Five days before the declaration of war in 1939, the Duchess of Bedford was chartered for a trooping voyage to Bombay, and on January 5, 1940 resumed Liverpool - St John NB - Halifax voyages, being used on the Eastbound crossings to ferry Canadian troops to Britain. In August 1940 she commenced the first of three voyages to Suez via Freetown and Cape Town. In November 1941 she left Liverpool on a 5 month voyage which took her to Singapore with 4000 Indian troops and 40 nurses. Arriving at the end of January 1942,she embarked 875 women and children for evacuation to Batavia, Java. Although attacked on several occasions, she was not seriously damaged, and arrived at Liverpool on April 2, 1942. After two trips to Cape Town, she sailed from Liverpool for Boston on August 7, 1942 and on August 9, sighted a U-Boat and sank her by gunfire (with a 6" gun made almost 30 years before). She possibly damaged another U-Boat too. She was later used in the North African landings and shot down an enemy aircraft in November 1943. She was also used inthe Sicily and Salerno landings and various trooping voyages, and prisoner of warrepatriations. As a troopship, she carried 179,000 servicemen and women and civilians, almost all over the world, and covered more than 400,000miles.
The Duchess of Bedford, Empress of France
Arrival at Liverpool in May 1928, the Duchess of Bedford was the largest cabin-class steamship at that time. (L.N.A.)
The Duchess of Bedford pictured in the Mersey in June 1928, ready for her maiden voyage.