Windrush The Soul of a Ship
by Paul Arnott
The life, times and extraordinary history of the Windrush.
For three decades the Windrush was the maritime 'Zelig' of the twentieth century, playing different roles in the most turbulent years in modern times. She was designed in 1930 in the Hamburg boatyard of a Jewish shipbuilder to ferry Germans to a new life in South America, until Goebbels requisitioned her as one of his 'Strength Through Joy' vessels, treating Nazi party members to holidays in the Mediterranean and Baltic. Then her purpose further darkened: she became a troop carrier for the German invasion of Norway, a support vessel for the pocket battleship Tirpitz, and, eventually, a prison ship transporting Norwegian Jews from Oslo to Hamburg thence to Auschwitz. Captured by the British in Kiel in 1945 and renamed the SS Empire Windrush, she spent years evacuating displaced service people from one lost colony after another until, in her famous single voyage from the Caribbean, she brought the first wave of black migrants to Britain - a manifest which included future bus drivers and famous Calypso musicians. With the coming of the 1950s, the Windrush ploughed the waves in prosecution of the little understood Korean war. Finally, in 1954, after an on-board fire she sank off the coast of Algeria, her demise caught on Pathé News from a helicopter.
Windrush - The Soul of a Ship is Paul Arnott's vivid biography of a unique vessel, combining memories of people who will soon be gone with a gripping account of an extraordinary merchant ship at the end of empires.