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Clyde Steamers-WWII Service

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PS Waverley

The first PS Waverley was built in 1899 and served in both World War I and World War II.

Requisitioned for use as a minesweeper in 1915, then returned to service at the end of the war.

Requisitioned for the second time in September 1939, again for use as a minesweeper. She was bombed and sunk at the evacuation of Dunkirk in May 1940.

She was carrying some 600 troops evacuated from the beaches. Many of them died together with most of the ship’s company died after the steamer came under air attack and a bomb penetrated the hull.

The modern PS Waverley seen on excursions around the Clyde and the coast was built in 1946, at the Pointhouse yard of A & J Inglis, at the mouth of the River Kelvin.

TS King Edward

TS King Edward was an excursion steamer built at Dumbarton for service down the River Clyde to the Firth of Clyde and associated sea lochs on the west coast of Scotland, as far as Campbeltown. It was the first commercial vessel to be driven by steam turbines.

The steamer operated from 1901 until 1951, and saw service in both World War I and World War II.

During World War I, she served as a troopship sailing mostly between England and France, but later as an ambulance ship in the White Sea.

Requisitioned as a troopship during World War II, she soon returned to service in 1943.

PS Duchess of Fife

The PS Duchess of Fife was built in 1903 and saw service in both World War I and World War II.

Requisitioned as a minesweeper in 1916, the streamer returned to commercial service at the end of World War I.

Requisitioned for the second time in 1939, and again served as a minesweeper.

The Duchess of Fife took part in the evacuation from Dunkirk, and was later converted for anti-aircraft training in the Firth of Forth.

TS Queen Alexandra

TS Queen Alexandra was a MacBrayne turbine steamer built in 1912 to cruise on the Clyde, and saw service in both World War I and World War II. Following extensive modifications, In 1935, extensive modification saw her renamed as as Saint Columba, after which she took over the "Royal Route" from Glasgow to Ardrishaig until being scrapped in 1958.

Requisitioned in February 1915, and assigned transport duties.

Requisition in World War II, and used as an accommodation vessel moored in the East India Harbour, Greenock, serving the boom defence depot.

PS Jeanie Deans

PS Jeanie Deans was built by the Fairfield yard at Govan in 1931. Built for the LNER Company, the paddle steamer design had been chosen to operate in the relatively shallow water of Craigendoran. Modification carried out in 1932 saw new funnels and a forward deck house being fitted.

Requisitioned in October 1939, renamed HMS Jeanie Deans, served as a minesweeper and operated at Ardrossan, Portsmouth, and Milford Haven. She was then modified to serve as auxiliary anti-aircraft ship and based at Sheerness, operating from the Humber to the Thames Estuary.

Returning to the Clyde after the war ended, she required extensive alterations before returning to commercial operation, which resulted in her displacement increasing from 635 GRT to 814 GRT.

TS Duchess of Hamilton

TS Duchess of Hamilton was built by Harland & Wolff in 1932. The hull was constructed in Govan, while the engines were made in Belfast. The coal fired steamer had three turbines and achieved a speed of 20.65 knots on trials. Built for The Caledonian Steam Packet Co (CSPC) to carry out excursions on the Firth of Clyde.

Requisitioned during World War II, for use as a troop ship on the route between Stranraer and Larne.

She survived her war service and was returned to CSPC after the war.

PS Caledonia

PS Caledonia was built by Denny of Dumbarton in 1934, for the Caledonian Steam Packet Company (CSPC). Clyde steamers of the period usually had more than one funnel, and had decorative ventilated paddle boxes. Caledonia had only one funnel, while her paddle boxes were clad in steel sheet.

Requisitioned in 1939 and renamed HMS Goatfell, since HMS Caledonia was already in existence. She served with the 11th Minesweeping Flotilla and was based in Rothesay, and carried out minesweeping duties in the Firth of Clyde and its approaches.

In May 1940, the flotilla was ordered to travel south to take part in Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of Dunkirk. However, problems and delays in coaling on the way there meant that she arrived too late to take part in the operation.

In 1941, she was again refitted to serve as an anti-aircraft ship, and spent the following years operating between the Humber, Weymouth, Harwich, and the Thames.

In June 1944 she took part in the D-Day invasion at Omaha Beach. She ended her war service as an escort to vessels entering Amsterdam.

At the end of the war, she was handed back to CSPC on May 9, 1945, and returned to service on the Clyde.

PS Mercury

PS Mercury was built by Fairfield in Govan in 1934.

Requisitioned in September 1939, she served as a minesweeper

She was lost after striking a mine in the sea off the Irish coast, in December 1940.

MV Royal Scotsman

MV Royal Scotsman was built in 1936 by Harland and Wolff at Belfast for the Burns and Laird Lines as Yard No 964. She entered service as a passenger and cargo ferry operating in the Irish Sea, between Belfast and Glasgow.

Requisitioned in October 1940 as a store carrier, she later served as a landing ship. She saw action inn the Mediterranean during the invasions of North Africa (Operation Torch), Sicily, and Italy.

PS Jupiter

PS Jupiter was built by Fairfield in Govan in 1937.

Requisitioned in October 1939 and served as a minesweeper. The steamer was also used a an anti-aircraft ship in the Thames, and then served at the Mulberry Harbour following the D-Day invasion.

PS Juno

PS Juno was built by Fairfield in Govan in 1937.

Sunk while serving as HMS Helvellyn, during an enemy bombing raid over London in 1941.

DEPV Talisman

Although not a steamer, Talisman deserves mention.

DEPV Talisman was the world's first diesel electric paddle vessel (DEPV), built in 1935 as a passenger ferry on the Clyde.

Talisman was requisitioned in August 1940, becoming HMS Aristocrat since there was already an HMS Talisman in existence, The renamed vessel served as an anti-aircraft ship.

Next used as a headquarters ship for the Mullberry Harbour, both during and and after the D-Day invasion.

Talisman returned to service after the war, generally on the Largs to Millport route which she served for 14 years.


  • The Clyde at War


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