“Dominion Monarch” – overcrowding returning Ex-POWS

Built on the River Tyne and Launched July 1938, Shaw Savill’s ‘Dominion Monarch’ was the most powerful motor liner in the world and the largest ship operating full time on the Australasian trade routes.  It provided first class services for 525 passengers and crew.
She was designed as a large passenger-cargo liner with a relatively small passenger complement considering her size.   It was requisitioned by the British Ministry of War Transport at the beginning of the war and converted to a troop carrier.
On 23 Oct 1945 ‘Dominion Monarch’ sailed into Fremantle’s Victoria Quay on a scheduled route from Sydney to England carrying about 3,000 passengers – various servicemen returning to England and Canada including 50 Australian wives who had married British servicemen.  Also onboard were 217 West Australians of whom 43 were former POWs – most of whom were believed to have arrived in Sydney just a few days earlier from Manila, most on ‘Speaker’ and some on ‘Formidable’ having been POWs in Japan.
Prior to sailing from Sydney there had been a protest about overcrowding.  Nine British and Canadians officer and 14 former POWs walked off the ship.  The earlier journey from England to Australia had also seen complaints of overcrowding when about 700 Australian former POWs from Europe tried to board in Liverpool, England.  About half of 700 men walked off until a British Commanding Officer spoke with the crowd.  The men, all eager to return home to Australia returned to the crowded conditions on board ‘Dominion Monarch’ less 50 men who agreed to wait another ship.
Amongst the issues was overcrowding and questions were raised why civilians were included with servicemen, i.e. wives.
Did the military authorities forget many of the former POWs were suffering ill health?  There was certainly overcrowding and also concerns why civilian wives had priority to travel to Australia when former POWs were awaiting the same opporunity.




Prior to ‘Dominion Monarch’s ‘ departure from Sydney an engineer had been crushed and killed in an accident.


Passengers sailing on later journeys on the ‘Dominion’ returning to homelands or new husbands also complained about the overcrowding and conditions.
Above:  We can confirm of the 15 former POWs, many were from 2/4th who had days earlier arrived from Manila in Sydney.  We believe most of these men, travelled together, managing to travel by trains back to Perth.
Please read about ‘Speaker’ bringing former POWs back to Australia from Manila.


Below:  2/4th men who arrived Sydney on Speaker.

2/4th men arrived Sydney HMS ‘Speaker’ from Manila 1945. There were approximately 500 PoWs on board. ‘Cowboy’ Matthews 2nd from Rt. If you recognise these men please contact us.
Former POWs on board ‘Speaker’ when she sailed into Sydney from Manila did not know of the problems facing ‘Speaker’s’ Captain – the Waterside Workers went on strike and the ship was unable to enter harbour for more than a day or more.  ‘Speaker’ remained outside the Sydney heads – the Captain announcing they could not proceed as there was not sufficient area for them to dock.  Instead ‘Speaker’ crew cleaned up and painted areas of the ship’s hull.

Please read

We know of the 2/4th boys who did not sail with ‘Dominion Monarch’ Harold Jacobs and ‘Cowboy’ Matthews were included.




Above & Below:  The following 2/4th former POWs sailed from Manila to Sydney – ‘Speaker’, then Sydney to Fremantle – ‘Dominion Monarch’, those not highlighted (13) returned by Troop Train to Perth.


WX8245 ADAMS, Edwin Thomas – Speaker – Dominion

WX10787 ARBERRY Ron E, Sgt – Speaker – Dominion

WX17251 ASHBOLT, Lloyd G. A/Corp – Speaker – Dominion

WX10358 CLAYDON, Sydney Richard – Speaker – Dominion

WX10609 COLEVAS, J.V. – Speaker – Troop Train

WX4912 CONWAY,  Thomas James – Speaker –  Dominion

WX8822 COOPER, Henry James – Speaker – Troop Train

WX8778 DAILY, Lou – Speaker – Dominion

WX8617 DORE, Jim Corp (A/Sgt Japan) Formidable – Dominion

WX8900 GIBSON, Tom Crosby – Speaker -Dominion

WX8622 GILMOUR, John – Formidable – Dominion

WX7246  HADFIELD, Ralph – Speaker – Troop Train

WX8984 HOGBEN, Sydney Mervyn – Speaker – Dominion

WX8610 JAMES, Trevor – Speaker – Dominion Monarch

WX7510 JONES, Alfred James – Formidable – Dominion

WX16727 LONSDALE, Lou – Speaker – Dominion

WX47000 MATTHEWS ‘Cowboy’ – Speaker – Troop Train

WX15751 MORRISSEY, Bert – Speaker – Troop Train

WX4941 MULLER, Ray – Speaker – Troop Train

WX12599 MURDOCH, Arthur R – Speaker – Troop Train

WX8749 NEWELL, Archie – Speaker – Dominion

WX8481 OAG, Alexander Sutherland – Speaker – Dominion

WX16649 PARK, Lance – Formidable – Troop Train

WX9764 POULTON, Bert – Speaker – Dominion

WX8562 SCHUTS, Aubrey Vincent – Speaker – Dominion

WX4923 SWARTZ, Joseph – Formidable – Troop Train

WX12989 WALL, Bert – Formidable – Troop Train to Adelaide only

WX7466 WALSH, Bernie L/Corp – Speaker – Dominion

WX7913 WARD,Frederick Thomas – Formidable – ?

WX7757 WELLS, Hugo Clarence – Speaker – Dominion

WX7641 WENN, Stanley Keith – Formidable – Troop Train

WX9076 WHITELAW, Bob – Speaker – Dominion

WX7440 WORTH, Alf – Speaker – Troop Train