The Mounted Ships Bell From The P&O Liner RMS Canton / WW2 Armed Cruiser & Troopship HMS Canton

The mounted bronze bell from the P & O liner RMS Canton which also served as the armed merchant cruiser and troopship HMS Canton during World War 2.

It is a beautifully presented piece complete with its clapper.

The bell has the name of the ship embossed to the front.

The following plaque is mounted just above the bell :-

"RMS Canton P&O S.N.Co Built 1938 The India & Far East Mail service Served as armed merchant cruiser 1939-44 Troopership 1944-49 Sold to Breakers October 1962"

To the front of the base is a rounded bronze plaque with the sun setting, this is most likely a tompion (muzzle cover) from one of the guns.

~ Dimensions ~

The base measures 23.3 inches (59cm) by 24 inches (61cm), with a height of 24 inches (61cm).

~ Condition ~

The bell is in very clean condition with only some minor surface wear as to be expected for a sea bell. The name of the ship has started to lose the paint. The base is in an overall good condition with minor wear.

~ RMS/HMS Canton 1938-1962 ~

RMS Canton was a P&O liner launched in 1938.

On 19 October 1939 the passenger ship Canton of the P. & O. Steam Navigation Co Ltd, London was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted to the armed merchant cruiser HMS Canton. Conversion was completed on 4 November 1939.

With a displacement of 15784 BRT she was armed with 9x WW1 vintage 6 inch and 4x 4 inch guns and steamed at 19 knots. Above the bridge she was fitted with a rangefinder and a primitive gun control system.

HMS Canton was also equipped with an aircraft hanger and a Kingfisher single engine aircraft and an aircraft recovery crane, she was also distinctive as she had been fitted with a tripod mast behind the bridge. Her slightly raked funnel gave her a "Cruiser" appearance.

Canton was mostly manned by a Royal Navy Reserve crew with a regular RN commanding officer and commander. Most of the other officers were ex P&O officers .

She worked as a convoy escort to provide protection attack by surface raiders. She was usually placed in the centre of the convoy as a precaution against submarine torpedo attack as she had no anti-submarine capability.

These were her deployments :-

December 39 - May 40: Northern Patrol June 40 - July 40: Western Approaches Command August 40 - November 41: Freetown Escort Force December 41 - August 42: South Atlantic Station September 42 - April 44: Eastern Fleet (Indian Ocean)

On the 7th October 1941 she apprehended the German cargo vessel Karnak 300 miles north of St Paul's Rocks but failed to stop her being sunk by scuttling charges.

During the Second World War the Canton had experienced the most arduous service of any P&O ship. She had steamed 221,000 miles during the war including 257,967 miles as an Armed Merchant Cruiser and 20,830 miles as a troopship. In her capacity as a troopship she had transported 6,825 troops.

On 10 April 1944 returned and used as troopship by the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT). On 28 September 1947 she was returned to her owner to be reconditioned and refurbished by Alexander Stephen & Sons in Glasgow a return to passenger service.

She was scrapped in Hong Kong in 1962.

Item ID: 1061

4,250 GBP

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Andrew Bennett, Portsmouth, UK   

Historic Pieces From The Historic Dockyard

Member since 2012

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