Pages tagged with: merchant navy

A 1915 menu on a pre-war Union Company card. This was almost certainly for officers.
The auxiliary cruiser which seized and sank two ships off the Kermadec Islands and sank two more by mines laid off the coast
The Union Company’s Calcutta ‘slow boat’, the Aparima packed with with troops heading for the First World War
The New Zealand Shipping Company's Otaki in Wellington Harbour, 1912
K.T. Russell’s painting of the Otaki battling the German raider, Moewe.
Launching the Union Company Royal Mail liner Niagara at the John Brown Shipyard, Clydebank, in 1912
Although New Zealand seafarers served in many hostile theatres, some questioned the politics of the war
The First World War had a dramatic impact on shipping arrivals to New Zealand
One of the worst losses of New Zealand lives at sea occurred aboard the Union Company’s Aparima in 1917
Most requisitioned ships continued to carry people or cargo. One Union Company ship, however, entered the Royal Navy and bore the prefix HMS. The Wahine was no ordinary ship
In May 1915, as the casualty lists mounted at Gallipoli, the government chartered a hospital ship, the Union Company’s 5282-ton trans-Tasman liner Maheno
Many Home boats were lost, especially in 1917/18 when Germany stepped up its submarine warfare against Allied commerce. But one action stood out, an epic battle between the New Zealand Shipping Co freighter Otaki and the German auxiliary cruiser Moewe (‘Seagull’).
The outbreak of war in 1914 posed special problems for New Zealand due to its dependence on sea trade.
On 3 September New Zealand honoured Merchant Navy Day. Here we explore the little-known but vital role played by the merchant marine during the First World War. As in the Second World War, in 1914-18 these civilian seafarers often found themselves in the front lines of the war at sea.
New Zealand has a small connection to the poignant story of Anne Frank, via her father, Otto, and the merchant ship TSS Monowai
R.C. Bruce's 1914 memoir, Reminiscences of a wanderer, is a ripping yarn of a nomadic labouring life at sea and on land.
The Union Steam Ship Company freighter Limerick was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine off the New South Wales coast. Two of its crew were lost.
Most of New Zealand's Second World War POWs were captured in the European theatre in the early stages of the war. Only about 100 New Zealand servicemen fell into Japanese hands, mainly airmen or seamen attached to the Royal Navy or Royal Air Force.
For the Merchant Navy the cost of victory was high: between 1939 and 1945 almost 5000 Allied and neutral merchant vessels (over 21 million tons' worth) were sunk, and around 60,000 seafarers were killed – more than half of them while sailing under the red duster (red ensign) of the British Empire and Dominions.
Although it was waged half a world away, few military campaigns were as vital to New Zealand's interests as the Battle of the Atlantic. A German victory, which would have severed this country's links with Britain, was one of the gravest threats New Zealand has ever faced.

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