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A ship from the past

MV Monte Rosa 1930 -1954

MV Monte Rosa was the last of five almost identical Monte-class passenger ships that were built by Blohm & Voss in Hamburg between 1924 and 1931 for Hamburg Süd (Hamburg South American Steam Shipping Company).

The Monte Rosa, was delivered to Hamburg Süd in 1931, which operated her as a cruise ship, travelling to Norway, the United Kingdom and the Mediterranean. After the Nazi regime came to power in Germany in 1933, she was operated as part of the “Strength Through Joy” programme, which provided leisure activities and cheap holidays as a means of promoting the party's ideology. During WW2 she was a barrack ship, a troopship and an accommodation and recreational ship attached to the battleship Tirpitz. After other duties she was eventually captured by advancing British forces at Kiel and taken as a prize of war.

The ship was taken over by the Ministry of Transport, renamed Empire Windrush and operated by the New Zealand Shipping Company as a troopship.

In 1948, Empire Windrush, which was en route from Australia to England via the Atlantic, docked in Kingston, Jamaica to pick up servicemen who were on leave. The British Nationality Act 1948 had just been passed, giving British citizenship to all people living in Commonwealth countries full rights of entry and settlement in Britain. The ship was far from full, and so an advertisement was placed in a Jamaican newspaper offering cheap transport on the ship for anybody who wanted to come and work in the UK, The resulting group of 492 immigrants famously began a wave of migration from the Caribbean to the UK, which has led to the modern British multicultural society.

Sadly the Empire Windrush sank after an engine room fire in March 1954 with the loss of 4 engine room crew. For more info re-Empire Windrush see the PO Heritage archive fact sheet. One of the vessels assisting was the P&O cargo ship MV Socotra which picked up 470 survivors.

Roger Monk

Where are you from: Dartfrd Kent

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Re: A ship from the past

Great, informative post. Thanks.