Liners in the wars


Before great aircrafts appear, the liners will be mobilised to carry troops on operation theatres. For this purpose, liners are refit in single class, the hull is repainted, some ones are even armed. Other ships will serve as floating hospitals. The requisite ships become then actors of the conflicts and will suffer the terrible laws of the war : bombing or torpedoing. 


During WW1, a new enemy de la navigation will appear : the submarine will cause the loss of several ships, the most famous being LUSITANIA . 31550 Gross tons for 240 m long and 26.8 m beam, she gets the blue ribbon on her eastbound  maiden trip with an average speed of 23,99 knots, thanks to her 4 screw. On her westbound back trip, with 1956 persons on board, she is torpedoed by a German submarine off Ireland, on 7 may 1915.


The submarines are not always winners: MONA'S QUEEN II don't hesitate to strike the dangerous U-boat.

Launched in 1885, she insured Fleetwood - Douglas and Liverpool service. After refit, she will continue to sail until 1929.


Built in 1912 for London-Calcutta line, NEURALIA is designed for 128 First Class and 98 Second Class.  She becomes an hospital-ship in Mediterranean. After the war, she returns under British Indian Line flag.
Back in the war, she carries Australian troops, picks up refugees from Cyprus, from Burma ; in 43 and 44, she ferries troops in the Mediterranean before lying off the beaches of Utah and Omaha. She was mined off Southern Italy on 1rst May 1945 and sunk in 3 hours.


East of the Kish Bank, 12 miles out from Dún Laoghaire Harbour (Kingstown) on the morning of 10 October 1918, two torpedoes from U boat UB-123 struck the R.M.S. LEINSTER. Badly holed below the waterline the mail ship, the ferry with 771 passengers and crew onboard slipped beneath the waves. 501 people were lost under which many soldiers returning to the front.

Launched for City of Dublin Steam Packet Co. on 12 September 1896, LEINSTER is used in the crossing between Holyhead to Kingstown (now Dün Laoghaire harbour), as mail and passenger vessel


PRINZ EITEL FRIEDRICH built by Vulcan yards at Stettin, Germany and launched on June 19, 1904 for  the Nord-deutscher Lloyd (North German Lloyd) Line, 488 feet in length and of 8,865 tons with a speed of 15 knots. At Shanghai, China when the war started she sailed to the German colony at Tsingtao. Placed aboard were armament including four 105-mm guns, six 88-mm guns and four machine guns. After leaving on August 5, 1914 the auxiliary cruiser Prinz Eitel Friedrich during a 218 days sank eleven merchant ships, totaling 33,423 tons, then put into Norfolk, Virginia on March 11, 1915 for repairs. The ship and the 355 men aboard were interned on April 9th. Prinz Eitel Friedrich was relocated to League Island Naval Yard, Philadelphia on October 1, 1916.When the United States entered the war Prinz Eitel Friedrich was seized and transferred to the US Navy. Reconditioned and refitted as a troop transport, she was renamed DeKalb and on June 14, 1917 sailed in the convoy carrying the first troops of the American Expeditionary Forces to France. Following the war she was sold to the United American Line and renamed Mount Clay. She was purchased by the Admiral Line in 1928, never placed in service and scrapped in 1934.


The WW1 sees more than 200 hospital-ship of all types and from all nations sailing; the British own 34 included AQUITANIA (4182 beds) and Mauritania (2000 beds). In the 1914-1917 years, 7 hospital-ships struck mines or were damaged, 8 other were torpedoed.


After Lusitania and Mauritania, Cunard increases her offer on North Atlantic with AQUITANIA (45647 t, 274,8 m long, 3230 passengers, 24 knots); launched on 21 April 1913, she is used from 1915 to 1919 to carry troops, as hospital-ship in 1916 in Mediterranean. In November 1939, her carrier was extended and she returns to troops carrying;  back to service in 48 and 49, the great "4-funnels" is scrapped in 1950.


