RMS Llandovery Castle (1913)

Llandovery Castle, in service as a hospital ship, c.1918. Photo in the collections of the Archives of Nova Scotia.


RMS Llandovery Castle was laid down for the Union Castle Line as a liner, and completed in January, 1914. Initially sailing the Atlantic, between London and Africa, Llandovery Castle was requisitioned as a hospital ship in 1916, commissioning as HMHS Llandovery Castle on 26 July. She was operated by the Canadians until 27 June, 1918, when she was torpedoed by SM U-86, under the command of Helmut Brümmer-Patzig. Hospital ships were, of course protected by international law, but the German high command insisted that the Allies were in violation of the Hague Convention, by transporting able-bodied men to the continent. Brümmer-Patzig attempted to destroy the evidence by running down lifeboats and having his crew machine gun the survivors. 234 people died, with only twenty-four survivors. Brümmer-Patzig fled jurisdiction after the War, evading trial, and two of his lieutenants got off by convincing the appeals court that it was just Brümmer-Patzig's responsibility.

Bonus Information

Sad Fact: The sinking of Llandovery Castle resulted in the largest loss of life from the sinking of a hospital ship in World War I.