Requisitioned Auxiliary – Orwell




Official Number:                       120900

Laid down:

Builder:                                   Charles Connell & Co Ltd., Scotstoun 

Launched:                               14 May 1896

Into Service:                            1914

Out of service:                         1918

Fate:                                      1954 broken up


Items of historic interest involving this ship: –


Background Data:  One of an additional group of ships requisitioned by the Admiralty during WW2 to augment the ships of the RFA

Career Data:


10 October 1905 launched by Charles Connell & Co Ltd., Scotstoun as Yard Nr: 299 named Knight Templar for Knight Steamship Co. Ltd., (Greenshields, Cowie & Co. Ltd., Managers), Liverpool

November 1905 completed as a general cargo ship

19 May 1906 berthed at Bombay from Colombo

15 July 1906 berthed at Hull from Bombay

24 July 1906 sailed from Albert Dock, Hull for Cardiff

8 October 1906 at Colombo

29 November 1906 berthed at Hull from Karachi

2 February 1907 passed Gibraltar

25 February 1907 berthed at Bombay

30 May 1907 at Sydney, NSW Coal Trimmer Sulleyman Gufoor discharged dead from natural causes

2 August 1907 at Valpariso, Chile 1st Tindal Sheik Adam Sheik Oomer discharged dead following a fall 

15 September 1907 at sea Sailor’s Boy Sumsoo Carrim discharged dead from natural causes

18 September 1908 at Sydney, NSW Chief Cook Anchino Reheiro discharged dead from consumption

16 March 1909 at 31.30N 13.57W Coal Trimmer’s Boy Goolam Hossein Cassum discharged dead from natural causes

23 October 1909 at the Naval Hospital at Cavita, Phillipines Fireman’s Boy Mahomed Ally Fakeersab discharged dead from beri beri 

25 October 1909 at the Naval Hospital at Cavita, Phillipines Fireman Abbas Sk Hassan discharged dead from beri beri 

22 November 1909 at 36.20N 123.30E Fireman Nasroodeen Abdooramon discharged dead from beri beri

25 November 1909 at Dalny Fireman Sk Dawood Sk Ebraim discharged dead from beri beri

7 June 1912 berthed at Natal from New York

10 October 1912 sailed Port Said

12 March 1913 arrived at Hong Kong

3 February 1914 sailed London for Auckland, New Zealand

1914 requisitioned for Admiralty service for the New Zealand Expeditionary Force Transport this ended on 22 January 1915

1 January 1915 at the Medical College Hospital, Calcutta Donkeyman Greaser Choy Chung discharged dead from typhoid fever

14 January 1915 at Colombo, Ceylon Captain Thomas John Jones discharged dead from smallpox

KnightTemplar 1915

as Knight Templar


23 January 1915 re-deployed as an Expeditionary Force transport until 24 July 1916

4 February 1915 berthed at Fremantle in qurantine following the death of the Master (see above)

27 February 1915 sailed Sydney, NSW

12 June 1916 in Hospital at Alexandria, Egypt Chief Officer Leonard Vialls discharged dead – cause not recorded in the Deaths of Seaman Register 

25 January 1917 at 27.50N 91.07W Fireman and Trimmer Mon Hoop discharged dead from a heart attack

29 May 1917 re-deployed as a Commissioned Escort ship

13 June 1917 Able Seaman T Lynch MMR discharged dead – remembered with pride on a Screen Wall (North) V R C 1798 at Liverpool (Anfield) Cemetery

18 June 1917 acquired by Ocean Steamship Co Ltd. (Alfred Holt & Co. Managers) Liverpool named unchanged

1 September 1917 berthed at Liverpool

3 September 1917 sailed Liverpool to Lamlash joining convoy for New York

18 September 1917 anchored off Newport News awaiting pilot

20 September 1917 berthed at New York. Moved bunker coal from No: 2 hold to the ships bunkers. No: 5 derrick while being rigged over a lighter came down injuring three of the shore gang, one seriously

27 September 1917 sailed New York for Norfolk

28 September 1917 anchored at Norfolk then alongside and commenced bunkering

30 September 1917 sailed and joined convoy for the UK

20 October 1917 anchored of Greenock. RFA BOXOL moored alongside to receive oil

21 October 1917 commenced discharging oil from the ships ballast tanks into RFA BOXOL

23 October 1917 RFA BOXOL cast off

25 October 1917 remaining 400 tons of oil discharged (ships log does not indicate if ashore or into which ship)

27 October 1917 ships hull painted with ‘dazzle paint’

31 October 1917 at Glasgow entered dry dock

1 November 1917 at Glasgow dry dock flooded up and ship removed from dock

4 November 1917 at Glasgow new wireless house and sick bay being installed

9 November 1917 sailed down the Clyde from Glasgow and anchored at Greenock

12 November 1917 sailed Greenock to Lamlash

14 November 1917 sailed Lamlash and joined convoy for Halifax, Nova Scotia

27 November 1917 berthed alongside at Halifax

6 December 1917 a large explosion in Halifax blew ship off its berth and moorings. Fresh moorings run out and ship made fast. Ships Doctor and SBA went and helped with the injured ashore 

