Mine and Rick's only contribution to this article is the replacement of the original photocopied images, where ever possible with scans of the original photographs
 when located and the addition of HMS Princess Beatrix's & HMS Queen Emma's Battle Honours Shield mock up.


*Translators comments.

Note: - Canal boat: The Dutch call the English Channel, De Kanaal. A better equivalent is Channel Ships (or Ferries)

"MARINEBLAD April, 1969 issue  pp 311- 332

The life story of two Dutch canal boats - von munching (not the Heineken boys!)

    It is not customary that articles are dedicated in the "marine magazine" to merchant marine ships. The story of the m.v. Queen Emma and Princess Beatrix of the SMZ has been so extraordinary, that it is certainly worthwhile to pay more than normal attention to these vessels. The more so, because there have never been a complete overview of the work these vessels have performed. This article was only made possible by the cooperation of the bureau of maritime history of the British admiralty. My sincere thanks.

The Service History of the Dutch Ferry Boats M/s Queen Emma and M/s Princess Beatrix

(Koningin Emma and Prinses Beatrix - Their original Dutch names) 1939 - 1968

     Both M.V. Emma and Beatrix have been taken out of commission now, and nobody will wonder at that. Both vessels have maintained a ferry service between the Hook of Holland (Hoek Van Holland) for more than 20 years after the war. They have aged and had to be replaced. But, those vessels served honorably during the past war, they participated in numerous operations and were highly regarded and well known by the allies. They sailed during the war as HMS Queen Emma and Princess Beatrix, English names thus, and their achievements under the English flag are so spectacular, that it is worth the effort to publish these in detail.

    Towards the end of December 1937 the SMV (steamship company Zeeland), Royal Dutch Mail line N.V. ordered two new, fast motor vessels for the daily service between Vlissingen and Harwich to replace three old steamers, of which one dated back to before World War 1. The order was placed after both houses (government) agreed to it. The Dutch government had a big say in the line because just after the first world war the state had taken over "State's rail" and included in this were shares of the SMV totaling 1 million guilders.

The twin-screwed motor ship Koningin Emma during her sea trials, 19th May 1939. As evident from this photograph, the Koningin Emma and her sister ship Prinses Beatrix, were a completely new type, and that there is little resemblance to the previous ships, which had maintained the day service (although designed for the night service), between Vlissingen and Harwich.

    A mishap on the launching of Motor Vessel Koningin Emma

In the presence of a number of v.i.ps, among which government officials Silvergieter Hoogstad and Quarles van Ufford and the chairman of the board of the line, Mr. D. Meester, the first keel plate was laid for both these twin screw ships on may 7, 38. by shipbuilding company De Schelde at Vlissingen. Koningin Emma was launched first (Hull no 209) on January 14, 1939, by Q. Wilhelmina The queen spoke some nice words ... After which she cut the rope with a silver cleaver and the Emma started to move downward 1 meter, two meters to finally stop as firm as a rock, it took labourers more than 4 hours of hard work to get the ship in her element.

