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Remembered Today:

Hospital Ship Niagara - ANZAC Forces - Egypt


Egyptophile
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Please can anyone give me information about the hospital ship Niagara. I found her last month rotting in the reeds along the River Nile. I took a lot of photos. The information that I have, courtesy of the Australian War Memorial group and the New Zealand Rifles, is that she was taken over from the Anglo American Nile Company in 1916 and used as a hospital ship ferrying wounded soldiers along the Suez Canal - probably those from Gallipoli. It was a sad task and I know nothing of her fate after the end of the war but she still exists and has a lovely warm feeling about her despite the pain she has seen. Once she was a queen on the Nile, now she is a very sad old lady about to meet an even sadder end in the reeds.

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Connie,

A warm welcome to the GWF

"…taken over from the Anglo American Nile Company in 1916 and used as a hospital ship ferrying wounded soldiers along the Suez Canal - probably those from Gallipoli."

The Gallipoli campaign ended in early January 1916, so the wounded who were transported on her were not from there, but from other actions in the Egypt/Palestine theatre.

She appears in the 1918 Order of Battle as published in 'The Advance of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force...' as the "Hospital Barge 'Niagara'"

There is a description of her work in 'Allenby's Military Medicine' by Eran Dolev

After leaving the battlefield by stretcher bearer and then ambulance, the wounded (or sick) were put on hospital trains at Imara and Deir el Belah to be sent to El Arish and Qantara. From the latter point they were "transported on the deck of the barges 'Niagara' and Indiana'. Each barge could carry 50 lying or 200 sitting casualties to the hospital at Port Said, about a three-hour-long voyage along the Suez Canal."

regards

Michael

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Thank you for a quick and informative reply. I know little of World War I except that my grandfathers fought in it. Can you give me any information about the ANZAC forces in North Africa beyond Gallipoli as all the information I have so far came from the AZAC sites so their wounded soldiers are likely to have been onboard the Niagara. Where would they have been fighting? Any information I get might put me in touch with people who might want to 'save' this old lady.

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Connie,

Thanks for posting another great picture of the Niagara

You can commence reading about the Egypt/Palestine theatre here on the sister-site, The Long Long Trail

see http://www.1914-1918.net/palestine.htm

After that, put any new questions you may have on the 'Middle East and North Africa' section of this forum

We have plenty of members from down-under, so you should get some expert help when you need it

Good Luck

Michael

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Thank you again. That is an excellent link and I think that I have found what I was looking for through one of their pages.

http://www.1914-1918.net/romani.html

This could be where the wounded soldiers came from. Thank you again. If I find more information about this boat I shall let you know. Another photo attached from the New Zealand Rifles.

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If that is the Niagara she has been extensively rebuilt at some time. Look at the inclined deck supports that sweep down to the hull under the funnel on the modern photo, and the two others along her length.

They do not appear to be on the original photos of the old girl. Presumably this was to increase deck loading or carrying capacity.

Gareth

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The photo at the start of the thread shows a typical Nile steamer and not a barge. In palmier days this would be the sort of vessel featured in 'Death on the Nile' They still take passengers up the Nile as far as  Aswan (a trip well worth doing). I suspect that she has not been rotting amongst the reeds since WW1 but has had a useful service life since then.

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The ship in the top photo was once the Anglo American line's Nile Steamer Niagara. There was also a Thomas Cook Nile Steamer Niagara operating at the same time (and built on the lines of a Mississippi steamer of the Mark Twain era). The hospital barge Niagara operating on the Suez Canal (not the Nile) appears to have been another vessel altogether

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Most of the Nile Paddle Steamers had central paddles and not rear paddles. The paddle steamers still in operation on the Nile (the Msir, Sudan, Karim and Memnon) all have side paddles. The Niagara had been a Nile Cruiser before it was taken over. After the war I have no doubt that it was again put into passenger service and probably ploughed up and down the Nile for many years. I think it has been in its present position in the reeds since around 2002 or so.

Having been on the boat I am certain that it is the same one as shown in the old photos. The chimney is in the same place and so is the rear paddle which is clearly shown in the last photo. The front of the upper deck is still the same although the remainder of the boat has been strengthened and remodelled. When I found this boat I was actually looking for the Kassad Kheir which was part of King Farouk's fleet but unfortunately I later learned that that boat burnt out and was scrapped in 1978. Could the Niagara have been classified as a barge due to its shallow draught?

I am still trying to find the Indiana but have an idea that another boat called the Delta is now underwater but salvagable but I do not know if that had WWI service.

In Egypt I run a children's charity in Luxor and admit to researching this boat to be a new interest to me and that my knowledge of the ancient Egypt is considerable but my knowledge of the 1914-1918 years is abysmal.

I have more photos of the boat in its present state and shall post them if you are interested. If I won the lottery I would restore her as she was totally captivating despite being in such a state. At present there is an Egyptian family living on it but the only way to reach it is by boat as it is against an island not on the bank.

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Could the Niagara have been classified as a barge due to its shallow draught?

I think that you are correct here

This vessel was not sea-going and operated on an in-land water-way and therefore the Brits called her a Hospital Barge, rather than a Hospital Ship (which would have been a sea-going vessel)

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Another two old photos. The first one is confusing though as the boat behind it has sails and they look as though they belong to the Niagara. I think that the second one is taken in the same place as one of the other photos shown above. It is not the same photo though as the flag is at a different angle. (I had permission to reprint the photos as I gave the organisations copies of the boat in its present state).

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