Troopships and the Regiment
Some voyages of the East Surrey Regiment
In 1702 a regiment was mustered commanded by a Colonel Villiers, this gave the regiment one of its first titles – Villiers Marines. They had been formed as marines and it was fitting that their first voyage was aboard the ships HMS Suffolk and Grafton bound for Cadiz. They sailed from Plymouth in May 1702. They returned to England and embarked again on the Suffolk and Grafton to serve in the Fleet in the Mediterranean. Near Malta their first commanding officer was drowned. Command was assumed by Colonel Alexander Luttrell giving his name to the regiment – Luttrells Marines.
In June 1867 the moved from Kilkenny, embarked at Queenstown on 1st June and arrived in Malta on the 22nd June.
Then on 28th February 1873 they embarked on HMT Jumna for Gibraltar taking up quarters in Buena Vista Barracks.
In November 1803 the 70th regiment embarked in the in the Pandour, an old 44 gun warship fitted to transport troops. On Christmas Day 1803 they arrived at Barbados, on the island of Antigua.
On the 10th September 1884 the 2nd Surreys moved from India, Bombay embarked on HMT Himalaya. The battalion disembarked at Suez on 26th September and moved to Cairo. The women and children continued in the Himalaya to England.
One of the voyages undertaken during The First World War was that of 1/6th Surreys who moved from Southampton on board the SS Grantully Castle bound for India.
In February 1948 170 reinforcements for 1st Bn The East Surrey Regiment landed in Salonika from the SS Otranto.
1st Surreys returned from Russia in October 1919 aboard several ships and then early in 1920 it embarked for Dublin, Ireland for a six month tour, they returned to England in June 1920 and on the 19th November embarked at Southampton for Palestine. However, orders were received whilst on voyage and the destination changed to Port Said where they disembarked. 1st Surreys left Egypt for Khartoum in April 1923 aboard HMT Somersetshire. 2nd Surreys left the UK in February 1920 bound for Egypt, however orders were received during the voyage to go on to Turkey and they disembarked at Constantinople. After a few months the battalion re-embarked on HMT Teutonic on the 23rd August and landed at Liverpool on 2nd September 1920.
On 1st September 1938 the 2nd Battalion sailed from Southampton bound for Shanghai aboard HMT Lancashire but because of the situation in Europe they were disembarked at Singapore but later moved to Shanghai in the submarine depot ship HMS Medway. 1st Surreys, 1/6th and 2/6th Surreys all served with the BEF in 1940 but no record of the ships they moved in is in the archives. On the evacuation of France in June 1940 an unknown number of the 2/6th Surreys were embarked on the SS Lancastria. As the world knows now, after the Germans had bombed the ship she sank with over four thousand deaths.
Then on the 14th October 1st Surreys embarked on HMS Karanja which joined a large convoy forming up in the Clyde. On the 27th, forty-nine ships began their voyage, the spearhead of Operation ‘Torch’, the invasion of North Africa.
On the 7th December 1945 2 Surreys embarked with 4th Bn The Black Watch on the SS Samaria at Liverpool for Palestine.
During the First and Second World Wars, the Government had to charter ships mainly from British India and Bibby Lines to cover the Middle and Far East and Cunard to cover the North Atlantic runs. (Point of note: British India line, their vessels mostly ended by the letter A (Nevasa, Uganda, Kenya, Dunera and Devonia) whereas the Bibby Lines ended the names ‘shire’ Lancashire, Devonshire, Warwickshire and Oxfordshire).
Acknowledgements: K Petvin-Scudemore - www.britisharmedforces.org
M Tootill, auther of Memorable Ships, N Lawrance Esq for allowing us to use extractes from his excellent article.