To see a British Pathe News Bulletin on on the above story click on link below


     More than two months later on March 25, 39, the second ship Beatrix (hull no 210) was launched, christening this time was done by Prince Bernhard. Sea trials for the first ship were held on May 19, 39 and handed over to the line. During the trials a speed was obtained of more than 24. 5 miles this 1. 5 mile more than contractually was agreed upon. A month later sister ship Beatrix followed, changing flags then. The SMV came in possession with this act of two the fanciest and largest vessels they had ever owned, two ships that were specifically designed for the daily service and were executed with roomy cabins and large deck areas, which partially were closed off by glass, to enable to be on deck even in inclement weather. Propulsion was two sets of single working 2 stroke Sulzer diesel engines with a total capacity of 12.500 SHP (apk). Maximum passenger capacity 1800 total loading space, incl. garage and mail-rooms were 2260 cubic meters. With a gross hold of 4,135 tons these two vessels belonged to the largest canal boats  (Cross Channel Ferries) in the world and they were also the biggest, ever sailed under the Dutch tricolor (flag) across the channel. With a top speed of 24.5 mile they were at that time the fastest m.v. in the world. They easily beat the record of the Romanian m.v. Transilvania and Basarabia of 6,672 gross registered ton, which were built just a short while ago by the yard of Burmeister & Wain of Copenhagen. For that matter, the record was held for a very short time, for a month later, the new tri-screw m.v. Oranje of the steamship co. Nederland, during sea trials took the record with a speed of more than 26.3 miles. After Queen Emma as the first of the new ships had paid several visits to the ports of Rotterdam and Amsterdam, where they under normal circumstances never would be seen, was put into commission on June 4, 39. Her twin Beatrix left for Harwich from Vlissingen for the first time on July 3, 39  Unfortunately, the service would not last long, because the war clouds above Europe were packing. The new ships were in service for only a few months, when the German troops invaded Poland on Sept 1st, 1939. On Sept. 2nd both vessels were in their homeport and on Sept. 3, 39, the day that war was declared by England and France on Germany, the service was partially restarted with two of the old steamers. The company though it not to be prudent to have both her new ships to be in harms way.  A new problem followed on Sept. 5 when the port of Harwich was closed to all traffic and not before Sept. 15 could the service be continued with 1 of the old steamers but now to the Tilbury docks. Unfortunately two months later this vessel has to be taken out of commission. This is why on that historical day of May 10, 1940, the complete fleet of the SMV Zeeland was in homeport. In the early morning of the first war day German planes sowed mines in the Schelde entrance and where all ships anchored there bombed and sprayed with machine gun fire. The ships in port had to be evacuated of course ASAP, to prevent they were closed off. The motor vessels were capable of leaving right away, while the old steamers first had to fire up their kettles. Therefore the two new acquisitions could leave the port at 10 in the morning of May the 10th. In the morning of the 11 of May both Emma and Beatrix reached Duins via Cadzand and the lightship Wandelaer. They arrived in London on May 15 and were provided with a "degaussing" installation as a protection against German magnetic mines. Two days later the British Ministry of Transport (M.O.T.) chartered both vessels for troop transports, with the purpose to use them for evacuation of Dutch and French troops out of Brest. Emma and Beatrix left London via Southampton to Plymouth on May 29. Both vessels still had their original crews on board in addition a Dutch marine detachment had boarded. The French military position at that time was less then rosy and the Dutch ships were ordered to take the French troops that were present in England back to France. They left Plymouth on June 2 to Brest: Queen Emma with 1712 men and the Beatrix with 2000 troops, accompanied by the French Corvette (aviso) Cmndt Riviere (630 tons. 2 10cm guns, 8 machine guns, 20 miles). During this crossing the remarkable thing occurred that both Dutch vessels were much faster max 25 miles than the French warship, which on paper was rated at 20, but in reality not much faster than 17 miles. The Dutch ships were therefore forced to reduce their speed markedly. On the return trip they could go max speed and arrived because of that in the evening of June the 3rd in Plymouth's Roads. Another crossing was started on June 4; both ships now had approximately 1500 men each on board. With the return trip some British troops were transported. On June 9, 900 Dutch troops boarded the Beatrix at Brest. This way the troops of the Royal MP were transported aboard a Dutch vessel to England.

    On June the 16, Emma with 800 troops made her last voyage to Brest. The next outgoing voyage was to Bordeaux, however the commander of a British cruiser ordered them to sail for Bayonne, where they arrived on the 20th. The next day 1482 evacuees boarded and course was made for Plymouth. Because of the presence of German U-Boats and airplanes in the Gulf (Bay ) of Biscay, the Commander was ordered to make a big circle, however trusting his high speed he decided to make the trip the shortest way, anyway. This way the crossing was completed within 24 hours and would let the evacuees safely land at Plymouth. Early may the British cabinet had already decided to send troops to Iceland and on May the 8th, the Cruisers Berwick and Glasgow were sent there with a detachment of British Marines. Mid-June the first Canadian troops came from Halifax to Iceland and early July Canadian reinforcements from Halifax and British troops from Glasgow followed. At the same time defensive measures were taken at those spots were German troops could be landing. Including in the ships that were transporting these troops from Clyde to Iceland was the Queen Emma, escorted by British warships. The Queen Emma completed a trip around the isle and landed troops and equipment at various places. Also at Hvialfjord the port was barricaded, this was somewhat north of Reikjavik, which would become the most important base. In September 1940 the British Admiralty took over the two Dutch canal boats, docked that time at Pembroke. Training of commando troops had been started and plans were made for raids to the German occupied beaches of Europe.

    These modern, fast canal boats, were excellently suitable to be re-modeled to so called assault ships later to be called Landing Ship Infantry (L.S.I.) Both ships left for Belfast to be adapted for their new task by the Harland and Wolff yard. The upper deck was largely cleared and special so called gravity davits were installed, by which 6 lca's and 2 lcm (l)'s could be taken aboard, each weighing appr. 20tons. The ships also could take 450 troops. The names were changed to British names (spellings). They were outfitted with two so called 12 pounder (guns of 7.6 cm), two 2-pounders (machine guns of 40mm) and four Hotchkiss machine guns of 20mm, while Queen Emma obtained 4 machine guns .303", her sister got only two of this caliber. For the balance of the war they would sail under the "White ensign" (White flag, with the red cross of St. George superimposed and the Union Jack in the upper left quadrant, as flown by the British Navy Ships). Queen Emma was officially commissioned by Commander Kershaw R.N. and the Beatrix on Jan 22 by Commander Brunton. Officially they were on the books as special service ships.

The first major offensive action, where the two ships operated in their new role, was operation Claymore , in March 1941. Here one of the two ships (believed to be HMS Princess Beatrix) is shown off the Norwegian coast, while in the foreground is a British Destroyer with a Norwegian fishing boat along side

    Mid 1940, Admiral Keyes was appointed to Director of Combined Operations and under the leadership of Vice Admiral Hallett the Combined Training Center was formed, though not before Jan 1941 the training could be started. The British troops transport ship Ettrick 11.279 brt of the P & 0 line was the first to be added to the C.T.C., soon followed by both the Dutch canal boats.

