HMHS Glenart Castle 1918

N50 06.333 W005 02.854

The Glenart Castle is just on of 16 Union Castle boats sunk by submarine during the first and second world wars.

HMHS  (His Majesty’s Hospital Ship) Glenart Castle was a steamship originally built by Harland & Wolff in 1900 for the Union-Castle Line. She was renamed Glenart Castle in 1914, but was requisitioned for use as a British hospital ship during the First World War

On 26 February 1918, Glenart Castle was en route from Newport in south Wales to Brest in France. She was clearly identified as a hospital ship. At 04:00, Glenart Castle was hit by a torpedo from UC 56 in the No. 3 hold and the blast destroyed most of the lifeboats.In the eight minutes the ship took to sink, only seven lifeboats were launched into the rough seas. The photos below show her in her hospital guise and the memorial on the North Devon coast.

One hundred and sixty two  people were killed and there were only a few survivors. . The body of a junior officer of Glenart Castle was recovered from the water close to the position of the sinking. It was marked with two gunshot wounds, one in the neck and the other in the thigh. The body also had a life vest indicating he was shot while in the water. This suggest the Uboat captain (Wilhelm Kiesewetter ) tried to cover up the sinking.

After the war, the commander of UC-56 was arrested on his voyage back to Germany and interned in the Tower of London. He was released on the grounds that Britain had no right to hold a detainee during the Armistice.


Glenart Castle, formerly the Galician


Harland and Wolff, Belfast


Union-Castle Line


20 September 1900

IMO/Off. no.



6,807 tons gross


134.1 x 16.2 x 9.1 m


12.5 kn


2 x 3 cyl. Triple expansion, dual shaft, 2 screws


375  n.h.p.

Select the image below to see more details of this tragedy by “Mallinson Sadler Productions”