25th County of London Cyclist Battalion
The London Regiment


S.S. Erinpura

The Erinpura was one of the ships which brought the troops home from India. Harry Denison was one of those, departing Bombay on the 8 June 1919. It would appear that whilst on this voyage back to the UK the Erinpura ran aground in the Red Sea (see notes below). How the troops got home is unknown to me but Harry Denison arrived back in the UK on the 2 Aug 1919. Similar journeys at this time took 3-4 weeks, however Harry's record show that his took about 3 weeks longer, no doubt as a result of the mishap.


Erinpura is presumably named after the town of Erinpura, Jodhpur, Rajastan, India. She was built by William Denny and Brothers, of Dumbarton and launched in 1911 and was one of seven sisters built for the Bay of Bengal / Singapore Straits Service. Erinpura had the distinction of being the first British India ship built for Eastern Service fitted with radio. 

She was used as a troopship early in the First World War, carrying troops from Karachi to Marseilles, and then to Sanniya in Iraq. She ran aground while sailing up the river to Abadan on 24 December 1914 and sustained some damage. After applying full power astern she was able to release herself but unfortunately was unable to slow and found herself striking the opposite bank damaging her rudder. She was however able to make the return voyage to Bombay. She made several more trooping voyages until becoming a hospital ship in August 1915, supporting the Indian Expeditionary Force with 475 beds and 104 medical staff. She served on the Basra-Bombay Service, and from November 1917 was used as an ambulance transport.

She ran aground again on 15 June 1919, this time on the Mushejera Reef in the Red Sea. Her passengers and troops were taken off by HMS Topaze and taken to Aden, but attempts to pull Erinpura off failed. It was eventually decided to cut the bow of the ship off, towing the stern to Aden, and leaving the bow stuck on the reef. A new bow was ordered from the original builders Dennys. The stern was towed to Bombay where the new bow section was fitted, and she returned to service in 1923.

She was called up during the Munich Crisis in 1938, and was requisitioned for the Liner Division in March 1940. Erinpura was used as a troop transport in the Mediterranean, and in 1943 was the commodore's ship, under the command of Captain P.V. Cotter, in a Malta-bound convoy with three other British India ships, Karoa, Egra and Rohna, and twenty other merchantmen escorted by eleven warships. The convoy was attacked thirty miles north of Benghazi on 1 May 1943 by German bombers, with Erinpura being hit by a bomb in one of her holds. She sank within four minutes of being hit. Two junior engineers, 54 Indian seamen, three Gunners and 600 Basuto Pioneer Troops were lost with her.

In hospital livery.

P&O fact sheet
* indicates entries changed during P&O Group service. 
Type  Passenger/cargo liner 
P&O Group service  1914-1943 
P&O Group status  Owned by subsidiary company 
Registered owners British India Steam Navigation Company Ltd 
Builders  William Denny & Bros 
Yard  Dumbarton 
Yard number  945
Official number 132998
Call sign  HVBL 
Classification society Lloyd’s Register 
Gross tonnage  5,128 grt 
Net tonnage  2,759 nrt 
Deadweight  4,750 tons 
Length  125.27m (411.0ft) 
Breadth  16.00m (52.5ft) 
Depth  7.52m (24.7ft) 
Draught  7.132m (23.4ft) 
Engines  2 triple expansion steam engines 
Engine builders  Denny & Co Ltd, Dumbarton 
Power  6,657 ihp 
Propulsion  Twin screw 
Speed  16.7 knots (trials) 
Passenger capacity*  51 first class, 39 second class, 2,359 deck passengers 
Cargo capacity 5,304 cubic metres (187,308 cubic feet) 
Crew 110 (26 officers, 84 ratings) 
Employment*  Calcutta/Straits service 
09.10.1911  Launched. 
06.12.1911  Delivered as Erinpura for British India Steam Navigation Company at a cost of £108,606. She was the sixth ship of the E-class to be delivered with the other ships named Ellenga, Edavana, lephanta, Egra, Ellora and Ekma. 
24.06.1914  Takeover of British India Steam Navigation Company by The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company agreed. 
9.1914 Took part in the major convoy from India to Karachi. 
24.12.1914  Grounded while crossing the Muhanrah Bar, off the Great Hanish Islands in the Red Sea, on her way up the river to Abadan. She was able to pull herself off by giving full power astern but could not stop before striking the opposite bank. Damage included a twisted rudder and rudder stock. 
1914 Continued on as a transport during the war. 
8.1916 Taken up, along with her sister Ellora, as an Indian Expeditionary Force Hospital Ship with 475 beds and 104 medical staff. Employed mainly from Basra to Bombay. 
11.1917/  Became an ambulance transport. 
15.06.1919  Ran aground on Mushejera Reef in the Red Sea enroute from Bombay to Marseilles. She struck the reef bow on and came to rest with her stem 27 feet out of the water. The call for help came from HMS Topaze which took the passengers and troops to Aden before returning with the Perim Salvage Co’s tug Meyun. The Erinpura would not come free and she was abandoned with a skeleton maintenance staff on board. 
1920 The Svitzer Salvage Company resumed salvage efforts, however, bad weather had split the starboard side forward and bottoms of Nos.1 and 2 holds had been crushed as she worked on the reef. 
14.09.1920  The company felt that half a ship was better than no ship so the decision was made to cut her in half just forward of the bridge. The stern was refloated. The bow section was abandoned and the stern section with accommodation and engines was towed to Aden. 
26.02.1921  Stern of Erinpura left Aden in tow of the Waroonga and Kapurthala. 
05.03.1921  Arrived at Bombay where the stern was joined to its new bow (fabricated by Dennys) in the Mazagon Dockyard. 
1923 Erinpura returned to service based in the Bay of Bengal, running from Madras to Rangoon or Singapore. 
3.194 Requisitioned for the Liner Division and had several periods as a Personnel Ship. 
12.1941 Permanently serving as a Personnel Ship. 
01.05.1943  While in convoy on her way from Alexandria to Tripoli and Malta with 179 crew, 11 gunners and 1,025 Basuto Pioneer Corps on board. She was struck by a bomb and sank in four minutes with the loss of 54 crew, three gunners and 600 of the Pioneers. 

 Courtesy of P&O Heritage

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