In this photo, the two former Dutch Channel ships, rebuilt as Landing Ships Infantry,are lying in the British Naval Base at Scapa Flow,note the barrage balloons protecting the base from low flying aircraft.

    On both these previously Dutch boats the Guards Brigade were trained. In February 1941 approximately 20 LCM's and 36 LCA were available, with which the first realistic training exercises could be made. Once sufficient training had been achieved, it was decided to execute a raid to the Lofoten Island in the north of Norway, at the north side of the entrance of the Vestfjord. The purpose of this operation was the destruction of the fish factories, which were now working for the occupiers. The Norwegian Government in England and the head the Norwegian service missions were helpful to identify the most important targets and their location and pertinent local info. The cover name for this operation was "Claymore". On Feb. 22, 1941 the Emma and Beatrix arrived at Scapa Flow, the British naval bases in Scotland. 530 troops of the 3 and 4 Commando boarded, as well as fifty Engineers specialists for the destruction task and an equal number of Norwegian troops. Brigade General Haydon was the Commanding Officer and the marine striking force existing of 5 destroyers under Captain Caslon aboard destroyer Somali, also serving as escort. Haydon was aboard Emma. The vessels left early in the morning of March l st, fueled at the Farrow Islands and set course for Vestfjord, where submarine Sunfish was stationed and functioned as a beacon. A day later Admiral Tovey, commander of the British Home Fleet, sailed with the principal force to cover the operation and went to a point app. 200 miles outside of Lofoten and from this position sent the cruisers Edinburgh and Nigeria for support to the operation. Under ideal weather conditions, the two former canal boats entered the fjord at 00.01 in the early morning hours of March the 4th. Split in two groups, for the attack on the two most important targets. At 05.00 the first attacks took place; in total 4 targets were given, Stamsund, Henningsvaer, Brettesnes and Svolvaer. Five landing craft were assigned to Stamsund, two for Henninsgvaer and Brettesnes and 1 for Svolvaer. On each of the two ships 1 landing craft stayed in reserve. The surprise was complete and no resistance was given till the first troops landed ashore. All targets selected were located and destroyed, while the warships occupied themselves with ships in the area, of which the most important was the fish factory Hamburg 9.780 ton. This ship and some other smaller vessels were sunk. The landing troops were welcomed enthusiastically everywhere and took more the 200 Germans as P.O.W.'s. The landing ships were loaded aboard at 13.00 hours and within half an hour the gathered vessels left the Vestfjord together and course was set to both British cruisers. On March the 6th the ships were back in their base, not only with 213 German P.O.W.'s and 12 Norwegian traitors, but also 314 Norwegian volunteers, among which 8 females, offering their services. The raid turned out to be a huge success: app. 18.000 ton enemy ship's capacity was destroyed as well as the armed trawler Krebs, while a Norwegian trawler, the Myrland's crew indicated to come along to England, was give a course to the Faroe islands and arrived there 4 days later.

 In this picture HMS Princess Beatrix is shown with 3 of the 4 portside landing craft in the davits, with the 4th along side, this view is probably from early in the war, as the navigation radar is not yet fitted.

    After their return to England both ships were used again for training and exercise of Special Forces in the Scottish waters under the direction of Combined Operations. In the fall of that year, however, it was decided that both ships should go to Freetown and join the forces gathered there for the operation "Pilgrim", the occupation of the Canary Islands. The Germans had occupied the bases on the French Atlantic coast and the safety of the Spanish and Portuguese Atlantic islands ( the canary islands, the Azores and Cape Verdie Islands) were a constant worry for the British Admiralty. Should the Germans land in these islands, the idea was not far fetched, and the transatlantic convoys would be in great danger and then the German troops would invade Spain or conquer Gibraltar or at least prevent England from using the base, then these islands were the only alternative from which the allies could keep open the western entrances to the Mediterranean sea and the important route via Cape of Good Hope.

    Mid August the British Admiralty, gave an overview of the strategy to be followed to all Commanding Officers. It read " if the Germans decide to move into Spain we should certainly find ourselves unable to use Gibraltar.. Only in the Canaries it is possible to find a suitable alternative. We cannot therefore afford to be without either one or the other, and the occupation of the Canaries is a commitment for which we have constantly to be prepared.

    Hitler s thoughts about the Atlantic Islands were the same as the British, he wanted to occupy these islands, and however it was Admiral Raeder who warned him against such an operation, because it would not be possible to maintain their stay there because of the British sea power. The British government and admiralty however had to think ahead and make allowances for such plans.

    Plans to occupy the Canaries were readied by the director of Combined Operations, by April 9; the cabinet okayed, however the government reserved the right to establish the date for departure. Navy troop and ships were selected, commandants were appointed and exercises for the landings were held in Scottish waters. On May 15 the ships were readied so that they could sail within 7 days in case of an emergency. Since the expedition to occupy the Atlantic isles never occurred (Operation Puma ) it is not necessary to go into details, however some figures will indicate how big an operation it was and how many more ships and people got involved the more the planning got ahead. According to the original planning 10.000 troops would be sent in 5 transport ships, however already in July 10, 4l, this number had doubled, in order to occupy the other Atlantic Island in case this deemed necessary. The navy part consisted of one battleship, 3 carriers, 3 cruisers and 19 destroyers. Towards the end of July the threat of Gibraltar subsided somewhat and the chiefs of staff decided to postpone the operation till September.

