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Troopships - HMT Empire Windrush


Empire Windrush, 1950s.
Accession Number: KO2457/36

Empire Windrush
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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2007 Trustees of the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum