British Transport Commission (BTC)Eastern regionFerriesLondon & North Eastern RegionPast and Present

TS Antwerp – Past and Present

Official Number: 131907

TS Antwerp

Ex HMS Antwerp, Antwerp


Steel twin screw turbine vessel, built in 1920 by John Brown & Co, Ltd., Clydebank (Yard No. 493), for Great Eastern Railway.

Technical Data

  • Length: 98.43 m (overall) m (between perpendiculars)
    Breadth: 13.14 m
    Depth: 7.83 m
    Draught: 4.07 m
    Tonnage: 2957 gross/1285 net/2373t deadweight
    Engines: 4 Brown/Curtis single reduction geared turbines
    Power: kW/1476 bHP
    Speed: 21 knots
    Capacity: 1,500 passengers
    Call Sign:
    ID Number (Lloyds Reg 1930 – 31): 64219
  • Official Number: 131907
    Port of Registry: Harwich/UK 🇬🇧
    Near Sister Ships: Bruges (494), Malines (972)


October 26th 1919: Launched.

March 1920: Delivered to Great Eastern Railway and entered service between Harwich – Antwerp.

Antwerp – (Harwich when new)

Made occasional trips on the Hook of Holland route.

January 1st 1923: Taken over by London & North Eastern Region.

June 28th 1928: Fitted with gramophones!

July 9th 1932: Damaged by a collision in fog off Zeebrugge.


1939: Acted as a hotel ship for Royal Navy personnel at Parkeston Quay.

January 12th 1940: Ordered to leave Harwich.

January 13th 1940: Reached Southampton.


January 16th 1940: Left for Cherbourg at the start of a programme of regular troop-carrying crossings to the port and Le Havre.

February 23rd 1940: Damaged part of her Main Deck and belting in contact with the tanker ENERGIE in Southampton Water.

June 4th 1940: Reached Weymouth on the first of three round trips evacuating British troops from Cherbourg and repatriating French servicemen (Operations Clyde and Aerial) who had been rescued from Dunkirk.

June 12th 1940: Ordered to assist the escape of British army units stranded at St Valery-en-Caux but, when fog disrupted the rescue, she was directed to St Malo.

June 15th 1940: At St Malo embarked 1,340 and transported them to Southampton.

June 20th 1940: Left Guernsey on the first of two crossings carrying evacuees to Weymouth.

June 23rd 1940: Left Weymouth Quay for the Clyde, to lay at anchor in Gareloch.

November 8th 1940: Left the Clyde.

November 14th 1940: Arrived in the Bristol Channel.

November 22nd 1940: Commissioned as HMS ANTWERP.

November 24th 1940: Sent from Avonmouth to Milford Haven with troops under Combined Operations training.

December 8th 1940: Exercises complete she left for South Shields, where work to equip the ship as a Convoy Escort was put in hand.


July 1941: She was offered as a Fast Supply Ship for the movement of army stores in the Mediterranean.

October 15th 1941: Left Londonderry. On the way to Capetown it was discovered that her 4 inch gun mounting was defective and needed attention thereby delaying her.

December 23rd 1941: Reached her new home base of Alexandria. It was immediately decided that her primary use would be as a troop carrier but, when not required in that capacity, she would serve as Convoy Escort, being considerably larger than most auxiliary patrol vessels but too lightly armed to be classified as an armed merchant cruiser.

January 5th 1942: Her first assignment was a troop-carrying sailing to Benghazi (Libya).

January 16th 1942: Visited Tobruk as a Convoy Escort.

January 31st 1942: Again visited Tobruk when she carried 370 personnel.

February 9th 1942: While off the North African coast she was subjected to air attack but an evasive course change resulted in the torpedoes passing harmlessly down her starboard side.

She was less fortunate several days later when an air raid on Tobruk harbour resulted in superficial damage to her bulkheads and deck fittings.

March – April 1942: Carried out a military exchange between Haifa and Famagusta, before lifting two Indian brigades from Alexandria to relieve those in Cyprus.

June 13th 1942: Set out from Alexandria as escort for a Malta convoy, which was heavily attacked and failed to get through. She was detached to take survivors from the bombed convoy to Tobruk.

July (early) 1942; Transported RAF  personnel from Alexandria to Port Said.

