Union-Castle Line

War Time Service

Vessel

Peacetime Role

Capacity

Service History

Alnwick Castle

Extra Steamer

Troop Ship

On 18th March 1915 she arrived at Mudros with troops and mules and was then deployed as a troop transport to Gallipoli.

On Feb 1 1917, “unrestricted” submarine warfare began.

Within a few weeks the first Cape liner was sunk.

This was Alnwick Castle on March 19 1917.

Armadale Castle

Mail Service

AMC

She was requisitioned for conversion as an Armed merchant Cruiser on 2nd August 1914 and joined the 10th Cruiser Squadron on the 7th August.

Resuming commercial service in 1919.

Balmoral Castle (2)

Mail Service

Troop Ship

She was requisitioned as a troopship on the northbound voyages in 1914 but continued to maintain the mail service.

Between March and May 1915 she trooped to Gallipoli landing them on 23rd April.

Following the Armistice in 1918 she repatriated US and Australian troops.

In 1919 she made to voyages between Liverpool and New York for Cunard before returning to service with Union-Castle.

Braemar Castle (1)

Mail Service

Troop Ship

Hospital Ship

Served in a variety of roles, as a cross-channel troop transport for the British Expeditionary Force in 1914; She made her final voyage as a troopship in September 1924 and was then sold for scrapping in Italy.

Briton (3)

Mail Service

Troop Ship

In August 1914 she was one of six Union-Castle vessels in a troopship convoy carrying 4000 troops from Cape Town to Europe.

In 1920, she resumed commercial services.

Carisbrook Castle

Mail Service

Hospital Ship

Troop Ship

 She started as a hospital ship with 439 beds, and crossed the English Channel to bring wounded troops home from the Western Front.

She shifted roles to that of an Army Troop Ship in the Mediterranean for most of the war.

Cawdor Castle

Intermediate

Troop Ship

In 1914 was used as a horse transport between South Africa and France.

In April 1915 she carried the Chatham Battalion of the Royal Marines to Anzac Beach, Gallipoli.

Comrie Castle

Extra Steamer

Troop Ship

During the First World War she spent most of her time operating as a troopship

Dover Castle (2)

Intermediate

Hospital Ship

She was converted to a hospital ship in World War 1 becoming HMHS Dover Castle.

She was sunk by UC.67 on 26th May 1917, when 50 miles north of Bone on passage Malta for Gibraltar.

Dunluce Castle

Intermediate

Troop Ship

Hospital Ship

In August 1914 she became a troopship and took part in the famous six ship Union-Castle convoy which brought 4000 troops to Europe.

She returned to commercial service on 2nd April 1919

Dunottar Castle

Mail Service

Troop Ship

AMC

Accom Ship

In 1914 the Dunottar Castle was converted into an armed merchant cruiser.

26 September 1915 she foundered off Cape Wrath with the loss of fifteen lives.

Dunvegan Castle (1)

Mail Service

Troop Ship

Hospital Ship

She was used to land the first wave of the British Expeditionary Force at Le Havre on 10th August 1914 accompanied by the Norman.

She returned to the mail run briefly in 1915 when larger ships were requisitioned for war service but in the October was deployed as a hospital ship with 400 beds.

On 20th April 1916 she reverted back to her owner but under government control

Durham Castle

Intermediate

Troop Ship

During the First World War she remained on commercial service but often acted as a troopship on the northbound passage..

Edinburgh Castle (2)

Mail Service

AMC

On 14th August 1914 sailed from Cape Town with mail and government only passengers

She was then taken over as an auxiliary cruiser for the South Atlantic patrol.

She resumed commercial operations in 1919.

Galeka

Intermediate

Troop Ship

Hospital Ship

In September 1914 she was requisitioned for troopship duties to France and on 22nd June 1915 began operating as a hospital ship with beds for 366 patients.

On 28th October 1916 she was mined off Le Havre in heavy seas.

Although she was beached at Cap la Hogue she became a total loss.

