Military Monday: Halifax-bound during the Second World War

Lady Rodney CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Between 1940 and 1944, LADY RODNEY made 40 westbound personnel voyages to Halifax, more than any other passenger vessel.  That’s a finding from extracting data on 328 voyages in files of Canada’s Directorate of Movements, the military organization that managed troop and other military transportation. According to the article The Lady Boats, by war’s end, Rodney had safely transported almost 60,000 troops in addition to another 66,000 passengers.

The Directorate of Movement files for the period, on LAC microfilms C-5704 to C-5717, are organized in roughly chronological order. Some are available in the Heritage collection — C-5704 (Jan 1940 – June 1941), C-5709 (May-June 1943), C-5711 (August 1943 – Feb 1944), and C-5714 to C-5720 (from July 1944).

Ships in this collection that completed more than 10 westbound passenger voyages to Halifax during the period are:


It may be that the FORT TOWNSHEND and FORT AMHERST, which only appear from March 1943, were involved in coastal trade, not crossing the Atlantic.

Not all military personnel from the UK to Halifax were in ships in this database. For instance, the Duchess of Atholl, which left Liverpool for Halifax on 12 October 1940 had RAF, Fleet Air Arm, and Royal Navy personnel from barracks at Chatham, Portsmouth, Devonport


One Reply to “Military Monday: Halifax-bound during the Second World War”

  1. Your readers may be interested to learn that the ships’ movement files are found on the following reels: C-5547 to C-5568 and C-5589 to C-5741. The “movement” files are organized in 12 distinct groups, or file blocks, as follows:

    300 Ships Generally
    301 Eastbound – Cargo
    302 Eastbound – Personnel
    303 Westbound – Personnel
    304 Passage Rates
    305 Regular Sailings
    306 Hospital Ships – Generally
    307 Passages for Ministry of War Transport
    308 Ships’ Conducting Staff
    309 Force K – Greenland
    310 Westbound – Cargo
    350 Pacific Cargo

    Depending on the nature of the voyage, the National Defence file number will begin with the appropriate code, i.e., all 306 files will be Hospital Ships.

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