Girish Mahajan (Editor)

HMT Awatea

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Name  TSS Awatea
Yard number  707
Commissioned  1937
Launched  July 1936
Ordered  1935
Laid down  25 February 1936
Construction started  25 February 1936
Builder  Vickers-Armstrongs
Reclassified  1939, as troopship from express liner and received the name HMT Awatea

HMT Awatea was a British troopship used in World War II, that was actually a converted Ocean Liner, TSS Awatea, built for the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand. Operating the trans-Tasman route between Sydney, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand. Commandered by the Royal Navy in 1940, It was used to transport Canadian troops to Hong Kong on 27 October 1941, arriving there on 16 November. In November 1942, she was ordered to deliver the No. 6. Commando brigade to North Africa, which she had some problems. Later on that day, she was sunk by airplanes after she delivered a heroic fight and delivered the last wave of specialized assault troops to the beach in Algeria.


Service as an Ocean Liner

The TSS Awatea (translation "Eye of the Dawn") was a crack express Ocean Liner operating between Australia and New Zealand from 1937 until 1940 when it was requisitioned by the Royal Navy for troop transport duties during World War Two.

Service in World War II

One of the Awatea's first tasks was to transport members of the "C" Force, a force created by the Canadian government to protect its interests in Hong Kong against a possible Japanese invasion. The Awatea and the HMCS Prince George picked up the troops in Vancouver on 27 October 1941, and dropped them off in Hong Kong on 16 November.

She was ordered to deliver the No. 6. Commando brigade to North Africa for Operation Torch on November 1942, to defeat the Vichy French forces. It completed its landing successfully, although the landing for the No. 6. Commando brigade had some major problems.

The first problem was the inexperience of the crew at launching landing craft, which caused the landing to be two hours off schedule and the last wave of troops arriving a 6:30 am, with most of the, landing off target for as much as several miles. As she was departing, an unknown number of aircraft started an attack. They bombed and strafed her, but her crew fought against the aircraft with anything they could find. Two torpedoes hit her port side and a dud bomb hit her deck, and when it got into the fire started by the torpedoes, the dud bomb exploded and the whole ship caught on fire. Several near-misses blasted apart most of the lid accommodations for first-class passengers, which at this point, the crew abandoned the ship, which was later sunk by the same aircraft. The admiral of her fleet said "she fought the battle of a battleship" as a tribute to her.


HMT Awatea Wikipedia

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