Galway Castle
Ship Number
Vessel Type
Passenger Ship
South Yard
Slip Number
Launch Date
April 12, 1911
October 9, 1911
Union-Castle Mail Steamship Co.
7987 grt
BP Length
452 feet
56 feet
No. of Screws
Speed (approx)
14 knots
Official No.
 Galway Castle

[Harland and Wolff Collection]

Similar to the Grantully Castle she was the last ship to be delivered before the company was taken over by Royal Mail. In August 1914 she was requisitioned as a troop ship for deployment in the German West Africa campaign against Windhoek. After the German colony was taken over by General Botha in 1915 she reverted to commercial service as the only remaining Union-Castle vessel.
On 3rd August 1916 she was attacked by a German bomber near the Gull lightship but the bomb, although scoring a direct hit, failed to explode. She went aground on the Orient Bank at East London on 12th October 1917 but was refloated five days later without any damage. At 07.30 hrs on 12th September 1918 when two days out from Plymouth, she was torpedoed by U-82 and broke her back. At the time she was carrying 400 South African walking wounded, 346 passengers and 204 crew members. So severe was the damage that it was thought that she would sink immediately and it was apparent that U-82 was lining up for another attack. In the rush to abandon ship several lifeboats were swamped by the heavy seas and many finished up in the sea. However, the U-boat did not mount a further attack and the Galway Castle continued to wallow for three days. Destroyers were summoned by radio to rescue survivors who were taken back to Plymouth where it was ascertained that 143 persons had perished. Hms Spitfire remained in attendance and took of the skeleton crew before she finally sank with the loss of 143 lives.