Hell Ship by Michael Veitch


The true story of the plague ship Ticonderoga, one of the most calamitous voyages in Australian History.

Title: Hell Ship
Author:  Michael Veitch

Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Date of Publication: 2018
Genre:  Historical
Number of Pages:  260

This very well researched book tells the story of the dreadful voyage of the Ticonderoga, which left England in 1852, with a record number of passengers on board. The story of the Ticonderoga has been told for generations in Veitch’s family, as his great great grandfather James William Henry Veitch, was the junior doctor onboard.

As the ship sailed towards Australia, there was a huge outbreak of disease onboard, which took the lives of many passengers, and made the voyage a hellish one for those who survived. When the senior also became gravely ill, the authors great great grandfather was required to take over caring for the sick and dying.

As the ship sailed into Point Nepean, after it’s long and disastrous voyage, the yellow flag was flying, a universal sign that there was an outbreak of disease onboard. During the voyage, more than one quarter of the travellers lost their lives to typhoid. At the time of arrival, there were hundreds onboard who were very ill, and the ship wasn’t given permission to pull into port and disembark for days. Meanwhile many more died, while the ship was waiting for permission to dock and unload.

Most of the emigrants onboard the Ticonderoga, were victims of the Scottish clearances and the potato famine, travelling to Australia with hopes of finding a better life, after being victims of dreadful circumstances in Scotland. It seems very cruel, that these people who had already suffered so much, then had to face more suffering and sadness on this voyage.

My Thoughts
Hell Ship gives a very detailed account of the voyage, from official records. This voyage, was one of the biggest stories of the time, that is now almost forgotten. Not only is this account about the voyage and the disasters the emigrants faced, it is also about the people who were on the ship, and the tragic losses they faced, as the huge Ticonderoga made it’s way across the ocean, with it’s numbers of passengers decreasing quickly, as they were buried at sea.

Hell Ship is much more than the story of Michael Veitch’s family history. The book gives a remarkable insight into the hardships and horrors endured by emigrants on all ships, as they travelled to the other side of the world in the hope of starting a new and better life for themselves and their families.

I’m sure that anyone with an interest in history and especially 19th century history would really enjoy this book. Family historians and genealogists would find it extremely helpful in illustrating the conditions that the early settlers had in the long voyage to the new land.

This extremely well researched and historical document will now enable the story of the Ticonderoga to live again, and not be forgotten.

My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Michael Veitch

This review has been reposted from my other blog Tracking Down The Family

Have you read this book. I’d love to hear your thoughts. I really appreciate the time it takes for you to comment and promise to reply to all comments.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.