    The cabinet agreed with this since it appeared that Franco did not plan to associate with the Axis and was not prepared to allow the German troops passage to knock out the Gibraltar base. It was fortunate for England not to have to carry this burden at this time, since it was heavily involved with its naval forces elsewhere. So it was decided to send Emma and Beatrix to Freetown. Before the ships went southwards, they first went to dock in Glasgow for maintenance and mid September they started for their new destination on October the 5th 1941 the ships arrived at Freetown. During the following months the ships are seen repeatedly in the ports of Freetown, Bathurst, Takoradi and Lagos.

HMS Queen Emma in the Clyde, this picture is evidently from later in the war, earlier photo as navigation radar has been installed against the main mast, it was just behind the bridge on Princess Beatrix. 

     On November 4th the British navy tanker Olwen reported to be attacked by a raider, halfway between Natal (Brasil) and Freetown. Next the two former Dutch ships were sent to investigate with the cruisers Dorsetshire (Captain Agar and Dunedin and the Auxiliary Cruiser Canton, while American warships would patrol northwest of this territory. No German raider was found and the Admiralty assumed that a surfacing German u-boat shot at the tanker in the pale light of the morning. The American Cruiser Omaha however, captured during a sweep of the area the German "obstruction breaker" Odenwald 5.098 grt and sent this ship with a prize crew to Trinidad. Both former Dutch ships only just returned to their base, when they were call upon again. On Nov 22 the German Auxiliary Cruiser Atlantis was sunk by the British Cruiser Devonshire (Captain Oliver) in the southern part of the Atlantic Ocean close to the island of Ascension and on December l st. the cruisers Dorsetshire (Captain Agar) intercepted the German freighter Python in the same area. Almost all crew from both German ships were rescued, they were taken aboard by German and Italian submarines that were close by and called in This place was not far from Ascension Island, where only a small army was stationed. The Commander in Chief South Atlantic feared the German would try to land on this small island. Therefore in Freetown the Emma and Beatrix were boarded in a hurry to strengthen the defenders on Ascension. On the way there messages were received that the German U-Boats with survivors were on their way to Bordeaux and both ships were recalled. On Feb. 14, 42 the Queen Emma and Princess Beatrix left Freetown for Greenock via Ponta Delgada (Feb. 20th). After arrival in England both ships went into dock for maintenance; Beatrix in the yard of Barclay Curle & co and the Queen Emma at Harland and Wolff at Govan, after some renovations were made the ships were classified as landing ship infantry (medium). When in April 1942 plans were readied for a somewhat larger raid on the French coast at Dieppe, both ships were selected to partake. Together with the newly similarly renovated new British Canal boat Invicta, the Princess Beatrix would take aboard the Canadian South Saskatchewan Regiment. This unit would execute a landing at the coast of Dieppe, which was indicated as the western inner flank. The Queen Emma transported together with the former Belgian canal boat Princess Astrid the royal Regiment of Canada and these Troops would land on that part of the beach that was called eastern inner flank for this operation. On the eve of August the 18th, the fleet left the ports of Southampton, Portsmouth, Newhaven and Shoreham, in total more than 200 ships. Together with the Beatrix 14 landing craft left Portsmouth. The landing at Dieppe, which took place on August 19, 1942, was not a success for the allies; although a number of the set targets were achieved, the element of surprise was lost, when on route to the French coast a German convoy was met, coastal defenses were alarmed. The losses were disproportionately high. Not caused by the war actions, the Princess Beatrix received slight damage when she collided with the Invicta during operations.

    This damage was repaired upon return to Portsmouth on August 20th, after which the ship was assigned to the training squadron d based on the Clyde. Continuing exercises with Special Forces and landing of ground troops on enemy beaches. All these exercises and manoeuvres took place because the first large offensive action by the allies, the landing in North Africa, better known as Operation "Torch ' was at hand. On October 26 both ships on the Clyde received troops from the l st battalion of the 6th Armoured American Infantry Brigade, after which they joined the convoy destined for North Africa, (kmf 1), the first fast "Torch" convoy, belonging to the central naval task force. The landing of the armies West of Oran went without a hitch and the fast advancements of these troops attributed largely to a quick capitulation of this North African city. Shortly after this it was decided that both ships would remain in the western part of the Mediterranean Sea, for the time being. Now a new task started for the HMS Queen Emma and the HMS Princess Beatrix; supplying and transporting reinforcements for the first American Army, which had invaded Tunis, but was nowhere near full strength. Quick supply was needed, for the railways in this area were grossly insufficient for military transportation and the long and bad roads were in such a state that the available army transport lorries, there were only a few of them at that time, could not handle this task. Both ships were sent to Algiers in a hurry to take over the task of the railways and army transports. All kinds of cargo were handled like ammunition, plane fuel, field howitzers, motorbikes and RAF personal. Friday evening, November the 13th, both ships left from Algiers with units of the 78th British Infantry division for Bone, the furthest advanced post of the allies, close to the front line. The voyage was made at 20 miles per hour, behind both ships a long trail of "fire" materialized caused by the fosforizing of the propeller's wash. It was a really fantastic sight, however, with one big disadvantage, enemy planes could easily discover the ships. But the superstitious people were wrong this time, the port of Bone was reached without incidents. Cargo and passengers were unloaded in record time and the return trip immediately started. But, as favorably as the first voyage was, the return trip to Algiers was full of incidents. The enemy discovered the ships and from that moment on they were repeatedly fired upon by German planes, despite the heavy air attacks both ships made port without damage.