The second great conflict is from another volume. Great Britain is isolated, threatened ; ships used to sail in convoy. Allied troops carrying to Europe and North Africa also to Pacific mobilizes mass transportation .
During the latter phases of World War II, the twenty-six U.S. Army and twelve Navy hospital ships changed from acting primarily as “ambulances” to providing advanced levels of definitive medical care.


LLandovery CASTLE (10609 t, 148.5 m long)  sails on her maiden trip on 25 September 1925. She works as hospital-ship until 1946 and comes back on Union Castle Line African lines until 1953.


Built in 1928 for Canadian Pacific Steamships Ltd,  DUCHESS of ATHOLL takes part on landing at Diego Suarez on 5 May 1942. On 10 October 1942, she is attacked and sunk by U-178 at 200 miles North of Ascension island.

LADY NELSON , LADY DRAKE and LADY HAWKINS sail for the Canadian National Steamship Line between Halifax West Indies and Guyana ; built in 1928, their tonnage is less than 8000 and they have a capacity of 103 passengers in 1rst class, 32 in Second and 50 in Third and 120 deck passengers.

LADY HAWKINS is torpedoed on 19 January 1942 between Boston and Bermudas with the loss of 250 lives, including Canadians working at the Bauxite Company in Guyana.
On 5 May 42, during a trip from Demerara to St. John's N.B. via Bermudas, with 113 crew, 147 passengers and one gunner, LADY DRAKE is torpedoed by the German submarine U-106 at the position 35 43N 64 43W. 6 Crew and 6 passengers were lost.

LADY NELSON is torpedoed  on 9 march 1942 alongside the wharf de Castries, St Lucia, by U-161. Of the crew of 116 and 2 gunners, three crewmembers were lost, of the 110 passengers at that time on board 15 were lost, and also 5 dockworkers. She is Refitted in a hospital-ship for 518 wounded patients. After a refurbishment at Halifax, she is again in the service between Canada and the West Indies from 1946 to 1952 and is broken up only in 1968.
DAVISIAN  built in 1922 for Leyland Line then T.J. Harrisonis sunk in 1940 par by a German corsair Ridder off Bermudas.


As LUSITANIA, some ships will undergo the acts of war without being formally mobilized. Thus several coastal Norwegian, transporting civil and military German will be sunk.
IRMA, a passenger- cargo vessel built in 1905, was hit by a torpedo in the amidships, she broke in two, with on board a crew of 43 and about 100 passengers under which German troops/gunners (MTB 627 or MTB 653)


Hurtigruten service vessel SANCT SVITHUN is attacked on 30 September 1943 by 6 British aircrafts; 24 Norwegian passengers, 19 crew and between 10 and 20 German soldiers died

BAROY with on board 26 crew, 68 civilian passengers and 35 German soldiers, was hit by a torpedo fired from an allied aircraft in the night of 12 September 1941 in a position near Bremnesodden in the Vestfjorden. Only 19 people were rescued in a water at 7 degrees.



CENTAUR is a cargo liner of 3066 tons for 72 passengers in two classes built in 1924 to link Australia to Singapore for Blue Funnel Line. She becomes in 1943 the hospital ship AHS 47 of Australian army.
On 14 August 1943, at 4.10 am, she is torpedoed  by the Japanese I-177 : on 332 persons on board, 268 are killed.


Launched on 29/10/1922 in  La Ciotat on the Indian Ocean line then in alternate on Indian Ocean and Indochina, LECONTE DE LISLE is seized by the Japanese at Saigon in June 1944, and renamed TEIRITU MARU. 

After striking a mine she runs aground. Repaired by the Japanese, and returned to France in December 1950, she sails on the line de Indian Ocean until 1952, next she is  used to repatriate a part  of the troops from Indochina in 1954. She is finally scrapped in February 1956.

Missing country name


The passenger/cargo vessel RANGITATA is delivered in 1929 by the Glasgow yard to New Zealand Shipping Comp;  she was one of three sister-vessels on a four-weekly service between England and New Zealand via the Panama Canal, making the voyage in 32 days. From 04-12-1939 until 15-08-1946 requisitioned as a personnel ship with a capacity of 2.600 troops.  She will sail until 1962.



