Braemar Castle (1)


Braemar Castle was built in 1898 as one of the last ships for the Castle Line before its merger with the Union Line. She was built by Barclay, Curle & Co., of Glasgow.

A handsome four-master, Braemar Castle was the first Castle intermediate steamer built without yards on her foremast.

During the Boer War she carried her quota of troops and in 1902 very nearly came to grief on the Isle of Wight where she lay stranded for two day in January 1902.

In 1909 she was taken over by the British Government as a hired transport and as such she removed her Union-Castle colours for those of a peace-time trooper, Yellow funnel and a white hull with blue ribbon. In this unfamiliar livery she paid occasional visits to the Cape on her way to or from the East.

She had been running again on the intermediate service for a year or two when on 6 August 1914 she was hurriedly pressed into service as a transport and rushed a portion of the first British contingent over to France. For over a year she served as a troopship until in October 1915 she was converted into a hospital ship.

On 23 November 1916 while in the eastern Mediterranean she struck a mine in the Mykoni Channel. Four lives were lost but the Braemar Castle, fortunately, was beached and temporary repairs patched up. For three months she lay in Malta awaiting repairs but the dockyard was too busy with naval work to take her on and so she was taken across to Spezzia where the Italians made her seaworthy once more. Resuming her duties as hospital ship and ambulance transport she then made a trip to Canada in December 1917 and some months afterwards it was decided to use her in connection with the North Russian Campaign - the Murmansk Venture - which was underatken in 1918.

Intervention in North Russia had become necessary in order to craete a diversion, for since the collapse of the Russian Army, the Germans had been transferring their men in thousands to the Western Front. It was the German aim to establish a submarine base at Murmansk, while at Archangel there lay vast quantities of stores which had been sent to Russia when that country was still a member of the Alliance.

The expedition duly set out and Braemar Castle was designated as the base hospital at Murmansk. Her decks were boarded in so as to provide increased accommodation and also to keep out the cold. Her curious appearance won her the name of “Noah’s Ark” by which she was known during her stay in the Far North. Surrounded by ice Braemar Castle lay at Murmansk for nearly a year. Every day parties of Russian refugees were set to work to break the ice which so often threatened to pinch the vessel.

Most of the distinguished men engaged in the campaign visited her, including Sir Ernest Shackleton, himself a former Union-Castle officer, who was in charge of Arctic equipment.

When the campaign drew to its close Braemar Castle was sent back to Leith with invalids and then went across to Archangel, being the last veseel to leave the port before the evacuation.

The European War had now been over for some months but Braemar Castle was used as a transport until June 1920 when she once again took an intermediate sailing to the Cape. This proved to be her last visit to South Africa, for on her return home she was again requisitioned as a trooper wnd was sent to India and China. She was also used in connection with the post-War trouble in Turkey in 1922.

Not long afterwards she was sold to Italian shipbreakers and scrapped in 1924

Mined in the Aegean Sea 1916

As a hospital ship

Boarding troops at Southampton

Service in The Great War

Service in the Boer War

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