The trooper Dilwara was the first ship specially constructed for the movement of troops. It left Southampton in 1936 on its maiden voyage to Karachi via Basra. Hitherto, it had been the custom to adapt existing ships, but the Dilwara had been constructed to embody improvements suggested by years of experience. It compared very favourably with passenger lines sailing between England and the Far East.
The Dilwara was named after a village in Rajputan and was owned by the British India Steam Navigation Company. It was built on the Clyde by Barclay Curle and Co and was oil driven. It carried 104 first class passengers in one, two, or three berth cabins, a hundred in second class two, three, and fourth berth cabins. In addition it had hammock billets for 1,150 troops on the main and lower decks.