King's Own Royal
First World War
Second World War
Actions & Movements
Troopships - HMT
Empire Windrush, 1950s.
Accession Number: KO2457/36
Built by Blohm & Voss in Hamburg, Germany, and launched on 4th December
1930. Named 'Monte Rosa' she was used for cruises and carried many
German Nazi Party members in the 1930s. During the Second World War
the ship was used as a barracks ship at Stettin and then as a troopship
for the invasion of Norway in April 1940. She was later used as an
accommodation and recreational ship attached to the battleship Tirpitz
stationed in Norway. By 1945 she was in the Baltic, being used as a
refugee evacuation ship rescuing Germans trapped in East Prussia by the
advance of the Soviet Red Army.
In May 1945 she was captured by the British forces at Kiel and was taken
as a war prize. The British converted her to a troopship and renamed
HMT Empire Windrush in January 1947. She was used on the
Southampton-Gibraltar-Suez-Aden-Colombo-Singapore-Hong Kong route, with
voyages extended to Japan after the start of the Korean War.
The ship was famous as it carried the first large group of West Indian
immigrants to the UK after the Second World War, docking in Tilbury Port
in June 1948.
HMT Empire Windrush set off from Japan for her final voyage in February
1954, with about 1500 soldiers returning to the UK from the Korean War.
The voyage was plagued with engine breakdowns and other defects, after ten
weeks the ship arrived in Port Said. The ship embarked on the last
leg home, but about 55 miles north west of Algiers an engine fire followed
by an explosion, which killed four members of the crew, resulted in the
evacuation of the ship. Empire Windrush was taken in tow, but in
worsening weather she sank on 30th March 1954.
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