The first of the four "Duchess" ships built in the late 1920's, Duchess
of Bedford was built by John Brown & Co. of Glasgow. Launched by the
wife of British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin in January 1928, the ship
took her maiden voyage, Liverpool-Québec-Montréal, on 24 June of the
In 1933, she was chartered to Furness, Withy as a temporary running mate
for the new Monarch of Bermuda. Once Queen of Bermuda was delivered to
Furness, Withy, Duchess of Bedford returned to Canadian Pacific. She
remained in commercial service through August 1939, served as a
troopship for several months, and then returned to commercial service
from January through August 1940. She then returned to trooping for the
balance of the war and is credited with sinking an unidentified U-boat
in August 1942.
Decommissioned in 1947, she was sent to Fairfield Shipbuilding &
Engineering of Govan for refitting. Initially, she was to be renamed
Empress of India, but after India gained independence, her new name was
changed to Empress of France. The ship returned to service, as Empress
of France, in September 1948, on her former Liverpool-Québec-Montréal
route. She was given pepperpot funnels during a 1958 renovation, and
remained in service until 1960, when she went to the breakers after 310
North Atlantic roundtrips.
Duchess of Atholl;
Duchess of Richmond/Empress of Canada (II);
Duchess of Cornwall/Duchess of York.