surprisingly large body of work exists on British India SN and its
ships, trades and people. This page lists books which are either
exclusively or in large measure devoted to these subjects. Many of
these books are out of print, therefore the only way of getting hold
of them is through specialist or seconhand bookshops. If you have
any of these books for sale, mail firstname.lastname@example.org
and we will post a notice on this page. News
of forthcoming books about BI and related subjects is on this
named on this page:
Dunera, Indora, Kampala, Karanja, Karoa, Kenya, Mantola, Mashobra, Matiana,
Mombasa, Modasa, Neuralia,
Santhia, Sir Harvey Adamson, Tabora, Tairea,
- The British India Steam Navigation Company Limited
by W A Laxon and F W Perry. Published by the World Ship Society, Kendal,
1994. (ISBN 0 905617 65 7). (World
Ship Society has confirmed that this title is out of print and no longer
available from stock).
This is, de facto, the standard work on BI ships, each of which
is described with principal particulars and in words. In this volume
are thus listed the 507 vessels of the company, nearly each one of
which is accompanied by an image - either a photograph or drawing
- and salient details of service. Useful chronology of the company,
its chairmen, services, war services and affiliated companies. (A
favourite photograph is of Mombasa on "BI Sunday", Sep 15,
1951 when no fewer than seven BI ships occupied all the main berths
in the port. From left: Mantola, Mombasa, Kenya, Karanja, Modasa,
Tabora and Kampala).
A new version of the electronic edition of Laxon & Perry will be
by George Blake. Published by Collins, London, 1956.
It all started with WilliamMackinnon (left) and Robert Mackenzie.
This is the history of BI's first 100 years with photographs and fleet
list, published in the centenary year. 22 monochrome illustrations and
complete fleet list.
a short history of the British India Steam Navigation Company in the
second world war 1939-1945 by Hilary St George Saunders. Published by
Faber and Faber, after 1947. Map, photographs, Roll of Honour (officers
and men who lost their lives at sea due to enemy action), Honours and
Fleets in Profile, Volume 11 - Ships of British India S N Co,
by Duncan Haws. Published by TCL Publications, 1987. (ISBN 0 946378
One in Duncan Haws's series, illustrating
the BI fleet through line drawings and concise particulars of each vessel.Haws's
drawing of the distinctive three-funnelled T class (comprising Tairea,
Takliwa and Talamba) of the 1920s is typical of the detail worked into
each of the 230 illustrations which cover the fleet.
A Dip in the Ocean by Geoff Charlewood. Published by Navigator Books,
The author recounts five years at sea with BI. This is an account
of one man's wartime experirences at sea between 1941 and 1946. The
book has eleven monochrome photographs of ships, including Neuralia,
Matiana, Dilwara, Pundua and Vasna. 126pp, softback.
Safari - British India S N Co African Ships & Services
by Peter C Kohler. Published P M Heaton Publishing, Abergavenny, 1995.
(ISBN 1 872006 05 1)
History of BI's crucial involvement in the development of east and
South Africa. Many illustrations and photographs, including this photo
of the handsome Nyanza, one of four in the 1956-built N class.
by F A Hook. Published by A & C Black, London, 1920.
records during the first World War of P&O, British India, and their
associated lines. Within
weeks of the commencement of hostilities, 100 ships of the combined
BI and P&O fleets had een absorbed by the British government for
the war effort. Thus began one of the most torrid and yet most distinguished
periods of BI's service in which 22 BI ships were lost - a quarter of
the total lost by the eight lines. 314pp. Two folded maps and 32 plates
with 35 monochrome illustrations (including, right, Mashobra on fire
and sinking after being torpedoed).
Enterprise and Empire: Sir William Mackinnon and His Business Network,
by J Forbes Munro (Emeritus Professor, University of Glasgow). Publication
by Boydell & Brewer Ltd, UK, 2003. (ISBN 0 85115 935 4) Price£75.
work examines Mackinnon's relationship with Sir Henry Bartle Frere which
resulted in BI and the group being drawn into 'informal imperialism'
in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea and East and central Africa. 423pp with
monochrom illustrations, figures and maps.
by Captain A E Baber. Published by Cathedral Publishing, Bristol, 1985
(ISBN 0 947554 06 8).