Here are the two LSI s in convoy KMF-1 en-route to North Africa on 6th November 1942, on the right is HMS Queen Emma (radar before the mast), and on the left is HMS Princess Beatrix (radar aft of the bridge structure).

In the background are the British and American Troop Transporters, on route to Operation Torch

    Soon the service, was expanded by two other canal boats, the former Royal Scotsman and Royal Ulsterman (each 3.244 grt) from the Burn & Laird Lines, who ferried between Glasgow and Belfast before the war. Together these four vessels formed the so-called Moonlight squadron, a nickname given by an officer of the "Royal Scotsman" because of the many nightly cruises under full moon. These trips took place during the winter, sometimes alone, other times with the four of them together, mostly without incidents, although both Dutch ships had narrow escapes from German bombs and air torpedoes. The Queen Emma was damaged once by a near miss, which riddled the hull of the ship above the waterline. The fire that followed was soon extinguished and the ship was saved.

    When Tunis was conquered late December 1942, Princess Beatrix had transported 15.700 men, without any accident, including a huge number of German and Italian POWs while sailing 12.000 miles. The ships that made up the "moonlight squadron" received a special commendation from the Allied Army Commanders and a letter from the British Admiral Andrew Cuningham, who was at that time Commander in Chief of the western part of the Mediterranean Sea. Both British canal boats returned after that to England, though we will meet one of them soon again, when both ships were called upon. The next target was the small island of Pantellaria, which soon capitulated, June 11 1943, where HMS Beatrix was present as well. A month later Beatrix was called upon again: July 11 she arrived at sfax at Sousse to be prepared for the next large operation, code named "Husky! This was the invasion of Sicily by the allies started the day before. The ship was added to Force B and left with convoy SBF1. Aboard were the 51st highland division and a special forces group, which were to raid a beach codenamed Bark South . The British sector was greatly hampered by severe German air attacks during the landings at Avola and Augusta and the attack on Sicily. The British destroyer Eskimo, flagship of Lieutenant. Colonel. Troubridge, was hit as well as the hospital ships Dorsetshire and Talamba. Talamba was lost completely after its patients were evacuated to other ships. The Dutch freighter Baarn of the KNSM (Dutch Navy), which served as a munition ship, was lost by a near miss splinters which cause a fire on July 11. The Timothy Pickering one of the four liberty ships was lost, being cut in half by a direct hit and two near misses. One hundred of the 130 British troops aboard were killed as well as 30 American troops. On July the 17th liberty ship William T. Coleman was heavily damaged during a heavy air attack as well as the Queen Emma. 18 killed and 70 wounded. Also the ship was damaged, of course, but the engine room personal made repairs in a very short time. At the time the ship was poised to attack German communication lines at Catania. The commander was now ordered to sail for Malta for repairs to the hull with approximately 200 bullet holes. After quick repairs the ships was not found to be ready for action, especially because her speed had been reduced to 15 knots. The Queen Emma therefore was downgraded to troop transport vessel and was ordered to partake that time to escort units of the Italian fleet to Malta, after Italy had capitulated on Sept. 8 1943. Shortly thereafter the time had come to sail for home, on Oct 8 43 she left from Malta via Algiers Oct 13 and Gibraltar Oct 14/15 to Clyde, where she arrived on the 27th and docked at Yarrow yard for a complete overhaul. Princess Beatrix remained by herself in the Mediterranean Sea.

    She had participated on August 16 43 in a landing at Cape Scarletta, together with the former Belgian canal boat Prince Charles 1.344 grt. This was called operation Blackcock . A British Commando unit with units of the American army, which came from the opposite side, reached Messina. Not soon after this operation was completed a new task was at hand; transporting troops to Salerno.

