Ship Details


Steel Twin Screw Steamer, 2403 nhp



Built In


16,738g 8,850n


548.5 x 71.3 x 43.2


Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co., reg. Newcastle. Bombay direct service. 1930: Engine Modified. 1939 Aug.: Armed merchant cruiser. 1943 Mar.: Troopship. Mediterranean, Middle East & India. 1948 June 17: Ausralian emigrant service. 1953 Jan. Arrived to be broken up at Newport, South Wales.



arrived Sydney October 1949 from UK aged 14.5yrs on this ship, memories don't fade

My grandparents, Alexander and Janet Johnston, left London with their sons Collin 5yrs and Thomas 2 yrs, from Tilbury Docks on the 18th October 1950. The journey to Melbourne took six weeks as the ships boilers needed repair in Colombo and this took an extra two weeks. Women and children in one part of the ship, and men in another. This was the Ranchi's final voyage before being scrapped. My grandparents remained in Australia, settling in Newborough, and raising four children.

My parents and their two sons and two daughters left Tilbury on the SS Ranchi on the 14th February 1951. We were on the lowest deck, in adjacent cabins along with two other families and assorted single men. The men had a twelve berth ( double Bunks) cabin adjacent to a 10 berth cabin for the opposite sex. It was a wonderful voyage arriving in Melbourne 16th March. The three families remain friends to this day although our parents are no longer with us

My parents, sister, aged 6, & myself aged 4 left Tilbury on the Ranchi in Sept 1951 for our new life in Sydney. Dad had a job lined up with an insurance company and a flat in Ashfield, W Sydney, with other staff from the UK. I have vivid memories of the journey - women & children in cabins of 10 in one end and men in the other, beef tea in the heavy seas of Biscay, currant buns for elevenses, the bright sun of Ceuta, the crossing the line ceremony with Mum’s face being plastered with porridge and her being tipped backwards into the tarpaulin pool, the guide who took us around in Ceylon, the beach at Mt Lavinia and big lollipops, our first sweets off ration, in Fremantle. But the outstanding memory was of the engines breaking down in the Suez Canal blocking it for a week. Water had to be rationed & electricity supplies cut. The worst impact was a baby, travelling with her Mum to join her Dad in Australia, got dysentery and died. I’ll never forget the look on the face of the distraught mother after her baby was buried at sea in the Red Sea. That was my first encounter with death and grief. We arrived in Sydney in Nov 1951. With several breakdowns, the journey had taken us 10 weeks instead of 8. My Mum got homesick and we returned on the cargo boat Largs Bay in July 1955. That journey was less eventful apart from the new pilot causing our ship to ram the pier in Portland, Vic. He had 2 hits out of 3 ships.

I can add to Elizabeth Caper's story and correct the information in Sally Garson's. I joined the RANCHI as Ship's Writer on 17th September 1951 and we sailed from Victoria Docks, London on the 30th December 1951. En route to Australia we called in at Ceuta, Spanish Tangier and Algiers for Bunker Oil because of the disuption of Oil supplies by Iran. The RANCHI broke down in the Southern section of the Suez Canal as remebered by Elizabeth and after being towed out we spent 5 days at anchor off Port Suez without power in very trying circumstances. 5 days out, halfway between Colombo and Fremantle, we had another emergency with a fire in the Engine Room. That was dealt with by the Crew and the only casualty was the 4th Engineer who broke his little finger when his hand got between the fire extinguisher he was carry and the steel deck he tripped on. The last voyage of the RANCHI was from Tilbury, Essex to Newport, South Wales to the Breakers' Yard. 3rd - 18th January 1953. I was part of the Skeleton Crew and we flew a traditional Paying Off Pennant made up of ship's linen. The voyage took longer than scheduled as we were quarantined at anchor off Weston Super Mare for a week because of suspected 'Parrots' Desease' on board. The ship's Bo'sun had a sideline of importing Sulphur-headed Cockatoos. I did 5 voyages in the RANCHI and she was the happiest ship I sailed in.

Hello Jim, My parents emigrated to Australia on this ship in1952. They left via Liverpool on 10th June and arrived in Freemantle WA in July. I actually have a menu my mother saved dated 5th July. She had some fellow passengers sign the menu. Not sure if this was for a special occasion (perhaps the night before disembarkation) Would love to hear from you if you happened to be the writer on this voyage or in fact to hear any stories of ship life for her passengers. Thanks Ada

