whilst in a convoy 104 miles north-west of Alexandria and sank within 90 minutes. Bound for Marseilles she was carrying troops of the Warwickshire Yeomanry and 102 lives were lost including that of her Master Captain Holl. It is said that Lt. Col H Gray-Cheape gave his life jacket to a crew member.

DROMORE CASTLE was built in 1919 by Harland & Wolff at Greenock with a tonnage of 5242grt, a length of 412ft 6in, a beam of 54ft 4in and a service speed of 11 knots. Launched as the War Poplar on 28th August 1919 she was completed as the Dromore Castle as a modified 'B' type standard ship with extra derrick posts. In 1941 she was deployed carrying war materials across the Atlantic and on 12th December 1942 was mined and sunk whilst in a convoy 20 miles south-east of the River Humber without any loss of life. (Photo: A Duncan)

DUNDRUM CASTLE was built in 1919 by Harland & Wolff at Greenock with a tonnage of 5259grt, a length of 412ft 6in, a beam of 54ft 4in and a service speed of 11 knots. Sister of the Dromore Castle she was delivered as the Dundrum Castle and did not start her career with a 'War' name. On 16th - 17th June 1940 she was one of the thirteen ships which embarked 98,000 troops and refugees at St. Nazaire just before the fall of France. On 17th June she recovered 650 men including some from the sunken Lancastria and landed them at Plymouth after a voyage without food except hot soup. During a voyage from Liverpool to South Africa via the Suez Canal she caught fire on 2nd April 1943 while in the Red Sea, was abandoned and sank in position 14.37N 42.23E.

RIPLEY CASTLE was built in 1917 by Kawasaki Dockyard at Kobe in Japan with a tonnage of 7521grt, a length of 445ft 6in, a beam of 58ft 5in and a service speed of 11 knots. She was built as the War Soldier for the Shipping Controller under the management of Furness Withy. Acquired by Union-Castle in 1919 she continued in service until 1931 when she was broken up at Savona. (Photo: A Duncan)


ROSYTH CASTLE was built in 1918 by Canadian Vickers at Montreal with a tonnage of 4328grt, a length of 380ft 5in, a beam of 49ft 2in and a service speed of 11 knots. She was launched as the War Earl and delivered to the Shipping Controller in August 1918. Acquired by Union-Castle in 1919 she was renamed Rosyth Castle but transferred to Bullard, King & Co in the following year and given the name Umlazi. She was sold in 1936 to Campden Hill Steam Ship Co., with Counties Ship Management as managers, and renamed Campden Hill. In the following year she was re-sold to Kitagawa Sangyo K. K. of Osaka and renamed initially as Hokujo Maru and then Hokuzyo Maru. She was one of the few Japanese ships to survive the Second World War and was eventually broken up at Osaka during 1961.

BRATTON CASTLE was built in 1920 by Armstrong, Whitworth & Co. at Newcastle with a tonnage of 6696grt, a length of 412ft 2in, a beam of 55ft 10in and a service speed of 11 knots. With her sister, the Bampton Castle, she was laid down as an N1 type standard ship but was not allocated a "War" name. Completed in May 1920 as a cargo ship she was the first ship in the company to have the cruiser stern profile although, not the true cruiser stern. In 1931 she was sold to Rethymnis & Kulukundis of Pireaus and renamed, initially as Proteus but this was later changed to Mount Taurus. On 17th November 1942 she was torpedoed by U-264 while in convoy ONS 144 which was crossing the North Atlantic from London to Halifax, Nova Scotia. A spread of three torpedoes was heard to explode after 3 min 40 secs, 3 min 56 secs and 4 min 31 secs yet the Mount Taurus was only hit once. The other two explosions have never been explained. (Photo: A Duncan)

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