Red Ensign

home | page0 | page1 | page2 | page3 | page4 | page5 | page6 | page7 | page8 | page9 | page10 | page10 | page10 | page13



I am sorry if I don't get back to everyone but I seem to have less time than ever lately, I will try and update your emails as soon as possible


14 March 2013

Hello Harry - My friends Uncle Lionel Paten filmed Duchess of Bedford leaving the Clyde in the first Convoy of the 2nd World War ...

It's in colour and I have transferred it to DVD - I wondered if the group would like a copy? The ship moves along the Clyde and Queen Elizabeth is being fitted out ... may be be good for the Glasgow museum?

All the best
Brian Pearce
Volunteer & Chair of the Railworld Trustees.
Registered Charity 291515
Mobile 07746922707
Please support our work

15 March 2013

I have a question about the SS Duchess of Bedford in 1940, my father served on H.M.S Orion and in 1940 the ship was returning the ashes of Lord Tweedsmuir to the UK and as I gather also escorting the Duchess of Bedford. You have listed H.M.S Orion as S.S Orion are they the same ship?
V Cockle.

17 February 2013

Hi Harry,
A very interesting site. It must take a lot of time to collate all the information and load it up. Well done.
I do have a question if you could be of assistance.
I am doing some Genealogical research and I note in the Football Team photo a chap called Humphries.
Would his name be Harry Humphries ( Humphreys) by any chance.

The Harry Humphreys I am researching  was on the DoB for many many journeys and was working in the position A/Cab,D on  2 Feb 1944 on the trip Liverpool to NY.

Would you by any chance have any other photographs of the Crew especially Humphries/Humphreys

Many Thanks
Roger Wilson
Brisbane Australia

31 January 2013

I was researching my father's history as a pilot in WWII. He flew a P-47, 373rd Fighter Group, 9th Air Force. A source I have read said he and his group sailed from the New York Port of Embarkation to Great Britian, leavin on March 23, 1944 on this ship. I did not see this on your site in the 1944 section. Just wondering if what I read in my research was incorrect or if it was just left out on your site.

My father's name was Irwin T. Hollowell.

Thanks for your help.

Robert Hollowell

9 November 2012


    I appreciate your timely response.
As a matter off interest my friend does recall being on a watch list with other members of the RCAF on board. Supplementing the ship's crew keeping a lookout for submarine periscopes he says, "but better than being down below feeling woozy"!


05 November 2012

          I live in Canada in Nova Scotia. I've a 95 year old friend currently in hospital here in a town called Bridgewater. He's a WW2 war veteran having served in the RCAF. Reminiscing, he recalls sailing in the Duchess of Bedford with his squadron from Halifax in February, 1940. His recollections appear to be pretty accurate but one puzzles me. The crew he says, we're mostly Australians. Keeping in mind his age, is it possible this could in fact be true?
             Peter J. Drage

18 march 2012

I wonder if you can help me, Im trying to get a passnger list off the DUCHESS of Bedford. We had relations who emigrated to Canada, they arrived at Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada on May 5th 1929, there names were Thomas Levison and his wife Barbara (Orr). They were formerly for the North East of England, any help would be most appreciated, thank you
E Patrick

15 March 2012

I find your article fascinating -my grandfather -sailed for many years with Canadian pacific -Herbert james Ferguson DSC and commanded Duchess of Bedford on the 10 December 1939 trip with the first contingent of Canadian troops -he had also commanded montcalm and Montrose during the 30's but I have little information re specifics of his service  _ believe he retired from CP in 1940 when he would have been @60.

If you have any information I would be grateful

25 February 2012

Have just come across your WebPage,  as I  have been looking for info’ on the ‘Duchess of Richmond’. My search is for my B-in-law who was on this ship returning to Liverpool in Nov 1941. He was hospitalised in Apapa/Lagos with Malaria. Not sure if this e-mail will reach you , so will wait to see if there is a response. Thank’s for any info’ you may have.

Best regards.  Eric Skean.

18 February 2012

Hello Harry,

Your extremely helpful web site has raised my hopes about finding out some details of a trip when I was 4 years old on the Duchess of Bedford.

My mother, Philippa Polson, brought to Canada my (then) infant brother, Alan Murray Polson, and I (Lois Jenny Polson) to escape the bombs.  I believe the trip was in June, 1940, and I am not sure whether we landed in Halifax, Quebec City or Montreal.

Would it be possible to find passenger lists of trips westward across the Atlantic on the Duchess of Bedford at that time? The family story has it that we were in a convoy and that one of the ships with passengers was torpedoed - or maybe it was a ship in a following convoy - because we befriended a young girl my age, Patsy, whose parents were on the torpedoed ship. She stayed with us in Montreal afterwards for a while. Ring any bells?

Thanks so much for the web site and for any pointers that you could pass on to me.


7 February 2012

Hi Harry,

Great website; my Grandfather, Petty Officer G L B Simmons, was an Ordnance Artificer with the 60th Landing Craft Assault Flotilla and was on board the SS Duchess of Bedford during ‘Operation Husky’ (the Sicily landings) and ‘Operation Avalanche (the Salerno landings).  If you, or indeed anyone else for that matter, is familiar with that name or has any further information related to the ship’s movements during this time, I’d be extremely interested to read about it. 



20 January 2012

I was reviewing the papers owned by my Father, John Amos Lasseter, Sr. recently and noticed his "bust papers" from August 1942.  He was busted for carving M.O.W. on the railing of his troop ship.  He was fined $5 and busted to Private from Corporal.  The  paper is from:  Headquarters, 1214, Office of the Commanding Officer, S.S. "Duchess of Bedford".  By order of Colonel McCullouch.

I wonder if that carving was ever noticed during the following years

22 May 2011

Dear Harry,

Re: S C Haswell RASC Army No 242482

I have viewed your web site with great interest. I am compiling the WW2 war memories of my late father, Sam C Haswell, who served in the Royal Army Service Corps. After being called up and completing his intial training, he joined the SS Duchess of Bedford on 10 November 1941.

According to his diary, the ship left dock on 11 November 1941 and anchored in the Mersey. It set sail at 1.30pm on 12 November 1941. It dropped anchor at 4.38pm on 27 November 1941 in Freetown.  The next entry records the arrival at Durban on 18 December 1941 and docking at 7.30am on 19 December 1941. The ship left Durban at 6.30am on 23 December 1941.

There my father's account of the voyage ends, and his next diary starts in May 1942 in the Holy Land (Damascus and Sea of Galilea). The rest of his war was spent in the Middle East, North Africa and Italy.

I would love to have any information as to where the Duchess of Bedford went after Durban, in order to work out how my father arrived at the Holy Land. Obviously I would also love to hear from any of my father's army colleagues or their descendants. I have a lot of army photos, which I would be happy to share with them.

20 February 2011

My dad sailed on this ship from Liverpool to Quebec when he was 8 years old in 1934. He asked me to e-mail you as he doesn’t use a computer.

He told me a couple funny stories this morning about that trip. He wanted to bury at sea two toy soldiers he had brought aboard. He sat on the deck and dangled his feet over the edge. He got his head stuck between the bars of the railing as he watched his toy soldiers going to their watery graves. It took several crew members to free him. Later that night at dinner, the steward asked what he would like for dinner “sir”. He felt very important being called that. He ordered the leg of lamb. He was quite upset when he only got two slices of meat on a plate. He said “I ordered a leg of lamb, where is my leg of lamb?” He said everyone laughed and laughed about it.

One more thing,

My dad and his parents traveled back and forth to England from North America several times. My dad’s parents were English and my dad was born in Tacoma, WA. He still lives in Tacoma.

To get to England, they took a ship to Vancouver, BC, then a train across Canada to Montreal where they would board ship for crossing the Atlantic. That is the way they would return to the Pacific Northwest as well.

On his first trip across the Atlantic from Montreal, my dad was on the Mauritania which was the sister ship to the Lusitania.


