The Wreck of the Rohilla
Written and published in 1981 "The Wreck of the Rohilla" by Ken Wilson, was perhaps the inspiration behind my own book; I took from this book that there was more to learn about the loss of the former liner, a wreck I have dived so many times. I had no idea quite how much there was to learn and how much of a hold the whole affair would have on me.
It is only befitting that I introduce Ken Wilson and acknowledge his enthusiasm to be the first person to write extensively about the loss of the former hospital vessel "SS Rohilla", especially as he also illustrated his book himself. When I started work on my own book I was able to open a very enjoyable dialogue with Ken and his letters gave me the impression he was pleased with my own endeavours and found renewed interest in the hospital ship.
When I enquired about permission to replicate his book on this website he was more than happy to have his book feature on the world wide web. I asked about what stocks he might still have of his book and i was saddened to learn that a garage flood had destroyed a significant number of them. Of course the passage of time has meant that his book is long out of print although I have seen them sometimes come up on the ebay internet auction website. I obtained six signed copies from Ken very early on and would be devastated to loose them as they are so precious to me.
At the beginning of 2008, I received an e-mail from Mrs. Wilson with the very sad news of Ken's passing. It was quite sad to learn that a very unique Rohilla icon had passed away. Would I have embarked on my own book were it not for the close bond I felt to Ken, for sure the Rohilla was always a dive one could easily enjoy for an hour without incurring any decompression stops and one any grade of diver could do.
I started my book as a comprehensive guide but did not have any idea the hold it would still have on me today six years after the release of my book and nine years after my ill health forced my sub aqua diving retirement. It soon became apparent that my research was going to be far too much to publish in a 'guide' format and my manuscript soon began to take on a life of its own I simply had no idea quite how much there was to learn. I hope my book serves as a comprehensive retelling of such a tragic story, however there is no doubting the importance of Ken Wilson's literacy genius.
Wreck of the Rohilla - An Introduction
Ken's book consists of 99 pages, some with little text on them but with well proportioned illustrations, whilst others are the opposite. I personally feel that his book is a collectable book in itself, especially for anyone that has dived the Rohilla. Its landscape format is equally matched by good quality paper stock, in fact I would go as far as saying that the landscape format adds to the books unique appeal.
I hope that you enjoy this online version of Ken Wilson's book, if anything I hope they encourage you to look for an original book yourself. It is a shame some were lost to flood waters as I would have liked to have been able to offer them here on Ken's behalf. I am hoping that somewhere along the way that Ken's widow might furnish me with a pleasing photograph of Ken until then however, we shall have to live with his caricature featured in his book.
Please follow this link to begin reading the book with the acknowledgements page.
Copyright © Colin Brittain 2010