The author's recollection of incidents and people, encountered during
more than forty years at sea in the service of British India.Capt Baber
served in BI from 1919 to 1961. He sailed in many ships, including Santhia
(left) until eventually taking command of Uganda before her conversion
to an educational cruise ship. 185pp, 14 mono illustrations and two
maps. (Recommended by Don Wood and Rob Choppin).
Marconi Sahib edited
by Mahrie Locket. Published by iUniverse, Lincoln, US, 2007. (ISBN
978 0 595 47022 8). Price: $18.95 (US). See REVIEW on
The diary of Canadian Marconi radio officer Alan Patterson who spent
most of the war years in the three BI ships Indora, Sir Harvey Adamson
Quetta, Queensland's Worst Disaster
by Capt John Foley (a Barrier reef pilot). Published by Nairana publications
1990. (ISBN 0 7316 8141 X)
This is the story of the BI ship Quetta which sank off Cape York
in 1890. "An old story admittedly but quite interesting all the
same" - Rob Choppin.
Seemed to Get There
- From deck cadet and deck officer in time of war and peace, to
a ship's captain and Sydney Harbour sea pilot by Herbert W Bolles. Published
1997 (ISBN 0 646 31608 7). Available from Capt H Bolles, 130 Warks Hill
Road, Kurrajong Height, NSW 2758, Australia, A$37 by air.
of this book is devoted to Herbie Bolles's reminiscences of his time
in BI from 1948 on.
(Left, cover picture of Australasian United SN's Ormiston).
September 2000 - Herbie has just published a revised edition
which includes an account of Dyrek Coxe's seagoing life. "Each
page can stand alone full of anecdote and interest," said a recent
review in Seaways.
- The story of a very special ship.
Published 1998. Available from the SS Uganda Trust, Tarven, Corfe Lodge
Road, Broadstone, Dorset, BH18 9NF. UK. (ISBN 0 9531082 0 1)
Many personal stories and reminiscences of one of BI's most famous
ships. 472 pages liberally illustrated with 400 monochrome and 50 colour
of the Rohilla
by Ken Wilson. Published by Clement, 1982.
"An unusual book which was not typeset, but handwritten along
with many drawings and sketches of the wreck of the troopship Rohilla
near Whitby in 1914. I have only ever seen one copy of it" - Mike
the Maelstrom - The Wreck of HMHS Rohilla
by Colin Brittain. Publication by Tempus Publishing, Stroud, UK (ISBN
0 7524 2384 3) Price £12.99. See FULL
REVIEW on this site.
October 1914 hospital ship Rohilla left Leith and made her way down
the North Sea coast for Dunkirk. A gale was blowing as the ship passed
the treacherous North Yorkshire coast and in the early hours of October
29 the ship ran hard aground on Saltwick Nab. Carrying 229 people, Rohilla
rammed the rocks sufficiently violently to break her back, making salvage
impossible. In the following few days 85 people died, a figure which
could have been far greater were it not for the heroic efforts of lifeboat
crews. 128pp, illustrated.
by Ian Marshall. Commentary by John Maxtone-Graham. Published by Howell
Press, Howell Press, 1147 River Road, Suite 2, Charlottesville, Virginia
2290, US, 1997 (ISBN 1 86227 039 2).
Paintings, photographs, drawings and stories about vessels and voyages
to the places remembered well by those in BI. The book covers most companies
with ships sailing to the East, including many BI ships. 160 pp, 40
colour paintings & 40 mono illustrations & maps. (Recommended by Malcolm
Stick - may still be in print and available)
India Steam Navigation Company's Mail Packets to East Africa, 1890 -
by Stephen J North. Published by East Africa Study Circle [Philatelic],
London. ( ISBN 0 9515865 1 3)
A booklet, the first 4 pages of which detail the history of the mail
contracts followed by a list of the mail ships (many incorrectly spelt
names). The final 18 pages list the contract schedules with the ship
names, ports of call and dates. (Recommended by Pat Pattenden).
Star to Southern Cross
by John M Maber. Published by T Stephenson & Sons, 1967.