19 February 2011


My father John M. Gellerman passed away in January of this year.  I was going through  his papers and found the attached document.  He sailed from New York in February of 1944 on the S.S. Duchess of Bedford.    He was in the Battery A 481st Anti Aircraft Artillery Automatic Weapon Battalion.

I am not sure what information you are looking for, but my husband found your web-site looking for information.

Let me know if you have additional questions.  Thank you

Click to view document

1 December 2010


My father was purser/asst purser for many years on the CPS
ships,predominately the Bedford which he served on so far as I know
throughout the war.

It may be of some interest to you to know, I hold the general voyage
report 153/4 for the evacuation of Singapore, 5/11/41 to 3/4/42..Also
there is the Straits Settements Port Clearance timed 13.00hrs 31.1.42.

Hope this  of interest to you

26 November 2010

I was a GI who boarded the Duchess of Bedford in New York Harbor
heading for Scotland.  She was well scarred from the evacuation of
Dunkirk at the time and found it difficult to sleep in her hammocks.  I
ended up sleeping on her tables.  Just out of the harbor we got a UBoat
scare and the British Corvettes ran up and down our convoy dropping
depth charges.  I sat on those tables and watch the inside of the hull
shake, rattle and roll but we made it.  It had a Canadian crew and terrible cooks.
I will never forget that ship.

23 November 2010

I have in my posession a collection of original kodak cine reels from
1924 which im looking to sell.Amongst these there is one that contains
the launch of the duchess of bedford ,there may be more on the other
reels but only one box is marked duchess of bedford and because of
their age i dont want to damage them.This is someones collection that i
found in the loft of my first house and is in a very old original box
thats why i believe there may be more footage on the other reels so if you know anyone who may
be interested in this little piece of history please get in contact.                

20 November 2010

Harry - I came across your web site about the Duchess of Bedford. I am
wondering if you can help me find a relative who worked on that ship in
1928. The only information I have on that person is the name - W.
Edwards who was a staff steward on the ship on December 17, 1928. This
person is a long lost cousin. I cannot locate a web site for ship crews
for this period in time.

25 October 2010

I have read with interest the emails and letters on your website.
My grandfather was Captain of the Duchess for a period during WW2 and
was the ship's master when it sunk a U-Boat in 1942. I have inherited
some of his possessions from that period, including the OBE he received
for this action.
He had previously been master of the Empress of Britain, perhaps
Canadian Pacific's finest inter-war liner.

7 September 2010

I came across your website when I was checking for information on the
Duchess of Bedford. I left Liverpool in Nov 1944 and arrived in Bombay 
and then travelling on to Burma and eventually finishing up in Rangoon
Junev 1945.. I remained in Rangoon until my demob number came up and
left Rangoon in Nov arriving in Liverpool December 1946.
I have obtained a reference number BT 26/1218/175 which I think gives
accessto the Passenger List for that journey. Can you tell me where I
may be able to obtain a copy of that list? I would be most grateful for
any in information. I may be listed as Sergeant Robert W Johnson.
I have downloaded a photo copy of the Duchess of Bedford for my records.

5 July 2010

Thanks for all the info.  I have several photographs of my maternal
grandmother, Jane Loggan and my mother, Margaret Loggan aboard this ship.
They emigrated from England to Canada aboard the DofB arriving at
Quebec City on May 31, 1930.  I've enclosed the photographs!
The first is my 1 year old mother's landing card dated May 30, 1930. 
As you can see, they travelled 3rd class.
The second is My grandmother, Jane Loggan (with the glasses), and
unknown woman and my very little mother in front of a Duchess of Bedford life ring.
The third is on board the ships with a group of new friends.  My
grandmother has my mom on her knee in the front row.  It is erroneously
marked 1931 in the corner.

Click to view images

31 May 2010

Hi I am trying to track down the following name Radclife Durk, I belive
he was a Captain at some date My sister has photoes of him with the
then King & Queen disembarking Durk being my mothers maiden name I
allso have  a Broacch which my mother wore for many years given to her
by radclif   any Help!!! Please

14 May 2010

Dear Harry,

I came across your very interesting web site  recently.

My Mother (now 85) sailed to Canada on the SS Duchess of  Bedford in
1940 and having mentioned your web site to her, she has kindly  written
some notes which I hope you will find informative - some of this 
certainly came as new information to me!

Mum is not a "silver surfer" and I haven't as yet had the  chance to
let her see your site but will do so as soon as possible.

Here is a transcript of the notes Mum has given me, together  with my
own comments as appropriate.

My Mother was born Violet Gladys Gilby (now Mann) in Bedford Hospital 
on 16th March 1925 and lived with her older sister and their parents in
a small but historic cottage in the village of Blunham, 8 miles east of

My Grandfather had fought in the First World War but found it difficult
to get  work during the depression, so things were not easy when my
Mother was growing up. Their tiny cottage had no electricity or running
water and, because they couldn't afford the bus fares and didn't  have
cycles, Mum and her sister walked the 2 miles to and from school in 
the neighbouring small town of Sandy each day. Leaving School at age 
fourteen, Mum then began work at the Bridge Hotel in Bedford.

One of my Grandfather's sisters had married and emigrated to Canada
and, at  least relative to my Grandfather, were doing well such that
they wrote in 1939  and asked if one of the two girls would like to come over to stay
- initially  for a year. Mums older sister May (also happily still with
us) declined, not  wanting to leave home, so it was Mum that took up
the offer.

Having never really  travelled further than about 10 miles from her own
village, to describe this as  something of an adventure for a 14
year-old girl travelling alone would be a  huge understatement I think.

Mum takes up the story.

I was due to visit my Aunt and Uncle in Montreal, Canada,  staying for
just 1 year, in September 1939. However, due to the outbreak of war  on
September 3rd all sailings were delayed or cancelled and in the event I
didn't arrive in Canada until March 1940, having waited for advice from
Canadian Pacific of when I could travel.

Without a passport, but with just a photo identity card,  one suitcase
and my gas mask, I travelled on my own from Bedford St Johns  Station,
changing trains I think at Rugby, to Liverpool Lime Street Station. At 
Lime Street, I was met by a male Canadian Pacific official who put me
onto a bus  for which I had to pay 1d (one penny) and he asked the
driver to drop me off at the Liver Buildings.

Getting off the bus, I crossed the busy road and went into the  side
entrance of the Liver Buildings to reception and then, for the very
first time in my life, travelled by elevator to an upper floor. There,
a lady  official of Canadian Pacific took care of me. This may have
been on the last day of February 1940.

After a long wait, I left the front entrance of the Liver  Building,
and was taken by the official across the road to the dock where, with 
her, I boarded the ship and, sadly, had to give up my gas mask. I was
then introduced to a stewardess who looked after me for the rest of the
voyage. It  was only at this stage that I learned the name of the ship
I was to travel on which was, of course, the "Duchess of Bedford".

I believe there were four similar Canadian Pacific "Duchess"  ships and
that some others were lost during the war. As far as I can remember, 
we travelled on our own, with no convoy, to St John, New Brunswick. We
were not  of course able to sail up the St Lawrence to Montreal at that
time of year because, as I came to know well, the river is frozen
solid. We arrived overnight at St John and were seen by immigration
officials there in the early hours of the morning.

I travelled third class on the ship and shared a very nice  cabin with
a girl of 21 who was returning home to Canada. We had mahogany bunk 
beds (one on each side) with beautiful mahogany wardrobes with long
mirrors, a  wash basin with hot and cold running water and a deep red
carpet. As a poor country girl used to living in a 250 year-old cottage
I had never seen such luxury! Also, the food on board was very good -
despite our dinner landing  up on the floor one evening during rough
weather. I also remember the dining chairs and tables being chained to
the floor.

