The Redhawks arrived at Port Said on 19 May 1944 aboard the SS Orduna, rather regarded as a worn old bucket of bolts.  After changing ships, on 21 May 1944, the Airmen of the 35th Photo reconnaissance Squadron departed Port Said, Egypt, headed south. It was the third ship they were aboard on the long journey over to China.

Aerial view Port Said (to right of canal), Egypt, looking south.  One can see the wakes of several ships in this image (Courtesy Wikipedia)

Aerial view Port Said (triangular-shaped area to right of canal), Egypt, and the northern end of the Suez Canal, looking south. One can see the wakes of several ships in this image (Courtesy Wikipedia)

In Port Said the squadron transferred to a vessel much better in condition and comforts, the troopship RMS Strathmore.

Postcard picture of the P&O Lines RMS Strathmore (Courtesy The Olde Peninsular and oriental Steam Navigation Company webpage)

Postcard picture of the P&O Lines RMS Strathmore (Courtesy The Old Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company webpage)

RMS Strathmore was one of three single-funnel ‘Strath’ sister ships which were built for the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, usually referred to as the P&O Line. Her two sisters were the Stratheden and Strathallan (sunk off Algeria by a German U-boat in December, 1942). The company was founded in 1837, began carrying passengers in 1844, and by the mid-1920s had a fleet of some 500 ships.   It was no stranger to the dangers of war, with the company losing 85 ships in the Great war, and 179 more during World War II.  The P&O Line began what eventually developed as modern cruise holidays, and as such could be termed the world’s oldest cruise lines, when one includes later incarnations of the company as P&O Princess Cruises and now the Carnival Corporation and plc.

Peninsular and Oriental Line (P&O Line) logo (Courtesy:  )

Logo of the Peninsular and Oriental Line (P&O Line) (Courtesy Wikipedia)

She was built by Vickers-Armstrong in Barrow-in-Furness Yard in the United Kingdom as a passenger and mail ship for the London to Australia route. At over 24,000 tons, her twin screws with 24,000 shaft horsepower, she could make up to 20 knots. She could carry 445 First class and 665 tourist class passengers, along with a crew of 503. She was named after the Earl of Strathmore, the father of the Duchess of York.

Seven-foot radio-controlled scale model of RMS Strathmore built by Richard Hopper, Auckland, New Zealand (Courtesy Rivewr City FM Australia website)

Seven-foot radio-controlled scale model of RMS Strathmore built by Richard Hopper, Auckland, New Zealand (Courtesy River City FM Australia website)

The ship was requisitioned on 31 March 1940 by the British government, and used as a troops transport, as were all the ‘Strath’ liners. In late 1940 she brought Australian soldiers to the Middle East to help repel the Italian and German attacks in North Africa.

Troops of the 2/8th Australian Field Regiment Royal Australian Artillery, a unit of the 9th division, that served in the Middle East, Australia and Borneo during WWII, embarked on RMS Strathmore in November, 1940, at Port Melbourne, Australia.  (Courtesy  2/8th Australian Field Regiment Association, via The Old Peninsular & Oriental Steam navigation Company website)

Troops of the 2/8th Australian Field Regiment Royal Australian Artillery, a unit of the 9th Division, that served in the Middle East, Australia and Borneo during WWII, embarked on RMS Strathmore in November, 1940, at Port Melbourne, Australia. (Courtesy 2/8th Australian Field Regiment Association, via The Old Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company website)

In March of 1941, along with her sisters, she was part of the large troop convoy Winston’s Special 7 (WS 7) of over 20 troopships carrying 80,000 soldiers from the UK around Africa and on to the Middle East.

Allied convoys route to the East (Courtesy Naval History Homepage)

Allied convoys route to the East (Courtesy Naval History Homepage)

In April, 1945, she sailed from India for Britain carrying nearly 4,000 troops aboard. For many wonderful vintage views of the Strathmore, internal and external, at peace and in war, see the webpage at:
http://www.pandosnco.co.uk/strathmore.html

The Redhawk squadron remained together again aboard the Strathmore, headed for the Suez Canal and the Red Sea beyond.

Unidentified Liberty ship transits the Suez Canal (Courtesy Acidhistory Blog)

Unidentified Liberty ship transits the Suez Canal (Courtesy Acidhistory Blog)

The nominal distance from Port Said to Bombay, India is 3,726 nautical miles, a distance which could be covered in two weeks at a speed of ten knots. The Redhawks could look forward to arriving in India by June, 1944, as their journey to the China-Burma-India theater continued aboard the RMS Strathmore.
References
35PRS History for April – Sept, 1944

Strathmore vital statistics, at: http://www.poheritage.com/Content/Mimsy/Media/factsheet/94602STRATHMORE-1935pdf.pdf

The Strathallan Story, at: http://www.thestrathallan.com/strathmore.htm

The Old Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company, Strathmore page, at: http://www.pandosnco.co.uk/strathmore.html

Strathmore model image, at: http://www.rivercityfm.com.au/~strathsisters/strathmore/hopper01.htm

Royal Signals 1946/1947 in pictures – Part 6 – Ships in the Suez, Liberty ship transit of Suez Canal, image at: http://acidhistory.wordpress.com/2012/05/14/royal-signals-19461947-in-pictures-part-6-ships-in-the-suez/

Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, Wikipedia entry at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peninsular_and_Oriental_Steam_Navigation_Company

P&O Cruises, Wikipedia entry, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%26O_Princess_Cruises

Carnival Corporation and plc, Wikipedia entry, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnival_Corporation_%26_plc

Naval History Homepage, Winston’s Special (WS) series convoys – January to June 1941 sailings, WS 5B to 9C, at: http://www.naval-history.net/xAH-WSConvoys04-1941A.htm

Port Said image at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suez_Crisis

Port Said information and map graphic, at: http://www.seabird-marine.com/portsaid-suezcanal-suezport.html

Suez Canal image at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suez_Canal

Nautical distance calculator, Port said to Bombay, at: http://ports.com/sea-route/port-of-mumbai,india/port-of-said-port,egypt/

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