Ranchi at Venice before the Second World War.

Built by Hawthorn Leslie at Hebburn on Tyne for P&O's India Service, her luxurious interiors were designed by Elsie Mackay the daughter of the P&O Chairman who was also a pioneer aviator.

Elsie and her Father, P&O chairman James Lyle Mackay, the 1st Earl Inchcape

Ranchie viewed from the destroyer HMS Veteran - China Station c1926

Ranchie and her three sisters, Rawalpindi, Rajputana and Ranpura were converted to armed merchant cruisers and deployed as escorts to vital ocean convoys until production of purpose-built corvettes got underway. Armed with eight six-inch and two three-inch guns at Bombay in late August 1939, she served on the East Indies Station, and from March 1942 until January 1943, she served with the Eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean -described as 'hellish hot and damned dull!'  She was returned to P&O in March 1943 and saw service as a troopship, operated by the Ministry of War Transport until early July 1947.

Ranchi as a troopship by Cadet Eric J Robinson while serving on board in 1946.

Among the returning POWs on board were the artist's future father in law and brother in law both unknown to him or each other at the time.

Ranchi about to undergo her post-war refit, Summer 1947

A post-war view of Ranchi - her aft funnel had been removed at Bombay in '39 and never replaced.

The post-war refurbished Lounge with those ubiquitous P&O ashtrays much in evidence!

In October 1945, Ranchi sailed from Singapore to Southampton carrying many released prisoners of war and civilian internees, recently liberated from Japanese camps. Hilda Bates, who had been interned in Batu Lintang camp at Kuching, Borneo, wrote on 23 October 1945:

"We are now speeding towards England aboard the Ranchi, which is packed with troops and other ex POWs like ourselves ...

In our cabin there are twelve women - five of whom are returning home as widows."

A post-war view of Ranchi at Melbourne - single funnel.

Ranchi in August 1925 ~ fresh from the builders and ready for sea.

View from the Navigation Bridge, showing boats, which, with the aid of Ranchi's power launches, were used at cruise ports

Games Deck - Starboard Side

The Public Rooms, designed by Elsie Mackay

Society beauty, interior decorator, actress and pioneering aviator who tragically died attempting to cross the Atlantic Ocean with Walter Hinchliffe in a single-engined Stinson Detroiter.

Her name as an actress was Poppy Wyndham.

Her interior designs were traditional, and simply stunning.......

Writing & Card Room

The after smoking room - framed in dark oak and comfortably furnished.

The main smoking saloon - designed and finished in Tudor style, richly panelled in mellow grey oak.

Main dining saloon panelled and decorated in Louis XVI Style

Lounge and music room

Aft dining room - much favoured by the younger generation.

The lounge - decorated in Georgian period style, with richly moulded panels, polished floor and Oriental rugs

Writing and card room, decorated in an Adam paint scheme in blue-green

Main dining saloon - dainty fare served a la carte

The drawing room - deep wing extensions made it a room of cosy corners

Main smoking saloon - the doors aft leading to a sheltered open verandah cafe

The Ship's wide open deck spaces

The aft promenade deck, port side.

The main promenade deck, looking aft

The main promenade deck, starboard side, looking forward.

Broad, sheltered promenade decks

Cabin accommodation

A twin-bedded cabin de-luxe, with private bathroom en-suite.

The twin-bedded cabin de-luxe showing entrance to the private bathroom.

Three-berth cabin - which converts to a two-berth when cruising

Two-berth cabin showing its punkah-louvre ventilation





In 1984, P&O's flagship Canberra doubled for the Ranchi in the final episode of Tenko, the popular BBC TV series about women civilian internees in the Far East.

In August 1950, Ranchi was chartered by the Dutch Government, to transport their nationals home from Indonesia......

In 1950 a total of 95 ships left for The Netherlands, carrying over 100,000 passengers.

Thirty-seven babies were born on board during the voyage and a note was made about the time when each was born. Combining this with details published in Dutch newspapers and the average speed of the ship, fourteen knots, the approximate position of the ship when a particular baby was born, was calculated.

A Dutch pastor and a chaplain were added to the ship’s staff.

Recommended reading: Peter's Blog ~ https://patmcast.blogspot.com/2015/04/and-we-call-her-ranchita.html

Ranchi was broken up at Newport, Monmouthshire in 1953

Featuring the RMS Ranchi


August 2019















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