I enjoyed my time on the ship and had my first experience of  Bingo
(then called Housey-Housey) on board. I only played the once as it was
one shilling each time and my very limited funds did not permit. (You
would need to pay me to play Bingo nowadays)!

I first set foot on Canadian soil at about 3.00 in the morning  on
March 8th 1940, before boarding the Boat Train for Montreal. It was
quite a slow journey and we had stops at the borders of the State of
Maine for American

officials to come on board. They almost ignored me with just the one
suitcase and no money to speak of, apart from one white £5 note sewn by
my relations  inside my vest!

On the train journey, I couldn't understand how everywhere was  covered
in such deep snow, with so many, many thousands of fir trees and the 
sight of ships and boats which looked as though they were stuck in

After the longest train journey of my life, I arrived in Windsor Station,
Montreal at about 6.30 p.m. and celebrated my 15th Birthday just a week

I then spent eight and a half years living in Montreal with my  Aunt
and Uncle and working as a Comptometer Operator (its a kind of
mechanical calculating machine) until I was able to get a passage home
again on the Cunard ship 'Ascania'. She had been working as a troop
ship during the war, so the returning accommodation was not up to the
standards of  the 'Duchess of Bedford'. After that, I vowed I would
never travel Cunard Line again, but of course I've subsequently enjoyed
seven voyages aboard QE2 over the years and wish she was still in
Just a year after the 'Duchess of Bedford' had sailed to  the scrap
yard, my Mum and myself departed Liverpool on a Canadian Pacific 
vessel in 1961 for a holiday in Canada, staying with my Great-Aunt and 
Great-Uncle in Montreal with whom Mum had stayed during the war. We
went  again with Canadian Pacific in 1964 and it wasn't until 1976 that
Mum put  her bad experience on the 'Ascania' behind her and returned to
Cunard on  the QE2 - the first of her seven trips aboard what I regard
as the last of the  classic liners. My parents also cruised on a number
of other Cunarders from the  late 70s to the early 1990s.

To celebrate her 80th Birthday, Mum & I last sailed  together on a QE2
cruise in 2005. Mum said then that she thought it would be her  last
cruise, but, unlike the dear old QE2,  happily Mum is still going - if 
not 100% strong, at least still going! Anyway, we are due to leave for
a Baltic cruise aboard Holland America's Eurodam in a couple of weeks
to celebrate her 85th - it's almost incredible to think that this is
just over 70  years since Mum left Liverpool on the 'Duchess of

I do hope you find these notes of some use for the  website.

16 April 2010

Hi Harry,

Just glad you got the email in the end. I agree, mariners are so
difficult to find, some might appreciate a little help.

It now seems Duncan was aboard the ship from c1829 to c1934. I have
manifests for several ships he was on, so will work through them and
send them to you.

Here are the first few. There are probably more hiding in my files.

I've come across several images of the ship online here and there too,
but you probably have most if not all of them.

I don't know whether you're aware of this, or are interested, but I got
all of those manifests re the Duchess of Bedford from Ancestry. Some
of them have about 30 or so pages, listing passengers and crew of a
particular voyage, destination, departure and arrival dates etc. Just
thought I'd point it out.

They do 14 day Free trials from time to time if you or any of your
assers by are interested in downloading them.

Click to view manifests


10 April 2010

Hi Harry,  Doing family research on Ancestry I found out that my Dad,
Mum, brother John age 3 and sister June age 1 travelled back to Britain
on the SS Duchess of Bedford arriving at Liverpool on the 16th April
1933 departed from St John, New Brunswick, Canada, My brother John is
the only one still living and I will be sending all this info up to him
in Scotland, I don't have any photos to add to your wonderful web page
just some of the family in Canada which is not what you are looking
for, I have enjoyed reading all about this ship. The other thing I
wanted to say was I was born Elizabeth Middleton now Grady how cool is
that doing research for my family I find your site and name.
                  Thanks again I have added you to my favourites 

9 April 2010

Hi Harry,

My name is Lauren and I'm a reporter in Athabasca, Alberta. I am
writing an article about a new project which allows immigrants to acces
early 20th-century newspapers online and was wondering if you have a
photo of the SS Duchess of Bedford that you may send me and that I
might have permission to run in our newspaper.

6 April 2010


Thanks for the reply. As I continue my research, I will let you know
if I come across any information about the Duchess of Bedford.

Given the location of the Isle of Man, I can understand why it can be
difficult to "pop on over" to London.

Regarding the National Archives, yes, they are much more user-friendly
now. The CAB (cabinet minutes) from the WWII period are now (free)
online. Over time, I hope that more files will be available online as

28 March 2010

Dear Harry
Very interested to find your website as I have recently asked my mother about my maternal grandmother's evacuation from Singapore in 1942. It turns out she went on the Duchess of Bedford and my mother has recorded her memories of what her mother told her about this. I send this to you to add to the other accounts you have received.
Elisabeth Field

Leaving Singapore on the "Duchess of Bedford", February 1942

Jillian Somerwill remembers the account given by her mother Marjorie Gooding (1884-1981)

In 1942 my mother Marjorie Gooding was in her house 94 Gopeng Road, Ipoh, when a friend drove up saying that they must get down to Singapore at once as the Japanese were only half an hour's march down the road. My mother told me of her feeling of incredulity as she walked out of her home.

My father Stanley Gooding was already in Singapore on business but the whole situation was deteriorating rapidly so that when news got around that there was a "last chance" of evacuating women and children in a liner-turned-troopship which had just disembarked Indian troops, my mother decided to leave.

My father took her to the docks, where, she said, there was utter chaos. In their usual practical way they exchanged a few words about a possible future - my father told her that he had managed to cable some money to England, and realising that England was being bombed he there and then wrote a Will on the back of a used envelope and got two passers-by to sign it as witnesses.

Fifteen hundred women and children boarded the ship which was the "Duchess of Bedford". Some of the children were unaccompanied with labels round their necks with addresses in England.

My mother told me that each person was given a tin plate and a tin mug and a thin mattress and directed to the various Decks. She was on "D" Deck - below the waterline - where their mattresses were lined up in long rows. The atmosphere was airless and unpleasant. Another unpleasant condition which soon revealed itself was the infestation of lice from the previous occupants.

As the ship left it suffered bomb damage and had to put into Java for repairs. The ship's Purser was so overwhelmed by the difficulties that he suffered a heart attack and died, and was buried at sea.

The ship then called at Colombo, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) where it was fumigated. Reaching Durban, South Africa, the passengers were treated as the refugees they were, and many kindnesses were shown them, which my mother, for one, gratefully received.

Marjorie was eventually reunited with her family - two daughters as well as a very loving sister - and lived to be 97. My father Stanley did not survive the evacuation of Singapore, being lost when the ship he joined, the Vyner Brooke, was attacked and sunk.

28 February 2010

Dear Sir

I am researching for any information about SS Duchess of Richmond on which I sailed from Port Said to Greenock, in 1944, with my mother and baby sister. I am looking for a list of the crew and, in particular for anything known about a George Clarke who was, my mother tells me, the ship's Purser.

I think you should know that I have had, regrettably, to give up on your website because, I'm sorry to say, the white type against a red background is very hard on the eye (I have good eyesight!). Am I the only person to point this out?

Yours sincerely

Damien Thomas

Most web browsers allow you to increase or decrease the size of the text on a web page. On the toolbar go to View >Zoom - Harry


03 Feburary 2010

Dear Harry,

After seeing your web site about your father and the Duchess of Bedford, I
wanted to ask you a question. I am a professor at Sonoma State University
in California and am conducting research on UK-US relations at the start
of the war. Among the information I have uncovered, I've learned that
the Duchess of Bedford carried large quantities of gold from Britain to
Canada. On perhaps seven occasions, it carried 1 million pounds sterling.
Have you come across such information already? Have any of those who
have written to you mentioned gold shipments?

