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The story of the Empire Windrush

09 August, 2019

The Empire Windrush carried some 500 people to the UK

• FURTHER to the review of the book about the now famous ship that was known in later life as the Empire Windrush, (Empire lines, Review, July 25), I wish to correct a number of mistakes.

There were hundreds of Empire ships, mostly operated by the Ministry of War Transport during and after the war.

It is silly to poke fun at the name of these ships because the British Empire was alive (if not well) in the Second World War, though that conflict, of course, hastened the end of Empire.

Many Empire ships were troopships, appropriately named for taking our service personnel, families and civil servants, to all parts of the globe and all parts of the empire.

HM Troopships used the prefix HMT (HMT Empire Windrush never flew the White Ensign and was, therefore, never HMS as claimed).

Once transferred to the British Register as part of war reparations, she was never decommissioned, remaining designated as a troopship until her loss in 1954. She was never a steamship, never SS Monte Rosa, but a motor vessel (MV Monte Rosa) as the postcard you used illustrated.

It’s a moot point as to whether the Korean War was a pointless conflict, as Angela Cobbinah claims. North Korea had invaded the south and many in the west were very concerned about communism – quite rightly in my view.

If the review is an accurate precis of Paul Arnott’s book, Windrush: A Ship Through Time, then it would seem The History Press has edited the book very poorly.

What a pity. HMT Empire Windrush has an interesting tale to tell and deserves better.

LESTER MAY
Lieutenant Commander
Royal Navy, retired
Reachview Close, NW1

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