The Red Duster The Merchant Navy Crest

ss CITY OF CAIRO

A tribute to the British Merchant Navy - they also served!

The Ellerman Hall vessel ss CITY OF CAIRO torpedoed on 6th November 1942

The Great War

The Ellerman Line's ss CITY OF CAIRO served in two world wars. Not much is known about her early service during World War I; however, towards the end of the war she was used as a troopship and was involved in transporting Canadians, Australian and New Zealand troops to and from the UK.


Courtesy of Tony Jones at Rhiw.com

Troopship City of Cairo, World War I

Troopship CITY OF CAIRO, World War I

Courtesy of Tony Jones at Rhiw.com

Troopship City of Cairo, World War I

Troopship CITY OF CAIRO, World War I

I am very grateful to Bob Richardson from Ontario, Canada who has researched and compiled the "Tragedy of the ss CITY OF CAIRO" a record of the 34 Canadian soldiers who died due to the Spanish Flu epidemic whilst being transported to England only two months before the Armistice.


THE TRAGEDY OF THE S.S. CITY OF CAIRO

I first became aware of the ship S.S. City of Cairo when recently investigating the 19 names on the Cenotaph Memorial in the small village of Omemee, Ontario (1200 population). Omemee has recently gained some notoriety as the original home of Canada's second last remaining soldier, Pte. Lloyd Clemett, whose wooden frame home at #10 King Street is still standing. I was curious about Pte. Alphonse Gosselin #3056616 because as a conscript to the M.S.A. 1917, his name was listed on the Halifax Memorial and because he had died only 26 days after being drafted in Lindsay, Ont. On further investigation of his death date, I found a number of other men that died on the same day or close to it, also listed on the Halifax Memorial.

Thinking that the Memorial was used only for sailors that died at sea, I was determined to find the source of the deaths of these soldiers. I was able to locate a reference to the loss of soldiers on that date in History of the Canadian Forces, 1914-1919 Medical Services, Sir Andrew Macphail. Here MacPhail states in considerable detail that his time period was the peak of the worldwide Spanish Influenza epidemic. I was to learn that on the three troops ships that had departed Canada in September, 1918, a total of 99 deaths occurred at sea and many more on landing in England. These ships were the S.S. City of Cairo, the S.S. Victoria and the S.S. Hunstead. My man Pte Gosselin was 21 years old, single. A farm labourer that had possibly been born in Quebec but working in the rural community of Downeyville, near Omemee. He was included in Draft #175 from Kingston, Ont of the 1st Depot Battalion, Eastern Ontario Regiment of 1 officer and 50 soldiers aboard the S.S. City of Cairo. Three of his mates from this unit also succumbed to the flu in transit.

Courtesy of Brian MacDonald

John Angus McEachern
John Angus McEachern (centre)

The S.S. City of Cairo departed the Port of Montreal on September 26, 1918 with 1075 passengers the majority of which (1057) were Canadian reinforcement soldiers and included six nursing sisters and a number of medical doctors. "Nearly all on board were sick, and there were 34 deaths at sea. On arrival 244 cases were transferred to hospital, of which 114 were on stretchers". The Hunstead and the Victoria had very similar numbers. A brief stop in the Port of Quebec City on September 28, 1918. She landed in England at the Port of Devonport (Plymouth) on October 11, 1918.

John Angus McEachern (pictured above right) was drafted with the 167 1st Bn. British Columbia Regiment. John Angus sadly died of disease in Devonport hospital two days after arriving in England - a victim of the Spanish Flu pandemic which was rife among the troops on board the ship.

Courtesy of Janie Fries

Edward James Collins and his father Matthew
Edward James Collins and father, Matthew

Among the 34 Canadians who died aboard the ship was Sapper Edward James Collins -2nd Canadian Railway Troops, Niagara, ON - (pictured left along with his father, Matthew). Edward died on 8 October 1918, three days before the ship docked in Plymouth UK, another victim of the Spanish Flu epidemic.

Noteworthy is that the S.S. City of Cairo survived World War I intact however was lost when tragically sunk by a German U-Boat U-68 on November 6, 1942 in the South Atlantic Ocean with great loss of life.

Courtesy of Tony Jones at Rhiw.com

Troopship City of Cairo

HM Transport CITY OF CAIRO, Great European War, Mar, 1919

Canadian Soldiers Lost At Sea on the S.S. City of Cairo, 1918
Rank Name Service Number Date of Death
34 soldiers total.
1st Depot Battalion Western Ontario Regiment, London, ON:
Pte Edwin Edward Fink #3137528 09/10/1918
Pte Charles Harris Barnes #2356758 10/10/1918
Pte Patrick Francis Crowley #3135547 10/10/1918
Pte Archibald Lorne Legg #3133288 03/10/1918
Pte Robert Humphrey #3136104 10/10/1918
Pte J. Latimer #3136689 08/10/1918
Pte H.B. Tolton #2356843 08/10/1918
Pte P.H. Wiper #3138752 07/10/1918
2nd Canadian Railway Troops, Niagara, ON:
Sapper Freeman Atkinson #4061741 07/10/1918
Sapper J. Bizeau #4062821 07/10/1918
Sapper Edward James Collins #259420 08/10/1918
Sapper Douglas H. Garling #2501136 08/10/1918
Sapper G.G. Griffiths #3259532 07/10/1918
Sapper B.S. Johnson #2204932 07/10/1918
Sapper P. Laviola #2501123 07/10/1918
Sapper Gordon C.O. McCarty #2499480 06/10/1918
#3 & #4 Canadian Engineers, Training Depot, Brockville, ON:
Sapper F. Des Rosiers #3327434 08/10/1918
Sapper A. Kitchin #2012054 08/10/1918
Sapper H. Olmstead #3355148 08/10/1918
Sapper H. Morash #3039378 09/10/1918
Sapper Harold C. Small #335410 10/10/1918
Sapper Luther Ullman #3311860 10/10/1918
Sapper John Wesley Walker #2011943 09/10/1918
Pte. E. Carroll #2140763 10/10/1918
Pte. J.H. Cross #2023048 10/10/1918
Pte. J. Goffney #2020681 10/10/1918
Pte. Eddie Thomas Milton #2140598 09/10/1918
Pte. W. Roberts #2140825 09/10/1918
Canadian Army Service Corps, Petawawa, ON:
Pte. Lorne John Birmingham #2688669 09/10/1918
Pte. Sidney Alexander White #2688520 06/10/1918
1st Depot Battalion Eastern Ontario Regiment, Kingston,ON:
Pte. Alphonse Gosselin #3056618 08/10/1918
Pte. Alfred Duguay #3328171 08/10/1918
Pte. Emile Auger #3321358 07/10/1918
Pte. B.P. Connelly #3328058 08/10/1918

All listed above can be found on the Halifax Memorial, Halifax, Nova Scotia.
MAY THEY REST IN PEACE!

Compiled by:

Bob Richardson

Brampton, Ontario, Canada

November, 2008


Courtesy of Tony Jones at Rhiw.com

Troopship City of Cairo

HM Transport CITY OF CAIRO, Great European War, Mar, 1919