Edinburgh Castle (2)
EDINBURGH CASTLE (2) was built in 1910 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 13362grt, a length of 570ft, a beam of 64ft 5in and a service speed of 14 knots. Sister of the Balmoral Castle (2) she was the last of a group of almost identical ships and replaced the Norman (2).
The last Cape mail steamer to be completed under the Currie regime. She was launched early in 1910 by Mrs John Currie.
For four years she ran continuously in the mail service. She was the last of the mail steamers to leave Table Bay according to the pre-War schedule and she steamed out of Cape Town docks on Saturday 15 August 1914 on what was to prove a most interesting voyage.
Shortly after she left Madeira her passengers were surprised to find themselves at Gibraltar. The explanation was soon forthcoming; the situation in Flanders was extremely critical and Lord Kitchener arranged that home-ward bound liners should be delivered to all ports where troops might be awaiting transport to England. On 28 August Edinburgh Castle picked up wireless instructions from HMS Vindictive ordering her to Gibraltar.
Arriving early on 30 August she was soon packed with as many troops - mainly of The Buffs- that she could carry. In addition she had the 1,200 souls that had set out from the Cape. The last stage of the journey then commenced. This too provided more excitement.,
For a few hours out from Gibraltar the Edinburgh Castle’s escort, HMS Minerva, captured an Austrian cargo steamer, Bathori. The crew of the prize were transferred to the Castle liner and Bathori was sent to the bottom. The spectacle provided a great thrill for the passengers on the mail steamer.
Southampton was reached safely on 3 September and the following day Edinburgh Castle was taken over by the Admiralty as an auxiliary cruiser. She left for Tilbury on 5 September and was fitted out for naval duties. Commisioned on 12 September as HMS Edinburgh Castle, she left the Thames five days later with orders to join Admiral Stoddart’s Squadron off the east coast of South America where a hunt was in progress for the German cruiser Karlsruhe
In 1918 served in the North Atlantic on convoy work. She resumed commercial operations in 1919 after a refit and during that year carried General Smuts back to South Africa.
She was withdrawn from service in 1938 and laid up at Netley until she was bought by the Admiralty for use as an accommodation ship in Freetown, Sierra Leone for Naval personnel and survivors of sunken ships serving again as HMS Edinburgh Castle.
In 1945, as towing back to England would not be cost effective, she was towed 60 miles out to sea by the tug Empire Lawn and sunk by gunfire and depth charges from the armed trawler Cape Warwick, HMS Porchester Castle and HMS Launceston Castle.
The British rugby team waving goodbye cheerfully as they leave England for a tour in South Africa 20th June 1924