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SS Brighton in the Great War - The Wartime Memories Project -

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- SS Brighton during the Great War -

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SS Brighton

1st August 1914 Hospital ship  

HMHS Brighton

Brighton was a 1,384 GRT steamship which was built in 1903 for the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway and London and South Western Railway. She passed to the Southern Railway on 1 January 1923. In 1930, she was sold to W E Guinness and converted to a private yacht, Roussalka (named after Slavonic mythologic creature). She was wrecked at Killary Bay on 25 August 1933.

The ship was built by W Denny & Bros, Dumbarton. She was yard number 683 and was launched on 13 June 1903 with completion in August 1903. The ship was 273 feet 6 inches (83.36 m) long, with a beam of 34 feet 2 inches (10.41 m) and a depth of 14 feet 1 inch (4.29 m). She was powered by three steam turbines, which were made by Parsons Steam Turbine Co Ltd, Newcastle upon Tyne. The turbines were rated at 580 horsepower (430 kW) and drove three screws. These could propel her at a speed of 21 knots (39 km/h).

In 1931, Roussalka was fitted with two 8-cylinder Atlas diesel engines of 1,750 horsepower (1,300 kW) driving a single screw, giving her a speed of 15.5 knots (28.7 km/h).


Brighton was built for the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway. She was used on their Newhaven - Dieppe route. She was to have been the first turbine powered steamship built for the LB & SCR but a fire at the shipbuilders delayed her completion, pushing her into second place. Her port of registry was Newhaven. On 5 November 1910 Brighton was involved in a collision with the windjammer Preußen 8 nautical miles (15 km) south of Newhaven. Brighton returned to Newhaven to summon aid, and the tug Alert was sent to assist Preußen, which was towed towards Dover. It was intended to anchor her off Dover but both anchor chains broke and Preußen was driven onto rocks where she sank as a result of the damage inflicted on her. The Master of the Brighton was found to be responsible for the accident and lost his licence as a result. He later committed suicide by shooting himself in a London pub.

  • Hospital Ship or Ambulance Transport Service during WW1.
  • Medical Staff strength.
  • Officers:4
  • Nurses:4
  • Other:26
  • Accommodation capacity.
  • Officers:6
  • Cots:20
  • Berths:114
  • Period of Service as Hospital Ship or Ambulance Transport.
  • Date From:18th March 1915
  • Date To:15th May 1920
  • Ships Crew details:

In 1914, Brighton was requisitioned by the Royal Navy for use as a troopship. She was later used as a hospital ship. On 19 December 1914, she rescued the survivors of the naval trawler HMT Orianda, which had been sunk by a mine in the North Sea off Scarborough, Yorkshire. Brighton brought the American President Woodrow Wilson back to Dover after the signing on the Treaty of Versailles.

Brighton was returned to her owners in 1920. Brighton passed to the Southern Railway at Grouping. In 1930, Brighton was sold to W E Guinness, who converted her to a private yacht named Roussalka. Her steam turbines were replaced by a diesel engine and one of her two funnels was removed. She was renamed Roussalka. On 25 August 1933, in thick fog, Roussalka was wrecked on Blood Slate Rock, Freaklin Island, Killary Bay. All passengers and crew were rescued.

John Doran

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Those known to have served in

SS Brighton

during the Great War 1914-1918.

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