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Diary of Miss Ruth Mannington, an English stewardess on RMS RANGITANE

Date: 1940-1941
Overall: 210 x 248 x 30 mm
Medium: paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Shirley Byrne
Classification:Books and journals
Object Name: Diary
Object No: 00051287

User Terms

    This diary was kept by Miss Ruth Mannington, an English stewardess on RMS RANGITANE. It contains photographs, newspaper clippings and an account of events which took place from when RANGITANE sailed from Auckland, New Zealand, on 24 November 1940, to its shelling by German raiders in the Pacific on 27 November 1940, to the transfer of survivors to Emirau Island and Australia in December 1940-January 1941.
    SignificanceThis diary is a highly valuable personal account of the shelling and sinking of RMS RANGITANE from the perspective of English stewardess Miss Ruth Mannington. Miss Mannington records in vivid detail the shell attack, boarding by German troops, transfer of survivors to three German ships, observations of shipboard life, and the subsequent transfer of survivors to Emirau Island and then Australia. A collection of photographs in the diary provides a rare pictorial record of passenger travel in the 1940s, daily life on Emirau Island under the care of the only two European families who lived there, and day trips and excursions in Sydney, where many of the survivors were transferred. Newspaper clippings in the diary relate to the victims of RANGITANE, many of whom were volunteer escorts for British children who were being evacuated to Australia and New Zealand by the Children’s Overseas Reception Board in 1940.
    HistoryRMS RANGITANE was built by John Brown & Co for the New Zealand Shipping Company in 1929. It had accommodation for 100 first, 85 second and 410 third class passengers and operated between England and New Zealand via the Panama Canal.

    On 25 September 1940 RANGITANE sailed from Liverpool with a group of 113 British children who were being evacuated to safety in Commonwealth countries by the Children’s Overseas Reception Board (CORB). On the same day RANGITANE was ordered back to Liverpool following news that 77 CORB children had been killed on 17 September when SS CITY OF BENARES was torpedoed and sunk in the Atlantic Ocean en route to Canada. Consequently the overseas evacuation scheme was declared too risky and abandoned.

    On 25 September RANGITANE set sail for a second time, arriving in New Zealand without incident. On 24 November 1940 it embarked on its return voyage to England with 111 passengers and 200 crew. Among the passengers were 22 CORB volunteers, 19 of whom had escorted 477 child evacuees to Australia on SS BATORY and three who had escorted 82 children on SS NESTOR.

    On the morning of 27 November RANGITANE was shelled off the north coast of New Zealand by the German raiders ORION and KOMET and the supply ship KULMERLAND. Sixteen people were killed, including five CORB escorts, and RANGITANE was sunk. The 300 survivors were taken aboard the three German ships where they were treated well. In her diary Miss Mannington records that meals were brought down and consisted of rice, macaroni, bean soup, bread with butter, jam, sausage, tinned fish. After three weeks the passengers were landed on Emirau Island on the Bismarck Archipelago.

    The only European inhabitants of Emirau Island, apart from the local indigenous people, were Mrs and Mrs Collett and Mr and Mrs Cook, who looked after the women and children. After spending Christmas on the island, the survivors were picked up by the steamer SS NELLORE and taken to Australia, arriving in Townsville on 1 January 1941. They travelled by train to Brisbane and Sydney, where they received official welcomes from the Australian agents of the New Zealand Shipping Company.
    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Diary of Miss Ruth Mannington, an English stewardess on RMS RANGITANE

    Web title: Diary of Miss Ruth Mannington, an English stewardess on RMS RANGITANE

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