July (late): Made a series of visits to Cyprus, landing 6,100 troops there despite a mine exploding in the Famagusta swept channel on July 20th.

August 17th 1942: During a further Cyprus troop movement, the troopship PRINCESS MARGUERITE, which she was escorting, fell victim to a U-boat torpedo.

Princess Marguerite (Toronto Public Library)

August 1942: For the remainder of the moth she acted as troopship in helping to change the Cyprus garrison.

September 1942 (mid): Arrived in Alexandria from Port Said for alterations to enable her to carry six light landing craft.

October – November 1942: Her duties for the following six months included troop exchanges between Beirut and Famagusta.

December 1942: A voyage from Alexandria to Benghazi acting as escort for PRINCESS KATHLEEN carrying military labour corps

January 1943: Landed the main naval base party in Tripoli

© Imperial War Museum (IWM FL822)

Antwerp – © Imperial War Museum (IWM FL822)(1943)

March 26th 1943: Arrived at Alexandria for refit. Large scale alterations were made to the ship’s bridge; new radar, gyro compasses and additional wireless telegraphy were installed, as was accommodation for 92 extra officers and ratings.

May 25th 1943: Sea trials.

June 5th 1943: Joined Combined Operations exercises being conducted in the Gulf of Aqaba, in preparation for the planned amphibious assault on Sicily (Operation Husky).

June 25th 1943: Left Alexandria for Malta.

June 9th 1943: (Task Force flagship) Embarked Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay and Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, Chief of Combined Operations, to witness the massive and converging convoys, from the Middle East, UK and North Africa, assigned to carry out the landings the following day.

July 10th 1943: She was in the Eastern Task Force area south of Syracuse,

July 11th 1943: General Montgomery went ashore in Sicily from ANTWERP, which remained in the area until the end of the month.

August (first half) 1943: Heavily engaged as escort and troopship, transferring servicemen between Beirut and Famagusta.

September 9th 1943: (Operations Avalanche and Dragoon). For the first operations on mainland Italy she primarily acted as Air-Sea Rescue Ship, cruising in the area about half way between Palermo and Salerno: she also served as an escort, mobile lighthouse, hotel and transport.

October 1943: Became the Commodores flagship.

December (early) 1943: Sent from Algiers to act as Fighter Direction Ship, to enable Allied aircraft to intercept air attacks on convoys.

1944 (first half): Served as Convoy Escort in Eastern Mediterranean and generally unscathed in enemy action.

June 10th 1944: Central storeroom ablaze for over five hours,

August 15th 1944: Sailed from Naples to serve once again as Air Sea Rescue Ship for the Operation Dragoon  landings in Southern France.

October 1944: Consideration was given to her suitability for service in the Far East but her limited endurance and the need for extensive tropicalisation refit ruled this out.

October 1944: Return to the UK postponed and she was in Khios.

November 1944: In Piraeus and Syros.

January 12th 1945: Relieved HMS KIMBERLEY (F50) at Kalamanta (Greece).

© IWM FL 2552

HMS Kimberley – © IWM FL 2552

February 1945: Final task in the Mediterranean was as Air Sea Rescue Ship in conjunction with RAF PINNACE 1267.

February 10th 1045: Left Alexandria.

March 3rd 1945: Arrived at Plymouth.

April 6th 1945: Arrived at Liverpool and was “Paid Off”.

1945: Redelivered to London & North Eastern Region

1945: Having been converted she came into service as a chartered peacetime troopship ship on the Harwich – Hook of Holland route.

September 17th 1945: Arrived at Harwich from Liverpool.

September 19th 1945: First trip ex Harwich.

May 1st 1950: Last trip ex Hook of Holland. Then laid up on the buoys of Parkeston Quay awaiting sale.

April 26th 1951: Sailed in tow from Parkeston Quay to the breakers. Scrapped at Milford Haven by T.W. Ward Bros.

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.

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

One Comment

  1. Thank you Nigel ! Always amazes where these ships travelled to in their lifetime!
    I see she broke Records June 28th 1928
    Reading Ben Ogley”s book ” Kent A Chronicle of the Century” it records that on February 12th 1927, ten vessels collided and three sank because of fog, doe not mentions which ships, out of curiosity any ideas?

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