Shipping & Shipbuilding News -  29 November 2007 - The Brightest Maritime Daily

Photo supplied by Stuart Cameron shows the lovely lines and craftmanship of the PRINCESS MARGUERITE prior to launch at the Clydebank shipyard

Launch Anniversary of the Day 
29th November 1924

A company famed for its great liners was the Canadian Pacific Railway, especially in the home waters where this website is produced, the Clyde. Older residents of this area well remember the great white hulled liners that somehow looked even grander than the Cunarders in their own way.

But CPR was also famed for their beautiful coastal passenger ships, one of which was the PRINCESS MARGUERITE launched today November 1924 at the John Brown shipyard in Clydebank.

A supremely elegant and luxurious turbine steamer of 5875 tons, with three distinctive funnels she, and her sister vessel PRINCESS KATHLEEN also built by John Brown soon proved popular on her regular route running between Seattle, Victoria and Vancouver.

Referred to as 'miniature liners' both ships were fast, attaining speeds in excess of 22 knots and were well appointed for the comfort of passengers.

After departing the Clydebank yard on 25th March 1925 she arrived at Victoria on the 20th April and settled into service that would uninterrupted until 1941 when the British Admiralty requisitioned her as a troop transport.

In her glory days
During her peacetime service she was graced by the presence of King George and Queen Elizabeth on their 1939 Canadian tour, crossing from Vancouver to Victoria. Their Majesties would likely have been as impressed with her as her regular passengers, fitted as she was with first class en suite staterooms and no doubt would have been well pleased with the smoking room, panelled with Indian carvings.

As stated above, all this was to come to an end in 1941 when she was pressed into service as a troop ship. Her attractive black and white livery with yellow and black funnels was brushed out with wartime grey she departed Canada on 7th November 1941 for Honolulu, along with her equally drably painted sister, and eventually reached Port Said in January 1942 where they commenced their troop carrying roles.

For seven months PRINCESS MARGUERITE ferried troops around the Med until the morning of August 17th. She had departed Port Said as usual with her cargo of troops when UBoat 83 spotted her in the afternoon and at 15:07 sent 4 torpedoes into the hapless vessel that caused her to catch fire. Men scrambled into lifeboats, or jumped into to the sea, evading the fuel oil that was burning on the waters. Five of her crew and 44 troops were killed, but 119 crew and 954 troops survived, being rescued by HMS HERO and taken back to Port Said.

At four minutes before four o'clock, the once handsome and much loved PRINCESS MARGUERITE, now a burning wreck, slid beneath the waves and yet another fine product of the Roaring Twenties was a victim of war.


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