History of Leith, Edinburgh

December 17, 2010

Leith Built Ships on War Service

A NUMBER of friends and clients have suggested that the outstanding war service rendered by ships built in the Victoria Shipyards should be recorded in permanent form.

Accordingly, we have set down in this little book stories of the Fighting
Ships of Leith, in the belief that old friends and new ones alike may
find something of interest.

In the war of 1914-1918, only two small ships were built at Leith for the Royal Navy. During the intervening years the shipbuilding
facilities of the port were consolidated into one efficient unit, ready to
take its share of the burden of national defence. *
During the second world war, the Victoria Shipyards built forty-two vessels for the Royal Navy, fourteen merchant ships, and refitted and repaired nearly 3000 ships of the Royal Navy and Merchant Navy. This means that one new ship was launched on an average every six weeks and a ship repaired every day.

Our contribution also involved design and pioneer work, particularly
in connection with big rescue tugs and the preparation of
patterns for prefabrication, so that the work could be spread amongst
engineering firms and output increased.

We also designed for the Pacific Campaign the ” B ” Class Coaster
and at the request of the Admiralty these designs were passed on to
other shipbuilders so that the maximum number could be built in the
shortest period.

Naturally, all those connected with the Victoria Shipyards were
thrilled as story after story was revealed of how ships which had grown
under our hands and had been launched by visitors from the South or
representatives of ancient Scottish family, had fought gallant battles
with enemies in the sky, under the sea and on the surface across the
world from the Pacific to the Atlantic and then, when the great final
blow was struck, acted as headquarters ships for the invading forces and laid the pipe lines across the Channel to keep them supplied with fuel.

We were also influenced in our decision to write this story by a
desire that all who participated in our work during those six strenuous
years might be able to preserve some tangible record of their share in
the task.

We were encouraged in our efforts through the war years by visits
from many distinguished visitors. It was a proud day when Their
Majesties The King and Queen came to the Victoria Yard. Twice,
Mr Peter Fraser, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, was our guest.
The First Lord of the Admiralty, Mr A. V. Alexander, also paid us two
visits, as did Lord Westwood, Chief Industrial Adviser to the
Admiralty, the Controller of the Navy, and many others.

Whilst we are justly proud of the part played by Leith-built ships
in the great campaign, we realise in all humility that no success would
have been possible but for the superb courage, gallantry, and supreme
self-sacrifice shown by officers, engineers, and men of the Royal and
Merchant Navies, to whom we pay our humble thanks.

We are indebted to the Admiralty and to the owners and officers
of the various merchant ships for their co-operation in supplying the
information contained in this book.

source-Leith Built Ships on War Service

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