Total Losses of British Shipping Lines in WW1 & WW2

Seumas

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Mar 25, 2019
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Does anyone know if a comprehensive list has ever been made of the total losses suffered by every British shipping company in both world wars ?

I have a hunch that British-India Steam Nav. must be near the top (or possibly even topped the list) in both wars. P&O, Anchor Line, Clan Line and the Blue Funnel must be pretty high up on the lists too.
 
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Harland Duzen

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Jan 14, 2017
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Aside from maybe Wikipedia (which mostly aren't comprehensive) and TheShipsList, the only possible way might be to count them one by one which might take a while. Fortunately for us (and maybe unfortunately for him) Duncan Haws did this for his books* and according to them:

British-India Steam Navigation Company
WW1: Lost 23 ships
WW2: Lost 51 ships (+ 16 ships which they managed but did not own) in WW2.

P&O
WW1: Lost 19 ships
WW2: Lost 23 ships

Blue Funnel Line:
WW1: Lost 18 ships (+ 12 ships which were seriously damaged)
WW2: Lost 41 ships with a loss of 324 lives.

Cunard Line:
WW1: Lost 22 ships
WW2: Lost 6 ships (+ 3 which went to the Navy)

White Star Line:
WW1: Lost 10 ships


*Note this might not be 100% accurate. Just a rough summary.

Hope this helps (plus your right that British India were certainly very unlucky!)
 
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Seumas

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Mar 25, 2019
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Thank you very much as always Harland :cool:

It does seem a bit odd that there is no such list available.

I'm 95% sure that in terms of individual ocean going steamships, British-India had the largest fleet in the world at the start of WW1 and that may even have been the same at the start of WW2. Naturally, with such a big fleet on the high seas then submarines, aircraft, mines and surface raiders sent many BI ships to the bottom.

BI ships were never big, fast or glamorous by any stretch of the imagination and the passenger accommodation was quite basic but they were known for their reliability and the professionalism of their crews. Until c1970, they used to carry a huge amount of mail, cargo and passengers all year round way out East.

Rudyard Kipling preferred travelling on BI ships (in the late Victorian era) to those of the much more famous and upmarket P&O ships because he believed that the passengers and officers you met aboard BI ships were good fun to be around !

The BI were also known for the large amount of Scotsmen they employed ! They of course would make up the deck officers, ships doctors, radio officers, pursers. engineers and electricians. Some men of mixed European and Asian background were employed as doctors and pursers. By the 1950s the company did begin to recruit (quite rightly) Indian and Pakistani men as officers and engineers.

The ABs, quartermasters, bosuns, stewards, storekeepers, cooks, firemen and oilers were mostly recruited from what is now India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Even after the end of "the Raj" many of these men were still fiercely proud of serving the company and had followed their fathers and grandfathers in going to sea in BI ships.

It was noted that lot of BI captains dispensed with the need to hold a divine service every Sunday morning which many other shipping companies held, this proved popular with passengers who wanted an extra hour in their bunk !

I had family who sailed with the BI so I have a really keen interest in them ;)
 
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Seumas

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Mar 25, 2019
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Glasgow, Scotland
World War I:

World War II:
Thank you Mark.

I will see if the Mitchell Library or Glasgow University have any copies of those books available.