Galway Castle

Intermediate

Troop Ship

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

Garth Castle (2)

Intermediate

Supply Ship

Hospital Ship

In 1915 she was requisitioned by the Royal Navy for use as a supply ship and moving naval personnel to places like Scapa Flow where they would join their ships.

She was later used as a hospital ship and on 24th June 1917, during a fleet inspection, the surgeons and nursing staff were presented to HM King George V.

Gascon (2)

Intermediate

Hospital Ship

 in August 1914 went on the mail run when the larger ships were requisitioned for war service. On 25th November of that year she was commissioned as a hospital ship with a capacity for 434 patients.

During 1915 she served in the German East African campaign and spent the remainder of the war in that area. She returned to Union-Castle on 15th February 1920 and was immediately refurbished and put back into service.

Glenart Castle

Intermediate

Hospital Ship

Feb 26 1918 Sunk by U-56

Glengorm Castle

Intermediate

Hospital Ship

She continued to operate as a troopship in the Far East until 1922-23

Returning to Union-Castle in 1925

Gloucester Castle

Intermediate

Hospital Ship

She served from 24/9/1914 to 9/9/1919., including Gallipoli, and being torpedoed in 1917, and was then returned.

Goorkha

Intermediate

Hospital Ship

She was part of the convoy from Capetown carrying the British Garrison, with their families, 27th August 1914, and on 20th October 1914 she was commissioned as a hospital ship with 408 beds.

HMHS Goorkha was mined on the 10th October 1917 off Malta. There were 362 survivors on board, including 17 nursing sisters. The vessel was cleared within 35 minutes and there were no casualties.

Grantully Castle (2)

Intermediate

Troop Ship

Hospital Ship

Commissioned as a hospital ship in 1915.

Resumed commercial service in 1919

Guildford Castle

Intermediate

Troop Ship

Hospital Ship

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.

Resumed commercial service in 1920

Kenilworth Castle (2)

Mail Service

Troop Ship

She resumed commercial operations in 1919.

Kildonan Castle

Mail Service

Hospital Ship

AMC

Troop Ship

On 6th October 1915 she was commissioned as a hospital ship with 603 beds

March 1916 she was de-commissioned and converted into an Armed Merchant Cruiser

In December 1918 she was stood down as an AMC and transferred to the work of repatriating troops

Kinfauns Castle (2)

Mail Service

AMC

On 4th August 1914 she was converted into an Armed Merchant Cruiser

In 1919 she returned to commercial employment on the mail service.

Llandovery Castle (1)

Intermediate

Hospital Ship

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.

Norman (2)

Mail Service

Troop Ship

At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 she was recommissioned as a troopship for a short while before reverting to the mail run. During this time she was part of the first convoy to take men of the British Expeditionary Force to France. 1918 saw her on troopship duties again, this time in the Mediterranean.

Saxon (4)

Mail Service

Troop Ship

When the First World War was declared in August 1914 she continued operating the mail run but often carried contingents of troops in third class.

In January 1917 she became a full troopship in both directions and then used to ferry troops between Alexandria and Marseilles. In November 1918 carried troops to Australia before resuming commercial service in 1919 after a refit at Harland and Wolff's in Belfast.

Walmer Castle (2)

Mail Service

Troop Ship

In April 1917 she was requisitioned by the Government under the Liner Requisition Scheme for use as a troopship, trooping initially from South Africa and then in the North Atlantic appropriately camouflaged with dazzle paint.

During 1919 she made two voyages between Liverpool and New York for Cunard before returning to the mail run.

World War 1

World War 2

Vessel

Peacetime Role

Capacity

Service History

Arundel Castle (4)

Mail Service

Troop Ship

During 1945-46 she continued trooping between the UK-Gibraltar-Malta - Port Said for the RAF and RN

1947, with berths for 846, carried emigrants to the Cape in 'Austerity' conditions.

After steaming 625,000 miles she completed her final government voyage in May 1949 and returned to her builders for an overhaul

Athlone Castle

Mail Service

Troop Ship

1940, December 27th. requisitioned for war transport.  

