From: Frank Monteiro, by e-mail
I was sitting, waiting in the ophthalmology department of good Hope Hospital, Sutton Coldfield when I picked up your magazine ‘Shipping’ January 2016, issue 311 and caught sight of a picture on the front cover – two ships ‘Kampala’ and ‘Karanja’ and entitled ‘Memorable Ships’, an article composed by Norman Middlemiss.
It may well be of no interest to anyone else but I would like to add my own comments. This fascinating story held me enthralled as I read it. I would like to add my own tangential insight to it and if this postscript will not offend the author in his busy life, I would like him to read it too.
I remember well the BISN shipping line and their notable funnels. My Father (a Goan by birth) joined the firm on shore in Mumbai, in the middle1920s, as a single young man, subsequently going on board ship as bursar (or purser, not sure which) on the ships voyaging between Mumbai and East Africa, calling at Mombasa, Dar-es-Salaam, Beira, Moçambique and Durban. I recall seeing photographs of the band of the East African Rifles meeting the ships as the passengers came ashore (this is hearsay from my parents as I grew up). When he married my Mother in 1927, he was allocated the Persian gulf run, in the firm known there as gray, Mackenzie & Co. as far as I know, it was a good firm to work for. He was on shore at the various ports over the years, my Mother travelling with him, whenever he was moved. in the Arab ports of Muscat, Dubai, Sharjah, Bahrain, Basra and, on the Persian coast, the port of Bushire, my Father supervised the movement of mainly Indian passengers travelling up to these ports – usually single men aiming to start work, either in shipping, or the recently started oil companies, or Cable and Wireless. He also handled the cargo ships and I recall seeing ‘Karagola’ in Mumbai in the 1940s.
As an aside, my older sister was born in Mumbai in June 1928, my older brother was born in Basra in September 1930, I was born in Bahrain in November 1934, as was my younger sister in February 1939, just prior to the start of WW 2, when it was decided that shipping would cease plying the Persian gulf route. as a result, my Mother returned to Mumbai with the two younger children to reunite with two older children who were at the time in boarding school – while my Father stayed on in Bahrain. So, it was not until 1946, post-WW 2, that we saw him again for the first time.
Back to the main reason for my story. I recall going up to Kuwait during school holidays in 1947 in the ‘Dumra’ and in 1948 in the ‘Dwarka’ (which was not included in your tally of ships). I recall also that there was a B-class group of ships, of which I know that the ‘Barpeta’ was one – there were others too.
My Father left gray, Mackenzie in 1947, to start off on his own (with an Arab partner), handling imports of goods and services to the newly burgeoning State of Kuwait (it used to be known as Koweit). He maintained his connection with shipping in that he was agent for various other shipping lines – Hellenic, Maersk and Lauro. This was with the partnership of Behbehani, which is still operational, even though my father died in 1973. My brother then took it on and when he died in 2004, left a manager coping with it currently until its termination of contract in about 3 years‘ time.
Because docks had not been constructed at the various ports, the ship anchored about a mile off-shore awaiting the launch carrying the doctor, who was the first to go on board and only when medical clearance had been given could the disembarkation commence, for passengers, baggage and other goods and equipment which then had to be off-loaded onto tenders. This was a noisy procedure.
Much has changed since those halcyon days. I am glad that I am still in my right mind and can remember these details. I must include this in my ‘grandfather Remembers’ book, for the younger generation.
From: John Lane, by e-mail
I have read the very interesting article about the ‘Great Eastern’.
Although she did not achieve all that was intended of her, Brunel and the financiers behind the project are to be applauded for their foresight and courage to build such a ship.
From: Peter Harris, by e-mail
Although I have a huge collection of shipping histories I always enjoy the article Forgotten Fleets as I look for any items missed in my books or additional material. With reference to Turnbull Scott, I would like to point out that the author has listed Waynegate sunk by u73 which is correct. He then states she was sunk by the Italian Bianchi. This submarine was in the area and is credited with sinking Linaria as is U96 who sunk Anglo Peruvian. Eastgate was a Shell H Class so not a sister to Stonegate which was an a Class.
From: David Walker, by e-mail
Editor’s note: I apologise for the wrong caption below the photograph of Kuala Lumpur. I must still have been thinking of the Karanja, also a BI ship, that we featured a couple of months beforehand.
I enjoyed the article “Memorable Ships” in the April edition of Shipping. However there are a number of inaccuracies which I hope you will allow me to correct. First, The picture “Dilwara as built….” is clearly post her 1949, million pound rebuild. She has a heightened funnel and the well deck has been filled in. Secondly, “Dilwara in her final role as Nancowry” the picture shows Dilwara as Kuala Lumpur or “Kappal Hadji Kuala Lumpur” to give her, her full Malay title, in the livery of The Malay Moslem Commission the charterers during the yearly Pilgrim season. during, and post her trooping days, and in the ownership of The China Navigation Company of John Swire and Co. she was always in white livery. The Blue line of the trooping livery was raised and the colour changed to green. during The Pilgrim season.
She had a Buff funnel with a Malay Flag as shown in your second picture. during the Cruising season, in Australia, New Zealand and The W. Pacific she had a plain Buff coloured funnel except when she took the N.Z. Scouts to the Jamboree in Japan when she carried the Scouting Movement fleur de lis on her funnel.
I sailed for a year in 1967-68 as the Second Mate on Kuala Lumpur both on The Hajj (Pilgrim) season and Cruising. She had a passenger certificate in excess of two thousand for the pilgrim season and carried up to four hundred in the cruise season.
Dilwara/Kuala Lumpur was different from her sisters in that her Bridge was one deck above the Boat deck , with the Chartroom and the Masters accommodation abaft the Wheelhouse. Whereas in her sisters Dunera, Ettrick, and Devonshire the Bridge deck was two decks above the Boat deck, as clearly seen in the pictures of Dunera.
Finally I cannot recall Kuala Lumpur being given “a new funnel top with a curved lipped front”. She certainly had a long and successful thirty six years and in CNCOs’ service was always a happy ship.