Hospital ship HMHS Somersetshire

June 10, 2010


I don't know if you can help me, im looking for information and photos of H M T Atlantis and H S Somersetshire. Both ships served during WW11, my Auntie was a Sister on both. I know she was on the Atlantis May 1943 but nothing about her time on the Somersetshire. 

I found your site really interesting, thank you.


Hello Matthew,

Firstly thank you for your kind words about AHOY, it is a joint effort between my Web Master Terry Kearns in Atlanta Georgia, who turns my research and scribblings into the site AHOY, out there on the net for anyone who may stumble upon it. We are grateful to have feedback like yours, particularly if it is positive.

Some details on the Hospital ship Somersetshire:

HMHS Somersetshire

Photo courtesy of the Allen Collection

      Name HMHS Somersetshire
      Type: Hospital ship
      Tonnage 9,716 tons
      Completed 1921 - Harland & Wolff Ltd, Belfast 
      Owner Bibby Brothers & Co, Liverpool 
      Homeport Liverpool 
      Date of attack 7 Apr 1942 Nationality:      British
      Fate Damaged by U-453 (Egon Reiner von Schlippenbach)
      Position 32.13N, 26.34E - Grid CO 6896
      Complement 187 (7 dead and 180 survivors).
      Route Alexandria - Tobruk  
     Cargo None  

History Completed in June 1921 as motor merchant
Somersetshire for Bibby Brothers & Co, Liverpool.
1927 converted to a troopship with accommodation for
1300 troops. In October 1927 the ship sailed to
China and from January to May 1928 she transported
troops to Karachi and was laid up in Dartmouth
thereafter. During another voyage to China in 1931,
influenza broke out which affected 300 person but
fortunately there were no deaths. In September 1939,
 Somersetshire was requisitioned and converted into
HM Hospital Ship No.25 with 507 beds, 118 medical
staff and 171 crew members. She participated in the
withdrawal from Narvik in April 1940 and on 6 Dec,
1940, was bombarded from shore as her launches
brought of the wounded at Tobruk. In February 1941,
the ship joined her sistership HMHS Dorsetshire in
evacuating the wounded from the besieged Tobruk,
before operating from the Red Sea to South Africa,
Australia and New Zealand repatriating wounded

From 1944 to 1946, Somersetshire sailed all over the
world as a hospital ship and finishing up in the
Pacific. In February 1948, the ship was
decommissioned and rebuilt until November by Harland
& Wolff to a passenger ship with accommodation for
550 passengers. In 1953, the ship briefly returned
to trooping to East Africa during the Mau Mau
troubles and in March 1954 was broken up by Thos. W.
Ward in Barrow-in-Furness.

Notes on loss At 12.57 hours on 7 Apr, 1942, U-453
fired a spread of four torpedoes at a steamer of
10.000 grt and heard three detonations after 47
seconds. HMHS Somersetshire was not recognized as a
hospital ship by the U-boat. The ship, which was
carrying no patients, was hit on the starboard side
forward and settled by the head with a list. Seven
lives were lost. 114 crew members, 64 medical staff
members and two stewardesses abandoned ship in 13
lifeboats. The crew later reboarded her and managed
to reach Alexandria on the port engine and assisted
by tugs. The remaining survivors were picked up by a
Greek destroyer.
See URL: http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=52690 for some Pathe news reel film about Atlantis.

Kindest regards,

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