Passenger list for HMS Captain Cook left England Feb 5th 1952?

November 06, 2009
Subject: Kate Smith

I was just wondering if there was a passenger list for HMS Captain Cook left England Feb 5th 1952.

I was on this ship and wonder where we disembarked in NZ and when. I  have a few photos on board  the vessel.

Kate Smith ( nee Linden Kay Greenwood)


Here we go, it was a merchant ship with several name changes.  From Rootsweb.

Built as the LETITIA in 1924 by the Fairfield Co, Glasgow for the Donaldson Line of Glasgow. She was a 13,475 gross ton ship, length overall 538ft x beam 66.4ft, one funnel, two masts, twin screw and a speed of 15 knots. There was accommodation for 516-cabin and 1,000-3rd class passengers.

Launched on 14th Oct.1924, she sailed from Glasgow on her maiden voyage to Liverpool, Quebec and Montreal on 24th Apr.1925, and she ran a joint service with the ill-fated ATHENIA to Quebec and Montreal in the summer and Halifax and St John NB in the winter. In 1927 her accommodation was altered, to carry 298-cabin, 310-tourist and 964-3rd class passengers.

In 1939 she was requisitioned by the Admiralty and commisioned as an Armed Merchant Cruiser. She later became a troopship and was extensively damaged in 1943 and was temporarily repaired in the USA. In 1944 she was taken over by the Canadian Government and converted into a hospital ship with a medical staff of 200 and a capacity for 1,000 wounded. Over the next year or so she carried over 7,000 sick and wounded back to Canada and was on her way to the Pacific theatre of war when Japan surrendered. She was then used for the repatriation of Canadian troops and families. While still engaged in this work, she was sold in 1946 to the Ministry of Transport and renamed EMPIRE BRENT.

While on route to Halifax in 1947, she collided with and sank the STORMONT in the River Mersey and had to be drydocked in Birkenhead with stem damage. In December 1947, she was completely overhauled on the Clyde and refitted as a troopship. Used for trooping voyages to India and the Far East until 1949 when she commenced an emigration service between the UK and Australia with a capacity for 965 emigrants.

Withdrawn from this service late in 1950, she was laid up for about six months and was then completely reconditioned as a New Zealand emigrant ship with accommodation for 1,088 passengers in two-, four-, and six berth cabins. Renamed CAPTAIN COOK, her ownership was to pass gradually to the New Zealand government, who were paying for her by instalments. She commenced sailings from Glasgow via Panama to Wellington on 5th Feb.1952, taking about 33 days, sometimes being used to repatriate troops from the Far East on the return voyage.

From April to October 1955 she was chartered to Donaldsons and made seven round voyages between Glasgow, Liverpool and Montreal, but then went back to the New Zealand service. In 1957 she had a fire while in Wellington, but was able to sail to the UK for repairs. She arrived at Glasgow at the end of her 25th New Zealand voyage in February 1960, was laid up at Falmouth and was then sold to British Iron and Steel Corporation, towed to Inverkeithing and broken up. [Donaldson Atlantic Liner "Letitia" of 1925 by Captain J.H.Isherwood, Sea Breezes Magazine, September 1967]


In the early twenties, Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Co Ltd of  Glasgow built two very similar sister ships for the Donaldson Line. One was  called ATHENIA, and was to achieve a certain kind of fame by being torpedoed and sunk by U30 on September 3rd 1939, the first passenger liner to be sunk in the war. She second ship was to have a varied and much longer career and was named LETITIA.

She was launched on October 14th 1924 and completed in April 1925. She  grossed 13,475 tons, was 538' long overall, and had a beam of 66.3'. Geared turbines drove the ship through twin screws at a speed between 14 and 16 knots and she was built to burn either coal or oil. Her crew numbered 300 and she could carry 516 Cabin Class passengers with 1,023 in Third Class. She began her maiden voyage on April 25th 1925 and thus introduced herself to the Glasgow-Montreal service on which she was to run until 1939. In 1933 she was given a refit in which her passenger accommodation was modified to take 298 in Cabin Class, 310 in Tourist, and 964 in Third.

At the start of World War Two, LETITIA was converted first to an AMC and  later to a troopship. Her role changed again in 1944 when she was taken over by the Canadian Government for conversion to a hospital ship. She survived in this role until the end of the war when she was bought by the British Ministry of Transport. She remained under Donaldson management but was renamed EMPIRE BRENT. On November 20th 1946 she was involved in a collision with the British steamer STORMONT which sank.

A refit on the Clyde between December 1947 and mid-1948 prepared EMPIRE BRENT for her post-war employment and she began her first trooping voyage to the Far East in July 1948. By 1950 she was being run outward bound to Australia with emigrants and being used as a troopship on homeward journeys as required. During this period of her life the ship might best have been described as an "associated unit" of the peacetime trooping fleet. In June 1951 she began yet another refit, which was to last until January 1952, to convert her fully to an emigrant carrier. Her gross tonnage was increased to 13,876 tons and she was able now to carry 1,088 passengers in one class. She left Glasgow for New Zealand for the first voyage after this refit on February 5th 1952.

The latest refit had been brought about by the ship having been chartered to the New Zealand Government in 1951. She was kept under Donaldson management but renamed CAPTAIN COOK and ran from Glasgow to New Zealand via Panama.

Still she made the occasional voyage home from the Far East with British military personnel. Between April and October 1955 her itinerary was varied somewhat when she ran seven voyages from Glasgow to Liverpool and Montreal for Donaldson, the route of her maiden voyage thirty years earlier.

CAPTAIN COOK'S New Zealand charter expired in the summer of 1959 and was not renewed. The vessel was old, and as no further employment could be found for her, she was sent for breaking by TW Ward at Inverkeithing where she arrived on April 29th 1960.

Am afraid no passenger lists could I find.


November 07, 2009
Dear Mac thanks for getting back.

I did find a passenger list would you believe this morning on a site called Find My Past I paid my 25 quid, and  was horrified to see the in-discrepancies these people had on passenger information.

For example they had my name wrong, my age wrong, the year of birth wrong, and worst of all the date it sailed. They had the 1st Feb  instead of the 5th, and in you historical information you had the 5th, I knew it was the 5th of Feb 1952,  I have it on the back of photos. We were also in the newspapers as it was the first immigrant sailing for this ship.

I even have the date post marked on this postcard that was sent by my father just before it set sail to let the folks know to get the newspaper article. Take a look, postmarks do not lie. So I have sent this passenger list an email to complain today, most likely will get me nowhere, but like to try at least.

Although I was only 5 years old I remember quite a lot about this voyage, I remember the Panama Canal and some of the things onboard, I made  a friendship on board with a girl my age, this friendship is alive and well today. We both live in Australia now where I go, she goes.

Thanks again much appreciated.
Kate Smith ( nee Linden Kay Greenwood)

Here is my dads postcard.


Thank you for that, some sites are just hopeless with the poor level of  information they carry.

I trust you demanded your money back from them, to pay for a heap of junk is a bit much.

I was unable to open your Dad's postcard, are you please able to send it in the body of an E-mail?

We would  like to add it to AHOY.

Best regards,

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