HMS Walrus / HMS Skua Returns to England after the War.



Email received from Mike Robins in May 2020.


My service in the RN was limited to two years National Service in 1957-59  but my association with the support of the RN stretched over 16 years before and after National Service, initially in the Naval Store Department of the Admiralty which was later rebadged as the Royal Naval Supply and Transport Service. I spent most of my National Service working on reserve Fleet ships destroying before disposal.


I first came across HMS Walrus/HMS Skua as it was then known when it was moored alongside in Portsmouth close to HMS Excellent steps and was a meeting point at the end of the day to wait for the MFV back to HMS Vanguard in 1958. Someone clearly had a key to the vessel because I can remember sheltering inside the vessel in bad weather and curiosity and time on our hands meant the odd rummage through a cabin and bridge area where there were some dusty old papers relating to the Skua’s last voyage back to the UK.


My RNSTS Service took me to various Naval Store Depots in the UK and also for three years to Singapore (66-69). In 2014, the last occasion I went back to Singapore, I was able to get back into the Naval Base. During the course of a conversation I learned that there had been a steam locomotive shipped to Singapore before WW2 specially built for the Naval Base railway system which was eventually returned to the UK in around 1952-53.


This locomotive “SINGAPORE” was eventually disposed of from Chatham and over the course of some years was elevated to the status of a registered War Memorial to all Far East Prisoners of War and is owned and on display at the Rutland Rail Museum


On my return I contacted and visited the museum and during the course of that visit I learned that the last cargo carried by Walrus/Skua was the locomotive “Singapore”.


The return voyage was not without incident and it took the crew 6 months to reach UK. An engine problem meant they spent around three months in Colombo. I remember vividly that it was details of this problem that formed the basis of the story in the old papers that we read through in 1958! I was also told by someone at the Museum that the crew broke the boredom of the stay in Colombo by playing trains in the hold!


I think it highly unlikely that there will be any member of the crew that brought Skua back to the UK who will read this but I thought you might like this information on this site. Singapore was maintained in steam until 2010 but is now a static display only. With VJ day approaching discussions had been taking place between the Museum and the British Legion to have it on display at the National Arboretum in August. The present lockdown has put this very much on hold.


It is, however, a fitting memorial to all those who lost their lives in the Far East theatre and this post tells the story of this little ship that made the long return voyage to go with the outward voyage which has been was well recorded .




Mike Robbins


PS If this is by any chance read by any member of the crew on the return journey I would love to hear a personal account of the return journey.


If you do wish to communicate with Mike please forward an email to the guestbook page on the website, please include contact details. These details will not appear on the site as I will remove them before I publish the post if you wish your email to appear on the site. Ed



Singapore in the Rutland Rail Museum




Below is a note from Crew Member Dave England of HMS Skua.


"HMS SKUA"     "Singapore to UK July 53  -  Dec 53"


"3 Month Colombo to Portsmouth"


"Diesel Engines to be Repaired"


"Quite Hairy coming through Bay of Biscay  Had thoughts of being Derailed and Thrown (The?) Side, Arrived Home for Xmas 53"


Dave England