Ship Histories

Ship Histories

This website works with portable devices but you really need a tablet, laptop or workstation to do justice to much of the graphical content.


Nowadays, ships are largely taken for granted, despite the fact that they carry around 90% of world trade; the modern world could not survive without them. I started researching ships about 15 years ago whilst investigating my family history - my grandfather had worked as a steward on P&O Liners just before WW1. When you investigate the history of a ship you can't help feeling that it has a life of its own. Born in a shipyard, it travels the world and ultimately meets its end at a breakers yard - or on the bottom of the sea as a victim of accident or war.

The remarkable photo above shows a scene from the 1944 Normandy Landings. A vast armada of ships carrying men and equipment supported the world's greatest seaborne invasion and included the construction of two temporary harbours from prefabricated components - the Mulberry Harbours. In the foreground you can see old ships that were sunk to protect the landing platforms from the forces of the sea. In the background various troopships and landing craft are protected by barrage balloons. The stories of some of those ships are included on these pages.

Here you will find the histories of ships that were sailed in by those whose memories are recorded in Recollections part of my website - which you can access from the Menu - or othersie found of be of interest for each ship featured here has a story to tell. Included are the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Gold Ranger that was present during WW2 campaigns, an Antarctic rescue, the Suez crisis, exercises during the cold war and nuclear testing; Abhona, a passenger ship that disappeared on her maiden voyage; Manipur - a cargo ship that was disguised as a battleship in the hope of fooling the Germans in WW2; Grille - known as 'Hitler's yacht' but mostly used as a warship. And others that served their country during wartime in convoys, with many torpedoed and sunk with dreadful loss of life like the oil tanker San Emiliano. And then there is Oruba - a passenger liner built in 1889 that carried into exile the disgraced Archduke Leopold of Tuscany who had struck Franz Ferdinand - the future Habsburg Emperor whose assassination would herald the start of WW1. I could go on but you can read the stories yourself.

For each ship I have included facts and figures, photos, news cuttings and information about service histories to the extent that I have been able to discover them.

This part of the Benjidog Historical Research Resources has been online since April 2009 and has gradually expanded since then.

The menu has a list of ships included and links for you to provide feedback, view the visitors book, ask questions, use search facilities and access other research resources I have created.

What's New?

  • 22 September 2020: New page for Carare
  • 23 September 2020: Additional photos and information about Moldavia (1922)
  • 2 October 2020: Entry for Wendorian now redirects to a new part of the website covering the history of the vessel and her owners
  • 28 June 2022: Site rebuilt, a new page added for Grille and various updates to other pages
  • 1 August 2022: New page attempting a reconstruction of events in the engine and boiler rooms of Titanic after the collision with the iceberg and information about the engineers who lost their lives

Brian Watson
1 August 2022

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