11 December 1917 sailed Halifax joining convoy for the UK

28 December 1917 observed the flash of the Eddystone Lighthouse

30 December 1917 anchored off Gravesend

31 December 1917 berthed at London docks

7 January 1918 Postman Trist arrested by Police and Customs – in the ship mail bag were found two parcels containing five ‘pericks’ of tobacco and a quantity of sugar. One of the parcels was addressed to another naval rating. Just previous to the arrest Dunnet and McKay had gone on leave. Postman Trist denied all knowledge of any parcels in the mail bag and in consequence was released

16 January 1918 entered dry dock – floating out later the same day

22 January 1918 sailed London docks and anchored at Gravesend

23 January 1918 anchored in Downs

25 January 1918 anchored at Plymouth Harbour

27 January 1918 sailed Plymouth and formed convoy off the Eddystone Lighthouse. Once formed sailed for New York

16 February 1918 arrived at New York and berthed

22 February 1918 at New York entered dry dock

23 February 1918 at New York dry dock flooded up and ship left for berth

1 March 1918 sailed New York

22 March 1918 anchored off the South Goodwin Light Vessel

24 March 1918 berthed at Tilbury Docks

7 April 1918 torpedoed by German submarine U-53 around 170 nmiles SW of the Eddystone Lighthouse but managed to reach Plymouth safely. Six of the crew were killed

11 April 1918 berthed at Devonport undergoing repairs

30 July 1918 ship recommissioned at Devonport

3 August 1918 at Devonport ship moved alongside No: 9 coaling dump and commenced loading bunker coal

6 August 1918 at Devonport tugs moved ship to No: 6 berth to load ammunition

9 August 1918 at Devonport while the ship was being moved tug Fortitude in collision striking the rudder and propeller and damaging the propeller

17 August 1918 sailed Plymouth and formed up convoy for Halifax

29 August 1918 at Halifax berthed alongside

2 September 1918 at Halifax loaded bunkers. Derrick span at bunker hatch carried away, bringing down derrick and breaking same

3 September 1918 sailed Halifax to Sydney, Nova Scotia arriving the same day

4 September 1918 berthed alongside at Sydney, Nova Scotia

5 September 1918 sailed Sydney, Nova Scotia

19 September 1918 passed the Folkstone Gate

21 September 1918 entered Greenland Dock, London and berthed

4 October 1918 sailed Greenland Dock, London for Plymouth

6 October 1918 arrived Plymouth Sound and anchored

8 October 1918 sailed Plymouth collecting convoy for Baltimore

21 October 1918 carried out full calibre firing of 6″ gun

25 October 1918 arrived and berthed at Baltimore

8 November 1918 sailed Baltimore for Hampton Roads

10 November 1918 sailed Hampton Roads with convoy for London

27 November 1918 at anchor off Gravesend later entering Surrey Docks, London

13 December 1918 sailed Surrey Docks, London for Liverpool

16 December 1918 arrived and anchored in the Mersey

17 December 1918 alongside Lewis Dock, Birkenhead

18 December 1918 discharged ammunition

31 December 1918 crew discharged to HMS EAGLET and to Portsmouth Barracks

3 September 1920 at Genoa, Italy Chief Engineer Officer William Henry Johnston discharged dead from heart failure

4 June 1921 on board at New York Fireman Lum For discharged dead from  strangulation 

15 March 1924 at Shanghai General Hospital, Shanghai Able Seaman Frederick Bergman discharged dead from injuries sustained in an accident

14 October 1924 at Saigon Able Seaman & Quartermaster Charles Frederick Brennan discharged dead from cancer of the stomach 

April 1925 purchased for £35,000 by A/S Tonsberg Hvalfangen (Oscar Hytten, Managers) Tonsberg, converted into a floating whale factory ship and renamed Orwell. Spent the next 6 pelagic whaling seasons in the South Orkneys, working with 5 catchers.

1931 laid up at Tonsberg

1932 returned to the South Orkneys for the next 2 pelagic whaling seasons

1934 charted by Star Whaling Co., Tonsberg for 1 season, name unchanged

1937 was converted into a combined tanker/transport by the Amsterdam Drydock Co and was used on her owners ‘ business at Husvik in South Georgia

Orwell South Georgis

Orwell alongside at Husvik, South Georgia

1940 – 1945 in Allied service and served as an Escort Oiler, name unchanged

7 April 1940 sailed Aruba independently to Trinidad arriving 15 April 1940

20 April 1940 sailed Trinidad independently to Gibraltar arriving 6 May 1940

6 May 1940 sailed Gibraltar independently to Oran arriving the next day

12 May 1940 sailed Oran independently to Haifa arriving 20 May 1940

28 May 1940 sailed Haifa independently to Port Said arriving the next day

30 May 1940 sailed Port Said independently to ALexandria arriving the next day

6 June 1940 sailed Alexandria independently to Port Said arriving 7 June 1940

21 June 1940 sailed Port Said independently to Haifa arriving the following day

30 June 1940 sailed Haifa independently to Port Said arriving 1 July 1940

7 July 1940 sailed Suez in escorted convoy BS1 until dispersal on 15 July 1940 and then independently to Abadan arriving on 23 July 1940