In six years carried a total of 148,113 troops.

1942, November.  North Africa campaign

1946, two round trip voyages repatriating troops to Australia and one to Singapore.

1946, September 17th. returned to Belfast for refit.

Capetown Castle

Mail Service

Troop Ship

When war broke out on 3rd September 1939 she was at Port Elizabeth and continued in commercial service until 1940 when she was requisitioned for use as a troopship.

During 1943 she trooped between the USA and the UK as part of Operation Bolero, the build up for D-Day. After carrying some 164,000 troops and sailing 484,000 miles she returned to Union-Castle in 1946 and was refurbished at Belfast where her original fittings had been stored in complete safety.

Carnarvon Castle (2)

Mail Service

AMC

Troop Ship

In September 1939 she was commissioned by the navy for conversion at Simonstown, South Africa to an armed merchant cruiser, HMS Carnarvon Castle.

In 1944, was converted into a troopship

1947 Inaugurated emigrant service to South Africa with berths for 1283 passengers.

Dunnottar Castle

Intermediate

AMC

Troop Ship

On 28th August 1939 she was requisitioned by the Admiralty for commission as an Armed Merchant Cruiser and served with the South Atlantic patrols.

When, in 1942, more war-built trade protection cruisers entered service, she was released and converted into a troopship

She returned to commercial service in 1948

Dunvegan Castle (2)

Intermediate

AMC

On 27th August 1940 at 21.47 hrs she was torpedoed by U-46 off western Ireland while escorting a convoy to Freetown with the loss of 27 lives.

Durban Castle

Intermediate

Troop Ship

Landing Ship

When Greece fell in 1941 the King of Greece and his family first took refuge in Egypt and then South Africa from where the Durban Castle transported him, his family and entourage from Durban to the United Kingdom

1946 Returned to service

Llandaff Castle

Intermediate

Troop Ship

Torpedoed 30 November 1942

Llandovery Castle (2)

Intermediate

Hospital Ship

During her wartime service she carried approximately 38,000 wounded and steamed some 250,000 miles.

She returned to the Round Africa service in May 1947

Llangibby Castle

Intermediate

Troop Ship

Landing Ship

She was returned to Union-Castle in January 1947, after having sailed 300,256 miles and carrying 156,134 troops, and underwent a refit before resuming her Round Africa service.

Llanstephan Castle

Intermediate

Troop Ship

Landing Ship

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

Pretoria Castle (1)

Intermediate

AMC

Aircraft Carrier

She was re-purchased by Union-Castle in January 1946 and rebuilt to her original specification but, because a new mail ship was under construction with Pretoria Castle as her designated name, she was renamed Warwick Castle (4)

Stirling Castle (2)

Mail Service

Troop Ship

In 1940 she was requisitioned for troopship duties capable of carrying 6000 persons

Her virtually trouble free war service ended in 1945 having steamed over 500,000 miles and carrying 128,000 troops.

She was finally released in 1946 before returning to the mail run in 1947.

Walmer Castle (3)

Feeder Service

Supply Ship

Rescue Ship

In 1940 she was requisitioned for use as an armed supply ship based at Scapa Flow and in June 1941 was converted into a convoy rescue ship.

1941 Bombed and sunk in the Atlantic

Warwick Castle (3)

Mail Service

Troop Ship

In September 1939 she was taken over by the government for trooping duties.

On 12th November at 08.50 hrs, when north of Gibraltar off the Portuguese coast, she was torpedoed by U-413 and sank 1hr.25mins later.

Winchester Castle (1)

Mail Service

Troop Ship

Returned to service 1948

Windsor Castle (2)

Mail Service

Troop Ship

In September 1939 she was requisitioned for troopship duties.

On 23rd March 1943 at 02.35 hrs, whilst in a Mediterranean convoy, she was attacked by a solitary aircraft 110 miles north-west of Algiers.An aerial torpedo struck her aft causing extensive flooding and she sank 13 hours later before a salvage vessel could reach her.

Although she was carrying troops only one life was lost.

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