California (III)

California was built by Alexander Stephen & Sons of Glasgow. Launched in April 1923, she left Glasgow on her maiden voyage, to Moville and New York, on 26 August of the same year. In addition to her North Atlantic service, California was used by Anchor on its Liverpool-Bombay service, making about 20 such fall or winter trips between 1924 and 1937.

Apart from three trooping trips in the winter of 1938-39, California remained in Anchor's service through August 1939. She was then converted into an armed merchant cruiser and, in the spring of 1942, a troopship.

On 12 July 1943, while west of Oporto, Portugal, in a convoy bound from Glasgow to Freetown, California was attacked by the Luftwaffe. {Canadian Pacific's Duchess of York, which was attacked and sunk the day before, was part of the same convoy.) California caught fire as a result of the bombing and, after being abandoned, was eventually sunk by her naval escorts. There were 449 passengers and 318 crew aboard, of whom 72 died -- three officers, 43 seamen and 26 passengers.

Sources: Bonsor's North Atlantic Seaway; Kludas' Great Passenger Ships of the World; Williams' Wartime Disasters at Sea.