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Middle East Troopship Convoys 2NZEF 1939-1945

Michael Ward
Public Researcher

World War 2 troopship Rangitiki, Wellington Harbour. Photographer: William Hall Raine.

World War 2 troopship Rangitiki, Wellington Harbour. Photographer: William Hall Raine.

Alexander Turnbull Library Ref:1/4-020746-G No known copyright restrictions

Researcher Michael Ward has kindly agreed to share his Middle East Troopship Convoys 2NZEF 1939-1945 on Online Cenotaph.

This document is a guide to the movements of troopships that sailed from New Zealand to the Middle East during the Second World War. It sets out the convoys by their date of departure from Wellington. The troopships generally followed the same route to the Middle East: from Wellington across the Tasman Sea to the east coast of Australia (or Sydney or Hobart or Bass Strait), Melbourne, Fremantle, Colombo (or Trincomalee or Bombay [Mumbai]), across the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea and the Gulf of Suez to Port Tewfik [Tefiq] Suez—with the notable exception of the Second Echelon, which, with Italy on the brink of entering the war on the German side, sailed from Fremantle across the Indian Ocean to Cape Town, to Freetown (Sierra Leone), and Gourock, Scotland.

During the Second World War, the New Zealand government, the news media, and New Zealanders themselves maintained a high degree of secrecy around the nature and timing of troop movements to and from the Front, presenting some difficulties for modern day historians.

Although some of the troopship voyages are described in the various Battalion histories published after the war by the Historical Publications Branch, Wellington, not all of the voyages are documented or presented in any great detail.

Fortunately, the British Board of Trade maintained a record of the movement of merchant ships through the war years: BT-389: 1939–1945: Merchant Shipping Movement Cards. These cards give the name of a ship and details of its movements, namely, the ports at which it docked, and passage between ports. They also record the location (by latitude and longitude) and date a ship was sunk, (if a ship met that fate).

These records, held by the British National Archives at Kew, are the source of much of the detailed material presented here. Another valuable resource is the Convoy database website at convoyweb.org.uk established by former Lieutenant Commander and naval historian Arnold Hague, and fellow enthusiasts, John K. Burgess and Don Kindell.

  • Last updated on: 10 Nov 2020 | File Size: 1.6 MB

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We would like to acknoweldge the contribution of our Armoury Volunteers 1996-2015 whose work this resource builds on.

This work is released under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial license (CC BY-NC 4.0). Please feel free to share and add to the information contained in this document.

Cite this article

Ward, Michael. Middle East Troopship Convoys 2NZEF 1939-1945. Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira. First published: 24 September 2020. Updated: 3 December 2020.
URL: www.aucklandmuseum.com/war-memorial/online-cenotaph/features/Troopship-Convoys