Un-issued air-mail stamp colour essay

Launched on 14 march 1926 with a 3rd dummy funnel, ILE DE FRANCE , 241 m long, 43 153 t, sails on her maiden trip Le Havre-New York on 22 June 1927. This opens a 33 years carrier. From 1941 to 1946, under Cunard flag then of Cie Gale Transatlantique (French Line), as troop ship, she carries more than 300 000 soldiers, for which she will be honoured by the French War Cross medal.

The stamp never issued


Macdhui is built by Clyde Barclay Curle & Co yards and launched on 23 December 1930. 4561 tonnes, 341 feet long , she links Sydney, Papua and New Guinea. In may 1931, the Australian government uses her to carry war material and troops for the defence of the New Guinea, operating between Sydney and Port Moresby. On 18 June 1942 Port Moresby, where berths Macdhui, is attacked by 17 twin-engine bombers, which dropped approximately 68 bombs.


Launched on 14 may 1931 at La Ciotat on the Indian Ocean line, then on Far East until requisitioned in December 1941 Maréchal Joffre is then armed and refurbished as evacuation ship as US ROCHAMBEAU. She goes back under French flag with her name in April 1945 and is used as troops ship until October 1951. After refurbishment she comes back on commercial service on Indian Ocean and Far East lines then to North Africa, where she carries other combatants. Sold for scrapping on 19/1/1960.

Octagonal cancellation "La Réunion à Marseille ligne n°6" from 23 April 1934 : 
liner Maréchal Joffre. 30 c of minimum tax fee for overseas


Pilsudki is built in 1934 to link Poland to America. 14294 tons, she has accommodation for 370 passengers in tourist class and 400 in Third class. After being on Gdynia-Copenhagen-Halifax-New York line from 1935 to 1939, she hits against a mine in Humber river estuary, on the East coast of  England.

Postcard with complement for foreign country


Requisite by the US navy, MALOLO-MATSONIA-QUEEN FREDERICA carries 176000 people between 41 and 46. 

In 1926, the future designer of United States, realises MALOLO for the Matson company. she becomes the Pacific Ocean’s premier liner, particularly during cruises. She is renamed MATSONIA in 1937 after a refit for 693 First class passengers.

In 48, she is sold to Home Lines. Atlantic commenced a Genoa-New York then Europe-Canada routes. Transferred to the new Greek line, Vasilessa Freideriki links Napoli to Sydney then Cuxhaven to Canada. Chandris anglicises her name ( Queen Frederica ) for Southampton/Australia route then cruises until 77. shows that the funnels paintings on the stamp are fanciful : they are blue with a white X.


Used first as a cruises ship, WILHELM GUSTLOFF (25 484 tons), built for 1865 passengers, is in the Kriegsmarine as hospital ship from 1939. On 30 January 1945, she carries 10582 refugees, soldiers and crews when the soviet submarine SU13 launches 3 torpedoes : in 50 minutes, the liner disappears.


Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving site presents President Coolidge,  Dollar Steamship Line, and sinking histories.

PRESIDENT COOLIDGE  is built in 1929 for Dollar Steamship Line ; she was designed for a maximum of 990 passengers plus 324 crew giving 1312 people. She is powered by turbo-electric as Normandie and  21936 tons. The ship uses to sail between San Francisco and Yokohama until 2 June 1941, when she is taken over by the Maritime Commission as a troop transport, re-fitted for 5000 soldiers. On 26 October 1942, she is "mortally wounded" by a mine at Espirtu Santo, New Hebrides  (today, Vanuatu)


On 5 may 1946, SAGITTAIRE , cargo liner of Messageries Maritimes arrives at Papeete where she carries back Tahitians and New-Caledonians survivors of Pacific battalion.
Launched in 1929 by Bremer Vulcan, she is transferred to Messageries Maritimes in September 1938 and begins on Marseille-Noumea route in April 1939. Then she stays in Antilles from October 1942 to July 1943, where she is requisite by la France Libre. She returns to regular service from march 1946. She will be scrapped in October 1959.