26 July 1940 sailed Abadan independently to Trincomalee arriving 9 August 1940

12 August 1940 sailed Trincomalee independently to Colombo arriving 14 August 1940

18 August 1940 sailed Coloimbo independently to Bombay arriving 23 August 1940

17 September 1940 sailed Bombay independently to Abadan arriving 24 September 1940

29 September 1940 sailed Abadan independently to Cape Town arriving 25 October 1940

27 October 1940 sailed Capetown independently to Freetown arriving 9 November 1940

12 November 1940 sailed Freetown in escorted convoy SL55 to Gibraltar with a cargo of FFO arriving 27 November 1940

4 December 1940 sailed Gibraltar independently to Trinidad arriving 17 December 1940

21 December 1940 sailed Trinidad independently to Bermuda where on 4 January 1941 she sailed in escorted convoy BHX101 joining escorted convoy HX101 on 9 January 1941 to the River Clyde arriving 20 January 1941

28 January 1941 sailed the River Clyde independently to Liverpool arriving the next day

14 March 1941 at Liverpool damaged in an air raid

17 May 1941 sailed Liverpool in escorted convoy OB323 until dispersal on 25 May 1941 and then independently to Curacao arriving 10 June 1941

12 June 1941 sailed Curacao independently to Gibraltar arriving 1 July 1941

8 July 1941 sailed Gibraltar in escorted convoy HG67 until dispersal and then independently to Trinidad arriving 23 July 1941

26 July 1941 sailed Trinidad independently to Halifax arriving 5 August 1941

10 August 1941 sailed Halifax in escorted convoy HX144 to Belfast Lough arriving 29 August 1941. RFA OLYNTHUS (1) also sailed in this convoy

29 August 1941 sailed Belfast Lough in unescorted convoy BB69 to Milford Haven arriving the next day

31 August 1941 sailed Milford Haven in unescorted convoy WP28 to Devonport arriving 2 September 1941

7 September 1941 sailed Devonport independently to Falmouth arriving the same day

29 September 1941 sailed Falmouth and joined unescorted convoy PW42 to Milford Haven arriving the next day

1 October 1941 sailed Milford Haven and joined escorted convoy ON22 until dispersal on 15 October 1941 then independently to Curacao arriving 24 October 1941. RFA’s OLYNTHUS (1) and SCOTTISH AMERICAN were also in this convoy although SCOTTISH AMERICAN returned with defects

26 October 1941 sailed from Curacao independently to Sydney, Cape Breton arriving 6 November 1941

10 November 1941 sailed Sydney, Cape Breton in escorted convoy SC54 to Londonderry with a cargo of FFO arriving 27 November 1941

4 December 1941 sailed Londonderry independently to Liverpool arriving the same day

22 May 1942 sailed Liverpool independently to Holyhead arriving the same day

23 May 1942 sailed Holyhead and joined escorted convoy BB177 to Milford Haven

1 June 1942 joined escorted convoy OS30 for Trinidad arriving 22 June 1942

26 June 1942 sailed Trinidad in unescorted convoy TO10 to Curacao arriving 28 June 1942

1 July 1942 sailed Curacao in unescorted convoy OT13 until dispersal on 4 July 1942 then independently to Gibraltar arriving 23 July 1942

27 July 1942 sailed Gibraltar under escort then independently to Curacao arriving 11 August 1942

22 August 1942 sailed Curacao joining in unescorted convoy WAT 14 to Trinidad arriving 25 August 1942

29 August 1942 sailed Trinidad in unescorted convoy TAG1 to Guantanamo thence in unescorted convoy GN1 to New York arriving 12 September 1942

19 September 1942 sailed New York in escorted convoy SC102 to Londonderry arriving 5 October 1942. Fort Amherst later to become RFA AMHERST also sailed in this convoy between Halifax and St Johns, Newfoundland

10 October 1942 sailed Londonderry independently to Belfast Lough arriving the same day

7 November 1942 sailed Belfast Lough joining escorted convoy ON144 to New York arriving 29 November 1942

2 December 1942 sailed New York in unescorted convoy NG326 to Guantanamo arriving 9 December 1942

9 December 1942 sailed Guantanamo in unescorted convoy GAT28 to Trinidad arriving 15 December 1942

19 December 1942 sailed Trinidad in unescorted convoy TAG30 to Guantanamo arriving 24 December 1942

24 December 1942 sailed Guantanamo in unescorted convoy GN30 to New York arriving 1 January 1943

4 January 1943 sailed New York in escorted convoy SC116 to Londonderry arriving 28 January 1943. The Admiralty tanker British Lady acted as Escort Oiler during this convoy


1945 returned to her owners, name unchanged

1954 sold for scrap for £66,500

26 November 1954 arrived Hamburg for demolition by Eisen und Metall