I don't know if you have been to the Imperial War Museum in London, but it
contains some memoirs of people who (as children) were evacuated to
Canada. I don't recall seeing anything regarding the Duchess of Bedford,
but I was not heavily focused on that topic. The National Archives in
London (with a good web site) might also be of help. I haven't checked
the "Library and Archives Canada" web site for this topic, but it might
also have useful information. Good luck.

I hope to hear from you soon.

Bob Switky

28 January 2010

Just found your website on the DUCHESS ofBedford. I was an 11 year old on
that ship in july 1940. Sailing from Liverpool to Montreal. Almost surreal
to remember back that far. I was repatriated in early 1944. Returned to US
in 1947 Robert Grace

01 January 2010

Dear Harry,

I have been fascinated by the accounts of the Duchess of Bedford on your
site and, having been one of the passengers on her leaving Singapore in
1942. I was only 18 months or so at the time so I have no memories of the
voyage back to England. I therefore rely on my mother's account of the time
leading up to the departure from Singapore, which can be read on the

I am looking for copyright cleared photographs of the ship and also a
passenger list of that date. This should show both our names as well as
others that she mentions in later memoirs, which I am currently
transcribing, to be published in July 2010, the centenary of her birth.

If any of your correspondents can point me in the right direction, I would
be most grateful.

With kind regards

Martin Everard

23 December 2009

My Family came from England to Quebec on there way to Michigan in 1928. Not sure of month & day. The largest family on the ship.

Les Hunter     Picture

Tucson, Arizona.

11 December 2009


Just a quick note to say I've just found your website whilst searching for
the ships my relatives sailed on in years gone by.

I've had several mariners in my family, including my grandfather (Norman
Carrick) who sailed for several years on the Duchess of Atholl, and his
brother, my great uncle (Duncan Carrick) who sailed for several years on the
Duchess of Bedford.

I've managed to find Duncan on several trips on the Duchess of Bedford via
Ancestry and have enclosed a copy of one of the crew manifests I've come
across for him. I have several covering a period of about 4-5 years, with
him in various ports including New York in 1929, Hamilton Bermuda, 1932; New
York 1933; Montreal, 1933.

If you'd like any further details, please get in touch.

27 October 2009


I have documents, infact immigration papers that list The Duchess of Bedford as the ship that my great grandmother came to Canada on. I have a picture of her, my great grandfather and my great aunt aboard the ship. They came to Canada in June 1929 arriving in Quebec. This is a time period that is missing from your roster so I thought you might be interested. I'll find the papers if you like and get you more detailed info.

Tawna McLean

02 October 2009

On 4 December 1956 the Empress of France left Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada on a week long voyage to Liverpool England.

I was a passenger with my parents and sister. My father was a major in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps and was on his way to a new posting in Germany. We had adjacent first class cabins.

There was a storm at sea but our good Nova Scotian family made every meal and were cited for doing so.
On the open sea we met the Queen Mary bound for USA with refugees from the Hungarian revolution. There were overhead announcements during the trip about the developing Suez crisis.

The food was terrific and the trip over all was a very memorable time for a nine year old youngster

Ian Anderson

02 October 2009

I sailed from England to Montreal on the Empress of France in 1954 I have an autograph book with the ships logo and signatures from the captain and George and Beryl Formby who were passengers.

Joe Shaw

28 September 2009

HI Harry. Your information and readers stories are excellent and most
interesting. However , I suppose you know that there were the other
three Duchess Liners, the Atholl. the Richmond and the York.. I mention
this as my father sailed on probably all three of the and retired I
think in 1938. He was Assistant Purser. My story i s that on the
sailing of the Duchess of Atholl fro Liverpool about 24 5 or 6th
November 1929 to Canada they carried 15 members of the Canadian forces
who had won the Victoria Cross in the first world war. On the 27th
November 1929 a special dinner was laid on for the at sea. I have a
copy of that menu signed on the reverse by twelve of them and a photo
of ten of them onboard. The missing couple must have been having a good
time.. The Canadian Museum in Ottawa were contacted by me regarding
this and they sent me details of each of their brave deeds. I thought
that you and other subscribers would be interested .Regards TOM

20 September 2009

Hi.I have a cruise book called the to the haunts of the looks like a cruise book from the DUCHESS of bedford dated 1928-1929 from new york it has a picture of the steam ship w/all the info weight ect.and it has alot of pictures of the inside of the ship
all blk and wht pictures of the fancy dress ball
group of people, to all the pictures to the inside of the ship.and all the pictures of the places it would travel.just wondered if you ever seen this says in the front first cruise from new york dec 22 1928.

30 August

Hi Harry
My Dad, Ronald Wood served on the Duchess of Bedford during the second world war. He was an engineer (2nd or 3rd), I think he went straight onto the Duchess after serving his time at Cammell Laird Birkenhead. At Camell Laird he was involved in the building of the Thetis, an event that haunted him all of his life.

He didn’t talk much about his experiences on the Duchess of Bedford although I know he served on the ship during the evacuation of Singapore and during the incident with the U boat.

Although he wouldn’t say much about what went on, his story about the sinking of the U boat is one of our family’s favourites.

According to Dad the story goes as follows.
The Duchess was zigzagging across the Atlantic, and they zigged just as the U-Boat zagged. The U-Boat came right alongside the Duchess and the quick witted captain ordered the boatswain over the side with a can of green paint. The boatswain painted the top of the periscope, causing confusion in the U-Boat. The U-Boat captain thinking that he was still underwater ordered his ship to rise further and further out of the sea until it was eventually flying next to the Duchess who then used its anti-aircraft guns to blow the U-boat out of the sky.

Dad died 20 years ago. I would love to know if anyone knew him during his time on the Duchess.
David Wood

18 August 2009

I have searching the web for information and images of The Duchess of Bedford,which I wanted to frame and put inside our houseboat.

My father bought one of the ship's lifeboats in 1960 from South Wales, shipped her up to Norfolk and converted her into a houseboat and called her 'The Ark'.(you will see why when you view the attached photograph)

She has been lying at Blakeney Point ever since.

For the last 2 years we have been renovating her, and she will be launched again on Saturday 22nd August 2009

Will send some more photographs when she is back at her mooring at fresher's creek at the mouth of the Stiffkey river

If you have an image of the Duchess of Bedford which shows the lifeboats, I would be very interested.

Geoge Crawley

12 August 2009

I learnt today that the ship we sailed in from Lagos to Liverpool in 1945 was
the Duchess of Bedford. "We" was my father, mother, me, aged 2 years 3 months,
and my brother, born on the 2nd June 1945. The information I have was that it
arrived on 26th June. My mother is very clear that my brother was 9 days old
when she embarked and so the date of departure from Lagos must be the 11th June,
not the 26th that you have on your site, for which many thanks, incidentally, a
most interesting one.
Ron Newbold
Adelaide, Australia.


15 July 2009

I am stunned to discover your website as my grandfather, Henry Stuart
(not HC Knight as you have listed) captained her and retired from
her under the name of Empress of France. Just at this precise moment, I
can't remember the dates as I'm actually at work and hadn't expected to
come upon your website.

He was also known as 'The Musical Mariner', composing organ music and
poetry whilst on board.

God bless,

Janet Fearns

I have attached a photo of my grandfather. I'm not sure when it was
taken and suspect it wasn't aboard the Duchess of Bedford, judging by
the insignia on his sleeves.

02 May 2009

Dear Sir:

Upon working on some photos for my husband's "family tree", I decided to do a bit of research regarding the ship that his Mother and Grandmother had returned to Canada from England on in 1938........S.S. Duchess of Bedford.

That is when I came across your website.

So, I thought that it would be a goodwill gesture to add some of my information to your collection. I hope you will be pleased.

One image is the front and back of a ticket for the S.S. Duchess of Bedford sailing from England to Canada.
Three are images of Beatrice Baldwin and her daughter Mollie Baldwin (now 90 years old) ...on the Duchess of Bedford in 1938.