Laxon and Perry refer to this book thus: "Thoroughly covers BI's
Britain-Australia services" in chapter 31.
Hours on Dara
by P J Abraham. Published by Peter Davies, London,
An account, winning the author few friends in BI, of the loss of
Dara in the Gulf during April 1961, told by an eye-witness. Photograph(left)
and general arrangement drawing.
Tragedy: The Sinking of HMT Rohna
by Carlton Jackson. Published by United States Naval Institute, 1996.
One of a number of books on the sinking in the Mediterranean of the
troopship Rohna. The incident occasioned the worst troopship loss for
the US during World War II. Hardback. (see also below)
Rohna Disaster - WWII's Secret Tragedy
by James G Bennett. Published by Xlibris Corporation, Philadelphia,
1998. ( ISBN 0738801844)
Paperback of 228 pages
Memories - Eyewitness to Tradegy by
Michael Walsh. Published by iUniverse, Lincoln, Nebraska,
2005. ( ISBN 0595347258)
Personal interviews with and recollections of survivors of the Rohna
sinking in November 1943. The book includes witness reports, letters
and lists survivors and those lost. Paperback of 307 pages with photographs
(reproduced on plain paper)
in Steam by
J Murray Lindsay. Published by Rigby Ltd, Adelaide 1966. (Library of
Congress Catalogue Card No. 66-10436).
Lindsay served his time in sailing ships, then with a new ticket
went into Geordie tramps. In Chapter 3 he joins BI and the remaining
pages deal with his time in BI. An interesting, and seamanlike book
of the company in the 20/30s. (Recommended by David Harvey).
Stormy Seas. Some of the Spiritual Crises in my Life Afloat by
E G Carré. Published in hardcover by Pickering & Ingles,
London, 1939. (Re-published by The Merchant Service Officers'
Christian Association, London, 1948)
Experiences of Captain Carre, the late Commodore Captain British
India Steam Navigation Co. There are many photographs throughout the
Dunera Scandal - Deported by Mistake
by Cyril Pearl. Published by Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1983. (ISBN
The internment in Australia of 2,542 Germans & Austrians - political
or racial refugees. They were transported on the BI ship Dunera. Monochrome
illustrations. (see also below)
by Patkin Benzion. Published Cassell, Australia. 1979.
The Dunera Internees were, in the main, Jews who fled to Britain
from Hitler's Europe and at the outbreak of the Second World War were
interned there and then sent on a nightmare voyage to Australia in Dunera.
On arrival in Australia they were held at Hay & Tatura Internment Camps.
185pp, monochrome illustrations, appendix, index.
Dunera Affair. A Documentary Resource Book
edited by Paul R Bartrop and, Gabrielle Eisen. Co-published by Schwartz
& Wilkinson and the Jewish Museum of Australia, Victoria 1990. (ISBN
1 86337 025 0)
Compilation of original documents and photographs relating to the
transport of German and Austrian refugees to Australia aboard the Dunera.
Also explores the role of the British and Australian authorities in
the affair. 423pp, monochrome photographs.
Tam Dalyell. Published by Newman Neame Ltd, London 1963.
view; written by former director of education of Dunera about the early
part of BI's post-WWII educational cruising. (29 plate illustrations).
Away : An account of British India educational cruises
edited by Mary Ollis. Published by: Longman Group, London 1973. (ISBN
0 582 32471 8).
By 1973 BI educational cruises had been underway for
11 years with the ships DUNERA, DEVONIA, NEVASA and UGANDA taking 40,000
to 50,000 British schoolchildren to sea each year. Written
with the help of BI staff, chief education officers, teachers,
and pupils, this book gives a brief history of BI's educational cruising,
with chapters on the ship's company, planning a cruise, on board, visits
ashore, etc. Foreword by Sir Ronald Gould, chairman of the Central
Bureau for Educational Visits and Exchanges, and contributors include
Dame Kitty Anderson, Sir John Newsom and Sir John Wolfenden. 124 pp,
The School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London.
The personal and business papers of Sir William Mackinnon 1823-1893
reflect his wide commercial interests and close connection with 19th
century British political circles. The microfilm includes the papers
of the Imperial British East Africa Company, the Emin Pasha Relief Expedition
Committee, the British India Steam Navigation Company and those relating
to the City of Glasgow Bank. (68 Reels with detailed printed calendar)
Currie Line of Melbourne
by W A Laxon. Published by the Nautical Association of Australia, 2003.
