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nhclark

HMT Ulua

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nhclark

I wonder whether anyone can help me with the SS Ulua, aka HMT Ulua, built in 1917 for the United Fruit Company but on completion immediately requisitioned by the British Government for military purposes.

I have read that she was used as a troopship. I have looked at a number of passenger/crew lists for her arrivals in New York; these show her as "His Majesty's Transport" but the passenger lists don't seem to included troops - perhaps these were listed separately?

I have a crew list for July 1919 (sailor of interest is Frank Watcham of Brightlingsea) when she arrived in New York "On His Majesty's Service" but the passengers appear to me almost all black British subjects and the significance of this voyage escapes me.

I have also read that the Ulua was sent to evacuate certain troops from Murmansk in October 1919.

Could anyone help me, please, with any material on the war-time activities of the Ulua? I would be particularly interested in any crew list for the Murmansk voyage.

Thank you,

Noel

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spithead

Noel

Some information here from the 'The Ship List'

ULUA / OCTANS 1917

"Built as a passenger ship for the United Fruit Co. by Workman Clarke & Co, Belfast, she was completed in 1917 and immediately requisitioned as a British troopship. She carried a total of 728 officers and 15,344 troops on military voyages and served primarily transporting men and materials from the USA and Canada to Britain, France and even Russia. An interesting contingent of passengers were Chinese railway workers sent to France to rebuild destroyed railway lines. She also helped to repatriate American troops from Europe and in 1919 was sent to Murmansk to return the Allied General Staff after the end of the British involvement in the Russian Civil War. After Oct.1919 she was reconditioned as a passenger ship, registered at Glasgow under the management of Clarke & Service and left Belfast in Apr.1920 under charter to the Anchor Line for New York where she started Caribbean voyages. Officially owned by Unifruitco (a British flagged subsidiary of United Fruit Co), she was transferred to the parent company, under the US flag in Feb.1929. Requisitioned by the US Navy in 1942 and renamed USS OCTANS until 1946 when she was returned to the War Shipping Administration. She was scrapped in 1947." ["Going Bananas" 100 years of American Fruit ships in the Caribbean by Mark H. Goldberg, ISBN 1-879180-01-8 (contains photo of the ship)]

Regards John

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per ardua per mare per terram

I doubt passanger lists included the troops, they were for different departments.

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Guest Curly753

Hi Noel

I know that at least on 'passenger' on the SS Ulua was a soldier who was returning to the USA. My great uncle George Moore, told me he was in the army in Aldershot about 1918. I know he was a black British subject living in Boston Massachusetts from 1912. I have not been able to find him in British army records but there is a USA draft record which I think is him. I presume the USA army sent him, but apparently they distroyed all the army records ....Was this such dangerous information?!! I think the war ended before he was sent to the front, but would he have been segregated into a black non combat unit?

I have not so far found exactly how he got to England. Were to USA trying to cover up their use of non white, and what is more non American personnel?

Thanks

Shirley

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