25 April 2009

Link to full account text file

Cpl. Raymond G. Fisher
Co. F. 337 Engr. Regt.

On Sept. 1, 1943 we boarded a British ship “The Duchess of Bedford” at Oran harbor

I found this in my fathers letters to home during WW II. He was an American soldier on the Duchess. So glad to see the history of the ship and photos. My dad grew up inland so being on the sea was a new experience. Thanks for the web site.

11 March 2009

Hello Harry
My Aunt, Irene Mayo, passed away in November 2008 at the grand age of 93.  It was while sorting through her possessions I found newspaper clippings of the DUCHESS of Bedford, including ones about the ship having sunk a U Boat and sent another running.  Further research into her diaries revealed that she escaped Singapore on the 31st January 1942 on that very ship.  It would seem she sailed with your Dad.
She was born Irene Simmonds and was brought up in Singapore, the eldest of five children, two brothers and two sisters. 
She married Walter Mayo, BSM Royal Artillery, based at Fort Siloso in Singapore in October 1941.  3 months later, she wrote in her diary, "Boarded the Canadian Pacific Liner DUCHESS OF BEDFORD at 1PM. Walter left me at 4.30PM for the last time as he had to be on duty at the fort."
On the 31st January 1942, she wrote, "Left Walter in Singapore.  Boat sailed at 3PM.  Last glimpse of Singapore burning from all-day raid.  Huge pall of smoke over the city.  Walter made three attempts to see me but failed."
According to her diary they reached Batavia at 6.30PM on the 3rd February, while dodging "too many air raids".  After leaving Batavia on the 4th February, they got away with a very near miss.
On the 10th February, they arrived in Colombo, Ceylon where, on a Defence (Finance & Control of Exports) Regulations form dated 12th February, she declared she was in possession of £9 only.  In Colombo, she met up with her brother, Maurice who, working for the Straits Steamship Company, had departed Singapore on the SS KEPONG.  The Duchess of Bedford departed Colombo on the 13th February.
They reached Durban on the 23rd February and Freetown on the 22nd March.  At Freetown they anchored in the river but were not allowed ashore.  They reached Liverpool on the 2nd April 1942.  In her diary, she described the journey as "quite uneventful and done without a convoy".  She seemed to have forgotten all those air raids. 
As for her brothers, both were in the merchant navy and had got out of Singapore unscathed.  One, Bert, was later the sole survivor when his ship was torpedoed off West Africa.  As for her sisters, both stayed in Singapore and were interned.  One of her sisters is my mother and she told me that she was in an air raid shelter with a group of friends when they were given the news that they might be able to get onto the Duchess of Bedford before she left.  My mother, bless her, refused to leave the shelter in the middle of an air raid, and so endured Sime Road internment camp with her younger sister.
As for Walter, he ended his days in 1943 on the Thai / Burma railway and is buried at Chunkai in Thailand.  To cap that, in August 1942, Iris gave birth to his still born daughter. 
Thanks to the Duchess, Irene had a good long life.  All her brothers and sisters survived the war, so she had a handful of nieces and nephews to keep her busy, and we did our best to do just that!
Best wishes, Peter Underwood.

16 January 2009

I showed mum the picture but she didn't know anyone on it. The only name she
remembered from the crew was her dad's cousin Tommy? Lyon. Dad evidently got
into chat with him one night whilst having a smoke at the ships rail. Talk
got round to Bootle and then the name Lyon and they realised the connection.
Mum and dad weren't married at the time.

(Mum's father was John Lyon)

5 January 2009

Some further info re the D/Bedford,  re Manning

Deck Department


Master Henry Stuart Knight   : :  H.H.Davies

Ch. Officer W. Watt

1st Officer  Norfolk  normally on West Canada vessels

2nd Officer  Belson

3rd Officer  Jewiss

4th Officer  ? ?

A/cting 5th Officer (cadet) Rollings

Carpenter           ? ?

Carpenter€™s Mate  ? ?

H. Dawson (jnr) Bosun

Bill Williams Bos€™ns Mate

A Rodrigues  Bos€™ns Mate

Deck store keeper


18 A.B.s  on watches.

3 O.S.s on watches

2 A.B.s on day work

1 A.B.Messman

6 quartmasters

D. Rees

H. Hignett

C. Williams

W. Bewsher

 4 deck boys



 12 DEMS gunners

The Bedford was always a happy ship

thought this might add to the knowledge you have built up


Hary Hignett


2 January 2009

Hi Harry,
What a great site, my father Malcolm Walker was an AB on the DoB from 1941 (possibly before) until september 1943, he was then transferred to what was called Pacific Unit No 2 in San Francisco where he awaited a new build, The Empire Lance which was a Infantry landing ship.
He remained on Empire Lance until February 1945 (he was promoted to second mate for a couple of weeks dont know why yet) then he returned to Liverpool and rejoined the DoB  on the 14th April, he remained on the Duchess until he signed off in Glasgow on the 3rd of March 1947 for the delivery voyage.
There was a photo of the Duchess foootball team circa 1945 in the Liverpool Echo recently and my father was in it, he was once on Evertons books and also played for Derry City, the chap who sent it in was also in the team and is looking for any teamates or relatives.
My father sailed in many CPR ships and was working on the shoregang in the Gladstone Dock until his premature death in 1960 at the age of 46.
Many Regards
Ian Walker.

2 December 2008

I came to the UK after the war in 1946 we sailed on the Duchess of
Bedford from Naples to Liverpool. My sister and I were the youngest
passengers on board (8 & 5 yrs). I have wonderful memories I can
share if you are interested . I live in San Diego California now.

Hoping to hear from you soon.

Best wishes

Jolanta (Rutkowska) Lewak

12 November 2008

Hello Mr. Feegan:

My father, Ronald Tranter, arrived in Canada on May 2 1930, landing at Quebec after travelling steerage from Liverpool. He was 15 yrs. old at the time, and worked on farms around the Kingston Ontario area until about 1936 or 1937.

When he returned to England, he met my mother, and when war broke out, enlisted in the army.

He always wanted to return to Canada, and finally did so in 1953 after persuading my mother to immigrate. He came first and established a place to live, and we arrived at Quebec on 19 May 1953. The ship that we sailed on was the S.S. Empress of France, and until I found your website today, I did not know that this ship was the same one, the S.S Duchess of Bedford, that my dad arrived on in 1930, and was refitted and renamed as the Emress of France.

Yours truly

Trevor Tranter
London. Ontario.

3 November 2008

Dear Harry,
my grandfather, Richard Killen (Dick), was a fireman on the Duchess of
Bedford and often told us of that dreadful dash out of Singapore. He was a
fantastic storyteller and as he told the tale I would be there on the deck
of the Duchess, gasping with relief to have clambered up the gangway at the
last minute , one last look at a blazing Singapore, eyes watering from the
acrid fumes and smoke and then straight down into the engine room, where
"you couldn't hear yourself think, never mind shout! It was organized
chaos!" to pick up my shovel and get stoking as we had to 'go like the
clappers or else the Japs would have us out of the water!' I have never
forgotten this story even though he died when I was six. He always made me
part of the action and I personally felt I had helped get all those women
and children away to safety! Years later when I asked my Mother about
this,she told me how upset he had been by the terrible scenes at the
dockside with people fighting desperately to get aboard. Panic had set in
and he particularly remembered the children crying in confusion and fear
with sadness as he was a real family man.These terrible aspects were edited
out for my ears. I have really enjoyed finding your site. many thanks,
Kate Cadman, Taunton, Somerset

30 October 2008


I sailed on the Empress of France II on its last westbound voyage departing Liverpool, England of February 14th, 1960 bound for St. Johns, New Brunswick. What a crossing it turned out to be!! From my recollection there were approx. 280 passengers. We hit a terrible storm about two days out and there were only a handful of passengers at breakfast the next morning --- I was one of them! The next problem we had was a five hour fire in the forward boiler room. We were dead in the water until that was taken care of. Following that, our speed was considerably reduced and we arrived a full day late in New Brunswick. I traveled with three young men who were emigrating to Canada. I was returning to the USA. Great voyage considering the problems.