Dear Ada, On my 5 trips on the RANCHI we sailed from the UK either from Victoria Docks (part of the London 'Royal' Group) or Tilbury that is down stream on the Thames' Estuary. Your parents would have come down from Liverpool to London to join the ship. If they sailed on the 14th May 1952 they would have left England from Victoria Docks but if it was the next voyage that left on 7th September they would have sailed from Tilbury. That would have meant the passengers all met up in London and came down to Tilbury on The Boat Train. My job as Ship's Writer was mainly involved in Ship's Stores, working under the Deputy Purser with the Chef, Ship's Butcher and Storeman. You may like to know that the s,s RANCHI during the 2nd World War was a Troopship for the UK Government. Her sister ship was the s.s RAWALPINDI that in the early months of the war, as an Armed Merchantman, was the only escort to a Convoy in the North Atlantic that was found by two German Pocket Battleships., The Gneisenaur and the Scharnhorst (those spellings might be wrong!). Even though the RAWALPINDI didn't stand a chance her Captain turned towards the German ships and gave battle until she was sunk, but she gave the Convoy time to scatter. The RANCHI's roll as a Troopship kept her away from convoys as with speed she could avoid U-Boats but the toll that took on her engines meant that when she was handed back to P & O after the War she was played out and only fit to take emigrants to Australia. She, and the s.s. "CHITRAL" were classed as Tourist 'B' ships, the Sister ships "MOOLTAN" AND "MALOJA" were classed as Tourist 'A' ship's as they had accommodation for full fare paying passengers but they carried £10 Families out to Oz too. All 4 ships had black Hulls and Funnels but we had a yellow strip going round the ship. The other ships of the P & O Fleet all had White livery with yellow funnels and were always referred to as the 'white' ships. Nothing to do with the make up of the Crew. Our crews were Muslim in the Engine Room, Indian (Hindus) Deck Crew and Goanese, along with Europeans in the Purser's Department. That applied right through the Fleet whether on the Australian Run or The Far East that mainly turned round in Hong Kong but I sailed, later, in s.s "CHUSAN", the first Merchant vessel to be fitted with stabelizers, to Japan. The "CHUSAN" was also taken out of what was called "The Mail Service" for 3 months in the Summer when we did 6 x 2 week Cruises from Southampton. At that time Australia would have seen s.s "HIMALAYA" that also did a 3 month cruising season from the UK. The food and accommodation on the RANCH1 when we carried families emigrating to Australia was fairly basic. A comment had already been made by one contributor of the sleeping arrangements on board. Alterations were made to the ship so that several cabins were made into one and they were called "Peaks". Women and girls plus boys up to the age of 10 bunked together. Males and boys over 10 were segragated in the same manner. There were no facilities for co-habitation, for want of a better word but in the tropics the deck lights were just a glimmer. No. Lifeboats were not used. There was a strict Ship's rule in force that there was no fraternising between Pasengers and Crew but from the number of visitors at ports along The Coast, who came aboard on subsequent voyages friendships had obviously been made earlier. Our disembarkation ports were Fremantle, Melborne and Sydney. We never called in at Adelaide nor went up to Brisbane. They were the days of early arrivals of 'New Australians' from Europe who weren't very well received. I knew a family from Wales with a surname that originated from Italians who had come to Wales to work in the Coalmines. Their surname was Angulatta. Les, wife (?) but children Robert and Barbara. They eventually settle in Adelaide and Les changed the family surname to Angel to avoid any unpleasantness. I hope my entry will bring back some memories or reinforce others and I wish all readers enjoyment and happiness in your lives "Down Under" Thise were the days when beer was rationed and Pubs closed at 6 p.m. Visits to the cinema included dressing up and amid way break fro refreshmens and a cigarette if you were a smoker) because of Fire Insurance regulations. The main Theatre attractions I can remember were Tommy Trinder and the husband and wife pair of Claude Hulbert and Cicely Courtnage who, frankly, had had their days in England. In my earlier entry I mentioned that the RANCHI was the happiest ship I sailed with. Before I joined her I worked for a while in the Crewing Department in London and she was regarded as the Punishment ship of the the Fleet. That meant to say that if a seaman got a bad report from his shipat the end of a voyage P & O offered him a berth in the RANCHI where he had to behave to be able to re-join, generally, a 'White' ship. The reasoning was the RANCHI families didn't have much money and what they had they needed to start a new life in Oz so there weren't many tips to be had by Crew. In fact I know of several instance where Crew assisted some families with a few £'s to tie them over in their early days. £1 was worth A£1-20p in those days. In Australia the RANCHI always tied up in Woolamaloo and I only sailed once under The Coathanger in Sydney to Pyrmont.

My pop was on the ship wth his family and i am trying to find the ships passenger list. He was on it in 1950 sometime. if any one cold help that would be great

Jemma, Try . It lists all Ships' passenger lists arriving in Fremantle up to the '60's. Best of luck. Jim Wallis

Jim Wallis thanks for the fascinating insight to life on board SS Ranchi in the 1950's Really appreciate you took the time to reply Regards Ada - Stromectol

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My parents, us 3 sons and an au pair girl sailed on SS Ranchi from Egypt to England in 1946. Dad was returning to UK after a year tour in the RAF in Egypt. The outbound trip in 1946 had been in RMS Mauretania, from Liverpool.

I was on the Ranchi in !951 boading at Tilbury London in September and arrived at Sydney on November 7 1951. I was migrating with assistance of '"The Big Brother Movement" . There were 42 young lads with two welfare carers , I remember we had to call into Ceuta Spanish Morroco And Algiers for additional oil I also remember the break down in the Suez canal and the shortage of fresh water and the baby dying and the problem with Egyptian officials not allowing the baby to be buried ashore, my memory is that the Mother and ships pursur were later allowed to go ashore to take the baby for burial. I remember going ashore at Colombo Ceylon and with five others going to Mt. Lavinia returning to the Ship by rowing boat and dropping a crew member off at another ship we rounded the stern of that ship and to our dismay we saw the Ranchi was pulling up the ships boarding stairs we were being left behind, shouting out and waving we were glad to see the stairway being dropped down and boarded to receive a great deal of advice from the ships officers and our two welfare carers in regard to our lateness in returning to the ship. We had bad weather crossing the Indian Ocean and I spent most of my time with sea sickness prior to our arrival at Fremantel then on to Melbourne and Sydney where we all moved to a Hostel at Homebush to begin our new life in Australia. - cheap priligy

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