Troopships in the First World War

Alaunia: In 1914 the Alaunia and the Andania, were used as troop ships carrying Canadian troops across the Atlantic. In the summer of 1915 both the ships were involved in the Gallipoli campaign. Later that year the Alaunia carried troops to Bombay. In 1916 the Alaunia struck a mine and sank two miles off the Royal Sovereign Lightship.

Andania: The Andania was used to transport the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and Royal Dublin Fusiliers to Cape Helles for the landings at Suvla. In 1918 she was hit by a torpedo a few miles from Altacarry Light (County Antrim).

Aurania: The Aurania was completed in 1917. She was employed in the North Atlantic, but after having made only seven trips she was hit by a torpedo 15 miles off Inishtrahull.

Ascania: When the war broke out the Ascania worked on the North Atlantic. On the eastward journeys, the third class areas were occupied by Canadian troops. In 1918 Ascania ran aground off Cape Ray.

Aquitania: Commissioned by the Royal Navy in 1914 the Aquitania first patrolled the Western Approaches but after colliding with a cargo ship it was decided that she was too big to be an armoured merchant cruiser. However she was used in the Gallipoli landings. In the latter part of the war she was employed as a hospital ship.

Campania: Built in 1893, the Campania was originally a record-breaking transatlantic liner. Campania was saved from being scrapped by the outbreak of the war. As most of the other Cunarders were being used by the Admiralty, the Campania was used for passenger trips. Eventually Cunard decided that she was no longer needed and put her up for sale. The Admiralty came to the rescue as they were looking for a ship which could be converted to carry seaplanes. Purpose built planes called Fairy Campanias were built and the ship had room for ten on her decks. The Campania was now the world's largest aircraft carrier. She was a great success, but unfortunately in November 1918, she sank after dragging her anchors and colliding with first Royal Oak and then Glorious in the Firth of Forth.

Carmania: Three days after war was declared, Carmania was converted into a armoured merchant cruiser. Both her and her sister ship, the Caronia were armed with 4.7 inch guns. In mid-September 1914 she sunk the German liner Cap Trafalgar. The Carmania was going to help at Gallipoli but she ran aground on the way and ended up just picking up survivors from three battleships torpedoed in the Dardanelles. The Carmania was the first Cunard liner to have turbines.

Caronia: The Caronia was the Carmania's sister-ship and was the first to be turned into an armoured merchant cruiser. On the 19th August 1914 she captured the German ship Odessa carrying a cargo of nitrate. In August 1916 she was repaired and given back to the Cunard Line. Both ships survived the war and in June 1919 the Caronia was returned to Cunard.

Franconia: At the start of the war Franconia continued her regular service from Liverpool to New York. Then in February 1915 she was turned into a troopship and was sent straight to Gallipoli where she took casualties to the safety of the Egyptian port. On the 4th of October 1916, bound for Salonika, she was torpedoed and sank. There were no troops on board and only 12 of the crew were killed.

Laconia: The Laconia was turned into an armed merchant cruiser in 1914. She was based at Simonstown in the South Atlantic which she patrolled until April 1915. Laconia was then used as a headquarters ship for the operations to capture Tanga and the colony of German East Africa (Tanzania). Four months later she returned to the patrolling of the South Atlantic. The Laconia was handed back to Cunard in July 1916.

Invernia: The Invernia was taken over by the Royal Navy and used for troop transport to Canada and the Mediterranean. She was sunk by a torpedo about 60 miles SE of Cape Matapan in Greece while carrying troops. Most of the crew were saved by the Rifleman or trawlers who were accompanying her.

Llandovery Castle: The sinking of this Llandovery Castle is considered one of the worst atrocities of the war. She was employed as a hospital ship and had her cross lights on when she was torpedoed without warning by a German submarine. Only 24 people survived out of the 258 people on board.

Omrah: With the outbreak of war Omrah was requisitioned by the government for troop transport. Work on her was completed in mid-September 1914. She carried troops to Colombo and then 40 prisoners to Egypt before being discharged from service in February 1915. Two years later she was again used for troop transport bringing troops from Australia to England. Then 40 miles SW of Cape Spartivento in Sardinia, she was hit by a torpedo and sank.

Ormonde: The Ormonde was being built when the First World War started and her completion was delayed because the ship builders were needed by the British Navy. In early 1917 there was a great need for troop ships and work started again on the Ormonde. She was completed in November and taken over by the Navy. After a short service she was returned to P&O in 1919.

Orontes: The Orontes was taken over by the government in 1916 as a troop ship and held this job until the end of the war. In the year after the war she was used to take Australian and South African troops home from England.

Orsova: Requisitioned as a troop ship in April 1915, Orsova carried Australian reinforcements to Egypt and Europe. In March she was hit by a torpedo in the English channel, luckily her captain was able to beach her at Plymouth. After a long wait she was repaired and was used to carry troops over from America. The Orsova was transferred to the Australian route for the last three months of the war.

Otranto: On the 1st August 1914 the Otranto was requested to become hospital ship but in the end became an armed merchant cruiser. On the 31st October 1914 she confronted Admiral von Spee's powerful fleet of German cruisers and two of the three ships with her, Good Hope and the Monmouth, sank but luckily she and the Glasgow escaped. She was then used for troop transport between Liverpool to New York. In October 1918 the Otranto was heading for Scotland with her convoy when she collided with the Kashmir. Some of the people on board were rescued by the Mounsey but she then ran aground and broke in half. Only a hand full of men survived out of the 400 which were still onboard. This was one of the worst misfortunes in the last few weeks of the war.