Joe Poole
Lebanon, Illinois, USA

29 October 2008


I belong to a group of french and belgian sons of POW in East Prussia. A lot of them returns home from Odessa to Marseille.

The Duchess of Bedford makes a travel.
Departure from Odessa : 15/03/1945
Arrival at Marseille : 23/03/1945.

Could you confirm that in 1945 its hull was black.

On the home page of your site, the photo with the SS being alongside show a white hull.
Is that after 1947 (Empress of France) ?

Could you say if this film shows the Duchess of Bedford (prisoners of war arriving at Marseille) :

Have you more information about this transport of POW ?
Was you father on board during this period ?

Thank you


23 September 2008

Dear Harry

Aged 8, I. along with my mother and sister, was evacuated to the US
via Montreal in July 1940 aboard the Duchess of Bedford. Until we
were over the other side we only knew her as "The mid-July extra". I
was very interested to find your web site
with so much of her history, particularly that of the war years.
I have fond memories of the journey.

It seems that one of your correspondents, Elizabeth Jackson, was a
fellow passenger on our trip. If you can put me in touch with her I
would be grateful. I am copying this to my sister Jane Lunn who I
know wil be interested.


Richard Burleigh

12 May 2008

Dear Harry,

After speaking to my Grandfather, He told me that he came back on the
Duchess of Bedford, sailing from Toulon, France September 1949, recalling
that the sea was so rough they called her the drunken Duchess. Would this be
the same ship?

Best Regards

Heather Evans

10 May 2008

Hi Harry,

Thanks for a great site.

I'm searching for information and passengers lists of the Duchess of Bedford in 1928. I'm looking at the page you have where the Duchess of Bedford was first launched on Jan 21, 1928. Under that it says "Arrived in Liverpool images" and then that it left June 1, 1928.

I believe that is the date that my father and his family left Liverpool, and I may be able to fill in the empty box next to that for you. I know they arrived in Quebec on July 6, 1928. Would that voyage have been a month long to go from Liverpool to Quebec. I see the next box says they did the trip in 6 days. Would you have any info on this.

Thanks, Joye

8 April 2008

Met a woman last night who sailed as a war bride to Halifax from Southampton
on the Duchess of Bedford just a few days after Germany surrendered on May
7th 1945. They still had to travel in convoy formation as not all the German
U-Boats had been informed that the war was over. With a round bottom, and no
stabilizers so as to travel as fast as possible, her abiding memory was of
being sea sick. I didn't ask her age, but her great grandson is 14. The past
lives on.

As it was a CP ship, I believe my grandfather would have traveled on it as

Thanks for the website. Jeff Rabin

28 March 2008

Hello, Harry.

I was interested to see your website. I belong to the Malayan Volunteers
Group and quite a few of our members [not me] were evacuees from Singapore. I
have a copy of that 1942 passenger list Singapore to Liverpool. Our website is
at and we have started an 'Evacuees' section - I would love a Mr
Anthony Disney whose message is on your website to know about this.

best wishes
Jonathan Moffatt

Coventry UK

25 March 2008


Joseph Crowley - LAC No. 1309816

I have just started to put together my late father's history of service and
found through his paperwork that he sailed on the Duchess of Bedford in
December 1941, as part of the RAF 784 Defence Squadron to Durban, then on
to Mingaladon, Alipore, Shillagong, Calcutta etc., and he remained in India
until 1944. He received the "Order of the Blue" on 31 December 1941 but I
can't find any reference to this on your website. Is it something all
received on crossing the equator, or similar?

I do have his RAF service number but no birth or death certificates - but it
is increasingly difficult to trace exactly what he actually did as he did
not talk about his war service very much, and sadly died in 1985 so I doubt
very much if anyone would be alive now who remembers him. However, as a
starting point I am using your website - thank you very much.

Kathryn Lockyer

12 March 2008

Hello MR Feegan, we the family pattisons are doing family tree , where stuck
as we have got everyone , but we now know mary pattison and her daughter
thelma aged nine sailed from canada to England ,and presumadly stayed with some
relatives in prudhoe the street name was 24, high row street mickley square
we have been to find said street but alas is no longer there we just
wondered if she stayed with her relatives or the pattisons as we know they lived in
canada a place called verdun uncle hubert septimus pattison fought in france
and was gassed and of course lived a little while but died aged 47, no age at
all . hope you enjoyed this tree any infor about them if you can find who
they stayed with pattisons or parkers . thanks so much can you send an e mail
of the ship . thank s HANNAH

10 March 2008

I was an RAF serviceman on the Duchess of Bedford when it sailed from Liverpool in April 1942. Contrary to an officer's experience detailed earlier our conditions were very poor, crowded into mess stinking mess decks and sleeping in hammocks. When the weather improved many slept on deck, risking getting soaked when the crew hosed the decks early in the morning. The food was poor and we queued for everything including the crude toilet facilities.

The convoy headed West for a week before turning South and then heading for Freetown to take on supplies. We did not call at Capetown as stated earlier and rounding the Cape we ran into a minefield. Two ships hit mines and it was rumoured later that one sank and the other made it to Capetown. The Duchess made it safely to Durban after a very uncomfortable five-week journey. We had a wonderful time there and talking to men from other ships we gathered the Duchess compared very poorly with others.


29 February 2008


I have been given a digital transfer of a short film taken in 1928 on board the Duchess of Bedford.  According to your site, she sailed to Canada on June 1, 1928, and from Montreal and Quebec the same month on her first return voyage to the U.K.  The film was likely taken on her return trip.  The film was labeled September, however.  If that's accurate, which I have some reason to doubt, it would have been the September 7th departure.

The adults pictured are, among others, Dr. Donald Thomas Fraser, a research fellow at the Connaught Labs, his wife Mary (Shenstone) Fraser, and Donald and Nancy, their two children.  Don is 7, his sister 5.  Both children are still alive and well.    Don is now 87, his sister 85, so the film is 80 years old this year.  In fact, this is the Duchess of Bedford's eightieth anniversary.

Dr. Fraser was traveling with famous Canadian physician and Nobel Prize recipient, part of the duo who discovered insulin in 1921, Dr. Charles Best, and his wife Margaret.  Fraser and Best were heading to Garches, outside Paris, to confer with Dr. Gaston Ramon of the Pasteur Institute on work in which they all shared an interest. It was a sabbatical for Dr. Fraser.  Part of my doubt as to the date of the film revolves around the fact that this was a Summer trip for the Fraser family and involved some traveling in Europe.  Everyone here is dressed warmly, however.  Perhaps the date is accurate. click here to see images


07 February 2008

Dear Harry

My father, Noel Disney, who was managing a rubber estate in Malaya at
the time of the Japanese invasion, saw my mother, sister and I off on
the Duchess of Bedford, in January 1941. He later wrote an account of
his war experiences, which included a brief reference to this incident,
which might interest some visitors to your web site. He wrote as

'Before rejoining my Malayan Volunteers Army Unit in Singapore, I was
able to see Audrey and the children who were staying at Fraser Estate,
Kulai, Johore, not far from the Johore Causeway. On 20th January I
managed to get them into Singapore and accommodated in the Chayo Hotel
until a berth on a ship could be obtained. Eventually we were able to
obtain berths for them on the Duchess of Bedford, which left Singapore
on 30th January 1942. There were constant heavy bombing raids on the
Singapore docks on the day they left, and theirs was the last passenger
ship to get away before Singapore fell. Shortly afterwards, the Japs
landed on Singapore Island. Two of my friends, Tatham and Rowe, were
killed in a bombing raid about this time'.

