SS Oronsay (1925)
SS Oronsay was an ocean liner
Ocean liner
An ocean liner is a ship designed to transport people from one seaport to another along regular long-distance maritime routes according to a schedule. Liners may also carry cargo or mail, and may sometimes be used for other purposes .Cargo vessels running to a schedule are sometimes referred to as...

 built for the Orient Steam Navigation Company
Orient Steam Navigation Company
The Orient Steam Navigation Company, also known as the Orient Line, was a British shipping company with roots going back to the late 18th century...

. Her maiden voyage started on 7 February 1925 from London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 to Melbourne
Melbourne is the capital and most populous city in the state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia. The Melbourne City Centre is the hub of the greater metropolitan area and the Census statistical division—of which "Melbourne" is the common name. As of June 2009, the greater...

, Sydney
Sydney is the most populous city in Australia and the state capital of New South Wales. Sydney is located on Australia's south-east coast of the Tasman Sea. As of June 2010, the greater metropolitan area had an approximate population of 4.6 million people...

 and Brisbane
Brisbane is the capital and most populous city in the Australian state of Queensland and the third most populous city in Australia. Brisbane's metropolitan area has a population of over 2 million, and the South East Queensland urban conurbation, centred around Brisbane, encompasses a population of...

. She continued on this route (extended to New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 once in 1938) until the outbreak of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. The Australian military contingent for the coronation of King George VI took passage to the UK on the Oronsay in 1937.

Wartime Service

Taken-up from trade as a troopship
A troopship is a ship used to carry soldiers, either in peacetime or wartime...

, Oronsay took part in Operation Ariel
Operation Ariel
Operation Ariel was the name given to the World War II evacuation of Allied forces from ports in western France, from 15–25 June 1940, due to the military collapse in the Battle of France against Nazi Germany...

, the evacuation of British troops from western France. On 17 June 1940, she was anchored in the Loire
Loire (river)
The Loire is the longest river in France. With a length of , it drains an area of , which represents more than a fifth of France's land area. It is the 170th longest river in the world...

 Estuary, embarking troops being ferried out from St Nazaire in destroyer
In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. Destroyers, originally called torpedo-boat destroyers in 1892, evolved from...

s and small boats. During an air-raid, a German bomb landed on the ship's bridge, killing several people, destroying the chart, steering and wireless rooms and breaking the captain's leg. Taking on survivors from which had sunk nearby, Captain N. Savage steered the ship home with the aid of a pocket compass, a sextant
A sextant is an instrument used to measure the angle between any two visible objects. Its primary use is to determine the angle between a celestial object and the horizon which is known as the altitude. Making this measurement is known as sighting the object, shooting the object, or taking a sight...

 and a sketch map.

On 9 October 1942, Oronsay was sailing in the Atlantic en route from Capetown to the UK via Freetown
Freetown is the capital and largest city of Sierra Leone, a country in West Africa. It is a major port city on the Atlantic Ocean located in the Western Area of the country, and had a city proper population of 772,873 at the 2004 census. The city is the economic, financial, and cultural center of...

. She was carrying 50 RAF personnel, 20 rescued British seamen, and 8 DEMS
Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships
Defensively Equipped Merchant Ship was an Admiralty Trade Division program established in June, 1939, to arm 5,500 British merchant ships with an adequate defence against enemy submarines and aircraft...

 gunners, with a cargo of 1,200 tons of copper and 3,000 tons of oranges. When she was some 500 miles southwest of Freetown, she was torpedoed and sunk by the Italian submarine Archimede
Brin class submarine
The Brin-class submarines were five Italian submarines that served in the Regia Marina during World War II. All ships were built by Tosi. Two boats were replacements for Archimede-class submarines secretly transferred to the Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War in 1937. The class were...

. Only 6 crew members were lost; the survivors took to the ship's boats.. 321 of them were rescued by after 12 days. 26 survivors, including the ship's surgeon James McIlroy (the Antarctic explorer), were picked-up by the Vichy French sloop
An aviso , a kind of dispatch boat or advice boat, survives particularly in the French navy, they are considered equivalent to the modern sloop....

 Dumont D'Urville
Dumont d'Urville (PG 77)
Dumont d'Urville was an of the French Navy, designed to operate from French colonies in Asia and Africa. She was built by Ateliers et Chantiers Maritime Sud-Ouest of Bordeaux and launched on 21 March 1931....

, and were interned at Dakar
Dakar is the capital city and largest city of Senegal. It is located on the Cap-Vert Peninsula on the Atlantic coast and is the westernmost city on the African mainland...

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