SS Mona's Queen (1934)

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For other ships of the same name, see Mona's Queen.
Mona's Queen 1930s
Mona's Queen
Name: Mona's Queen
Owner: 1934-1940: Isle of Man Steam Packet Company
Operator: 1934-1940: Isle of Man Steam Packet Company
Port of registry: Douglas, Isle of Man
Builder: Cammell Laird, Birkenhead
Cost: £201,250 (£12,466,134 as of 2015).[1]
Yard number: 998
Way number: 145308[2]
Laid down: 27 October 1933
Launched: 12 April 1934
Completed: 25 June 1934
Maiden voyage: 1934
Out of service: May 1940

ON 145308

Code Letters G W S G
ICS Golf.svgICS Whiskey.svgICS Sierra.svgICS Golf.svg
Fate: Sunk at Dunkirk, 29 May 1940
Status: War Grave
General characteristics
Type: Passenger Steamer
Tonnage: 2,756 gross register tons (GRT)
Length: 337 feet (103 m)
Beam: 48 feet (15 m)
Depth: 17 feet (5.2 m)
Decks: 5
Ice class: N/A
Installed power: 8,500 shp (6,300 kW)
Propulsion: Two sets of single-reduction Parson's-geared turbines; developing 8,500 shp (6,300 kW)
Speed: 22 knots (41 km/h; 25 mph)
Capacity: 2,486 passengers
Crew: 83
Launch of Mona's Queen, April 12, 1934.

TSS (RMS) Mona's Queen (III) No. 145308, was a ship built for the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company in 1934, and was the third vessel in the Company's history to bear the name. Her life proved short, and she was lost when she struck a mine off Dunkirk on 29 May 1940.


Mona's Queen was built by Cammell Laird at Birkenhead in 1934, at a cost of £201,250. The vessel had a registered tonnage of 2,756; a depth of 17 feet (5.2 m); a length of 337 feet (103 m); beam of 48 feet (15 m) and a speed of 22 knots. She was certified for 2,486 passengers and a crew of 83.

Mona's Queen had two rudders, one forward as well as an Oertz streamline type astern. She was driven by two single-reduction geared turbines and produced 8,500 shp (6,300 kW); the first of the Company's ships to have water tube boilers, taking up less room than the scotch boilers previously used.

Mona's Queen was launched by Mrs J. B. Waddington at 9:30am on 12 April 1934. This rather unusual time, was as a consequence of tide conditions in the River Mersey.[4]

Following her fitting-out, Mona's Queen underwent her sea trials on Wednesday 13 June. Sailing from Cammell Laird's, she made passage to the Clyde for her speed test over the 'measured mile'. On her return she crossed Douglas Bay (but did not berth at her home port) as she continued back to Birkenhead, where she entered the 'wet basin' in order to have her turbines examined.[5]


Mona's Queen was launched painted with a white hull over green. This was a summer colour scheme adopted by the Company in the 1930s, and was also applied to her sisters Lady of Mann and Ben-my-Chree.

Mona's Queen pictured departing Liverpool

She was an elegant ship, straight of stem and with an elliptical stern.

Her passenger accommodation was advanced for its day. She had 20 cabins, consisting of 8 private cabins and 12 convertible cabins, including one specially decorated.

With five decks, her Promenade deck extended forward to the bow and this gave the impression of being larger than even the Lady of Mann. Employed during the busy summer season on the main home run between Douglas and Liverpool, Mona's Queen also inaugurated evening cruises from Douglas to the Calf of Man.

Mona's Queen was the leader of the last three ships, all twin-screw, geared turbines, to be built for the Company before the Second World War. The Fenella and Tynwald followed her into service in 1937. All three were lost during the war.

War service and loss[edit]

Mona's Queen was requisitioned as a personnel vessel on the day war broke out. As such, she remained a merchantman with a Steam Packet Captain and crew. She spent most of May 1940 evacuating refugees from Dutch and French ports as the massive German advance swept forward to the Channel. On 22 May she left Boulogne for Dover with 2,000 British troops embarked.

Her record during the Dunkirk evacuation was short. She started under the command of Captain R. Duggan and arrived back in Dover during the night of 27 May with 1,200 troops. She was shelled by shore guns off the French coast the next day, but she escaped damage. On 29 May the troops on the Dunkirk beaches were short of drinking water, so the Mona's Queen loaded water canisters and sailed from Dover in the early morning. She hit a mine off Dunkirk harbour at 5.30am, and sank in two minutes. Captain Archibald Holkham, who had taken over as Master, and 31 members of the crew were picked up by destroyers. Twenty-four of the crew were lost.

All but ten of them had worked in the engine room. They included the Chief and Second Engineer. Seventeen of the dead were from the Isle of Man.[6]

Mona's Queen Officers and Deck Crew, 1940. 
Mona's Queen striking a mine on the approach to Dunkirk, May 29, 1940. 
Survivors from Mona's Queen, pictured from the destroyer, HMS Vanquisher. 

Operation Dynamo, whilst widely regarded as the Steam Packet's 'finest hour',[7] also saw its blackest day. Three vessels were lost from the fleet on 29 May; King Orry, Fenella and Mona's Queen.


Memorial at Kallow Point, Port St Mary, commemorating the loss of Mona's Queen, King Orry, and Fenella.

To mark the seventieth anniversary of her sinking, Mona's Queen‍ '​s starboard anchor was raised on 29 May 2010 and subsequently returned to the Isle of Man to form the centrepiece of a permanent memorial. The anchor had become detached during the sinking, and therefore did not form part of the War Grave. Her anchor was raised by a French salvage vessel, and was shown live on BBC television. There was a 12-gun salute from HMS Monmouth as a crane lifted the anchor of Mona's Queen from the seabed.

On 29 May 2012, a memorial featuring the restored anchor from Mona's Queen, to commemorate the losses 72 years earlier on Mona's Queen, King Orry and Fenella was opened in a ceremony at Kallow Point in Port St Mary attended by representatives of local and national government, the Lieutenant Governor, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company and the French Navy.


Mona's Queen can be seen berthed alongside the Prince's Landing Stage in Liverpool, about to be boarded by George Formby in the 1935 film No Limit.

Mona's Queen pictured at the Pier Head in the 1935 film No Limit


  1. ^ UK CPI inflation numbers based on data available from Gregory Clark (2014), "What Were the British Earnings and Prices Then? (New Series)" MeasuringWorth.
  2. ^ Connery Chappell - Island Lifeline (1980) p54.
  3. ^ Ships of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company (Fred Henry) p.64
  4. ^ Mona's Herald. Tuesday June 12th, 1934.
  5. ^ Mona's Herald. Tuesday June 12th, 1934.
  6. ^ Isle of Man Weekly Times, 8 June 1940 (the newspaper report contains details of Mona's Queen's history, sinking and names and addresses of crew lost and saved; also details of the King Orry Dunkirk sinking)
  7. ^ "About Us". Steam Packet Co. Retrieved 2013-08-04.