RFA Maine (4)


RFA Maine (4)

Maine Unofficial
 RFA Maine 4



Previous names:                     Leonardo da Vinci, Ship 289, Empire Clyde, Hospital Ship 54

Official Number:                      159356   

Class:                                      Hospital Ship

Pennant No:                            B394

Signal Letters:                         GCFB

Laid down:
Builder:                                    Ansaldo San Giorgio – Muggiano

Launched:                               28 December 1924
Into Service:                            1945

Base Port:                                Hong Kong (1952)
Out of service:                         25 May 1954

Fate:                                        Broken up


Items of historic interest involving this ship: –


1919 ordered as one of six sister ships, originally designed as cargo steamers but completed with extensive passenger accommodation

28 December 1924 launched by Ansalso San Giorgio, La Spezia as Yard Nr 192 named LEONARDO DA VINCI for Transatlantica Italiana Societe Anonima di Navigazione, Genoa.

May 1925 completed for her owners‘ South American service

24 May 1925 maiden voyage Naples – Palermo – Boston – New York as there was little or no immediate demand for her services to the South Atlantic. Completed two round voyages, the results of the second one being extremely disappointing

10 June 1925 arrived at New York

September 1925 the Ansaldo Group’s bankers  went bankrupt, resulting in the collapse of the whole Group, of which the owners were a part

 Leonardo Da Vinci-07


28 October 1925 at New York

4 November 1925 sailed from New York

November 1925 her first South American sailing took place

22 December 1925 shares were taken over by Credito Italiano and a new Company was formed – Compagnia Italiana Transatlantica (CITRA) which took over ownership

1926 – 1929 laid up

4 December 1929 sailed from Genoa. Italy

7 December 1929 passed Gibraltar sailing west bound

12 December 1929 berthed at West India Dock, London

11 April 1930 the Scotsman newspaper reported –


11.4.1930 Scotsman Maine 4


1934 the Company was again in financial difficulties and the ship was sold to Tirrenia Line, another CITRA company, after having been on charter to them for some time  previously. Her name remained unchanged

28 February 1935 at Messina in collision with Italian ship Viminale which had dragged her anchor in a gale. Suffered slight damage – details from Lloyds Casualty reports published in the Times Newspaper dated 2 March 1935

23 October 1935 at Naples in very bad weather bumped continually into the steamer Maria C. Details of damage not noted but reported in the Lloyds Casualty reports published in the Times Newspaper dated 24 October 1935

1936 suffered a serious fire and had to be reconstructed

17 December 1936 the structure of Italian Government subsidised lines was reorganised on a regional basis and resulted in the 4 remaining sister ships ( 2 having been previously sold off ) being transferred to the ownerships of Lloyd Triestino, names unchanged. This ship was employed on carrying Italian art treasures to the USA and UK and as a troopship.  She carried the Viceroy of Abbysinia and his Staff

18 May 1940 sailed Genoa independently

24 May 1940 arrived Port Said for Suez Canal transit

25 May 1940 sailed Suez independently

31 May 1940 arrived Aden

31 May 1940 sailed Aden

11 February 1941 captured by the cruiser HMS HAWKINS at Kismayu during the Somaliland Campaign. She had put to sea but was intercepted and put back to port where her crew sabotaged her engines




14 February 1941 handed over to Ellerman Lines, London for management and sailed for temporary repairs at Mombasa

21 April 1941 at Mombasa 

7 October 1941 temporary repairs completed – sailed Mombasa to Bombay arriving 22 October 1941

Between 22 October 1941 and 21 September 1942 undergoing further repairs at Bombay

1942 Captain William J Merchant (of Ellerman Lines) appointed as Master

Capt William John Merchant NON RFA

Captain William J Merchant


29 June 1942 at Bombay Junior Engineer Officer R J Bushe discharged dead from multiple burns accidentally received

4 August 1942 at Bombay Junior 3rd Engineer Officer Samuel Tonner discharged dead from multiple burns accidentally received

21 September 1942 sailed Bombay to Durban and remained there until 23 November 1942 undergoing more repairs

23 November 1942 sailed Durban independently to Cape Town arriving 27 November 1942 where further repairs were undertaken

