Still from 'Cargoes' - The Ionian at Alexandria.
[No blurb available in the Films of Britain series.]

Date: 1940
Duration: 09:10

Director: Humphrey Jennings [?]
Production Company: TIDA
Producer: -
Cinematographer: -
Composer: -
Narration: -
Editor: -
Sound Recording: -

Length: 35mm: -. 16mm: -.


The SS Ionian filmed at the end of July 1939, with Captain Smith. The ship travels around the Mediterranean to Malta, Haifa (Israel), Famagusta (Cyprus), Larnaca (Cyprus), Kyrenia (Cyprus), Paphos (Cyprus), and Alexandria (Egypt), before returning to London and docking at Butler's Wharf at the end of August.

This film is a recut version of the film known as SS Ionian, and then as Her Last Voyage. The film had to be recut after the SS Ionian was sunk by a German mine on 29th November 1939 enroute from Crete to Hull, only three months after filming.

All three ships from the British Mediterranean Fleet's 1st Battle Squadron (at the outbreak of World War 2) are seen in this film; HMS Barham, HMS Malaya, and HMS Warspite.

Other ships named and shown:

The HMS Barham at Malta
HMS Barham - In the floating dock at Malta. A Queen Elizabeth class battleship. Later sunk on 25th November 1941 when it was torpedoed by German submarine U-331, causing the ship to roll before the magazine exploded, killing 848 people on board. This incident was famously captured by a newsreel cameraman from the nearby HMS Valiant.

The HMS Garland at Haifa.
HMS Garland, HMS Grafton, HMS Griffin, HMS Greyhound
- All seen moored in the harbour at Haifa, Israel. Four G-Class destroyers, "built in 1936, fast as whippets, fur 4.7 inch guns, 8 torpedo tubes, and 145 men."

HMS Grafton was struck in the stern by a torpedo from the U-62 while rescuing survivors from HMS Wakeful (see below) off Nieuwpoort, Belgium, on 29 May 1940, during Operation Dynamo. This seriously damaged the ship, and also triggered a secondary explosion which damaged the bridge, killing the Captain and another officer. Thirteen ratings and the Canteen Manager were also killed. The ship's back was broken, but she remained afloat long enough for all survivors to be rescued by the destroyer HMS Ivanhoe. HMS Ivanhoe sank HMS Grafton with naval gunfire, as she was too badly damaged to be towed to safety.

HMS Greyhound was sunk by German Junkers Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers north-west of Crete on 22 May 1941 as she escorted the battleships of the Mediterranean Fleet attempting to intercept the German sea-borne invasion forces destined for Crete.

The HMS Wakeful at Haifa.
HMS Wakeful
- Seen moored at Haifa, identifiable by its pennant number. The HMS Wakeful was torpedoed and sunk during Operation Dynamo by a German E-Boat on 29 May 1940, in the same battle as the HMS Grafton (above), which endeavoured to pick up survivors from the HMS Wakeful before it too was sunk.

The HMS Shropshire at Larnaca.
HMS Shropshire
- Seen moored off Larnaca, Cyprus.

The HMS Malaya at Alexandria.
HMS Malaya
- Seen moored at Alexandria. A Queen Elizabeth class battleship, like the HMS Barham. "Oil-burning, 31,000 tonnes, with a speed of 25 knots. 1150 men, and armed to the teeth."

The HMS Amphion/HMAS Perth at Alexandria.
SS Amphion
- Seen at Alexandria, this ship was actually sold to the Royal Australian Navy by the end of June 1939, and was renamed the HMAS Perth on 10 July 1939. This suggests that the ship had already been renamed by the time this footage was shot, though the film makes no mention of this or the sale.

The HMS Warspite at Alexandria.
HMS Warspite
- Seen at Alexandria, the HMS Warspite served in both World War 1 and World War 2, earning the most battle honours ever awarded to an individual ship in the Royal Navy, including the most awarded for actions in World War 2.

Listing of the ships present at Butler's Wharf, near London Bridge, when the S.S. Ionian docks.
SS Erna
- Listed on the board at Butler's Wharf.

SS Belgravian - Listed on the board at Butler's Wharf.

HMS Oriana [?] - Listed on the board at Bulter's Wharf.