Daily Event for October 18, 2011

In the harbor in Alexandria, Egypt on October 18, 1935 the Italian liner Ausonia had just arrived in the quarantine area and was undergoing inspection when an explosion shook the ship. Smoke soon filled the ship and the passengers were moved to the forward section of the ship. In the harbor a squadron of British warships were anchored, they were under the command of Admiral Sir William Fisher, Commander-in Chief Mediterranean Fleet. Fisher saw the tragedy which was about to occur and he soon took action. Boats from the ships were lowered and taken in all haste to the liner and less than an hour later all the passengers (33 or 35) and all but three of the crew had been removed. In all about 263 people had been saved, but three crewmen perished and three others were missing and presumed killed.

Efforts to fight the fires were made by the British sailors and the port authorities and in the afternoon it was thought that the flames had been suppressed, but a second explosion spelled the doom of the ship. Following the episode her master was received aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth by Admiral Fisher who offered his condolences for the loss of his vessel. Some days later the Italian Naval Attaché in London phoned the First Lord of the Admiralty to convey his governments thanks to the Royal Navy for the assistance given to the stricken liner and her crew.

Ausonia was built by Ansaldo in 1928 and was owned by Lloyd Triestino, she was described as "the most luxurious steamer on the Europe-Egypt service," but the luxurious ship burned for many hours and became a total loss, the burned out hulk was towed to Trieste and scrapped.
© 2011 Michael W. Pocock

October 18, 1935: Ausonia seen burning in Alexandria harbor.
(Photo from the collection of CPO Gunlayer Wilfred Reginald Butler, R.N.)
Courtesy of David Butler, R.N.

October 18, 1935: Ships of the British Mediterranean Fleet seen near the burning Ausonia. Seen are an unidentified cruiser (upper left obscured by smoke, either HMS London or HMS Devonshire), HMS Valiant (battleship at far left), HMAS Australia (cruiser seen above Valiant), HMS Resolution (top of the three battleships in line), HMS Revenge (middle) and HMS Queen Elizabeth (bottom) and HMS Shropshire (cruiser at bottom right.) (Ships identified by Mike Griffiths.)
(Photo from the collection of Flight Lieutenant William W. Phillips, R.A.F.)
Courtesy of Judy Morse

The burned out hulk Ausonia.
(Photo from the collection of CPO Gunlayer Wilfred Reginald Butler, R.N.)
Courtesy of David Butler, R.N.

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