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SS Orama in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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- SS Orama during the Second World War -


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SS Orama



   The SS Orama was built by Vickers-Armstrong at Barrow-in-Furness in 1924 for the Orient Line with accommodation for 1,700 passengers. She was converted to a troopship in 1940, and was used to transport the British Expeditionary Force to Norway following the German Invasion. On the 8th June 1940, she was sunk 300 miles West of Narvik, by the German High Seas Fleet comprising Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Admiral Hipper. The Orama lost 19 killed and 280 were taken prisoner, there were heavy losses on the other allied ships also sunk, the aircraft carrier HMS Glorious, two destroyers HMS Ardent and HMS Acasta, the trawler Juniper and the oil tanker Oil Pioneer.

An Orient Line postcard of The Orama

A German destroyer sails past as The Troopship Orama goes down.

Survivors of the Orama climb aboard the Hipper

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Those known to have sailed in

SS Orama

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

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

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Clarence "Harry" Little Orama

My father, Clarence Little, known as "Harry", survived the sinking of the Orama and was held in Stalag 13B.

Richard Little



Seaman. Sidney Locke SS. Orama

My late grandfather, Sidney Locke, recently passed way. He was a merchant seaman taken prisoner of war on the Orama in 1940 which was spotted by German High Seas Fleet. Any information would be good to have.

Meka Locke



Bsn. Henry Hopperton SS Orama

My Grandfather Harry Hopperton was a Bosun on the Orama. I hope that someone can tell me about my grandad and his story as I know very little. I know he made it out of the pow camp but was very poorly and died of TB soon after release. I had a neighbour Ron Hobbs who amazingly was on the same ship as an officer. I would be grateful for any info at all.

Mark Hopperton



Surg. Henry Golege Steel SS Orama

My grandfather, Dr Henry Golege Steel, was serving on the SS Orama in the 2nd World War. He was acting as surgeon in the transport ship Orama when she was sunk. My Grandfather was over 60 yrs when he joined the war at the end of May 1940 so the sinking was early on in his war. He was captured and held prisoner of war in a variety of locations until he returned to England some three and a half years later. I have a typed copy of a talk he gave that mentions the ship and its sinking.

Sarah Clayson



Steward. Arthur Overman SS Orama

Arthur Overman is my Great Uncle, he was a Steward on the cruise ship SS Orama. The ship was sunk on the 8th June 1940 by the German Battle Ship Hipper. My Great uncle was captured and spent the war in the German prison camp Stalag X111A. I have uploaded a photo of the captured survivors from the SS Orama, if anyone can name anybody in the photo please get in touch. I never met my Great Uncle as he died before I was born, if anybody knew of him I would love to find out more.

Sean Overman



Able Sea. Philip Lindup RMS Orama

I joined the Orama in late autumn 1939 and crossed the Atlantic to pick up Canadian troops from Halifax ,Nova Scotia. Returned safely before Christmas, my last one at home for five years! I then went to Australia and back on RMS service; once again no problems.

In May 1940, we joined convoy to Norway which assembled at Scapa Flow. we ran aground in Scapa, following a naval destroyer which had much less draught than we did. To meet sailing date with convoy, we pumped out most of our fresh water; thereby hangs a tale! The rendezvous was outside Narvik. There were more ships in the convoy than were needed, so we were ordered to return to Scapa on our own, and it was then that we ran into the German Navy. We had lots of trouble with rats on the ship. Crew who had been on the ship since her maiden voyage, said that they had never known so many rats about. Did they know something?

The vessel was sunk and most of the crew were picked up by German destoyers and Hipper. We were landed Trondheim and transferred to cattle trucks on a train; these carried a sign - they would carry 10 horses or 40 men. We were taken down to Oslo and across to Denmark, and then down to Stalag 13 (I think).

Then moved to Tost, which is Upper Silesia, and was placed in the Tost camp along with PG Wodehouse among others. Eventually moved on to Marlag und Milag Nord, where I stayed until liberation in April 1945.

Jeremy Cotton



Roy Thompkins

I refer to the note on Thomas Lawrence Williams being rescued from the Orama and taken prisoner, being held in Stalag 13A page. My late father Roy Tompkins was also rescued from the Orama, and taken prisoner. I would be interested to hear from anyone else, or relatives or friends of anyone who was also rescued from the Orama.

Philip Tompkins



Thomas Lawrence Williams

The Holyhead Maritime Museum has recently been given a photograph album containing some photos of Thomas Lawrence Williams whilst a prisoner of war in Stalag 13A Thomas was rescued from the vessel Orama sunk by the German cruiser Hipper in June 1940.

Richard. (Conservation Officer for the on the Isle of Anglesey N. Wales.)



Bosun's Mate. C. Byrne SS. Orama




3rd Elec. William Flett SS. Orama (d.8th Jun 1940)




Able.Sea. Richard Flynn SS. Orama




Stew. Harry Little SS. Orama

My father Harry Little survived the sinking of Orama. He was a POW in Stalag 13. I'm happy to share any information I have, and very interested to hear from any survivors, etc. The website contains a picture of the camp ID of Tom Williams, a steward on Orama. I have my father's camp ID. He was also a steward. I believe Tom Williams was in correspondence with my late mother.