    After which on Sept. 8, 43 the capitulation of Italy followed, which only brought more work for Beatrix and her fellow ships, since now troops had to be transported in a hurry to southern Italy. A number of quick voyages were needed between North African ports of Taranto and Brindisi. On one of those trips 917 men were taken aboard, a number never attained so far. Algiers supplies meanwhile had to be replenished, which was a nice occasion to strengthen the friendship with this port again, this trip almost ended in disaster when Beatrix while docked was run into. The damage, however, turned out to be light. The other LSI s that were part of the landings on Sicily and Salerno, had returned to Great Britain, just Beatrix and her old teammate Royal Ulsterman remained in Italian waters for some odd jobs. During those months the ships stayed at Naples, Allied Headquarters. A few days after Xmas 43, on Dec 29, Beatrix was involved in a raid on the river at Garigliano with Scottish troop of the 9th commando on board, after that preparations were made for the supplies for Anzio. This operation named Shingle , started on Jan 22nd 44. Its purpose to cut off enemy connections, since these offered huge resistance to the 5th and 8th Allied Armies. She transported units of the 1st and 33rd American Rangers Battalion. Not much resistance was encountered and the formed beachhead could be consolidated quickly. The Dutch ship therefore only made a few trips and left the provision work to the 1st's, being larger in numbers. Beatrix returned to Malta on Jan 31 1944. After all these operations it was deemed necessary to overhaul the engines and course was made from Malta to Ferryville in Tunis. Before the war this was on of the best-equipped French marine bases in the Mediterranean Sea. The repeated American and British bombardments plus the destruction effected by the retreating German troops had left terrible damage. With the help of French and Arabian work crews as well as former Italian labourers, the engine room personnel was successful in fully conditioning her engines. A short visit was paid to Tunis and some time was spent in the western part of the Mediterranean Sea. Beatrix was "enlisted" for a short time at the Corsica occupation by the allies. The achievements of the 8th British army in Italy allowed for the Beatrix to be directed to the Adriatic Sea and when Ancona, was taken by the allies, she was one of the first to visit this port and held a port party, together with a number of French and Polish troops. A few more trips were made in this mine infested territory, requiring special navigation talents. After a short stay at the east coast Beatrix moved to the other side of the Italian boot, to take French Special Forces commanded by Colonel Bouvet for attacks on the French Mediterranean seacoast. Codename "Dragoon" started Aug 15 1944. Beatrix was in convoy cr 1, troops transported, included Senegalese. These troops were landed at Portquerolles between Hyeres and St. Tropez and when word was given that this area had been cleansed from enemy troops, she could happily sail "home" for England. Beatrix left Naples on Aug 1944 and via Malta, Bizerta, Algiers and Gibraltar the trip to Clyde was made, where she arrived exactly on September 1st, 1944.     After almost two years in the Mediterranean waters, 42.755 miles and 26.142 men, including a huge number of POWs of all kinds of nationality's, participating in eight landing operations with Americans, British and French troops aboard, without losses to the crew and passengers. Only one member of the crew was captured, who was liberated and returned on board eight days later.

We have already mentioned before that HMS Queen Emma left Malta on Oct the 8th and arrived on Nov 27 43 in Clyde. After that the ship received maintenance at the Palmers Yard at Yarrow Nov 14th 1943. After these maintenance works were completed, landing exercises were restarted preparing the allied soldiers for enemy beach assaults. This occurred in concurrence with the allied invasion of Fortress Europe, which was planned for early 1944. On the 6th of June HMS Queen Emma sailed with American Troops, in convoy to Normandy. The ship was part of the transport group western naval task force under command of Lieutenant Colonel Chandler. 

The emblem of HMS Queen Emma inscribed with her Battle Honours, from the Second World War. An equivalent emblem was presented by the HMS Princess Beatrix Officers on handing back to the owners after the war.


Top Left is original discovered in House clearance sale recently - top left my crude attempt to restore graphically to its original look.

Bottom is Rick'73 beautifully rendition

This a mock up based on above, altered by myself, how same emblem may look like for HMS Princess Beatrix the original is held by IWM, but no picture shown on their site.


Here in the absence of a image of HMS Princess Beatrix's original Battle Honours Badge, held at IWM, Rick Smallman as come up with this his rendition of her service and Battle Honours whilst under RN control, in consultation with myself.

 As there is some dispute in RN records as to whether or not she kept her original name or it was anglicised during her service with Royal Navy, he has did a version for each, so all sides are happy.

 The Rum-serving cask aboard one of the two ships, during their service with the British Royal Navy.
The spirits issue was ended in the Royal Netherlands Navy in 1905, but it continued much longer in the British Navy.

    Repeatedly the ship went back and forth between England and the French coast, together with many allied ships and one more ship, steamship Mecklenburg from steamship company Zeeland, nicknamed the fighting Meck by the English and both ships were decorated for her actions. Queen Emma completed 40 trips and the soldiers boarding belonged to ao the 8th American Air force and a number of British Guards Divisions, also units of the English ATS and Wrens were safely transported to Europe, despite German coastal battery firings and attacks by German dwarf submarines and bombers. After a number of ports had been conquered, troops were also landed at Cherbourg and Ostende. A final exciting action for Queen Emma came with the battle for Europe Xmas 1944. Together with HMS Princess Astrid 2.950 grt the British 6th Airborne Division was transported from England to Calais in record time. The objective was to stall Von Rundstedt's Lasirgerman offensive in the Ardennes. Although the last trip the ship made, it was the most exciting one across the channel! She had crossed the North Sea 43 times, logging approximately 20.000 miles and without any accident, transported 30.000 allied troops. After this Queen Emma was decommissioned to be transformed for use in tropical waters. This took place at Harland & Wolff at Belfast to be finished in March 29, 45 and the ship returned to Clyde. The planned trip to the far east with convoy kmf 43, had to be postponed because of engine problems. It was May 5 1945 before Queen Emma could sail now with convoy kmf 44, starting a complete new period. This time course was set for British India where the Japanese would be battled.

