National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture LibraryTS Roebuck (II) – Past and Present

TS Roebuck (II)

ex HMS Roebuck II, HMS Roebuck, Roebuck

National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

Steel twin screw turbine vessel, built in 1925 by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd., Newcastle (Yard No. 1204), for Great Western Railway (British Railways)

Technical Data

  • Length: 61.33 m (overall) 64.37 m (between perpendiculars)
  • Breadth: 10.27 m
  • Depth: 4.66 m
  • Draught: m
  • Tonnage: 769 – 776 – 804 gross/304 – 307 – 310 – 315 net/ deadweight
  • Engines: SR 3-cylinder 14 ½” 23” 38”-27” turbines.
  • Power: kW/1250 HP
  • Speed: 13 knots
  • Capacity: 10 passengers (reduced to 8) 550 tons of cargo
  • Call Sign: MNJW
  • IMO Number: 5298559
  • Official Number: 148583
  • Port of Registry: Weymouth/United Kingdom
  • Sister-Ship: Sambur


March 24th 1925: Launched.

April 1925: Completed and delivered to Great Western Railway (British Railways) for their Weymouth – Channel Islands service.

May 19th 1925: Maiden voyage from Weymouth to Jersey.

April 28th 1928: After overhaul at Cardiff ( where two cabins were made for twelve passengers in the space of the officers mess, which was moved to a lower deck) arrived at Guernsey.

May 29th 1940: Upon reaching Weymouth she was requisitioned for immediate service at Dover.

May 31st 1940: Under “Operation Dynamo, The evacuation from Dunkirk” she was ordered to leave Dover for La Penn, nine miles east of Dunkirk. When approaching the coast she was struck in the stern by the HM destroyer WOLSEY, but was able to continue. Taking on board 550 troops, including 45 stretcher cases and 70 other wounded, and sailed for Dover.

© Imperial War Museum

© Imperial War Museum

June 4th 1940: Released from Dover and proceeded to Weymouth to continue Weymouth – Guernsey. After one trip she was again requisitioned.

June 13th 1940: (Operation Cycle – The Evacuations from NW France) With her sister SAMBUR, ordered to sail to within 5 miles of the French coast at St Valery-en-Caux. Upon arrival (during the evacuation of the 51st Highland Division ), the expected naval vessel was not there to issue the correct orders, so, on the assurance of a French fishing vessel that it was safe. Both ships approached the coast. They had sailed into a trap. Concentrated fire from German shore guns enveloped them. ROEBUCK’s hull, bridge and deck were holed, three crew members were killed and one wounded. She managed to escape into the fog and reached Newhaven, where temporary repairs were affected before she sailed.

June 24th 1940: Arrived in Penarth.

National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

St Valery 1940

October 11th 1940: While still in Penarth she was taken up for service with Channel Mobile Balloon Barage service.

November 22nd 1942: Commissioned into the Royal Navy and renamed HMS ROEBUCK.

December 4th 1940: Departed Penarth for escort duties in the English Channel (Duries between the Thames Estuary and the Solent).

March 4th 1941: Collided with the Danish SKJOLD in Southampton Water

June 7th 1941: Slightly damaged underwater during an air attack off Folkestone.

August 21st 1942: Renamed HMS ROEBUCK II to free up the name for a new destroyer.

May 27th 1943: Paid Off and laid up at Southampton, under the name of ROEBUCK again.

May 6th 1944: Left Southampton for refit at Penarth and whilst there was yet again requisitioned for service on the English South Coast.

May 27th 1944: Collided with the HM monitor ROBERTS and had to put into Falmouth.

© Imperial War Museum  © Imperial War Museum

© Imperial War Museum

June 13th 1944: Finally reached her destination of Selsey where she served as an Accommodation Ship at the parking area of the Mulberry harbour “Phoenix” breakwater sections, but by the end of that month she was no longer required.

July 5th 1944: (Store Ship) She was engaged on military sailings from Plymouth and Southampton.

November 5th 1944: At the Mulberry harbour at Arromanches.

November 9th 1944: Left Caen for Southampton

December 3rd 1944: Arrived at Cherbourg.

December 11th 1945: Moved to Havre.

January 13th – 15th 1945: Crossed from Ostend to Southampton.

January 25th 1945: Crossed from Southampton to Calais.

February 11th 1945: Left Southampton for Antwerp on the first of four round trips to the Scheldt.

May 5th 1945: Arrived at Southampton.

June 4th – 5th 1945: Her final crossing from Rouen to Southampton.

June 14th 1945: Left Southampton for refit at Cardiff.

October 13th 1945: Returned to Jersey for the first time.

October 17th 1945: Made her first post-war arrival in the Channel Island.

National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library  National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

January 1st 1948: Acquired by the British Transport Commission.

1960: Started calling at Southampton.

1963: Ceased calling at Southampton.

November 1964: She was disguised as the Norwegian SS GALTESUND for the film “The Heroes of Telemark”.

© Ken Larwood  © Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood

February 27th 1965: Arrived at Weymouth from Guernsey.

National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

July 29th 1965: Sailed to Sheerness having been sold to Lacmots for breaking.

September 17th 1965: Moved to Washer Wharf and resold to breakers at Brussels.

December 1965: Breaking commenced.

All information is believed to be correct and no responsibility is accepted for any errors or omissions. All items included in this article are subject to © copyright. We would like to take this opportunity of thanking: Ken Larwood and National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library for their assistance in producing this feature.

Article © Nigel Thornton and Ray Goodfellow (Dover Ferry Photos Group)

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