3 December 1942 sailed Cape Town independently to Pemambuco arriving 19 December 1942

31 December 1942 sailed Pemambuco independently to Trinidad arriving 10 January 43

January 1943 her name was cancelled and she was simply known as Ship 289

24 January 1943 sailed Trinidad in Convoy TAG38 to Guantanamo Bay arriving on 29 January 1943

29 January 1943 sailed Guantanamo Bay in Convoy GN 38 to New York arriving 4 February 1943. While in New York more repairs were undertaken

17 February 1943 sailed New York to Hampton Roads arriving the next day

February 1943 to March 1943 her engines were removed at Newport News

5 March 1943 sailed Hampton Roads in tow

7 March 1943 arrived Baltimore for conversion into a Hospital Ship after which she was taken over by the MoWT and renamed EMPIRE CLYDE under management of City Line,  London as an Army Hospital Ship

11 May 1943 at the General Hospital, Baltimore Panniwallah Arfanulla Mayinulla discharged dead from a fractured skull

27 August 1943 sailed Baltimore to New York arriving the next day

2 September 1943 sailed New York in Convoy HX 255 to the Clyde arriving 15 September 1943 having detached from the Convoy

2 April 1944 sailed from Glasgow to Gourock. Army medical team unpacked medical stores. The Officer Commanding the Army medical detachment was Lt. Col A E Campbell RAMC

4 April 1944 sailed the Clyde independently to Gibraltar arriving 9 April 1944 at 2100hrs. Embarked one patient (an Italian POW who had TB and was being repatriated). Sailed at 2330hrs for Algiers arriving 11 April 1944. Embarked more patients

13 April 1944 sailed Algiers for Naples arriving on 15 April 1944. Patients disembarked 

16 April 1944 sailed Naples independently to Avonmouth

20 April 1944 T/190063 Driver John Thomas Davies RASC suffering from TB discharged dead. Buried at sea 21 April 1944 at 38 51N 12 32W. He is remembered with pride on the Brookwood Memorial

25 April 1944 at Avonmouth 452 patients disembarked

30 April 1944 sailed Avonmouth independently to Gibraltar arriving 5 May 1944

5 May 1944 sailed Gibraltar to Naples arriving 8 May 1944

9 May 1944 at Naples embarked 423 patients sailing at 1600hrs the same day

12 May 1944 following an accident in the engine room two of the ships engineers were badly injured. Engineers shown in the ships War Diary as Mr Armstrong and Mr Carson. Mr Carson suffered burns to his right hand (3rd degree) left hand, left and right legs and face. Both admitted to ward D6

18 May 1944 berthed at Princes Landing stage, Liverpool – patients disembarked

19 May 1944 sailed Liverpool for Glasgow arriving 20 May 1944 and berthed in KGV Dock No3 for additional facilities and equipment to be installed

24 May 1944 sailed Glasgow to Gibraltar for orders

29 May 1944 a call to Gibraltar resulted in orders being received to sail to Naples

30 May 1944 while at sea at 2200hrs ship subject to attack by twin engine aircraft at the stern of the vessel. Subsequent investigation found bullets and bullet marks on B & C decks astern

1 June 1944 berthed at Naples

2 June 1944 embarkation of 404 patients commenced and then sailed Naples passing through the Straits of Gibraltar on 5 June 1944

11 June 1944 arrived Glasgow – KGV Dock. Patients partly disembarked this day the remaining disembarked on 12 June 1944

21 June 1944 allocated to Operation ‘Overlord’

27 June 1944 sailed Glasgow KGV Dock and anchored in Loch Long

28 June 1944 to 25 August 1944 at Loch Long training the medical detachment

26 August 1944 sailed Loch Long to Faslane

29 August 1944 secured into AFD at Helensborough

6 September 1944 moved to the Gareloch

19 September 1944 at the Gareloch Chief Saloon Boy Hingoo X Tegallee discharged dead – stroke

16 October 1944 anchored off Loch Long

19 October 1944 sailed the Loch Long independently to Gibraltar. While on passage part of the port propeller broke off and a fracture was discovered in the rudder