The sword of the Japanese Commander of Penang which was presented by B.S.C. Martin R.N.,Commanding the British Naval Assault force, Indian Ocean in Operation Jurist , in which the two ships operated together.

     Via Gibraltar, Port Said, Suez and Aden, the port of Bombay was reached on May 26. First a few trips were made to Trincomalee and a few days after the Japanese had capitulated Emma and her sister ship Beatrix, just arrived, were made part of the operation Jurist the occupation of Penang by the British Marines. Here the British flag was raised and order restored. It had been a long time since the two Dutch ships had worked together. After this sail was set for Trincomalee, where French troops had to embarked, under escort of the mighty French Battleship Richelieu, to Saigon. On the return trip, just out of Saigon Queen Emma was damaged by an acoustical mine explosion causing great damage. The main engines, was put out of order by this and the ship had to be towed at first. Later successful repairs were made to the engines so she could reach Singapore under her own power. After this Emma transported to safety Dutch women and children from Japanese camps to safer grounds. After completing these missions safely a few more trips were made with British troops aboard to Batavia, Semarang and Soerabaja to relieve Japanese troops , because Dutch troops were not available yet on such short notice. In January the ship was ordered back to England much to the like of the crew. On Jan 20 1946 Tandjong Priok was left for the last time and via Singapore, Colombo, Aden, Suez, Port Said, Alexandria, Malta and Gibraltar Queen Emma arrived in Portsmouth on March the 6th 1946. The landing craft, weapons and other war material was unloaded and on April 29 1946 the Queen Emma arrived in her homeport of Vlissingen after being absent for six years. There the admiralty returned the ship to the Dutch Government, after which it was transferred to the line early March 1946 as the Koningin Emma again. HMS Princess Beatrix, arrived at the Clyde on September the 1st, 1944, sailed for some time between Clyde and the ports of Avenmouth and Liverpool before going to D & W Henderson's wharf at Meadowside to be overhauled, like her sister ship, to service in the tropics. These works finished, the ship left for Tail of Bank, from where it left for Trincolamee via Gibraltar, Port Said, Suez, Aden and Bombay. Arriving on July the 15th at Trincomalee there was a general feeling on the Princess Beatrix that the war with Japan was all but over. A few days after the capitulation of Japan the ships took part in operation Jurist" the occupation of the Japanese base of Penang. It was the first time in a long time that the two ships had worked together. The Samurai sword, on board for years, still is a living memory to this accomplishment. The sword now can be found in the archives of the Nautical Service of the line at Hook of Holland. In these waters the ship made numerous trips as transport ship for troops from Britain, British India and other allies, to fill the command gap created by the capitulation of the Japanese troops. A voyage was made to Colombo via Penang on Sept 4, after which French troops were transported to Saigon. On Sept. 29 1945 the ship entered the port of Tandjong Prlok to ferry Dutch women and children to Colombo from Japanese camps. Early Jan 1946 the order to sail for home was received and Colombo was left on Jan 25. The ship was now under the command of Commander Stephens. Via Aden, Suez, Port Said and Gibraltar, HMS Beatrix arrived at Portsmouth on Feb 15. On her way the next day, to Greenock to be disarmed. The ship was handed over to the Ministry of War Transport by the Admiralty and on April 13, 1946 Princess Beatrix arrived at her homeport as the first of the two. Here she was transferred to the Dutch government. At first the ship served as a transport to England for military personal and children for account of the Dutch Government under the Dutch tricolor. These tasks over the ship was handed over to the line and overhauled at the Schelde wharf at Vlissingen to become a passenger ship again. It will be no surprise to anyone that major renovations had to take place and major shortage problems to overcome so soon after the war. Lacking sufficient labour at the wharf the renovation took a lot more time than planned, making it impossible to ready the ship for transport of tourists during the summer season of 1947. A small fire occurred on Jan. 4 of that year aboard Koningin Emma, along side the quay, which caused no delays.

