Union-Castle Wartime Losses

The Union-Castle Line lost a fair amount of tonnage during the two World Wars, often with disastrous results. Unfortunately a proportion of these were Hospital Ships, and they should never have appeared on this page.

I do not profess to be an expert on this subject, and it is very possible that some of my information may not be correct. Please correct me where I am wrong. 

This page is slowly under construction, but the gist of it is all here.

First World War

Alnwick Castle: On 19/03/1917 she was torpedoed 310 miles of the Bishop Rock U-81 with 40 casualties.

Aros Castle:  Torpedoed 21/11/1917 by U-90 300 miles west of Bishop Rock while underway  from London to Baltimore in ballast.

Carlisle Castle:  On 14/02/1918 while en-route from Portland, Maine to London she was torpedoed by UB-57 near to the Royal Sovereign lightship in the English Channel.

Dover Castle: (Hospital Ship) Torpedoed by UC-67 on 17/05/1917,  north of Bone in the Mediterranean whilst underway from Bone-Malta-Gibraltar. All 632 patients were saved

Galway Castle: On 12/09/1918 while two days outbound from Plymouth, she was torpedoed by U-82 and broke her back. In the rush to abandon ship several lifeboats were swamped by the heavy seas and many finished up in the sea. The Galway Castle remained afloat for three days. 143 lost their lives.

Galway Castle

Galway Castle

The major memorial to those who lost their lives on the Galway Castle is at Hollybrook Cemetery in Southampton. The military personnel (27 names) are listed on plaques 48, 49 and 50 of the Hollybrook Memorial while the crew members (32 names) are listed at Tower Hill Merchant Navy Memorial (Pier 6, Course 5, Face H, Column B).

Plaque 48 Hollybrook Cemetery
Plaque 48
Plaque 49 Hollybrook Cemetery
Plaque 49
plaque 50 Hollybrook Cemetery
plaque 50
Tower Hill
Tower Hill
Pier 6
Column B

Glenart Castle: (Hospital Ship).  On 26/02/1918, while travelling en route for Brest, from Newport in South Wales to Brest, she was torpedoed and sunk by U-56, 20 miles west of Lundy Island. Only 38 people survived out of a total crew an medical staff of 206. Some of the military casualties are mentioned at Hollybrook Cemetery in Southampton on plaques 39,40 and 41. and Merchant Navy casualties are on Tower Hill Memorial (Pier 6, Course 8, Face H, Column E).  There is also a memorial to the ship at Hartland Point in Devon

Plaque 39

Plaque 39

Plaque 40

Plaque 40

Plaque 41

Plaque 41

Llandovery Castle: (Hospital Ship). On 27/06/1918,  whilst en route from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Liverpool she was attacked without warning by U-86 118 miles southwest of Fastnet. The U-boat then turned its guns on the lifeboats and sank all but one. 24 people including the master, Captain Sylvester survived, but 234 others, including 88 medical staff were lost. (Plaque 42 at Hollybrook has 3 names on it). A number of the Canadian Nursing staff are commemorated on the Halifax Memorial, Nova Scotia, Canada

Llandovery Castle

Comrie Castle:Technically not a casualty, she was torpedoed on 14 March 1918, in the English Channel off St. Catherine’s Point, Isle of Wight (close to where the HMT Mendi went down), whilst en route to New York. She was beached and refloated twice before being repaired and subsequently returned to service. There is a grave in Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery that commemorates 7 men who died at their posts in the torpedoing. 

There is also a plaque at Tower Hill Memorial with 3 names from the Comrie Castle on it. JP Malin is buried at Haslar. 

They all lost their lives in the same incident as their date of death is also 14/02/1918

Second World War

Charles LD: The ship was managed by Union-Castle but not manned by them.  On 09/12/1942 she was torpedoed by U-553 about 405 miles east of Cape Farewell. 34 crew members and two French gunners were lost.

Dunbar Castle:  On 08/01/1940, en-roue from London for Beira, she hit a magnetic mine off east Cliff, Ramsgate in the English Channel, her back broken on an even keel with loss of 9 lives including her Master.

Dunbar Castle

Dundrum Castle: While en-route from Liverpool to South Africa via the Suez Canal she caught fire on 02/04/1943 while in the Red Sea, was abandoned and sank.

Dunvegan Castle: On 27/08/1940 she was torpedoed by U-46 off western Ireland while escorting a convoy to Freetown. 27 Lives were lost.


Durham Castle: On 26/01/1940, while under tow to Scapa Flow for use as a base accommodation ship, she was mined off Cromarty, although U-57 claimed her as her victim.

Dromore Castle:  On 12/12/1942 she was mined and sunk whilst in a convoy 20 miles south-east of the River Humber. No lives were lost.

Gloucester Castle:  On 05/07/1942  off the Ascension Islands she  was shelled and sunk by the German surface raider Schiff 28, Michel. Out of 154 persons on board 82 crew members, 6 women, 2 children and 3 male passengers were killed.

Gloucester Castle

Llandaff Castle:  Torpedoed by U-177) 100 miles off Zululand on 30/11/1942. Two lives were lost.

Landaff Castle

Rothesay Castle: 04/01/1940 while en-route to Glasgow from New York she ran aground at Sanaig Point on the Isle of Islay and was a total loss.

Rowallan Castle: On 14/02/1942, while part of convoy MW 9B from Alexandria to Malta, she was bombed by German aircraft and reduced to a hulk. Taken in tow HMS Zulu she was clearly settling in the water and she was sunk.

Roxburgh Castle : On 22/02/1943 she was torpedoed by U-107 off Ferraria Point in the Azores whilst sailing independently of a convoy.

Richmond Castle:  Torpedoed by U-176 on 04/08/1942 while in the North Atlantic.

Walmer Castle: On 21/09/1941 she was attacked by a Focke Wulf Kondor of I/KG 40 from Bordeaux, some 700 miles west of Ushant. She managed to dodge two bombs but a third scored a direct hit killing the captain, 10 of the crew and 2 rescued seamen. The remaining 12 crew members and 52 rescued survivors were picked up by HMS Marigold and HMS Deptford and the derelict hulk was sunk by gunfire.

Warwick Castle: On 12/11/1942, while north of Gibraltar off the Portuguese coast, she was torpedoed by U-413 and sank after landing troops in North Africa.

Warwick Castle

Windsor Castle: (Largest loss in terms of tonnage) On 23/03/1943, whilst travelling in a Mediterranean convoy, she was attacked by a solitary aircraft 110 miles north-west of Algiers. She was struck by an aerial torpedo aft which caused extensive flooding and she sank 13 hours later. Only 1 life was lost.

Windsor Castle

Memorials and Remembrance.

There are very few memorials to the Union-Castle casualties, although they do exist. Most of those lost with the company are commemorated on either Tower Hill Merchant Navy Memorial in London or  Hollybrook Memorial to the Missing in Southampton, where ironically most Union-Castle Mailships were based.  The B and C Staff Register page has more on the Union Castle Casualties.

Union-Castle Commemorative Plaque at the National Memorial Arboretum.

Union-Castle Commemorative Plaque at the National Memorial Arboretum.

© DRW 2016-2018. Created 14/05/2016, added more pics and edited tables 27/07/2016