Ship Details


Steel Triple Screw Steamer



Built In


11,223g, 7034n


500.6 x 62.3 x 39.4


G. Thompson & Co.Ltd., reg. Aberdeen 1915: Commandeered as a troopship. 1920: Resumed UK - Austalia service. 1928: Transferred to White Star Line. 1931: Broken up in England.



My grandfather came to Australia from England on the "Demosthenes", leaving 5th March, 1920. He was a Third Class Passenger. He was 18 and was joining his older brother, who had come 7 years earlier. Both boys must have been looking for an adventure! Most of their family followed soon after, with 1 brother staying behind, because he had met his future wife and she didn't want to leave her family. My grandfather only returned to England once, via 'plane, in 1974. He met a young widow on the ship, which was fortunate, as he had nowhere to stay on arrival as he couldn't find his brother for a time, so stayed with the widow's family.

This was an account written By My Mother who returned on SS Demosthenes final voyage. I don’t know whether any of you have ever been to sea, if so you will know that when the boat gets well away from land it is impossible, without a compass, to tell in which direction it is travelling. When we had been about three days from Fremantle my father who had gone up on deck first thing, came down to tell us that we had turned around, his reason for knowing this was that he noticed the sun was rising in at the opposite end of the boat from usual, other than that it looked as if we were travelling in the same direction. Other people had noticed the same thing and we wondered what was wrong. After fishing around for information we learned that a fire had broken out in the hold where the coal was stored. Several hundred tons of burning coal were shovelled overboard during the night and actually the position was far more serious than they allowed the passengers to know at the time, although we noticed that the life-boats were prepared and swing out on davits for lowering if required, each fitted out with a barrel of drinking water, biscuits, a baling-out can, lamp, oars and other necessary things. We were all given life-jacket drill and told to which boat we must go if the alarm sounded. Fortunately the life-boats were not required as after we had turned back for 36 hours the fire was extinguished thanks to the bravery of the stokers, some of whom volunteered to go down to fight the fire; we used to see them being brought up to the ship’s hospital being overcome by fumes below. When the fire was safely out it was decided unnecessary to go back to Fremantle after all, we resumed our course to Durban arriving four days late, so that Clara Butt was late for an appointment to sing at the Town Hall. When we were in Durban we saw a notice saying that the concert has been postponed owing to her late arrival.

My grandfather, Frank Hufstedler a member of the 183rd Aero Squadron sailed on this ship from Hoboken, NJ to New York, NY on May 3, 1918. I understand later that day, the ship would pick up soldiers from the Greene County Company K unit, who'd walked up the plank ramp to board the ship and would carry them off to war in France.

My Great Grandparents and five of their children travelled on the Demosthenes in 1920, migrating from the slums of Glasgow to start a new life in Australia.... they brought 5 of their children, leaving 3 behind as well as two dead in WW1 at Flanders. Charles Young and his wife Sarah lived mainly in Sydney after spending some time in the Newcastle/Lake Macquarie area.

Your Stories

Share this Page

Share this ship with your friends and followers online.