From Our Contribution
Built for the Cunard White Star Line. Named Mauretania to honour the previous record breaking Mauretania which had been retired in 1935. The ship was designed for the London to New York service and was the largest vessel ever to navigate the River Thames and use the Royal Docks. She was also intended to stand in for one of the Cunard Queens when they were undergoing maintenance.
Mauretania was to experience only the briefest period of commercial operation before the outbreak of hostilities halted this work for over six years. In September 1939 she was requisitioned by the government, had some armaments attached, painted battle grey and then dispatched to the US where she was idle for the next three months. Converted in Sydney as a troop ship she left Sydney as part of one of the greatest convoys ever mustered for the transport of troops. With her were Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, and Aquitania, with 2,000 troops, bound for the River Clyde via South Africa. Other notable liners in this great convoy were RMS Empress of Britain, RMS Empress of Canada, RMS Empress of Asia, and SS Nieuw Amsterdam.
During the early stages of the war the ship transported Australian troops to Suez, India and Singapore but later she mainly served in the North Atlantic. Like Aquitania, she amassed over 50,000 nautical miles (93,000 km) during the course of her war duties, first crossing of the Indian Ocean, then working the Atlantic with American and Canadian troops and finally serving in the Pacific. In total she carried over 340,000 troops. After the war's end, Mauretania made several further voyages for the government repatriating troops. This mainly took the ship to Canada and Singapore. In addition, she made at least one voyage from New Zealand via Australia and South Africa to Liverpool.
Melbourne to Colombo (Convoy US 8), Ceylon 29 Dec 1940 - 11 Jan 1941
Port Tewfik, Egypt to Durban, South Africa 21 - 31 October 1941
- † Alan Wesley Hain RAAF