The Mona's Queen



The Mona's Queen was requisitioned as a troop ship by the British government in September, 1939. Although she served a military purpose, the ship remained a merchantman with an Isle of Man Steam Packet captain and crew. Most of May 1940 was spent evacuating refugees from Dutch and French ports as the massive German advance swept forward to the Channel. On 22 May, she carried 2,000 British troops from Boulogne to Dover.


Mona's Queen was one of the first vessels to make a successful round trip during the Dunkirk evacuation. Under the command of Captain R.Duggan, she arrived back in Dover during the night of 27 May with 1,200 troops. The next day, the ship returned to sea and was shelled off the French coast by shore guns but escaped damage.

In the early hours of 29 May, the Mona's Queen set sail for Dunkirk from Dover loaded with water cannisters because troops on the Dunkirk beaches were short of drinking water. However, the ship struck a sea mine outside Dunkirk harbour at 5.30am. The Mona's Queen sank in two minutes.



Captain Archibald Holkham, who had taken over as Master, and 31 members of the crew were picked up by destroyers. Twenty-four of the crew were lost. Of the crew who died, 14 worked in the engine room. They included the Chief and Second Engineer. Seventeen of the dead were from the Isle of Man. The wreck is designated as a war grave.

To mark the seventieth anniversary of her sinking, Mona's Queen‍'​s starboard anchor was raised on 29 May, 2010 and subsequently returned to the Isle of Man to form the centrepiece of a permanent memorial. The anchor had become detached during the sinking, and therefore did not form part of the War Grave. Her anchor was raised by a French salvage vessel, and was shown live on BBC television. There was a 12-gun salute from HMS Monmouth as a crane lifted the anchor of Mona's Queen from the seabed.


Press article from the Isle of Man Daily Times dated Saturday 8th June 1940, covering the loss of the Mona's Queen.

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