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Harper

Meaning of "HMT" or "HMAT"

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Harper

This afternoon I have been researching HMT (also shown as HMAT) Benalla A24 on which one of the family returned to Australia in April 1917.

During my digging I have found references to "His Majesty's Transport" and "Hired Military Transport" with some having the additional Australian inserted.

Which of these is correct?  Or did the designation change and both are correct?

Thanks

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horatio2

'Hired Military'. Not 'His Majesty's' because they were not commissioned ships. They were just rented from the shipping companies that owned them.

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Harper

That makes sense.

Thank you.

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WhiteStarLine
17 hours ago, Harper said:

This afternoon I have been researching HMT (also shown as HMAT) Benalla A24 on which one of the family returned to Australia in April 1917.

Apropos of the Benalla, in 2011 I casually mentioned to the person at the next desk that I was researching my grandfather's WW1 service history.  His grandfather was Third Officer of the Watch and trooped with the Benalla from 1914 onwards.  For three weeks I borrowed a package from him consisting of the mint condition convoy orders for Convoy 1 and a book with his daily noon readings of latitude, longitude, current, wind speed etc.  His grandson still had his sextant.

 

As the Benalla accompanied the Ascanius in Convoy 31, thanks to this lucky find I could plot my grandfather's exact position every day from Melbourne to Plymouth.  Amazing what is still out there - here is an extract:
 

image.png.c886fc23e527aac100163bf5fdda05fe.png

 

Mark's link is a good find.  Thanks.

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dabtoe

HMT H.M. Trawler

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MKC

Interesting discussion. So I put the question to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). 

 

According to the reply I just received from the Royal Australian Navy's Seapower Centre (aka Navy Historical Section):

 

HMAT – His/Her Majesty’s Australian Transport

HMT – His/Her Majesty’s Transport

HMAHS – His/Her Majesty’s Australian Hospital Ship

HMHS – His/Her Majesty’s Hospital Ship

 

It seems to me that 'Hired Military Australian Transport' is a poor construction from an English language perspective, it would more likely be 'Australian Hired Military Transport' or 'Hired Military Transport - Australian'. Looking at the official history and the 'AIF Sea Transport' publications the term is not used at all (unless I missed it somewhere?), but is used consistently in the embarkation nominal rolls, AIF voyage reports, and correspondence etc throughout the First and Second World Wars. 

 

I've also looked been back through archival files of the period looking for the application of the abbreviation, and HMAT appears to be reserved for ships requisitioned and taken over by the Commonwealth (and issued with a code letter/number combination), whereas ships carrying troops on commercial voyages were simply referred to by their usual name, sometimes prefixed with RMS, or SS or TSS, whichever was appropriate and which we all know are standard terms. 

 

The term HMT or HMAT doesn't make it into the more modern Australian Defence terminology book (such as JSP(AS)101) but HMT is defined in Scott's 1982 Dictionary of Military Abbreviations as 'His/Her Majesty's Transport' or 'His/Her Majesty's Troopship'.

 

I know this runs contrary to the deductions given in a previous post, but can only present here what I see in archival files and publications, and have been informed of by the RAN history people. 

 

Is there an official source for the term 'Hired Military Australian Transport' as a definition, such as an equivalent of JSP(AS) 101 or an RN dictionary of abbreviations or similar? I'd certainly like to nail this one down if possible.

 

Harper: who was your relative, please?  The Benalla voyage from Plymouth departed 13 February 1917 and arrived in Sydney on 10 April (but the arrival port is inconsistently given in personnel files, with some stating Adelaide or Melbourne on 10 April, too). Most returnees aboard were classed as MU with various wounds, injuries or diseases that rendered no longer fit for service.     

 

Regards

 

Mike   

 

 

 

 

Edited by MKC

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Harper

Thanks for the "clarification" of the HMT question.

It was one of my wife's "great uncles",  Lieutenant Colonel Wilfred Wannostrocht Giblin   who came back on HMT Benalla.  Although he was returning as being medically unfit, he still served as a medical officer on board.

See his record of medals sheet on the Evidence tab of the IWM record.

https://livesofthefirstworldwar.org/lifestory/7473308#timeline

This shows an arrival date of 10.4.17 but not the port.

Other members of the family returned in 1918 in HMT Malta, famous for an incredible  set of tiles by William de Morgan, and another in 1919 on HMT Madras, in which she collected some wonderful contributions to her autograph book.

Harper

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MKC

Hello Harper,

 

Thanks for the name. He has an interesting personnel file which can be viewed here: https://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNRetrieve/Interface/ViewImage.aspx?B=5029594  

If that times out, use the NAA's Recordsearch advanced search facility and put 5029594 into the Barcode line, several entries down.

