The History of Leith

January 7, 2011

In Far Waters

M.V. ” Karitane.” The large motor ship ” Karitane,” built for the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand, Ltd., was the last vessel to be completed for these owners before war came.
As soon as war reached the Pacific, she went into service as a
transport for the United States’Forces, who formed a very high opinion
of her design and performance.
M.V. ” Saint Anthony.” This fine modern motor ship, built for Indian coastal passenger trade, was first of all used as a naval patrol vessel, and later, as the Royal Navy grew, she became a transport in the East African campaign.

M.V. ” Sofala,” a modern motor ship built for the British India Company, was engaged in trading along the East African Coast when she was called into service to carry cased petrol in the Mediterranean. She took part in the whole of the North African Campaign and in the operations in Sicily and Italy. When this phase of the war ended she went to the East and served the Army and Air Force in Burma. It was only late last year that she was returned to her owners and sent back to trade again on the coast of East Africa.
During her active service the ” Sofala ” was frequently attacked from the air, although fortunately without serious damage. On one occasion, off Benghazi, two ships ahead of her were sunk, leaving many survivors in the water, but there were strict orders not to stop for rescue and Captain R. G. Hawkin had the grim experience of ignoring appeals for help from men whom he knew.
The ” Sofala’s ” task was made the more difficult by leaking petrol containers which filled the holds with fumes and unsuitable fuel for her own engines which sent out showers of sparks at night.
M.V. “Port Tauranga.” Built for Captain A. F. Watchlin of Wellington, New Zealand, in 1935, the “Port Tauranga” with her hatch opening of 96 ft. proved very valuable for the transport of long piles needed for naval construction work in the Dominion.
M.V. ” Port Waikato.” Another New Zealand ship, the ” Port Waikato,” was given the responsible task of providing the only means of communication between the Chatham Islands and the mainland of the Dominion.
M.V. ” Kahika.” For many months during the war this ship provided valuable transport between New Zealand and Australia until she was lost through striking an uncharted rock.
M.V. ” Kaimanawa.” This was the last merchant ship to be completed under war conditions. She maintained a regular service of supplies to the armies in Europe and was undamaged in spite of repeated air attacks. As soon as circumstances permit, she will go out to New Zealand and join the fleet of the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand, Ltd.

Source-Leith Built Ships on War Service

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