    Koningin Emma, the first of the two ships, successfully finished her trials on Feb 28, 48. The ship was now fitted out for daily service between Hook of Holland and Harwich and boasted 300 beds. On march the 5th of that year she sailed for the first time to Harwich from the Hook. Nobody could envision at that time that this port would be her homeport. Sister ship Prinses Beatrix was readied a couple of months later and trials were held on May 29, 1948, after which she was put into daily service on May 31st and sailed from the Hook for the first time. It was now again possible to maintain a daily service across the North Sea with these two ships and the older ships Mecklenburg and Oranje Nassau. It was originally planned that the service between Hook of Holland and Harwich was going to be a temporary one and that the ships of the steamship company Zeeland would return to their old homeport it soon appeared, however, that the service between Hook of Holland and the British port needed to be maintained in agreement with the British Railways. The various railways and connecting ferry services were nationalized in England after the war. Before the war the service between Hook of Holland and Harwich was a pure British one, maintained by the London & North Eastern Railway Co since 1863, with the fast steamers Amsterdam, Prague and Vienna the last years before the war. The British railways would take care of the nightly services while Zeeland line would take care of the daily traffic between the Netherlands and the other side of the North Sea was a multiple from before the war and automobile transport became proportionally larger. August 1953 the Dutch government decided that the company would stay in Hook of Holland and would not return to Vlissingen. This must have been a big disappointment for the Port of Vlissingen, the line's base. It meant however also a better future and broader base for the line. In the summer of 1948 Emma, as well as Oranje Nassau, were chartered by the British Railways. During the second half of September this ship made a tourist trip between the south coast of England and the Channel Islands. It was the first and only time one of the two ships made such a cruise, after the war. In the summer of 1954 and 55 Beatrix chartered for the British Railways and in the summer of 58 Emma took her turn. On Jan. 30, 1960 the new m.v. Koningin Wilhelmina was commissioned during her official trials and put into service between Hook of Holland and Harwich. Together with the two older ships a daily service was maintained to Harwich until agreement was reached with the British railways for a new form of cooperation between the two ports, for which both companies would employ a new ship of the roll-on/roll-off type. This new ship, the Konigin Juliana came into service in 1968. The recent Wilhelmina would then serve as a spare and the almost thirty year old Emma and Beatrix would be taken out of service. Just before year's end both ships were sold to be scrapped in Antwerp.

On 30th April 1946, the Motor Ship arrived at the docks of the Royal de Schelde Shipyard in Vlissingen after an absence of over 6 years. The ship was prepared for peacetime service.

    During the long history of the Dutch merchant marine it has seldom happened that two ships left the service after such a long and outstanding tour of duty. They wrote history during the five war years. Although sailing under the white ensign, the British War Flag, and were therefore not eligible to be decorated Royally, it cannot be taken away from them that they accomplished more than reasonably could have been expected from them, with a partial Dutch crew. Two ships that have made their marks in so many war terrains, which stretched from Iceland to Indonesia, participated in so many well-known operations, that they cannot go into history quietly. It would not be more than a prove of thankfulness by the Dutch people if on board, before the Dutch Tricolor is lowered, they once more are honored for that, what they have accomplished for the allied warfare in general and that for the Dutch in particular. A honorable tribute to Koningin Emma and Princes Beatrix for so many years of loyal and unforgettable service!

The twin-screwed motor ship Koningin Emma in her Post war configuration. The Ship has a different profile than before the war. The bridge complex was entirely modified and the stack was somewhat sloped aft, the two ships have thus for more than twenty years maintained the day service, daily between the Hook of Holland and Harwich


                                                             4 Mar 1941        "Claymore" Lofoten Islands              No.3 Commando, Major Durnford Sleator
                                                             4 Apr 1942        
"Myrmidon" Bayonne.                       No. 1 Commando, Col. Glendinning
                                                             18 Aug 1942
      "Jubilee" Dieppe                               South Saskatchewan Regt., Col. Cecil G. Merritt (Awarded V.C.)
                                                             8 Nov 1942        "Torch" North Africa                         1st Bn.,6th US Armoureded Inf.    Col. Kain, Maj. Miller (KIA Tunisia)
                                                            11 June 1943
      "Corkscrew"                                      Pantelleria Loyals
                                                            10 Jul 1943         
"Husky" Sicily                                   Argyll and Sutherland Highland51st Div. Col. Mathison
                                                            16 Aug 1943       
"Blackcock" Cape Scaletta, Sicily.     No.2 Commando  Col. Jack Churchill.
                                                            9 Sept 1943        
"Avalanche" Salerno                         lst-6th Bn. Queen's Regt: Col Hughes-Daith
                                                            30 Dec 1943
      "P.W.G." Grigliano River                   No9 Commando. Colonel Todd
                                                            22 June 1944      
"Shingle" Anzio                                 1st-3rd Bn. U.S. Rangers, Col. Darby
                                                            15 Aug 1944       
"Dragoon-Romeo"                             Southern No.1 Groupe de Commando d Afrique
                                                                                        Southern France 
                              Maj. Ruyssen
                                                                                                              OFFICIAL BATTLE HONOURS
                                                                                                                       H.M.S. PRINCESS BEATRIX             H.M.S. QUEEN EMMA

                                                    Norway                                               Norway    

                                                    Dieppe                                                Dieppe

                                                    North Africa                                        North Africa

                                                    Sicily                                                   Sicily

                                                    Salerno                                               Atlantic

                                                    Mediterranean                                    Mediterranean

                                                    Anzio                                                  Normandy

                                                                            Southern France                                        

                                                   Both ships saw service in the Far East 
                                           CREW HONOURS AND AWARDS BOTH SHIPS
                                                           Distinguished Service Cross   7
                                                           Distinguished Service Medal 10
                                                           Croix de Guerre                       1
                                                           Mentioned in despatches       23

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