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HMT KATOOMBA as a WWI or WWII troopship

Date: 1914 - 1945
Dimensions:
Overall: 83 x 108 mm
Medium: Photograph
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Transfer from the Australian War Memorial
Classification:Photographs
Object Name: Photograph
Object No: ANMS0047[309]

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    Description
    HMT KATOOMBAi n its dazzle camouflage paint during service in WW1. Built in 1913, owned by McIlwraith McEacharn Limited she was sold in 1946.
    History"On 25 April 1915, just as the ANZACs were landing on Gallipoli, the Australian submarine AE2 created history by becoming the first submarine to penetrate the Straits of the Dardanelles. Four years later, another Australian vessel, the coastal liner SS KATOOMBA, became the first British troopship to pass through the Dardanelles since the outbreak of the war.

    During the war merchant vessels were pressed into service to ferry troops or supplies to the main theatres of war. KATOOMBA'S war started late, when it was requisitioned by the British government in 1918 to convey American troops to Britain. Despite the dangers posed by German submarines, KATOOMBA successfully completed two Atlantic crossings before being sent to the Mediterranean, where the submarine threat was so great that ships’ masters were ordered to fire upon any vessel showing a light.
    KATOOMBA was at Salonika on 11 November for the armistice celebrations. Three days later, it left for Constantinople carrying more than 2,000 troops of the Essex and Middlesex Regiments. It was present for the official landing of Admiral Seymour, there to take over the city for the allies. For Captain E. Moodie-Heddle, KATOOMBA'S master, however, “a far more pathetic sight” was “the parade of the remnants of the released men from Kut”, 26 of whom were afterwards embarked on the Katoomba. They were in “a dejected and emaciated condition, due to long confinement and heart-breaking treatment by the Turks”.

    The ship eventually made six trips to the Black Sea, landing 14,000 troops and repatriating large numbers of Turks. Following a voyage to Bombay in April 1919, the ship sailed for Britain. KATOOMBA finally returned to Australia in August, where it was refitted and returned to its owner, McIlwraith, McEacharn’s Line Pty Ltd.

    Moodie-Heddle’s log records that during their time in the Mediterranean they had sighted four floating mines, “two of which were accounted for by our gunfire, and we thus won the Admiralty’s award of £10 – £5 for each mine”. Long after that award, the distinction of being first through the infamous Dardanelles at war’s end abides, if only as a small footnote to history"(www.awm.gov.au).

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