Anthony Disney

19 January 2008

Dear Harry,

I was pleased to find your website. On Feb 7, 1942 my mother and I (aged 11) sailed on the Duchess of Bedford from Singapore with thousands of refugees Sailing with us were the Empress of Australia, Empress of India and Empress of Scotland. The Empress of Scotland, up to a short time before, had been named the Empress of Japan. We sailed early afternoon on Feb 4. On Feb 5 we were sailing in the Mallacca Straits when the DOB was hit by a bomb dropped by the Japanese airforce. The remainder of the line of ships sailed on. The DOB rounded the north of Samatra and headed south to the port of Batavia, in the Dutch East Indies, where repairs to the steering mechanism were carried out. After repairs the DOB sailed alone to Ceylon. Then over the Indian Ocean to Derbin, SouthAftrica. Then East London, then Cape Town, then north to Takoradie the Gold Coast, then Freetown, Sierra Leon. Then onto Liverpool, arriving in Liverpool in early May 1942.
I hope this is of some interest to you.


Bill Allan
Dallas, TX

16 january 2008

Hello Harry, I was just looking thru Archives of my mother and came across your web site. My mother with parents sailed on the Duchess of Bedford from Ireland to ST. John N.B. Canada, in April 1929, arriving there on April 04. The entire family emigrated from Ireland. Parents and 8 children. I have seen a picture of the ship somewhere in my mothers possessions.I still have 2 uncles left who were on that ship.

marilyn wheeler

22 December 2007

Please find attached a photo I recently discovered whilst researching my family tree.
My grandfather John Arthur Brown (Born 01/11/1913 - d1987) is sitting bottom row, first left.
The reason I'm sending you this photo is that the words "Duchess of Bedford - Canadian Pacific" can be seen in the photo.
With this information I discovered your website using GOOGLE.
I know my grandfather travelled to Canada when he was young but by the year 1936 he had already returned to England to marry my grandmother.
I'm afraid I have no other information regarding this photo i.e date or place when taken.
I found your website very interesting and very helpful in my research.
David Randles view image here

18 November 2007

The enclosed pictures of the clock have been in my husbands family for quite
some time. In case the pictures don't show it is engraved on the outer
ring "S S Duchess of Bedford" Any comments? image 1 :: image 2


24 October 2007

Thanks for your website- it is truly a great resource. My mother
was evacuated from England as a child (4 yrs old) on the Duchess of
Bedford, sailing in late June 1940, and arriving in Montreal on July
3rd. I believe this would have been in Convoy TC5, but am still trying
to find a passenger listing. I have been able to obtain a fair number
of artifacts, including postcards of the ship, dining room menus,
pre-war brochures with ship's map, layout, and cabin pictures, and a few
of the souvenirs available for purchase on the ship (e.g. a small silver
vase with the ship's name and crest on the side).
If you should know of a source for the passenger list I would
appreciate it if you could pass that on- the Canadian Pacific company no
longer has possession of these records, having disposed of them some
years back. Please let me know if you would like scans of the pictures
and documents I've collected- most are not war-time vintage, but are
from the pre-war period of service.

Thanks and congrats on your site!

Paul Burns

14 October 2007

I am not sure if you are still collecting items that are related to the Duchess of Bedford. Attached is a copy of my father's records from Marconi. It shows he was a radio operator of the DOB on the trip to Singapore in late 41/early 42.


Laurence McDonald view here

30 September 2007

A colleague of mine has recently died at the age of 82 (1925) and was a member of the Glen McGregor Association Pensioners. The Association was founded by pensioners of The Glen Line Limited/McGregor Gow and Holland. My colleague, R.C.(Ray) Wurtzburg was the son of Charles Wurtzburg the Chairman of Mansfields in Singapore and then McGregor Gow & Holland in London. Ray was born in Singapore in 1925 and related to me a story about his Father and Family leaving Singapore on the DUCHESS OF BEDFORD as the fall of Singapore in 1942 took place. Supposedly it was one of the last ships to leave safely as Japanese Soldiers were entering the Docks. People were clammering to board the Ship after the gangway had been hoisted via the mooring ropes but they all failed.

I have been Chairman of our Association and worked over 40 years with Blue Funnel Line and Glen Line and wanted to write about Ray in our Newsletter but because he told me his story some twenty years ago I wanted to make sure my memory correct.
Can you confirm that "Duchess of Bedford" was in Singapore about that time and even better if the Wurtzburg family were on board.

I would be glad of any comment you have and help you can give me.

Many thanks - Brian Humphryes.

17 August 2007

Hello Harry,my Dad sailed on the DOB with his regiment,the Royal Montreal
Regiment(MG)in Dec/1939.I have 5>6 pages about the voyage from the unit
history,including quotations from various individuals.Would you like me to
email them to you? Also,the Regimental museum has information on the
Ship,and voyage as well.I'll follow this up too if you would like.

Redards -Gord Fraser.

22 May 2007


I just showed my mother –in-law photos of the Bedford and she tells me she
sailed to Canada from Belfast in 1926 and did a round trip in 1932 Canada to
Ireland and back on her Her fare was $125 dollars. (She will be 95 years
this July) She says meals were great and she shared a room with 3 other
ladies. Rough seas coming home she and another man from Regina walked the
decks never were sick.


13 May 2007

I sailed from Liverpool to Montreal on the Duchess of Bedford on July 18
1940. I was 7 years old and was being evacuated to Canada along with with my
Mother,my twin sisters,my cousin and my Grandparents.I would like to access
the passenger list and welcome contacting anyone who was on that crossing. I
realise that your Father did not join the ship until 1940 but would be
grateful for any information you may have.I look forward to hearing from you

Elizabeth Jackson

9 January 2007

I think that I sailed on the Duchess of Bedford in 1946. I was born in
August 1944 and my father, who was an officer in the Royal Artillery, was
posted to Quetta in 1946. As it was a family posting, he was allowed to
take with him his wife and child. We sailed to Bombay, then Karachi and
went by train to Quetta, where I had my third birthday in 1947. We returned
to England from Karachi/Bombay in 1948 at the time of Partition on the
Empire Windrush (which I see was given that name in 1947).

Sincerely, Charles Walford

28 October 2006

Hi! My dad sailed on the Duchess of Bedford from Liverpool on Wed 8th May
1946 sailing from Liverpool to Greece - the small postcard he has says it sailed
to Malta - Greece - India (see attachment). My dad was in the Royal Norfolk

Anyway - I've just watched the movie "Grey Owl" as I am interested in this
man, who was born in Hastings and at the age of 17, in 1906, went to Canada to
become a trapper and live in the wilderness as a native indian. He became the
first true conservationist, and wrote a number of books that are still
published today. Whilst he was alive everybody believed he was a real Indian, and
only after his death did the truth come out - that he was Archie Belaney from

He was very famous in his day, and in 1937 gave a presentation to King
George and our current Queen at Buckingham Palace. In December 1937 (or early
1938) he returned to Canada. In the movie I've just seen there seems to be
original pathe newsreel of the ship he returned in docking in Canada (but it might
be fake footage made to look old for the movie), but the movie shows Pierce
Brosnan (Grey Owl) walking off a ship that clearly has "Duchess of Bedford"
written on it. The ship on the Pathe newsreel shot looks very similar to ship
on my dads postcard - although the hull is black on my dads card, but the hull
is white in the newsreel - possibly a wartime change of colour.

I wondered if you know if Grey Owl actually sailed back on the Duchess of
Bedford, as it doesn't seem likely the name of the ship was picked at random for
the movie. He is today recognised as a very great man, and it would be
interesting to know if this is another claim to fame for the ship.

reference: DVD "Grey Owl" 20th Century Fox
Book: Grey Owl - The Curious Life of Archie Belaney ISBN


23 October 2006

Hi Harry,
I found your Duchess of Bedford site last week. Coincidentally we had been talking about the ship earlier that day as my father in law, Gerry Tierney, had served on her for at least some of the time your father did.