Price NZ$18.70 (discounted for association members)
When Currie Line
ships and services were taken over by BI in 1913, it was the only Australian
company with a major presence in the India and southeast Asia trades.
Currie Line was moreover one of the largest Melbourne-based fleets.
This book is by an acknowledged expert on the history of shipping companies
and co-author of British India Steam Navigation Company Limited, W
A Laxon. The book records an important part of Australia's maritime
history, includes illustrations of all 10 Currie Line steamers and,
as usual with Laxon books, full fleet details by ship - 29 in all.
and Salvage on the East African Coast by
Kevin Patience. Published by Kevin Patience, 257 Sandbanks Road,
Poole, Dorset, BH14 8EY, United Kingdom. £21/£26
The book, by an experienced diver and salvor, covers 240 vessels which
were wrecked or
were otherwise casualties on the coasts
of Kenya and Tanzania between 1499 and 2004. Fifteen were BI ships and
fortunately all these survived. pp276,
300 illustrations, maps. A review
appears on this site.
Wheel House to Counting House: Essays in Maritime Business History
edited by Lewis
Fischer. Published by the International Maritime Economic History Association,
1992. (ISBN 0 9695885 1 8)
This book contains essays by various authors, one of whom is Forbes
Munro whose piece The "Scrubby Scotch Screw Company" is a
study of BI's coastal services in the early days of the company.
Notte Dell'Umballa (Last Night of Umballa) by
Alberto Cunto. Published 1996 by Edizioni Periferia, Vi degli Stadi,
9/A, 87100 Cosenza, Italy. (Contact email@example.com)
The story, written in Italian, of Umballa which
was torpedoed in December 1917 off the Italian coast and then came to
form a remarkable relationship with the people of the village, Praia
A Mare, where the wreck lay. Written to mark the 80th anniversay of
her sinking and winner of the local prix G Guida, the book contains
pictures and facsimiles of official Italian documents.
Outfitters and Bowler Hatters
by George C O'Hara. Published 1997, Clyard Novella, 1997.
Profusely illustrated, a study of post-war shipbuilding on the River
Clyde covering around 40 yards and marine engine works, tables and many
illustrations of the ships built. A4 hardback, 356pp. "It covers
the history of the Clyde Shipbuilding yards post - war and has several
photographs of BI vessels built mainly at Barclay Curle's, on the stocks
or fitting out" - Archie Hill
Centuries of Overseas Trading: The Origins and Growth of the Inchcape
Dr Stephanie Jones. Published 1986, Macmillan in
association with business history unit, University of London. (ISBN:
primarily on unpublished material within Inchcape's own archives,
this study considers a group of pioneering merchants and traders
who ventured to the most far-flung corners of the globe. Mainly Scotsmen,
they set up business in such places as India, Ceylon, China,
Japan, Singapore, Sarawak, Thailand, the Persian Gulf, Australia
and East Africa. pp328. 8vo.
Terry Lilley wrote: "Two/three chapters..largely cover the BI
steamers in the Gulf"
Management of British India Steamers in the Gulf 1862-1945
by Dr Stephanie Jones. Privately published by Gray MacKenzie
and the Mesopotamia Persia Corporation. (More
information on this title is sought).
the Adventure. an Autobiography
by A B Marshall. Published by Michael Russell, 1999.
The author was chief executive of P&O 1972-79 and in 1994
became the president of the UK Chamber of Shipping. pp319,
8 pages of plates. Tom Kelso wrote: "...is of immense
interest to those with BI and Trident connections........not
least for his account of the intrigues, betrayals and back-stabbing
at P&O boardroom level. Absolutely fascinating!"
Story of P&O
- The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company by David &
Stephen Howarth. Published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1994. (ISBN
0 297 835408).
A 150-year history of one of Britain's great shipping companies.
BI merged with P&O in 1914 but operated under its own identity until
1972. Illustrated with many colour pictures but few relating to BI.
One such is this painting of Karoa in BI's earlier livery. 240 pages.