 

His file just adds to the confusion about the port he arrived at on 10 April: his file states '6MD' which is Tasmania, ie he disembarked at Hobart, but other files, as I said, place the Benalla at Melbourne and Sydney on the same date, so I'll have to do some hunting to narrow down the actual ports and dates.  It was not unusual for a ship to discharge at one port, and the interstate personnel proceed overland to their own districts. In the case of Tasmania, disembarking in Melbourne was often the case, then catching a local steamer to Hobart. He was a Temporary Colonel while assigned in the UK, with his substantive rank being Lt Col. 

 

His MU status was due to heart problems. It was quite usual for MOs to be listed as 'on duty' for return voyages despite being classed MU.(Unless they were debilitated, of course).

 

I'll look up those other voyages later today.

 

Regards

 

Mike

 

 

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Harper

A few years ago I found reports of the return of HMT Madras in the microfilms of the Sydney newspapers in the Mitchell Library.  Today they might be on Trove.

Of course that was 1919, but in 1917 censorship might have prevented such reports in newspapers.

Thanks

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MKC

D17 Malta made two trooping voyages to Australia as far as I can tell: the first in 1918 from the UK (31/7/1918 to 28/9/1918), the second from Egypt in 1919 (3/7/1919 to 10/8/1919).

 

Madras made only the one trooping voyage to Australia, from Egypt in 1919 (28/6/1919 to 3/8/1919).   

 

Troopship voyages went generally unreported during the course of the war, but commercial voyages, with or without troops, were routinely reported in the Shipping Reports in major newspapers in Australia throughout the war - there are many available via Trove. It seems odd to me that such reporting, which often included ports of call and destinations, would be continued during wartime, as these would likely be a valuable intelligence resource, but I suppose communicating the information out of Australia at that time would be the difficulty.

 

Mike 

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stevebecker

Mate,

 

Most files also show a telegram was sent, so families could be waiting for the returned soldier.

 

As The families could claim a free travel from the Govt to meet the soldier

 

As you say what a trove for a German agent if used right, but other then a Raider and mines, not so much in our waters during the war.

 

S.B

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MKC

That's true, Steve, and in the case of Matunga's loss, it was the wireless messages she was sending that apparently gave Wolf all the information needed, not the newspaper reporting of her departure.

 

Mike

Edited by MKC

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frev
On 30/01/2019 at 02:34, MKC said:

His file just adds to the confusion about the port he arrived at on 10 April: his file states '6MD' which is Tasmania, ie he disembarked at Hobart, but other files, as I said, place the Benalla at Melbourne and Sydney on the same date, so I'll have to do some hunting to narrow down the actual ports and dates.  It was not unusual for a ship to discharge at one port, and the interstate personnel proceed overland to their own districts. In the case of Tasmania, disembarking in Melbourne was often the case, then catching a local steamer to Hobart.

 

 

It seems the Benalla didn't disembark soldiers in Hobart after all - and this is one of those cases where the service record lets us down!
 

The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 14 Apr 1917 (p.38):

HOBART NOTES

Mrs Wilfred Giblin has gone to Melbourne to meet Colonel Giblin, C.B., who will be returning home shortly.

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/140187318

 

 

The North Western Advocate and………..(Tas), Wed 18 Apr 1917 (p.3):

35 ARRIVE AT LAUNCESTON

LAUNCESTON, Tuesday – Another party of 35 soldiers returned to Launceston by the Rotomahana to-day, prominent among them being Lieut-Col W.W. Giblin, of Hobart, ………………..

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/64767331

 

Daily Post (Hobart, Tas), Thur 19 Apr 1917 (p.3):

COLONEL GIBLIN’S RETURN

………………………….

Colonel (Dr) W.W. Giblin, A.A.M.C., C.B., of 142 Macquarie street, Hobart, returned to his home on Tuesday night…………………………..

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/191177449

 

 

[Henry DEARDS (9336) RTA on Benalla – and arrived back in Stawell, Vic, on Tuesday night of the 10/4/1917]

 

 

The Age (Melb, Vic), Sat 7 Apr 1917 (p.10):

RETURNING SOLDIERS

Two more ships with wounded and invalid soldiers will disembark on Tuesday next, at 9 and 11 a.m. respectively.  ………………………

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/154981833

 

The Age (Melb, Vic), Wed 11 Apr 1917 (p.7):

HOME AGAIN

By far the largest contingent of wounded soldiers which has so far returned to Victoria from the front arrived in Melbourne yesterday.  ……………… They travelled back in two parties, reaching Melbourne simultaneously.  ………………………….

The inter-State soldiers who reached Melbourne yesterday with the Victorian invalids were all found accommodation overnight at the Red Cross Rest Home at Wirth’s Park.  They will be conveyed to their respective districts to-day, ………………………… and the Tasmanians taking ship for Launceston.

……………………………………………..

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/154985778

 

It appears that the Giblins may have stayed in Melbourne for a few extra days...

Cheers, Frev

 

PS: I totally agree with "His/Her Majesty's Australian Transport" - I have never seen it written any other way...

 

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