In the Christmas Daily Freeman (covered in our last post) published exactly 105 years ago today, among the ads for festive goods there is a small unassuming advertisement for the Cunard shipping company.
It details the ships that traversed the Atlantic at the time, and includes the ill-fated RMS Lusitania, which was to be torpedoed by a German U-Boat two years later with the loss of 1,200 lives.
But what became of the other ships mentioned in the advert? Their stories are not quite as tragic as the Lusitania’s, but fascinating nevertheless. They were all requisitioned for war service, and here are their stories:
The RMS Campania was built by Fairfield Shipbuilding in Scotland, and was launched on the 8th of September 1892. She entered service in 1893, and at the time was the fastest ship afloat.
She was taken out of service in November 1914 and, just prior to her being scrapped, she was bought by the Admiralty to be fitted out as an armed cruiser to carry seaplanes. These planes had floats and could be lowered into and retrieved from the water by a crane.
Her interior was removed to accommodate up to 14 aircraft. She was also equipped with eight 4.7 inch guns.
The conversion was completed in 1915, and after sea trials, she served at Scapa Flow and in the North Sea. After a short period, the first funnel was removed and a flight deck was added to the front of the ship to enable aircraft to take off directly without having to be lowered into the sea. She also served as an Observation Balloon ship. The now renamed HMS Campania served with the Admiralty right up until 5th November 1918 when she was involved in an accident in the Firth of Forth during high winds. Campania hit the bow of the battleship Royal Oak and then dragged along the hull of the MMS Glorious.
She began to sink, and a boiler explosion sent her to the bottom. There were no casualties.
RMS Carmania’s maiden voyage was from Liverpool to New York on the 2nd December 1905, which she completed in 7 days, 9 hours.
Like the RMS Campania, she was converted to an armed merchant cruiser for war service and equipped with eight 4.7-inch guns. She sailed to Bermuda and served in the Battle of Trindad, where she suffered extensive damage and crew casualties. After repairs in Gibraltar, she patrolled the Atlantic off Portugal and later, in 1916, she served in Gallipoli campaign.
From March 1916 she was used as a troop ship. She survived the war, and in 1919, she was refitted for passenger liner service. She was scrapped in 1932.
RMS Andania was a passenger and cargo ship built in Scotland by Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Company.
She was launched on the 22nd of March 1913, and made her maiden voyage on 14 July 1913 from Liverpool to Montreal.
In August 1914 she was also requisitioned as a troopship. For a few weeks in 1915 the Andania was moored on the Thames and used to accommodate German Prisoners of War.
In the summer of 1915 she sailed to Gallipoli, transporting the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and Royal Dublin Fusiliers to Cape Helles for the landings at Suvla Bay.
While the war was still in progress, she returned to passenger service on the transatlantic Liverpool-New York route. On the 26th of January 1918 she sailed with six other liners with 40 passengers and a crew of around 200. One day into the voyage, the ship was hit by a torpedo from German U Boat U-46 off Rathlin Island. Attempts were made to tow the ship but it sank after a few hours. The passengers survived, but seven crew perished in the sinking.
RMS Alaunia was built in 1913 at Greenock Dockyard. Launched on 9 June 1913, she made her maiden voyage on the 27th of December that year. During WW1, HMS Alaunia was the first Cunard ship to transport Canadian troops. Like the Andania, she was sent to Gallipoli, and later the same year carried troops to Bombay.
She later returned to the North Atlantic and carried troops from Canada and America in 1916.
On the 19th of October 1916, en route from London to New York, she struck a mine in the English Channel. After attempts to beach the ship and tow her to shore with tugs, her captain finally gave the order to abandon ship. Two crew members lost their lives.