Following on from my previous post (I think I’ve found the troopship that took my Dad to war) I have found out some more information about the Dominion Monarch, which I believe took my father (Gordon Charles Dinnis) to war in October 1943.
Built by Swan Hunter for Shaw Savil and Albion Company Ltd at Wallsend-On-Tyne, The Dominion Monarch QSMV (Quadruple Screw Motor Vessel) was named and launched at 3.30 p.m., on July 27, 1938, by Lady Essendon, the wife of the Chairman of Furness Withy and Company Ltd. Dominion Monarch was the largest ship built on the Tyne since the Mauretania. There are some amazing pictures of the building and launching here: http://www.ssmaritime.com/dominionmonarch.htm
This ship was the most powerful motor liner of her kind in the world, and also the largest ship operating full time on the Australasian trade at the time of her building. The 27,155 ton ship accommodated just 525 passengers, and had a crew of 385 meaning the passenger – crew ratio offered a service that is unequalled to this day. It was considered that she was too luxurious to be used as a trooper, until August 1940 when the British Government requisitioned her. She was stripped of her fine fittings and was fitted out with 3556 berths, painted grey and commenced serving as a trooper.
The legendary liner had a most varied career as a trooper and by the end of the war the outlook for the Shaw Savill fleet was bleak, they had lost half their ships and apart from the Dominion Monarch, all the other surviving vessels were over twenty years old. She carried thousands of Commonwealth troops bound for Europe and North Africa, over 29,000 American military personnel to England, British reinforcements to India and Singapore and 1900 wounded servicement from Cape Town to Great Britain. (Information from http://www.nzmaritime.co.nz/)
On a personal level, seeing the images and imagining my father on board is a very moving experience. Reading over the letters he wrote whilst travelling to war become more ‘real’ as I can see the photographs of the Dominion Monarch.