25 October 1944 arrived at Gibraltar

28 October 1944 entered dry dock at Gibraltar

31 October 1944 floated out of the dry dock after repairs to the rudder and the propeller 

1 November 1944 sailed Gibraltar independently to Bone

3 November 1944 arrived at Bone and embarked 77 patients – all Italian POW’s being repatriated then sailed Bone independently to Naples

4 November 1944 anchored in Naples Bay

6 November 1944 berthed alongside at Naples. The Italian patients were landed

7 November 1944 embarked 419 patients and sailed Naples independently to Liverpool

11 November 1944 passed Gibraltar sailing west bound

16 November 1944 berthed at Liverpool at the Prince’s Landing stage and disembarked the patients 

19 November 1944 sailed Liverpool independently to Naples

24 November 1944 passed Gibraltar

27 November 1944 arrived at Naples and embarked 162 British and Canadian patients

28 November 1944 sailed Naples independently to Taranto

29 November 1944 berthed at Taranto oil jetty to load bunkers. Moved berth in Taranto harbour and embarked 271 Polish patients

30 November 1944 sailed Taranto passing Gibraltar west bound on 4 December 1944 and arriving off Falmouth 9 December 1944

9 December 1944 sailed Falmouth independently to Southampton arriving the next day

11 December 1944 to 15 December 1944 in dock at Southampton

16 December 1944 sailed Southampton independently to Falmouth arriving the next day

17 December 1944 sailed Falmouth independently to Gibraltar

21 December 1944 sailed Gibraltar independently to Naples Bay arriving 24 December 1944

25 December 1944 berthed at Naples

26 December 1944 embarked 381 patients and sailed Naples independently to Algiers arriving 28 December 1944

28 December 1944 embarked 36 patients sailed Algiers, passing Gibraltar sailing west bound on 30 December 1944  to Gourock on the Clyde arriving 3 January 1945

5 January 1945 underwent repairs at KGV Dock, Glasgow 

6 January 1945 sailed the Clyde independently passing Gibraltar eastbound  on 11 January 1945 and arrived Algiers on 12 January 1945

12 January 1945 embarked 179 patients and sailed Algiers independently to Palermo arriving 14 January 1945

14 January 1945 disemarked 161 patients (Italians) and then sailed Palermo independently to Catania arriving the next day

15 January 1945 embarked 135 patients and sailed Catania independently to Taranto arriving 16 January 1945 where all patients were disembarked

17 January 1945 to 1 February 1945 at anchor off Taranto

2 February 1945 sailed Taranto independently to Salonika arriving 5 February 1945

6 February 1945 at Salonika embarked 41 patients

7 February 1945 sailed Salonika independently to Piraeus arriving the next day

8 February 1945 embarked 81 patients

10 February 1945 sailed Piraeus independently to Taranto arriving 12 February 1945 where all patients were disembarked

13 February 1945 at Taranto while moving berth grounded for a short time – no damage. Then sailed the same day to Catania

15 February 1945 sailed Catania independently to Naples arriving 16 February 1945

17 February 1945 embarked 430 patients

19 February 1945 sailed Naples independently to Glasgow arriving 26 February 1945. All patients disembarked

27 and 28 February 1945 engines giving cause for concern resulted in them being examained for defects and then entered refit for major engine repairs – still under repair in May 1945

31 May 1945 taken over for use as a Naval Hospital Ship, name unchanged for service with the British Pacific Fleet

30 June 1945 in the North Atlantic around 37°36’N 67°43W passed USS General A W Greely (AP141)  (Source ship log of USS General A W Greely)

27 July 1945 sailed the Clyde, to Gibraltar 1 August 1945 to Taranto arriving 6 August 1945

6 August 1945 sailed Taranto independently to Port Said arriving 10 August 1945

11 August 1945 sailed Suez having embarked approximately 200 New Zealand troops (both injured and just being repatriated) independently to Aden arriving 16 August 1945

16 August 1945 sailed Aden independently to Colombo arriving on 23 August 1945

25 August 1945 sailed Colombo independently to Freemantle arriving 5 September 1945

7 September 1945 sailed Freemantle independently to Wellington, New Zealand arriving 18 September 1945

18 September 1945 berthed at Aotea Quay Wharf, Wellington, New Zealand to discharged 55 patients – wounded New Zealand forces. The Northern Avocate newspaper (published in New Zealand) reported …


