Fishguard & Rosslare Railways and HarboursGreat Western RailwayPast and Present

TS St David (II) – Past and Present

TS St David (II)

ex Hospital Carrier No. 27, St David (II)

Roy Thornton Collection

St David (II) – Roy Thornton Collection

Steel twin screw turbine vessel, built in 1932 by Cammell Laird & Co., Birkenhead (Yard No.982), for Great Western Railway (British Railways)

Technical Data

  • Length: 99.73 m (overall) m (between perpendiculars)
  • Breadth: 14.23 m
  • Depth: m
  • Draught: 5.39 m
  • Tonnage: 2702 gross/1116 net/1660 under deck
  • Engines: 4 steam turbines SR geared
  • Power: kW/1590HP
  • Speed: 21 knots
  • Capacity: 1,050 passengers
  • Call Sign: GPYD
  • ID Number (LR 1935 -36): 32938
  • Official Number: 162688
  • Port of Registry: London
  • Sister-Ship: St Andrew (II)


December 10th 1931: Launched

1932: Delivered to Great Western Railway (British Railways) for their Fishguard – Rosslare service. Although managed by G.W.R. she was built for the Fishguard and Rosslare Railways and Harbours Company.

September 24th 1939: Ended her Fishguard – Rosslare service.

September 25th 1939: Arrived at Southampton to be fitted out as HOSPITAL CARRIER No. 27.

October 4th 1939: Moved to Newhaven.

November 12th 1939: Made her only medical crossing of the year from Cherbourg to Newhaven.

1940 (early): Made “carried patients” only once a month including the following:

January 5th 1940: Dieppe – Newhaven

February 22nd 1940: Cherbourg – Newhaven.

April 13th – 14th 1940: Boulogne – Southampton.

May 25th 1940: First crossing to Dunkirk. Embarked 396 patients and left for Newhaven.

May 28th 1940: Returned to Dunkirk.

May 29th 1940: Sailed for Newhaven with 118 wounded.

Roy Thornton Collection

Dunkirk May 1940

May 30th 1940: Due to sail but her Captain was taken ill and, in view of the attacks on hospital carriers, her crew refused to sail without guns or escort.

May 31st 1940: Sailed once more but could not enter Dunkirk.

June 1st 1940: Forced to leave Dunkirk without patients. (Attacked by aircraft 7 times on the voyage back to Dover).

June 1st 1940: Arrived in Dover.

Whilst at anchor she was rocked by the spontaneous explosion of a magnetic mine a short distance from her port quarter. Her compasses were rendered useless, her port engine put out of action and her capstan wrecked.. She would take no further part in the evacuation.

June 2nd 1940: Left Dover for repairs at Southampton.

July 16th 1940: Able to sail and headed for Preston, where she remained.

September 11th 1941: Required at Loch Ewe to serve as hospital ship cases fro naval and merchant ships.

December 9th 1941: Left Loch Ewe for Mersey and dry-docking and repairs.

January 24th 1942: Sailed north to the Clyde, where three days later she dragged her anchors in Holy Loch and suffered damage to two lifeboats in a collision with the Dutch vessel THESEUS.

May 12th 1941: Her training exercises were interrupted to enable her to take patients from the liner AQUITANIA to Belfast.

August 21st 1941: Whilst in the Gourock anchorage fire broke out in the engine room and raged for 1 ½ hours.

Roy Thornton Collection

Loch Fyne December 1942

Roy Thornton Collection

Loch Fyne December 1942

January 31st 1943: Back on Loch Ewe duty.

Roy Thornton Collection

May 15th 1943: Sailed to the Clyde for improvements and to receive water ambulances in preparation for her departure for the Mediterranean.

June 25th 1943: Sailed for the Mediterranean.

June 1943: Based at Malta together with the ST. ANDREW (II).

July 7th 1943: Arrived at Philippeville in Algeria for July 10th “Operation Husky” landings, was anchored off Sicily to take casualties to Sousse.

Over the following five months, she was part of a shuttle service for wounded troops, which took the ship to Syracuse, Catania and Palermo in Sicily, and following the “Operation Avalanche” assault on the Italian mainland, to Naples and Bari.

January 24th 1944: Two days after the Anzio Landings (Operation Shingle), the ships near the beach-head were subjected to three air attacks spread over two hours. During the first of these she was 20 miles out to sea carrying patients from Anzio: she was hit by bombs and sank within 5 minutes. ST. ANDREW (II) picked up many of the survivors. In total she had carried over 6,000 patients and steamed some 25,000 miles as a Hospital Carrier.

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)

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