Richard Little



Asst.Stew. P. J. OBrien SS. Orama




Gnr. George Phillips 457 Light Battery Royal Artillery

I worked in the Coop on the provision counter which meant I dealt with eggs, bacon, cheese, butter etc. My girlfriend worked in Milliners hat shop a few doors down. I was called up in June 1942, and was sent for basic training in Scotland ó teaching me my right foot from my left foot. I was there for about six weeks. I went to an artillery training regiment to learn the art of Gunnery. Having failed a course on surveying I was sent potato picking in Lincolnshire because of the lack of farmworkers. Living on a farm in a barn was far better than army life ó marching, drills, guard duty, the food!

I was transferred to Woolwich for several weeks prior to Embarkation. This was primarily to prepare me for wherever we were to be stationed abroad. This was handy for me as it meant that I could make occasional trips home to Sidcup. I was then given Embarkation leave which included Christmas. After Christmas I reported back. I was sent up to Liverpool on the train where we were put on a troop ship. We were given a code which was printed on our kitbag ó sometimes this was changed the next day to confuse us and the enemy. They still didnít tell us where we going. Eventually we boarded the boat at Liverpool and went out somewhere into the Atlantic. This was at times nerve racking because of the Atlantic war. The troop ships were converted lines ó ours was the SS Orama.

We were probably at Sea for ten days to a fortnight ó we didnít go direct to Algiers. I was not part of a unit at this time. I was an individual soldier being sent to a transit camp where they decided who went where. You would just be sent off in a lorry to your new unit. I became part of the 457 Light Battery RA. I had been trained on twenty-five pounder guns, but when I arrived I found that we were using Howitzer guns ó firing twenty pound shells. They also fired in a different way to the guns I had been used too ó they were actually more effective because they had a higher trajectory. In the 1920ís they were used on the North West frontier of India when our army was somewhat more prominent. At this point they could be dismantled and carried by Mules. These guns had been modified and mechanised so that they could be pulled along by quads which were smaller army trucks. They were the same kind of size as a quad bike but were totally encased ó very much like the four wheel driveís we have today.

We pushed east across the North of Africa and eventually met the 8th Army coming the other way at Bizerta and Tunis. When Sicily was invaded we transferred there for a while before returning to North Africa. The powers that be recognised the problems of Italy with the hilly geography and decided to return the unit to itís original role of mountain warfare. Because of this we had to revert to using Mules to pull the guns. This meant that we had to completely retrain ó learning how to deal with Mules, Polish saddles, learn how to harness, learning the drill for mounting the gun on the Mule. This was sometimes funny as the Mule would kick someone ó sometimes it was a bit of circus or cowboy rodeo! Eventually we got to a point where we were sent on to find and engage a front. But the front was continually moving North so we walked some way before we actually met the enemy at Perugia. This was sometimes in awful conditions. When we were travelling it was always really hot ó but when we came into combat in the hills it was always raining and cold. The daily march was always part of the exercise ó we had to attend to the mules, clean saddles, clean and assemble the gun, etc.. If there were was anytime left there was sometimes a meal waiting for us. It did mean that we were extremely tired all the time. We would also have to go on guard duty. Around this time, Italy capitulated and this meant that their troops could take a non-combatant role. Their troops (called Alpinis) wore hats which resembled the kind of hat worn by Robin Hood. They came to a peak at the front and had a plume on the side. They then took over the role of looking after the Mules. Once we would strike our position, they would take the mules off round the hill to a safe place until required when we moved on, usually during the middle of the night. Quite a few of them deserted because they were in their own country. They would just disappear overnight. During this time we had been joined by the 456 battery and formed a 479 battery making the seventh mountain regiment RA. Supplies were scarce and they had to be transferred up into the hills overnight in difficult conditions. We actually lived on Chestnuts at one point as the rivers were swollen so much that no supplies could get through.

I had become very ill, and went sick and was transferred to a casualty clearing station. I was then transferred further back to a monastry in Assisi for treatment. These days itís called battle fatigue ó but we didnít know that then. I was regarded from A1 to B2 ó this meant the end of my days of action. I was eventually transferred into an office based job in Naples where life was obviously more enjoyable. But that was the last I saw of any of my friends. I wasnít allowed to go back to say goodbye. I finished up in the Army broadcasting unit. I came home for a month got married. On the last day of the war I was flown to Austria where a group of us became a re-patriation unit for our prisoners of war. I was de-mobbed in 1947 from Richmond Park and returned to my job behind the counter at the Coop.




Harry Little

My father, Harry Little, survived the sinking of SS Orama. He was a POW in Stalag 13.

R Little



Percy George Burgess SS Orama

Percy Burgess is believed to be one of the 280 survivors of the 'Orama' which was sunk June, 1940. I would like to hear from anyone who has knowledge of him.

Margo Gould







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