02 Sep

WW1 Troop Ships: Journeys Across the Indian Ocean


With the entry of Australia and New Zealand into the Great War in 1914, it became necessary for the respective Governments of these nations to requisition ships for the transport of their soldiers across the Indian Ocean to emerging battlefields in Europe and The Middle East. However, instead of using their own fleet of coastal liners they chose instead to secure British liners and cargo ships and altogether, 28 Australian vessels were procured. Each ship was given the class HMAT which stood for His Majesty’s Australian Transport, and also a troopship number starting with the ship ‘Hymettus’ (named for the mountain range above Athens) which became A1. The majority of the ships then had to be fitted out to accommodate large numbers of troops. The others were employed as cargo ships. A number of ships were requisitioned solely as horse transports and often their holds were fitted out with extensive stabling for equine transport.