Departure from Cape Town

16th June 2016

During the morning of 16 June 1916, the Monmouth class armoured escort ship HMS Kent led the convoy of SS Benalla, HMAT Marathon and SS Argyleshire out of Table Bay on the next stage of their voyage to England.  Kurrajong Private Turner noted in his diary that the men ‘were not sorry as there is not much pleasure being in port when we are not allowed leave.’

At night on the main deck no lights were on and the men were forbidden to strike a match. Kurrajong Harry Shatwell recorded that it was considered the convoy was ‘in the danger zone’ and the men had to carry their lifebelts at all times.  The ships kept very close to each other during the first few days of their journey up the West African coast. It was very cold with rough seas which caused huge waves to break over the Benalla’s bridge and alarm when the ship turned on its side.  Fortunately the Benalla righted itself but the sea was too rough for the usual midday parade.

Photo: private collection

Click for larger photo

Click for larger photo