Book review:-‘The Fabulous Flotilla: Scotland’s adventure on the rivers of Burma’ by P. Strachan

By Martin Bellamy, published May 2024


The Irrawaddy Flotilla Company was one of the world’s largest shipping companies, with well over a thousand craft in its fleet list and operating about 650 vessels at its height in the 1930s. The company was established in 1865 when a small number of government steamers were sold to a consortium consisting of a Scottish Burma trader, the Henderson shipping line of Glasgow and the Denny shipyard of Dumbarton. The combination of local knowledge, Scottish shipping prowess and Denny’s expertise in building river craft placed the company on a sure footing. The business was restructured in 1875 and this led to a rapid expansion, fueled by government contracts and an increasing colonial trade. Its ships were ultra-low draught powerful paddle steamers that could negotiate the sandbanks and strong currents of the Irrawaddy. When the Japanese invaded Burma in 1942 virtually the entire fleet was scuttled and following Burmese independence in 1948 the company was nationalized and renamed the Inland Water Transport Board…

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Filed under: Other (Twentieth C) | Other (Nineteenth C)
Subjects include: Merchant Marines | Ship Handling & Seamanship | Strategy & Diplomacy

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