18 9 45 Northern Avocate NZ Empire Clyde


29 September 1945 sailed Wellington, New Zealand independently to Manus, Admiralty Islands arriving 9 October 1945

11 October 1945 sailed Manus, Admiralty Islands independently to Shanghai arriving 19 October 1945


Empire Clyde Shanghai 1945

HMHS Empire Clyde at Shanghai in 1945
image courtesy of Anthony Jordan

22 October 1945 sailed Shanghai independently to Hong Kong arriving 27 October 1945 with more than 400 British Internees – mostly hospital cases

23 October 1945 the Dundee Cporier newspaper reported –


Dundee Courier 23 October 1945


October 1945 became Base Hospital Ship at Hong Kong

26 November 1945 at Hong Kong patient Able Seaman Henry Glencross from HMS BERRY HEAD discharged dead with multiple injuries and shock – buried in Hong Kong Cemetery in section 17B grave 10239

1 January 1946 at Hong Kong a Royal Naval patient Leading Stoker Donald Tate from HMS BERMUDA discharged dead – natural causes – buried in Sai Wan War Cemetery in grave II F 7

22 February 1946 at Hong Kong patient Able Seaman Norman Mitchell from HMS WIDEMOUTH BAY discharged dead – head injury – buried in Sai Wan War Cemetery in grave II F 9

13 April 1946 at Hong Kong patient Able Seaman Norman Bennett from HMS WHITESAND BAY discharged dead – natural causes – buried in Sai Wan War Cemetery in grave II F 6

20 April 1946 at Hong Kong at Hong Kong patient 1st Class Stoker Hossain Eshak from HMIS CANVERY discharged dead – natural causes

21 May 1946 at sea at 21°00N 110°00E passenger Yu Har Chai a 7 month old child being repatriated discharged dead – natural causes

22 May 1946 arrived at Hong Kong together with HMS WHIMBREL with 576 repatriated Chinese from Hainan, including 65 stretcher cases and 511 who were ill. The majority of the repatriates were Hong Kong Chinese who had been taken to Hainan during the war and used as forced labour

9 July 1946 arrived Kure, Japan and sailed two days later

21 July 1946 arrived Singapore. Undergoing repairs from 26 July 1946. Sailed 30 August 1946 for Hong Kong but returned to Singapore on 11 September 1946

1 November 1946 sailed Singapore

6 November 1946 arrived at Hong Kong

5 December 1946 arrived Sydney, NSW from Hong Kong

12 December 1946 sailed Sydney, NSW with sick British soldiers and sick Italian prisoners of war


Empire Clyde loads patients Oz

Loading patients at Sydney, NSW before sailing to the UK


14 December 1946 arrived at Melbourne, Victoria, Australia from Sydney, NSW. Sailed 17 December 1946 to Freemantle with repatriated Italian prisoners of  war

23 December 1946 at Perth, Western Australia – members of the Australian Red Cross boarded the vessel leaving extra food for the patients and crew

27 December 1946 at sea at 18°07S 101°35E Italian prisoner of war Santucci Concettino discharged dead – presumed drowned

2 January 1947 arrived Trincomalee, Ceylon and sailed the next day to Colombo, Ceylon

4 January 1947 arrived Colombo, Ceylon

6 January 1947 sailed Colombo, Ceylon to Suez arriving 16 January 1947

16 January 1947 Surgeon Captain Douglas M Beaton OBE LRCP Royal Navy and Surgeon Commander V G Horan MB BCh Royal Navy appointed to the Medical Team on the ship

17 January 1947 sailed Port Said to Naples

22 January 1947 sailed Naples for Malta

23 January 1947 berthed at Malta from Naples and the Far East

10 April 1947 the Indian crew were transferred to the HM Transport Lancashire which sailed this day from Malta for Port Said and Bombay

14 April 1947 transferred to Admiralty ownership

25 April 1947 formally transferred ‘by bill of sale’ to the Admiralty

7 July 1947 Mr Alexander B McIntyre RD RFA (Lieutenant Commander (E) RNR (Ret)) appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

