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TSS Lady Of Mann

Builders: Vickers Armstrong Ltd Barrow 1930

Propulsion type: 4 single reduction geared steam turbines

Owners: Isle of Man Steam Packet Co Ltd

Service dates: 1930 - 1971

Tonnage: Gross 3104


This picture, comes from the Keith Sutton collection and is previously unpublished, being taken by Mr Sutton.

Lady of Mann was the largest ship ever built for the Steam Packet. She was launched in the 1930, company's Centenary year by the Duchess of Atholl, The Lady of Mann, after whom she was named. Lady of Mann exceeded 22 knots on trials and her speed was often over 23 knots in service. Described as " foreman built ", she was constructed during the depression which started in 1929. Most of the builder's yard staff had been laid off and it was only the key men who had been retained that built her. They obviously did a good job for her to last in service for so long.

She was requistioned as a personnel ship at the outbreak of the Second World War and because of her turn of speed, she was able to get in and out of the Dunkirk bombardments to lift 4,262 men back to England. She spent 6 hours in Dunkirk on May 31st 1940 and despite being shelled by shore batteries and dive-bombed she emerged with little damage and a claim of one aircraft shot down. She returned to Dunkirk on the 1st June to take off 1,500 casualties and was back again on the following day, but was ordered out for lack of troops although she did rescue 18 French soldiers from a small boat on the way back to England. She made her last trip to Dunkirk in the early hours of the 4th June embarking 1,244 troops in an hour from the East Pier. Operation Dynamo ended that afternoon. Twelve days later she became part of Operation Aerial to evacuate troops from Le Havre, Cherbourg and Brest, and as one of the last three ships to leave Le Havre, she steamed out under air attack carrying an estimated  5,000 on board ( she was only designed to carry 2,873 passengers ). From August  1940 until April  1944 she was on trooping duties between Invergordon, Aberdeen and Lerwick to the Faroes as well as acting as tender to the RMS Queen Mary ferrying allied troops from the Queen Mary in Belfast Lough to Greenock. She was one of several ships which serviced the big Cunarder.  In the build up prior to the D-Day landings she was converted to a LSI (H), Landing Ship Infantry ( Hand Hoisting ), carrying six landing craft, 55 officers and 435 assault troops and took part in the landings at Juno beach as the headquarters ship 512th Assault Flotilla.  She retired for repairs later in the month and then returned to duties as a personnel vessel for the remainder of the war moving troops and displaced persons across the Channel. Lady of Mann was finally  reconditioned and returned to Steam Packet service in May '46 after carrying an estimated 2,000,000 troops.  She returned to service after the war and continued to serve the company until 1971.

For an undated, previously unpublished picture of her at Victoria Pier Douglas, please click here.

For a picture of her at Llandudno Pier on 2 August 1971, shortly before she was withdrawn, please click here.

I am indebted to Keith Sutton for the narrative above.

Visitor George Wallace adds:

My father and six of his friends in the 51st Highlanders managed to get onto a Belgian ship which he said was the last to leave Dunkirk Harbour and had been chartered by the French Government to take some French "Surveyors" away from France. Dad's officer had tried to persuade the crew to take them on board the day before but had been turned away so he had the lads "smarten themselves up" and they marched noisily and in twos up the gangplank and onto the ship announcing themselves as the official escorts to the French "Surveyors" and so they sailed with the ship for Southampton. The ship was holed just above the waterline and could only make 3 knots but as they neared Southampton they learnt that the Vichy French had insisted that the important passengers be taken directly to Cherbourg! That is where Dad and his friends and the other troops remained until the Lady of Mann picked them up and returned them to the UK. I would love to find more information about the Belgian ship and her crew.

Any help appreciated.

Regards George Wallace. E mail:

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