Channel Packets

A postcard history of English Channel ferries since 1900.

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Updated: 24-11-2013

Laid down in 1914 by the Forges et Chantiers de la Mediteranee at Le Havre, World War I delayed her completion; launched in 1920 she finally entered service in August 1921. Her inaugural voyage from Dieppe to Newhaven under the command of Captain Mouffet, former master of the Sussex during WW I, is reported to have taken 2 hours and 36 minutes despite rather rough conditions.

Her service history up to World War II was similar to that of her consorts: conversion to oil-firing in 1929 and the plating-in of her promenade deck during the winter of 1932/33.

After participating in the Dunkirk evacuation she was taken over by the Germans. Recovered in Denmark at the end of the war she was considered to be beyond economic repair and was sold for scrap.

Official postcard of the Versailles
A card used by the Etat for official correspondence and, at the same time, publicity. The photo shows her early in her career, possibly during her inaugural voyage. When built her bridge and wheel-house were sheathed in varnished wood.
0147 - A traveled but unpostmarked company issued card.
Company correspondance card of the  Versailles
The reverse of the precedent card. Today's airline passengers may take comfort from the fact that lost or damaged baggage was not unknown to ferry passengers 90 years ago!

Going aboard the Versailles at Dieppe
Passengers going aboard the Versailles at Dieppe. Note the canvas screens used to protect passengers on the promenade deck from spray during rough weather.
0152 - An untraveled Levy et fils card.
Versailles at Dieppe.
0358 - An untravelled Neurdein Frères postcard.
Official postcard of the Versailles
The Versailles departing Newhaven. The promenade deck has been plated-in and her bridge, originally faced with varnished wood, is now painted white.
0406 - An untraveled company issued card.
Versailles arriving at Dieppe.  A RDF loop aerial can just be seen on the roof of her radio office just aft of the bridge structure.
0438 - An untravelled Editions Yvon Postcard.

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