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British Legion
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HM TROOPSHIP DORSETSHIRE

Researched & Copyright © Martin Edwards 2008

HM Troopship Dorsetshire was a Bibby Line ship built in 1920 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 7450grt, a length of 450ft 4in, a beam of 57ft 4in and a service speed of 12 knots. One of a pair she was designed with higher than normal 'tween deck clearance so that she could be converted into a troopship if required. When launched on 22nd April 1920 she was the largest motorship at the time and was completed as a tin ore carrying cargo ship. In 1927 the 5 year trooping contract was renewed and to cater for the increased demand the cargo ships Dorsetshire, and here sister ship Shropshire, were converted into permanent troopships by Vickers at Barrow in Furness as a result of which her tonnage was increased to 9345grt. During this period troopships retained their company livery. She had accommodation for 112 1st, 58 2nd, 108 families in 3rd and 1,450 troops. In September 1939 she was converted into HM Hospital Ship No. 23 with beds for 493 patients and accommodation for 59 medical staff. On 31st January 1941, during a voyage to Tobruk to evacuate troops, she was, despite her markings, attacked outside Sollum in Libya. Although the enemy had been advised that she was a Geneva Convention ship she was attacked again on 1st February. On 12th July 1943 she was bombed and received superficial damage when 13 miles from Cape Passero while supporting the Allied invasion of Sicily which had commenced on the 9th July. She was decommissioned on 8th March 1948 and rebuilt by Harland & Wolff to accommodate tourists, returning to Bibby Line in November 1949. On 11th December 1949 she sailed from Liverpool bound for Australia with 550 passengers and back in Bibby Line livery after 21 years. When the citizens at Adelaide wished to send food parcels back to Britain they were refused because of the cost of becoming a 'cargo' ship made the transit of the Suez Canal too expensive. With her sister she was used to repatriate Dutch civilians from Indonesia. During 1952 she was used as a hostel ship for workmen building the Little Aden oil refinery and on 12th May 1953 sailed from Liverpool with troops bound for Korea. She was laid up in the following August and broken up in 1954.

Last updated 28 October, 2008

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