Built: 1936 by Harland & Wolff, Belfast.
Tonnage: 906g, 350n.
Engine: Single Screw, 8 Cylinder, 2 Stroke Double Acting, 539 NHP, 10 Knots.
Passengers: 300 First Class, 490 Cabin Class.
Launched 17th September 1936, Completed 30th November 1936.
Walmer Castle dates from the 16th century, and forms part of a line of defence along the edge of the Downs. As a result of constant threats of invasion from Spain, Henry VIII ordered castles to be built at Walmer, Deal and Sandown, with a series of defence works and ditches located between them. This allowed for defending any coastal attack, while at the same time commanding the Downs.
Built for the Southampton - Bremon - Hamburg feeder service Walmer Castle replaced Eider. In 1940 she was requisitioned for use as an Armed Supply Ship based at Scarpa Flow and in June of the following year was converted again for use as a Convoy Rescue Ship. On her first sailing as such when in convoy OG 75 she picked up survivors from the City of Waterford on the 19th September. The following day she picked up 30 from the Empire Moat and a further 28 from the Baltallin. By the 21st she had fallen well behind the convoy and was attacked by Focke Wulf Kondor of I/KG 40 based at Bordeaux which in turn was shot down by an escort aircraft. The ship managed to avoid two of the bombs but a third struck home killing the Captain, ten crew and two of the rescued seamen. The remaining 12 crew and the survivors from the previous sinkings were picked up by HMS Marigold and HMS Deptford, the stricken Walmer Castle was later sank by gunfire from the escorts. The convoy itself lost nine ships despite being escorted by an Aircraft Carrier, HMS Audacity.
A new ten-year contract was signed in 1937 and the passage time was reduced to fourteen days. Only two ships could maintain the agreed schedule Athlone/Stirling Castle and so the Company embarked on an extensive re-engining program the ships involved were Arundel, Carnarvon, Warwick, Winchester and Windsor Castles. The Sandgate Castle was destroyed by fire and subsequently sank on the 30th of June when en route New York to Cape Town the survivors were rescued by the President Pierce (Dollar S.S. Co.). Roxburgh and Rochester Castles entered service and the feeder ship Hansa was sold to Jack Billmeir renamed Stanray and used as a blockade runner during the Spanish Civil War. The Munich crisis of 1938 saw the Windsor Castle being withdrawn from service as a potential Troopship, Cape Town and Durban Castle entered service.
The £10,000,000 rebuilding program which commenced in 1934 ended.