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

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SS Erinpura



1st August 1914 Hospital ship  

HS Erinpura

SS Erinpura was a passenger liner built for the British-India Steam Navigation Company in 1911. She was the first British India ship built for Eastern service to be fitted with radio. She was sunk in the Mediterranean during World War II.

Class & type: Passenger cargo vessel, Tonnage: 5,128 grt. Length: 411 ft (125.27 m), Beam: 52 ft 6 in (16.00 m), Draught: 23 ft 5 in (7.14 m). Installed power: Two sets of triple expansion engines, 6,657 IHP Propulsion: Twin screws. Speed: 16.7 knots (30.9 km/h).

Capacity: Passengers: 51 first class, 39 second class, 2,359 deck. Crew: 26 Officers, 84 Ratings.

Construction and First World War.

Erinpura was built by William Denny and Brothers, of Dumbarton and launched in 1911. She was one of seven sisters built at four different shipyards for the Bay of Bengal/Singapore Straits Service, the group which was one of the most successful, profitable and long lasting groups in the history of British India. She was used as a troopship early in the First World War, carrying troops from Karachi to Marseilles, and then to Sanniya in Iraq. She ran aground while sailing up the river to Abadan on 24 December 1914 and sustained some damage, but was able to return to Bombay. She made several more trooping voyages until becoming a hospital ship in August 1915, supporting the Indian Expeditionary Force with 475 beds and 104 medical staff. She served on the Basra-Bombay Service, and from November 1917 was used as an ambulance transport.

  • Hospital Ship or Ambulance Transport Service during WW1.
  • Medical Staff strength.
  • Officers:
  • Nurses:
  • Other:
  • Accommodation capacity.
  • Officers:
  • Cots:
  • Berths:475
  • Period of Service as Hospital Ship or Ambulance Transport.
  • Date From:1st May 1916
  • Date To:13th June 1919
  • Ships Crew details: Officers:26 Ratings:84

Interwar.

She ran aground again on 15 June 1919, this time on the Mushejera Reef in the Red Sea. Her passengers and troops were taken off by HMS Topaze and taken to Aden, but attempts to pull Erinpura off failed. It was eventually decided to cut the bow of the ship off, towing the stern to Aden, and leaving the bow stuck on the reef. A new bow was ordered from the original builders Dennys. The stern was towed to Bombay where the new bow section was fitted, and she returned to service in 1923.

Second World War.

She was called up during the Munich Crisis in 1938, and was requisitioned for the Liner Division in March 1940. Erinpura was used as a troop transport in the Mediterranean, and in 1943 was the commodore's ship, under the command of Captain P.V. Cotter, in a Malta-bound convoy with three other British India ships, Karoa, Egra and Rohna, and twenty other merchantmen escorted by eleven warships. The convoy was attacked thirty miles north of Benghazi on 1 May 1943 by German bombers, with Erinpura being hit by a bomb in one of her holds. She sank within four minutes of being hit. Two junior engineers, 54 Indian seamen, three gunners, 140 Palestinian Jewish soldiers serving in 462 Transport Company of the British Army, and 600 Basuto pioneer troops were lost with her.

Memorial.

There is a memorial on Mount Herzl to the 140 Jewish soldiers who drowned aboard the SS Erinpura. The monument is shaped like a ship containing a central pool, on the bottom of which are the names of the fallen. Above the pool is a turret adorned with the Hebrew text of Psalms 68:22: "The Lord said, I will bring again from Bashan, I will bring my people again from the depths of the sea." A memorial ceremony is held every year on Yom HaShoah

John Doran


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Those known to have served in

SS Erinpura

during the Great War 1914-1918.

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June 2017

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