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Battleship: 1940

Battleship: 1940

Circa 1940, somewhere on the high seas. "Boxing match in progress on the deck of New Zealand troopship Dominion Monarch, carrying 2nd Echelon 4th Reinforcements to the United Kingdom. Probably Empress of Russia seen sailing in the background." View full size.


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Handsome Rakes : Group

My wife insists that she has never seen a group of men with such sweet smiles, pleasing visages and so delicious masculiny (her adjective)fit.

To keep peace in the family and my changing screensaver of Pretty Girls please include these gentleman in the Handsome Rakes category.

Date and number discrepancies

If it's 1940, it's very late 1940, since according to this page she wasn't requisitioned until August of that year.

An odd tidbit that I notice: it says she carried "over 29,000" troops, which at 3550 bunks implies only around 8 trips. Seems low, for 5 years of war. Perhaps it was in truth over 290,000? Or is that too high?

More on Montana Peak

The hats may have been called that in the US, but in New Zealand they are affectionately called "lemon squeezers", for obvious reasons.

Montana peak

Note the campaign hats shown being worn by some of these Kiwi troops (those ain't Boy Scouts, bub!). New Zealand and the US were the only two nations to pair that kind of hat with that crown configuration -- the so-called Montana peak. The US Army abandoned the hat shortly after we entered WWII, for obvious reasons, but I believe the New Zealand forces kept it on for a while. I still have my father's US Army campaign hat, a Stetson for which he paid $100 in 1925. Along with the saber, riding boots, and Sam Browne belt he was also required to purchase upon commissioning (which I also keep but rarely have occasion to use!), it took him a year to get his accounts back in the black.

It's worth mentioning that the Government-issue enlisted version of said hat, in the US at least, was an execrably cheap and shoddy affair, impossible to cram into a duffle bag without being permanently deformed, hard to keep on one's head during strenuous activity, and a lot less protective than a steel helmet in combat. Nonetheless, many photos verify that it remained a favorite with General Vinegar Joe Stilwell long after it ceased to be part of the official uniform. For keeping the sun and rain out of one's eyes, it was nonpareil.

Life of the "Dominion Monarch" at sea.

Here's the sailing history of the "Dominion Monarch."

Distant Ship

While similar, the distant ship does not have the funnels rake of the Queen Mary.

Bare Knuckle Bout

Watch your step.

Not Romanov but Windsor.

The ship in the background is actually the Queen Mary. The Empress of Russia had a lower freeboard and more spindly funnels.

Luxury liner, interrupted

Built on the River Tyne in the late 1930's for the Shaw Savill Line, the Dominion Monarch was a rare example of a passenger liner that also could carry large amounts of cargo: to be specific, 525 passengers, 3,600 tons of dry cargo and 12,800 tons of frozen or refrigerated cargo. It served the Britain-Australia/New Zealand route for only about a year until the outbreak of war. Shortly thereafter, the British government requisitioned the ship and had it re-outfitted as a troopship, with its passenger capacity increased dramatically to over 3,500 ... clearly, the soldiers were packed in pretty tightly.

After the war, having regained ownership, Shaw Savill converted the Dominion Monarch back to passenger/cargo service and returned it to the Britain - Down Under route. Over the years, however, that service began to make less and less economic sense. Its last regular trip was in early 1962, at which point it went to Seattle to serve as a floating hotel during that city's World's Fair. In late 1962 the Dominion Monarch was scrapped in Japan.

The RMS Empress of Russia began service in 1913 and served as a troopship in both world wars. Between the wars it mainly served trans-Pacific routes. Despite its age, plans were to return the ship to passenger service after World War II ended, but shortly after the end of the war it was destroyed by fire while docked in Britain.

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