British Railways Board (BRB)British Transport Commission (BTC)FerriesGreat Western RailwayPast and PresentWestern Region

TS St Julien – Past and Present

TS St Julien

ex Hospital Carrier 29, St Julien

© National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

Steel twin screw turbine vessel, built in 1925 by John Brown & Company Ltd., Clydebank (Yard No. 509), for the Great Western Railway

Technical Data

  • Length: 88.85 m (overall) 86.15m (between perpendiculars)
  • Breadth: 12.20 m
  • Depth: 4.97 m
  • Draught: 3.96 m
  • Tonnage: 1885 – 1932 – 1943 gross/780 – 811 – 785 net/ deadweight
  • Engines: 4 x SRG steam turbines
  • Power: kW/5,838 S.H.P
  • Speed: 18 knots
  • Capacity: 1,000 passengers
  • Call Sign: GLBV
  • ID Number: 73721 (LR 1948 – 49)
  • Official Number: 148585
  • Port of Registry: Weymouth/United Kingdom
  • Sister-Ship: St Helier


February 23rd 1925: Launched for the Weymouth – Channel Islands service.

May 3rd 1925: Left the Clyde for Weymouth.

May 24th 1925: After delivery to Great Western Railway arrived in the Channel Islands on her maiden voyage.

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

© National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

© National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

© William Macdonald

© William Macdonald (Weymouth with GREAT WESTERN foreground)

June 3rd 1928: Arrived back in the Channel Islands after refit and at the suggestion of the masters in an effort to improve handling the aft funnel was removed. Also had accommodation improvements and had her high aft docking bridge removed.

February 26th 1937: Again returned to service after refit with further improvements to the accommodation, four and a half foot cut from the top of her remaining funnel and with an added cowl.

© National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

© National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

September 9th 1939: Weymouth service suspended owing to the declaration of war.

September 9th 1939: Requisitioned.

September 12th 1939: Left Weyouth bound for Avonmouth from where she made two crossings to St Nazaire with troops.

October 5th 1939: Sailed out of the Bristol Channel to be converted at Southampton. As HOSPITAL CARRIER No. 29 with an army medical staff of 37 and equipped to accommodate 78 lying cases in swing cots and 152 walking patients in berths.

© National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

© National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

November 2nd 1930: Sailed to Newhaven.

November 4th 1939: Crossed to Dieppe where she waited until December 11th.

December 12th 1939: Transported 153 casualties to Newhaven.

May 11th 1940: Directed to Boulogne.

May 12th 1940: Carried 217 patients to Southampton, the first of two such sailings on this route.

© National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

© National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

May 24th 1940: Under “Operation Dynamo, The Evacuation from Dunkirk, Reached Dunkirk as an attack developed and was turned back. Later the same day was again in Dunkirk to embark 220 casualties from ambulances and a hospital train. Sailed for Newhaven and came under fire from the shore but this stopped when her Red Cross markings were illuminated.

May 26th /27th /and 29th 1940: Further crossings but no wounded to embark: the ship was bombed and machine gunned on the third outward crossing and this caused damage to her engines and fittings.

May 31st 1940: Embarked 21 naval personnel and sailed to Dunkirk. Stretcher cases had to be carried a considerable distance to her, but nevertheless, 247 patients, suffering from gunshot wounds and bomb and shell injuries, had been taken on board before she made her final departure for Newhaven.

June 9th 1940: Under “Operation Aerial, The Evacuations from NW France” Newhaven to Cherbourg and she brought back 180 casualties, as well as the nursing sisters from an army hospital.

June 18th 1940: Having left Newhaven for Plymouth continued to Brest but air attacks caused her to be ordered back without entering the harbour.

July 12th 1940: Left for the Clyde.

December 3rd 1940: Having not been employed she was allocated to the Scapa area and to cover the patient shuttle service to Aberdeen.

October 3rd 1941: With DINARD arrived at Newhaven for a prisoner of war exchange which failed to materialise.

January 22nd 1942: Sent to Belfast Lough.

January 23rd /24th 1942: Conveyed 223 from Bangor Pier to Liverpool, but otherwise was little used.

August 28th 1942: Arrived at Loch Ewe to care for sick patients on board ships in the anchorage.

November 11th 1942: Arrived in the \Clyde for alterations of her lifeboats and the fitting of electric winches for the boat davits. When this work was done she went to Orkney.

May 22nd 1943: Returned to the Clyde. Newly equipped with six water ambulances – four able to accommodate six stretchers each, and two five each – she carried out exercises in the collection and embarkation of casualties.

June 25th 1942: Under “Operation Husky, Avalanche and Shingle, The Landings at Salerno and Anzio”, Sailed from Glasgow for the Mediterranean.

June 26th 1942: Called at Falmouth.

June 30th – July 6th 1942: At Gibraltar.

July 8th 1942: Arrived at Philippeville, Algeria.

July 10th 1942: Left Malta for “Operation Husky” to anchor five miles off the Sicilian Bark West beach-head.

July 11th 1942: Moved closer in to start embarkation using her water ambulances.

July 17th 1942: Left for Sousse (Tunisia) with 91 stretcher cases and 39 walking patients. At the start of a shuttle service between fighting areas and the North African hospital facilities.

August 17th 1942: Her water ambulances were rushed to a ship off Bone.

August 20th 1942: Moved 205 hospital personnel from Sousse to Augusta in Sicily.

September 4th 1942: The day after “Operation Avalanche, the Landings at Sicily” evacuated 219 wounded from Salerno Bay to Bone, then returned to the Italian port of Sapri.

January 22nd 1944: Left Naples for Operation Shingle (Landings at Anzio).

January 23rd 1944: Anchored five miles off Anzio’s Peter-beach-head, while her water ambulances carried stretchers, blankets, pyjamas and medical stores to the shore.

February 2nd 1944: Suffered a collision in the Gulf of Naples.

February 5th 1944: Carried three US Army surgical teams from Naples to Anzio.

April 8th 1944: After dry-docking at Taranto departed for the UK.

April 20th 1944: Arrived back in Britain at Penarth. She again resumed hospital ship duties around the British coast.

June 7th 1944: Damaged by a mine. She had a hole 10 ft square extending from the keel to the water line.

June 28th 1944: Repaired and back in service.

July 21st 1944: Again damaged, this time in a collision which tore open her port sideck to just above the water line. Repaired at Southampton.

© National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

July 1944, Loading patients at the prefabricated harbour at Arromanches

December 1st 1946: Arrived back at the Channel Island after refit at Penarth, sporting a red funnel with a thick black top-band and a forecastle smartened up with a strake of white.

© National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

© National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

Courtesy of Kevin Hoggett

New” Courtesy of Kevin Hoggett

January 1st 1948: Transferred to the Western Region fleet.

June 1st 1948: When she returned to service her funnel was yellow and the hull had an extra strake of white.

© National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library  © William Macdonald

© National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library. (Left) © William Macdonald (Right)

November 1st 1948: Transferred form the Western Region to Southern Region (BTC)

September 8th 1957: Replaced BRITTANY on a day excursion from Jersey – St Malo.

September 27th 1960: Made her last trip from the Channel Islands. She sailed bedecked with bunting and, at St Peter Port, her name pennant was presented to the Maritime Museum. Then to lay up.

April 1961: Sold to Belgian breakers.

April 14th 1961: Arrived in Ghent.

1963 (late): Reported to be in use for Dockyard workers at Walcheren.

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 thank: Kevin Hoggett, William Macdonald and the National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library for their assistance in compiling this feature.

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

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