Outward Bound: The R.M.S. Grampian

William Rob Dewar and the other members of the 18th Battalion were transshipped on the R.M.S Grampian.

Excerpt from the “Fourth Canadian Infantry Brigade; history of operations, April, 1915, to demobilization

The 18th Canadian Infantry Battalion, under Command of Lieut.- Colonel E. S. Wigle, was raised in Western Ontario (M.D. No. I),  and left LONDON (Ont.) on April 12th, 1915. It sailed on S.S.  ” Grampian ” from HALIFAX on April 17th, and arrived at WEST SANDLING on April 29th.

R.M.S Grampian

R.M.S Grampian

The book Duty Nobly Done describes the voyage on the R.M.A. Grampian thusly:

“In contrast to the arrival of the men of the First Contingent, who formed the 1st Canadian Division of the Canadian Expeditionary Force and were sent to England in a large convoy, the men of the 2nd Canadian Division came by the single shipload, as shipping to transport them became available. The Battalion left Canadian shores late on 18 April and sailed into a storm. It was two days before many of the men became accustomed to the pitching motion of the ship. McKeough ate lightly and slept frequently until he made the adjustment to the motion of the ship. The ship traveled with its lights blacked out to avoid detection by enemy submarines. After two days, the weather improved and the trip was more like a pleasure-cruise. The Battalion’s musicians gave concerts on the Promenade Deck each morning and afternoon. A program of light physical exercise was begun to keep the men from getting “soft” during the voyage, although the deck space was limited for this type of activity. On 23 April, S.S. Northland, carrying hospital units from Toronto, drew along side the Grampian and the two vessels completed the journey to England together. On 25 April, the Royal Navy cruiser, H.M.S. Cumberland rendezvoused with the transports and escorted them to a point where two small anti-submarine destroyers would escort them into the Bristol Channel. The Grampian docked at Avonmouth, near the city of Bristol on the morning of 29 April. The men were off the ship and onto the cars of a Great Western Railway train in less than three hours. They had just disembarked from the train at Folkestone and were forming up to march to camp when a hospital train full of wounded Canadians passed through the station on the way to London. These casualties dampened the spirits of the men a little. They marched the last two kilometres to West Sandling Camp near Folkestone, Kent on the English Channel and were served dinner by 7:00 PM.

Antal, Sandy, and Kevin R. Shackleton. “Arrival in England.” Duty Nobly Done: The Official History of the Essex and Kent Scottish Regiment. 1st ed. Windsor, ON: Walkerville Pub., 2006. 171-172. Print.

R.M.S. Grampian

The GRAMPIAN was built by A.Stephen & Sons, Glasgow in 1907 for the Allan Line. She was a 10,187 gross ton ship, length 485.7ft x beam 60.2ft, one funnel, two masts, twin screw and a speed of 15 knots. There was passenger accommodation for 210-1st, 250-2nd and 1,000-3rd class. Launched on 25th July 1907, she sailed from Glasgow on her maiden voyage to Quebec – Montreal on 21st September 1907. In May 1908 she made her first voyage between Glasgow, Quebec and Montreal and on 26/11/1908 started her first Liverpool – St John, NB voyage, and made further Liverpool departures during the winter seasons. In 1910 she was rebuilt to 10,947 tons and on 29/11/1912 was chartered to Canadian Pacific and made a single round voyage between Liverpool, Halifax and St John NB. On 15/8/1914 she commenced her last Glasgow – Quebec – Montreal voyage and on 11/9/1914 was again charterd to Canadian Pacific and sailed from Liverpool to Quebec and Montreal. On the eastbound voyage she was used as a troop transport to carry part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force to Europe. In December 1914 she resumed Canadian Pacific voyages between Liverpool and St John NB, and made the last of four round voyages when she left St John NB on 17/4/1915 for Liverpool. In May 1915 she resumed Liverpool – Quebec – Montreal voyages for the Allan Line. In 1917 she was taken over, together with the rest of the Allan Line fleet, by Canadian Pacific and commenced her first voyage after the Armistice on 15/12/1918 when she left Liverpool for St John NB. She subsequently sailed between Glasgow, Liverpool, London or Antwerp and Canada and started her final voyage on 15/12/1920 when she sailed from London for Antwerp and St John NB. On 14/3/1921 she was gutted by fire while being refitted at Antwerp, was abandoned to the insurance underwriters, and in 1925 was scrapped at Hendrik Ido, Ambacht. [North Atlantic Seaway by N.R.P.Bonsor, vol.1,p.323-4]

This link regarding the 1st Canadian Troop Convoy will give one some insight into the scope of convoying a large mass of troops overseas.


5 thoughts on “Outward Bound: The R.M.S. Grampian

  1. I have a document called a Marconigram from the Captain and crew sent to Queen Alexandra on May 8, 1910. I think it belonged to a relative on board. Was there a crew member by the name of Mr. Love?

  2. George E. Mc Gregor from Almonte Ontario Canada aboard Grampian went to France to Fight the War and died from wounds of artillery shells exploding near bye. ” Rest in Peace ” not forgotten….

  3. I ended up finding old medical records from a relative that served in WWI that happened to have been on this very ship on April 17th 1917. Apparently Grampian took wounded and discharged soldiers back to St Johns which would later be transferred to where ever they came from.

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