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The Royal Mail Ship Tintagel Castle was used to transport 1200 soldiers to South Africa in 1900, including my great grandfather John Barber. The journey is well documented in a book titled "O.H.M.S." or how 1200 soldiers went to Table Bay.

The book of 50+ pages and photographs was written by Tintagel Castle officers, W. Mclean and E.H. Shackleton. Shackleton is of course now better known as the great Polar Explorer and rival of Scott. A copy of the book is held at Southampton City Archive Office (published by: Simpkin Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co., Ltd).

The book offers a very detailed account of life aboard the mail ship, often in a diary format with mentions of individual soldiers. The last few pages record the regiment, rank and regimental number of all men on board; a photograph is also included of all officers. Choose a link below to view the records by regiment or view all records in a plain text file.

Saturday 10th March 1900

2:45 PM The last gangway has been pulled ashore and the ship begins to move. The poop deck of the Tintagel is overcrowded by soldiers anxious to obtain one more glimpse of those they are leaving behind. Rule Britannia is played by a single cornet, the soldiers soon join in and start to sing. God Save the Queen then follows, along with "say aurevoir not goodbye".

Saturday 31st March 1900

At 07:25 Robben Island was passed. The ship was rung slow at 07:30 and at 8:28 the Tintagel Castle was anchored in Table Bay. At 10:00 the port launch came alongside and the various regimental orders were received. The voyage of 5953 miles had lasted 20 days, six hours & thirty nine minutes [doesn't add up].

1st Durham Royal Engineers

1st Hampshire Royal Engineers

1st London Royal Engineers

1st Middlesex Royal Engineers

1st Newcastle Royal Engineers

1st Sussex Royal Engineers

1st York (West Riding) Royal Engineers

2nd West Yorkshire Royal Engineers

2nd Gloucester Royal Engineers

2nd Tower Hamlets Royal Engineers

2nd East Surrey Regiment

The Queens (Royal West Surrey Regiment)

The Prince Albert's (Somerset Light Infantry)

The South Staffordshire Regiment

The Duke of Cambridge's Own (Middlesex Regiment)

The Oxfordshire Light Infantry

The Royal Sussex Regiment

The Prince of Wales' Own (West Yorkshire Regiment) Maxim Gun Detachment

Lord Lovat's Scouts (No 2 Company) Attached to the "Black Watch"

Royal Engineers (3rd Balloon Section)

Officers and Crew