You are not logged in.
HMT Arcadian in the Great War - The Wartime Memories Project -

The Wartime Memories Project

- HMT Arcadian during the Great War -

Great War>Ships
skip to content

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site you agree to accept cookies.

If you enjoy this site please consider making a donation.

    Site Home

    Great War


    Add Stories & Photos


    Allied Army

    Day by Day

    War in the Air

    Prisoners of War

    The Royal Navy

    Training for War

    The Battles

    Those Who Served


    Civilian Service

    Women at War

    Life on Home Front

    Central Powers Army

    Central Powers' Navy


    World War Two


    Add Stories & Photos

    Time Capsule


    Help & FAQ's

    Our Facebook Page




    Contact us

    Great War Books

World War 1 One ww1 wwII greatwar great

HMT Arcadian

8th Nov 1914 2nd Gloucesters arrive in England  2nd Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment landed at Southampton at 9am on the 8th of November 1914 aboard HMT Arcadia having sailed from their pre war station of Ching-Wang-Tao in Northern China. Orignially bound for Sialkot in India, they had been diverted home to join the 81st Brigade, 27th Division. They entrained for Winchester then marched to Hursley Park.

15th April 1917 British Troopship  

HMT Arcadian

SS Arcadian was a Barrow-in-Furness built passenger liner constructed in 1899 by Vickers, Sons & Maxim Ltd for the Pacific Steam Navigation Company as SS Ortona. During World War I she served with the Royal Navy and was sunk by a U-boat in 1917.

Pacific Steam Navigation Company service, 1899-1906

SS Ortona was the last ship that Pacific Steam built for the London to Australia route. Launched on 10 July 1899 and registered in Liverpool on 26 October, she left London on her maiden voyage was on 24 November in a joint service with the Orient Steam Navigation Company. She carried 140 first class, 180 second class and 300 third class passengers, a total of 620. In December 1902, Ortona was used to return troops to the UK after the end of the Second Boer War.

Royal Mail Steam Packet Company service, 1906-1915.

On 8 May 1906, Ortona was sold to the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, who used her in a joint operation with the Orient line to Australia. In April 1909, she was transferred to the Royal Mail West Indies service.

In 1910, she was sent to the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast for conversion into a 320-capacity cruise ship with a new gross tonnage of 8,939. She was renamed Arcadian on 21 September 1910 and registered at Belfast in September of the following year. She started her first world cruise in January 1912, the largest dedicated cruise ship in the world at that time. It was on the first leg of this voyage that Olave St Claire Soames met Lieutenant General Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scout Movement, leading to their marriage in October of that year.

In February 1915, near the start of the First World War, Arcadian was taken-up by the Admiralty and converted to an armed merchant cruiser. On 7 April 1915 at Alexandria, General Sir Ian Hamilton came aboard and used Arcadian, together with the battleship Queen Elizabeth, as his headquarters ship during opening phase of the Gallipoli Campaign. Once Hamilton's staff had transferred to a shore base at Imbros, Arcadian was employed as a troop ship in the Mediterranean.

On 15 April 1917 Arcadian was en route from Salonika to Alexandria with a company of 1,335 troops and crew and escorted by a Japanese Navy destroyer. Shortly after completing a boat drill, while 26 miles north east of the Greek island of Milos, Arcadian was hit by a single torpedo from the German submarine UC-74 and sank within six minutes with the loss of 279 lives. A contemporary newspaper article described how four of Arcadian's overcrowded lifeboats were successfully lowered before it sank. Many of the dead were cooks and stokers who were working below decks. The escorting destroyer had two torpedoes launched at her while she was attempting to rescue men from the water; survivors reported that she had lowered three of her own boats while going "at full speed". More survivors, who had been clinging to a raft, were rescued at midnight by the Q-ship, HMS Redbreast. Among the dead was the eminent bacteriologist, Sir Marc Armand Ruffer, who was returning to Alexandria after advising on the control of an epidemic among troops based at Thessaloniki.

John Doran

If you can provide any additional information, please add it here.

Want to know more about HMT Arcadian?

There are:3 articles tagged HMT Arcadian available in our Library

  These include information on officers service records, letters, diaries, personal accounts and information about actions during the Great War.

Those known to have served in

HMT Arcadian

during the Great War 1914-1918.

  • Bell Cecil William James. Pte. (d.15th Apr 1917)

The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List

The 1st of September 2017 is The Wartime Memories Project's 18th Birthday. If you would like to send us a present, a donation, no matter how small, would be much appreciated, annually we need to raise enough funds to pay for our web hosting or this site will vanish from the web.

Looking for help with Family History Research?   

Please see Family History FAQ's

We are unable to provide individual research free of charge, but do offer a paid service at competitive rates, the small profit from these services will be put towards the costs of keeping this website running. For more information please see our Research Services Leaflet

Can you help?

The Wartime Memories Project is run by volunteers and this website is funded by donations from our visitors.

If the information here has been helpful or you have enjoyed reaching the stories please conside making a donation, no matter how small, would be much appreciated, annually we need to raise enough funds to pay for our web hosting or this site will vanish from the web. In these difficult times current donations are falling far short of this target.

If you enjoy this site please consider making a donation.


  • The Wartime Memories Project is the original WW1 and WW2 commemoration website

    This website has been running for 18 years and receives in excess of a million hits per month. The website and our group will continue long after the 2014-18 events are over. We hope that people will continue to support us by submitting material and stories in addition to submitting to the new websites set up for the anniversary.

  • We are looking for volunteers to help with researching the activities of units of the Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers, Territorial Force, Regular Army, Pals Battalions, Kitchener's New Armies, Voluntary Organisations and the Ships of the Royal Navy. We currently have a huge backlog of stories and historical documents which need to be edited or transcribed for display online, if you have a good standard of written English, an interest in the two World Wars and a little time to spare online we would appreciate your help. For more information please see our page on Volunteering.

Wanted: Digital copies of Group photographs, Scrapbooks, Autograph books, photo albums, newspaper clippings, letters, postcards and ephemera relating to the Great War. If you have any unwanted photographs, documents or items from the First or Second World War, please do not destroy them. The Wartime Memories Project will give them a good home and ensure that they are used for educational purposes. Please get in touch for the postal address, do not sent them to our PO Box as packages are not accepted.

We are now on Facebook. Like this page to receive our updates, add a comment or ask a question.

If you have a general question please post it on our Facebook page.

Sep 2017

    Please note we currently have a backlog of submitted material, our volunteers are working through this as quickly as possible and all names, stories and photos will be added to the site. If you have already submitted a story to the site and your UID reference number is higher than 235634 your submission is still in the queue, please do not resubmit without contacting us first.

World War 1 One ww1 wwII greatwar great
Did you know? We also have a section on World War Two. and a Timecapsule to preserve stories from other conflicts for future generations.

Want to know more about HMT Arcadian?

There are:3 articles tagged HMT Arcadian available in our Library

Recomended Reading.

Available at discounted prices.

Items from the Home Front Archive

Do you have any photos, postcards, documents or memorabilia relating to this unit? Please add to this archive.


    Suggest a link

    The Wartime Memories Project is a non profit organisation run by volunteers.

    This website is paid for out of our own pockets, library subscriptions and from donations made by visitors. The popularity of the site means that it is far exceeding available resources.

    If you are enjoying the site, please consider making a donation, however small to help with the costs of keeping the site running.

    Hosted by:

    The Wartime Memories Project Website

    is archived for preservation by the British Library

    Website Copyright MCMXCIX - MMXVII
    - All Rights Reserved