MV Georgic Ablaze during World War II

The last ship ever to be built for the White Star Line, Georgic was launched on 21 November 1931 and after fit-out and sea trials, was sent to Liverpool on 12 June 1932 for her maiden voyage.

Her first voyage, from Liverpool to New York departed on 25 June and she remained on this service, as well as US based cruises, until January 1933. From then, Georgic and her fleet mate Britannic departed from Southampton.

In 1934, Georgic became part of Cunard-White Star after the two companies merged. The merger was due to the crippling impact of the Great Depression which had force both Cunard and White Star line into the forced amalgamation.

For Cunard-White Star, Georgic joined Britannic on the London to New York (via Southampton) route. Her use of the London docks made the ship the largest to regularly use the River Thames.

After a brief reprieve on the Liverpool to New York service in 1939, Georgic’s schedule was interrupted by World War II. The ship was requisitioned for use as a troop carrier and was converted in Clydebank to carry over 3,000 men.

In May, 1940, as the situation worsened for the Allies, Georgic assisted in the evacuation of British troops from Andersfjord and Narvik, in Norway, landing them at the Clyde. This was followed by participation in the evacuation of troops from Brest and St.Nazaire.

Georgic was then deployed on the Canadian service, transporting Canadian troops to the Middle East. This service continued successfully until 14 July 1941 when, near Port Tewfik, Georgic was bombed by the Luftwaffe.

The badly damaged ship, now beached and burnt out, was salvaged in October 1941 and sent to Port Sudan where temporary repairs were carried out.

In March 1942 Georgic was towed to Karachi for further repairs and after these repairs, Georgic sailed for Britain, departing on 20 January 1943 and arriving on 1 March that same year.

Once in Britain, the ship returned to her builders at Belfast’s Harland and Wolff shipyard where she was made ready for full time trooping. Here she was extensively rebuilt due to the damage sustained by the bombing. The repaired ship emerged with a new reduced tonnage and sported an altered external appearance; one funnel and one mast replaced her once finely balanced duo.

Following ongoing troop service, the ship was sent to the Tyne for refurbishment by Palmers Hebburn. The purpose of this work was to reconfigure the ship to be used for the Australian and New Zealand immigration service. In January 1949 she made her first voyage on this service, departing Liverpool and calling at Suez, Fremantle, Melbourne and Sydney.

In May 1950 Georgic was returned to the transatlantic service for Cunard (which had, by now, bought out the remaining White Star Line share in the company), where she remained until she was once again called into trooping service, this time for the Korean War.

In April 1955 Georgic arrived in Liverpool with troops at the end of what was to be her last voyage. However, Georgic was then chartered to the Australian Government as part of the “Assisted Passage” scheme, a service she remained on until November 1955.

Finally retired for good, after a brief period in lay up the last White Star Liner ever built was scrapped.

Image source: George Frame Original Photograph