Gerry has recently been interviewed by the Liverpool Playhouse company. The company are
planning a production based on the experience of WW2 Merchant Seamen. They
interviewed Gerry at the Villa Marina Arcade.

Gerry and your father both served in the boiler room as firemen so it is unlikely they did not know each other. However, sometimes memories have to be exercised, especially after the passage
of over 60 years.

I dont know if your father is still alive, I very much hope he is. If so, I am sure these two former shipmates would be delighted to meet up or at least talk to each other. Gerry was the youngest member of the engine room / boiler room gang. I think he was 16 at the time, he comes from Liverpool in the Scotland Road area but has lived here on the Island for many years. If you want to get in touch he lives in Port Erin.

I hope this is of some interest to you.
Best regards
Alec Cohen

9 october 2006

This is a list for anyone seeking answers to questions about a particular voyage or person who travelled on the Empress of France, or who are otherwise interested in the history of the ship. Do check out the site and consider joining. You may have the answers to people's questions, if not questions of your own.

Sue McPherson


5 October 2006

Hi Harry.

I liked your site on the Duchess of Bedford /Empress of France and added it to my links page on this
. I hpe that's okay with you.

I was wondering, I had never seen a picture of the tourist cabins and there is one on page 9 of your
site, but with no date. Do you know?It looks very old-fashioned! I travelled on the Empress in 1957,
going to Canada with my parents. I have been curious about the cabins. All I recollect is throwing up.


Sue McPherson

1 May 2006

Hello Harry,
My mother Mrs. Iris Irene Johns was evacuated on board the
above named troopship at the fall of Singapore, during the Second World War.
Tragically my sister, Irene May Johns, died, aged six months, on board this
ship, during the trip back home to England. She died of Broncho Pneumonia
and was buried at sea. I was wondering IF you knew of ANYONE who can recall
this happening, and could be put in touch with me ?



P.S. Is there anywhere I can find a list of passengers evacuated at the fall
of Singapore that may contain my families names ?

4 March 2006

hello harry, i have just been reading your story about your father on the duchess and also barney warman's .

i was in the unit i.e. 22 w. u. but we parted at abadan and went down to ceylon to defend against the japanese .

do you have barney,s web site / would be great to chat to an old mucker, good to read about the duchess , she took us safely through troubled waters thanks and all the best i am new to this computor, so please allow for errors


27 November 2005

I'm researching the war record of a friend who travelled to South Africa
aboard the SS Duchess of Bedford in 1942. Your web site has been a great
help, especially the pictures that'll be sure to bring back fond memories for

Lieutenant Ronnie Almond's journey to India started on 13 April 1942.
Seemingly the convoy was the second largest ever to have left Huyton
(Liverpool), up to that date. Despite six men being crammed into what would normally
have been a single-occupancy cabin, the ship's crew did them proud. The food
was good and the ship was "wet", in other words alcoholic drinks were
readily available, a most pleasant surprise for Ronnie and his mates!

After calling at Sierra Leone, when the ship arrived at Cape Town half
of the men in transit disembarked and the other half were taken on to Durban
where they received a fantastic reception notable amongst which was that from
the "Lady in White".

Thanks, again, for a really informative web site.

David Thompson

16 November 2005

Harry , I used to do a bit of painting since being retired and mostly of ships. Remembered I had done the Duchess and had downloaded a photo of it and thought you might like it
Regards Barney Warman

Thanks Barney click here to view the Bedford in all her glory

10 November 2005

Good Evening old man, just been looking at your Web site re the Troopship Duchess of Bedford.
My unit the 22 Wireless Unit RAF, sailed on the Duchess at the backend of 1941, though we were4 meant to sail on some vessel from Greenock, we were in transit at Glasgow, we were shipped down to Liverpool and put aboard Duchess.
It was a very big convoy with the HMS Royal Sovereign as heavy protection.
We stopped at Freetown for a few days then carried on South. Other big liners in the convoy were the arundel Castle, Cape town Castle, the big new Dutch liner name just slips me, loads of merchant ships and other liners.
Half the convoy stopped at Cape Town and we carried on to Durban and after 3/4 days we saioled on Christmas Eve 1941. I believe from there on the huge convoy split up going their different ways, we went to Bombay.
My unit was split in two for some reason and I was in the half that landed on the dockside and marched along a way to board the Khedive Ismael which ship then departed solo up the Persian Gulf to Basra. Therer we were not known about and had no room for us so we were shipped in barges and sent down to Abadan. Eventually our unit was kitted out in Damascus and we were stationed along the Turco Syrian border, 6 man outpost.s
So friend I just cannot weigh up your time table for the Duchess.
Regardless though it is very very interesting. After the war and coming home from Germany , as lived then in Grimsby, I took up a position as Radio Operator on the deep water fishing vessels sailing from there., retiring from the sea in 1970

Yours Sincerely
Barney Warman.

20 October 2005

Hello, Harry!

I am John Donald Cooper (Don) and ran across your "Duchess of Bedford" website while searching out dock areas in several cities. A bit of background on me -

The first ship I sailed on - 1932, was the Letitia and then the Athenia. Both ships were operated by the Anchor Donaldson Line and sailed from Greenock, Scotland to Montreal, Canada. I believe one of the ships was sunk during WW!!. Other sailings I had with my father, mother and sister were on the Duchess of Atholl, Richmond and Bedford, operated by Canadian Pacific.

All in all, I had been across the north Atlantic six times by the time I was 12 years of age. My Mum and Dad were Scots and both my sister and I were born in Toronto, Canada. We all got seasick everytime except for my mother who said, "Mothers are not allowed to be sick". I got out an old autograph book that the family had bought on the 'Duchess of Atholl'. It has a sort of chamois leather cover with a painting of the ship on the front cover. On one of the pages, I have an autograph that bears a date of 17/9/37 for the 'Duchess of Bedford'. Before that, we were twice on the Duchess of Atholl and finally in May of 1939, we were on the Duchess of Richmond.

Due to the depression, my dad went wherever there was a job. My mother's mother and family had already emigrated to Canada. My Mum, sister and me came from Scotland for a, 8 week holiday which is when we were on the Atholl and Bedford. I'm sure glad I have this autograph book to refresh this memory as I am now 78 years of age.

Have I stopped going to sea? No! No! I ( actually 'we', including my wife) just love cruises. Some of our destination have included several trips in the Caribbean; Sydney, Australia to Los Angeles; Cairns, Australia to Singapore; Valparaiso, Chile to Fort Lauderdale; Buenos Aires to Barcelona; Mombassa, Kenya to Buenos Aires, Fort Lauderdale to Rome; San Juan, Puerto Rico to Athens; Barbados to the Orinoco River; Athens to London, England; and this December, it will be Athens to Singapore. After this cruise, we will have circled the globe by sea.

Memories of "Duchess of Bedford" - going down the hall/companionway to the washroom, horse racing game on the deck, bands playing on the deck, heavy seas, fog off Newfoundland, fog horn. Calm seas and no forward motion was very eerie. At this time, I was 10 years of age. By the way, we travelled 3rd class!!

We always sailed Greenock to Montreal or Montreal to Greenock. Then came WWII. I have a clipping from a Toronto paper dated April 18, 1944 relating to the sinking of the sub by the "DOB". At the time, the captain was Capt. H.A. Moore who then transferred to the "Duchess of Atholl".

This is all I have for you now.


Don Cooper

11 October 2005

Hi Harry, Thanks for your email. A quick search of the list shows a Daniel
O'Grady. If you would like just the cover page & page with his info I'd be
happy to mail it to you at no charge.

Jaime Cline

29 August 2005

Hello Harry

My Granddad was a Mariner aboard the Duchess of Bedford and having read your website can remember him mentioning such places he docked in.
His name was Archibald Russell, was from East London and was a keen boxer - he is now 90 years old.
He has one of the framed pictures of the ship in his lounge.

Angela Balkwill Essex