Sunday, 29 December 2013

The Largest, Fastest, most Luxurious Ship Afloat


This wonderful photograph of the RMS Empress of Britain, being completed in 1930 by the John Brown shipyard in Glasgow, was found via Twitter - a great resource for finding new and old photography. 

The image itself is impressive and was featured on the historical pics twitter feed, but the photo just had a short caption without revealing the ship's amazing history, for the Empress of Britain holds a unique record.

In 1930, the ship was launched and went to work on the busy Trans-Atlantic shipping routes, running from Europe to Canada during 1931 to 1939. At the time, she was the largest, fastest and most luxurious ship afloat nicknamed 'The World’s Wondership'. Probably the ultimate example of the 1930's liner reflecting the romanticism of the era, the Empress' real footnote in history however would occur during World War II.


The Empress of Britain was requisitioned as a troop carrier by the British government. Her time in service as part of the war effort was short. On 26th October 1940, the ship was attacked by Luftwaffe aircraft and set on fire. With most of the crew and passengers picked up by the Royal Navy, tugs attempted to tow the badly damaged ship back to harbour but a German U-boat, U-32 under the command of Kapitänleutnant Hans Jenisch, saw her and fired three torpedoes finally dooming the rescue effort. 

The Empress of Britain finally sank just after 02:00hrs off the coast of Ireland and after nine years of service at sea, entered the history books as the largest liner (42,348 gross tons) sunk by a U-Boat during World War II. She sits, upside down, in 500 feet of water with most of her deck missing due to the fire.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Photography on BBC2 WWI Documentary

Sometimes a photography commission comes in that really makes you think. A recent one blended two passions of mine together - history and photography.

At the end of November i supplied a couple of images for a documentary about World War I due to go out on BBC 2 next year to mark the hundredth anniversary of the conflict.

The programme called Long Shadow looks at the legacy of World War I and the far reaching consequences that have carried on through the generations. We continue to be haunted by it.

ClearStory who are making the TV documentary state on their website :-

'Tracing the legacy of the Great War through a hundred years and eleven different countries, historian David Reynolds explores how the war haunted the generation who lived through it and builds a powerful new argument that the conflict unleashed forces we still grapple with today.’
It certainly sounds like a fascinating watch. More details will follow nearer the broadcast time.

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