The Tahitian contingent has embarked on 21 April 1941 on board of MONOWAI , built for P&O in 1925 under RAZMAK name, transferred to Union Line in 1930 and requisitioned by the New Zealand Government in 1939. She took also part in the Normandy landings as a Landing Ship (Infantry).


pasteur.jpg (413757 octets)

PASTEUR is built at St Nazaire for Compagnie Sudatlantique. 212,6 m long , 29250 tons, her capacity is 751 passengers in 3 classes. On 2 June 1940, she carries French gold reserve from Brest to Halifax. Taken by the Cunard, she becomes a troop ship. After return under French flag, she continues to carry troops to Indochina. Sold to Norddeutscher Lloyd, she then steams under Bremen name (59-71) then becomes cruise liner Regina Magna (72-74).


Boissevain , designed in 1937 for 844 passengers of Royal Java China Packet, is one of first ships to carry back to Liverpool former war prisoners from Japan. In 1963, she evacuates Tristan da Cunha inhabitants, after a volcanic eruption.


On 2 July 1938, the liner from Anchor Line, CICILIA , steams for her maiden trip to Bombay ; however, from 27 august 1939, she is transformed in a merchant armed cruiser. During 'Job 9' operation in 1942, the liner carries people and supplies to built a meteorological station on Tristan da Cunha island.
In 1944, CICILIA is refitted as troop ship at Mobile, Alabama, carrying 16000 soldiers and prisoners until the end of war.
In 1946, CICILIA becomes back an Anchor Line liner, linking Glasgow and Bombay.


NIAGARA , a 13415 tons liner, has accommodation for 693 passengers in 3 classes ; from 1913, she connected Fiji with Australia, New-Zealand and Canada for Canadian Australasian on monthly trips. Off New-Zealand on 19 June 1940, she struck a mine laid by the German raider Orion ; all passengers and crew were saved.


At St Peter on 21rst Decembre 1944, chartered by par the International Red Cross, VEGA, a Swedish cargo of 1073 tons, carried food parcels, to Guernsey as well as medical and surgical supplies, and clothing for children.. She will made 6 trips before the island Liberation.

JUTLANDIA is a 8.452 tons cargo-passenger vessel for 59 passengers built in 1934 for service between Copenhagen and Bangkok, before and after the war. In 1950, she is converted in a hospital ship of 300 beds, 3 operating rooms, a dental clinic,...She will make 3 voyages between 51 et 53 in Korea.


During Falkland war in 1982, the Royal Navy will mobilize several ships owned by the British P&O and CUNARD (including QUEEN ELIZABETH 2) to carry troops on the operation theatre, not far from Argentinean costs and where aerial transport cannot dispose of  landing terrains.

The  P&O ferry  NORLAND 173,3 m long , 26290 t is built in 1974 at Weser yards in Bremerhaven for 881 passengers at a speed of 18.5 knots. As cruise liners Canberra et UGANDA , she is requisitioned by the Royal Navy during Falkland war.

Canberra is built in 1961 for the England-Australia P&O service. Her 45270 tons are pushed by 2 turbo-electrical engines at more than 27 knots. From 1973 to 1997, she is used as cruise ship, excepted 3 months in 1982 where she serves as troop ship then as hospital. ship.
Smaller, UGANDA (14450 tons) steams under British India Line flag from 1952 to 1967 between London and Mozambique. from 1968, she becomes an educational cruise ship until 1985, with a short break at Falkland islands as hospital ship.


Back to philateliemarine

inscrit au Hit-Parade de
Page created on 18 April 2002

Click below for the pages list 


Add Philateliemarine to your favorites


Sources : 
John Adams Paquebots du monde
Messageries Maritimes :
Erik Philippus Log Book 28-1
Auke Palmhoff Log Book 29-11