1 September 1947 Mr Frederick W Howell RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

6 September 1947 Captain Stanley G Kent OBE RFA appointed as Master while the ship was RFA Empire Clyde


1 Stanley Kent

Captain Stanley G Kent OBE RFA


18 December 1947 Mr Edward B Morton RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer



Chief Engineer Officer Edward B Morton RFA


1 January 1948 renamed RFA Maine (4)

7 March 1948 the Sunday Post newspaper reported –


7 3 48 Sunday Post Maine 4


24 July 1948 berthed in Grand Harbour, Malta

The Sphere 24 7 48 Maine 4 at Malta


17 August 1948 Mr Charles Scott DSC RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

1 January 1949 the London Gazette of this day recorded the award of Associate of the Royal Red Cross (2nd Class) having been awarded to Acting Senior Sister John Mary Woodgate Q.A.R.N.N.S. for services in the ship while in the Pacific

29 January 1949 arriving at Malta

The Sphere 29 1 49 Maine 4 at Malta


29 March 1949 Mr Harold Ringshaw RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer


 CEO Harold Ringshaw

Chief Engineer Officer Harold Ringshaw RFA

1949 was reduced to reserve status at Malta

16 July 1949 Surgeon Captain J C Souter Royal Navy took over command of the Royal Naval medical team on the ship

19 September 1949 after a refit she again proceeded East to Hong Kong for Far East Station duties

28 October 1949 arrived at Honk Kong after a slow passage from Malta – her speed being reduced by engine defects

30 October 1949 supported with medical supplies and water HMS Belfast which was saving lives from a Chinese vessel which was stranded on the Pratas Islands with about 600 passengers onboard

1 March 1950 sailed Hong Kong with the British Far East Fleet to Subic Bay, Philippines to serve as base Hospital ship during combined exercises with the US Navy. Thence to Singapore for a short refit

20 April 1950 at Hong Kong as the base Hospital Ship


Maine Cap Tally


22 May 1950 sailed Hong Kong with units of the Far East Fleet for a summer cruise in Japanese waters

20 June 1950 on the outbreak of the Korean War she was at Kobe, Japan as the only Hospital Ship in the area. She was placed at the disposal of United Nations Forces and dealt with the initial evacuation of US casualties from Pusan. Throughout 1951 – 52 she operated from Hong Kong, Sasebo and sometimes Kure and handled large numbers of British and Commonwealth personnel. She was awarded the Korea 1950 Battle Honour.

14 July 1950 arrived at Pusan, Korea.  Between 16 July 1950 and 16 September 1950 the ship made eight trips from Korea to Japan and carried 37 casualties to Fukuoka, 1,558 casualties to Osaka and 254 casualtites to Yokohama – a total of 1,849 casualties.  The medical staff also treated 2,115 US personnel and up to 1,006 cases of surgery were performed. The Japanese port of Fukuoka was only used once due to it being a shallow water port and the fact that Maine had to anchor some 3½ miles away from the port with the patients being taken ashore via a US Air Force air sea rescue launch

4 August 1950 while at sea US Army PFC’s Donald E Sellers and Ronald E Kendall both discharged dead from the effect of wounds received in warfare. PFC Donald Sellers’ mortal remains were returned to the United States of America and he is buried in Highland Home Cemetery, Jamestown, ND, USA. PFC Ronald Kendall’s mortal remains were returned to the United States of America and he is buried in Bowman Cemetery, Bowman, North Dakota, USA

5 August 1950 while at sea US Army PFC Elbert Miller discharged dead from the effect of wounds received in warfare. PFC Miller’s mortal remains were returned to the United States of America and he is buried in Nowata Memorial Cemetery, Nowata, Oklahoma, USA

11 August 1950 while at sea US Army Sergeant Roselio J Torres and US Army PFC William R Weitman both discharged dead from the effect of wounds received in warfare. Sergeant Torres’ mortal remains were returned to the United States of America and he is buried in BEAVER CEMETERY, BEAVER, PA., USA and PFC William R Weitman’s mortal remains were returned to the United States of America and he is buried in Watermelon Creek Baptist Church Cemetery, Mendes,GA, USA

12 August 1950 while at sea US Army PFC George A Poulson discharged dead from the effect of wounds received in warfare. PFC George A Poulson’s mortal remains were returned to the United States of America and he is buried in Wataga Cemetery, Wataga, IK, USA


