Lost Steamship Omrah Victim Of War
By James Donahue
The long list of names of fine steamships in service as troop carriers during the First World War
included the Omrah, a vessel that today remains nearly forgotten in the historical record.
Built by the Fairfield Shipbuilders in Glasgow in 1899, the Omrah was a 480-foot-long vessel with
a single funnel, two masts and twin screws. She could reach a speed of 18 knots and was designed to carry 350 first and second
class and up to 500 third-class passengers.
Her owners, the Orient Steam Navigation Company, used it on regular trips between London and Sydney,
Australia through November, 1916. After this it was seized by the Australian Commonwealth for war duty and converted for use
as a troop transport.
Because of the secrecy of war movements, little is known about Omrah’s activities, although
there are records that indicate it continued to make runs between England and Australia, only instead of regular civilian
passengers, she carried military personnel and probably supplies.
The Omrah was torpedoed and sunk off the coast of Sardinia on May 12, 1918. She was steaming from
Marseilles in a convoy with six other transports when sunk. It was said that all aboard the ship escaped without loss of life.