Des carried his sketch book with him wherever he was, and would draw anything of visual interest. Here is a pencil study done on board ship during the voyage to the Far East.
‘RMS Empress of Canada was an ocean liner built in 1920 for the Canadian Pacific Steamship Company by Fairfiled Shipbuilding & Engineering Co at Govan on the Clyde in Scotland. This ship regularly traversed the trans-Pacific route between the west coast of Canada and the Far East until 1939. After the devastating Great Kanto Earthquake struck Tokyo in 1923 she transported refugees to Kobe — 587 Europeans, 31 Japanese, and 362 Chinese.
Following the outbreak of World War 2 in 1939, she was converted for use as a troopship. She carried ANZAC troops from New Zealand and from Australia to the war zones in Europe, and British troops to the Far East in 1941.
On 13 March 1943, while en route from Durban, South Africa to Takoradi carrying Italian prisoners of war along with Polish and Greek refugees, the SS Empress of Canada was torpedoed and sunk by the Italian submarine Leonardo Da Vince approximately 400 miles (640 km) south of Cape Palmas off the coast of Africa. Of the approximate 1800 people on board, 392 died. Nearly half of the fatalities reported were Italian prisoners.’