RFA Maine4 in dry dock at Kure 1950

RFA Maine in dry dock at Kure, Japan


30 October 1950 arrived at Hong Kong with 57 wounded British troops

3 November 1950 the Hampshire Telegraph newspaper reported –


3 11 50 Hampshire Telegraph Maine 4


1 December 1950 Mr Frederick O Brims RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer until 17 January 1951. Chief Engineer Officer Brims had sailed from the UK to join RFA Maine (4) on ss Corfu but reported sick upon arrival at Hong Kong. He was recommended for invaliding from the Service on 14 February 1951. He sailed from Hong Kong on the Empire Fowey on 22 February 1951. He was discharged medically unfit and granted a pension on 1 May 1951



RFA Maine (4) Christmas Card for 1950
kindly donated by Andrew Gourlay


12 January 1951 Captain William W Peddle RFA appointed as Master



Captain William W Peddle RFA 


3 February 1951 while at Kure, Japan received an urgent surgical cot case from HMS UNICORN

7 March 1951 Mr David  L Walls RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

22 June 1951 at Kure, Japan


Wedding on Maine 4

Captain G H Strachan MC, 8th Hussars, and his bride formerly Nurse Miss Sheila Doreen Gammage at their reception aboard RFA Maine on 22 June 1951. Their wedding had been conducted at the Church of England Garrison Church at Kure


19 August 1951 Surgeon Lieutenant Harold M James RAN from HMAS ANZAC admitted suffering from typhus

27 September 1951 at Kure, Japan along with RFA BROWN RANGER together with RN and RAN warships

10 October 1951 lost a propeller while on a westward passage through the Shimonoseki Straits. Taken under tow by USS Reclaimer [ARS-42] and USS Yuma [ATF-94]

18 November 1951 at Sasebo, Japan Assistant Steward Ng Tsui Chung having been admitted from RFA GREEN RANGER discharged dead from natural causes

8 January 1952 at Sasebo, Japan Able Seaman Arthur Walden having been admitted from RFA WAVE PREMIER discharged dead from natural causes. He was buried in Yokohama War Cemetry in Post War Plot B, Row D Grave No: 13


Walden Arthur Maine 4


9 November 1952 Surgeon Commander Dennis W Pratt MB BCH Royal Navy appointed to the RN medical team onboard

1 December 1952 USS Ashtabula (AO51) on fire in Sasebo Harbour. 2 killed, one missing and 9 injured and damaged a repair ship Ajax moored alongside. Doctors and nurses from the MAINE boarded USS Ashtabula to treat the injured


 AO51 Astrobula

 USS Ashtabula – AO51


9 December 1952 Mr A Morton RFA appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

1 February 1953 Captain Russell G Edmonds RFA appointed as Master

7 March 1953 during the ships refit at Hong Kong a medical team of Surgeon Commanders Denis W Pratt Royal Navy and B W Watford Royal Navy plus two Sick Berth ratings was set up on the island of Paengyong-do, Korea servicing the local garrison and local inhabitants

11 May 1953 sailed Hong Kong to Korea to embark repatriated Britisk sick and wounded Prisoners of War

22 May 1953 the President of South Korea awarded the Presidential Unit Citation of the Republic of Korea to RFA Maine for meritorious service in the Korean War theatre from February 1951 to July 1952


Korean Presidential Unit Citation

Presidential Unit Citation of the Republic of Korea


6 March 1954 the Government announced that RFA MAINE (4) was to be sold. This was reported in the Portsmouth Evening News newspaper –


6 3 54 Ports Even News Maine 4


9 March 1954 offered the ship for sale in The Times newspaper “as lying” at Hong Kong –

RFA Maine 4 for sale 9 3 54


26 April 1954 her operational Service ended at Hong Kong

20 May 1954 towed from the Royal Naval Dockyard, Hong Kong. The Sunderland Daily Echo newspaper reported –


20.5.54 Sunderland Daily Echo Maine 4


25 May 1954 sold for demolition to local Hong Kong breakers – Chiap Hua Mfg (1947) Ltd.

June 1954 broken up at Hong Kong

22 February 1972 British Registry closed




  1. As Empire Clyde served in the British Pacific Fleet – hence the B pennant number