John Lawrance Green and Gertrude Pearce Landsborough, passengers on SS Oronsay 1

September 24, 2010

Dear Mac 

I hope you just may be able to help me. In researching the SS Oronsay 1 (the ship that was lost during the war) I came across an interesting exchange of emails between yourself and some one who was trying to locate their father who had travelled on the boat in 1930. It was interesting for me to see the map and I will now explain why and how you may be able to help me.

I lost my parents when I was young and although I knew they had originally met on a boat in the late thirties when they were both part of a teacher exchange programme to Australia and NZ (mother WA father NZ) I knew little of their trips, how they came to know each other etc until recently I made 2 separate discoveries. While clearing stuff from the loft I came across the letters my father wrote to his parents about his voyage to NZ in the Oronsay and his year in NZ and the journey home.

Then, from my cousin, I was sent an album of old letters, pictures, and momentos which had come through the family and were the letters that my mother had written back to her parents and sister about the same voyage and her year in Western Australia, and by coincidence (or not!) the journey back in the Monterey from Auckland in the months leading up to the war.

Interesting stuff! Now I am retired from teaching myself I have the opportunity to travel with my husband who is a writer and together we want to try and reconstruct their story by following in my parents footpaths, although we are cheating a little my picking up the thread in Sri Lanka thus missing the journey through the Med, Red Sea etc, as we are travelling by plane.

Anyway I wondered if you might be able to help me find a passenger list of the SS Oronsay...the only momento I have is a programme of the ship's variety concert Tuesday 11th Jan 1938. I want to find not only my parents names: John Lawrance Green and Gertrude Pearce Landsborough, but the names of some of the other teachers who are named in the letters. They were all part of some sort of commonwealth exchange programme that clearly took place for the year 1938.

I know your main research is around the war but if you could send me either any info or places where I might get info I'd be very grateful. We are very excited about our research and our first visit to the antipodes.

With Best Wishes,
Jenny Green.


No matter what tricks I have learned over the years in tracking people down on the internet, no matter which path I pursue, I am unable to come up with the Oronsay 1 passenger list for her journey to Australia with your Mother, and your father to NZ in 1938.

I have tried the Orient Line, migration from UK to both Western Australia and NZ, 1938. Immigration records for Western Australia and Auckland, NZ 1938, the history of Oronsay 1, exchange teacher records, but all to no avail.

Just no list is forthcoming, and I am very sorry I am powerless to assist you Jenny.

Here is a lovely file I turned up in my search. Can you imagine the Ugly Men's Association!?

Prime Minister's Department, 'Immigration Encouragement Arrangements on behalf of Immigrants. Fremantle Immigrants Home' [26 pages, 1922-23] This contains correspondence between H P Colebatch, Acting Premier of Western Australia, and James Mitchell, Premier, and the Prime Minister in relation to temporary extensions made to the Fremantle Immigrants Home by the Commonwealth during the period of its use as a hospital. Colebatch argued that the additional buildings should be retained and handed to the state free of charge for immigration work. Some of the buildings were handed over gratis, other buildings and plant were sold, most at 'break up value'. The file also contains correspondence with other parties interested in the buildings, for example, the Ugly Men's Association, a subsidiary of which was the New Settlers' League of Western Australia. A457, L400/1 

I hate being defeated in such a quest, should I have any success I will, of course contact you.

In one case, it took me a year to find a passenger list for the sailing ship Royal Charter which sailed from Melbourne to Liverpool in 1859, carrying a large quantity of Gold, mined in the Gold Rush, only to be wrecked on the coast of Wales just short of her destination. Very few survived and the person I was seeking Manus Boyle died that night.

But I digress.

20,043 gross tons, length 659ft x beam 75ft, two funnels,
two masts, twin screw, speed 19 knots. Accommodation for
1,836 passengers in two classes. Built 1925 by John Brown
Ltd, Clydebank for the Orient Steam Navigation Co., she
started her maiden voyage on 7th Feb.1925 when she left
London for Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. In Dec.1938 she
made one voyage extended to New Zealand ports, but then
reverted to regular sailings. In 1939 she was converted to
a troop transport and on 9th Oct.1942 was torpedoed and
sunk by the Italian submarine ARCHIMEDE in the Atlantic
about 500 miles SW from Freetown in position 04.29N 20.52W
while sailing on government service on voyage Capetown to
the UK via Freetown. She was carrying 50 RAF personnel, 20
Distressed British Seamen, 8 DEMS personnel, 1,200 tons of
copper and 3,000 tons of oranges. The Master, Capt. N.
Savage, 281 crew, 15 gunners, 25 RAF personnel, DBS and
DEMS were rescued by HMS BRILLIANT, landed at Freetown
where they transferred to the Union-Castle liner
CAERNARVON CASTLE and sailed on 15th Oct.1942 for Glasgow.
6 crew were lost. 37 crew, 1 gunner and 25 RAF personnel
were picked up by the Vichy French warship DUMONT
D'URVILLE and a French merchant ship and landed at Dakar
where they were taken prisoner.

Here is a postcard of SS Oronsay 1, it is always exciting following a trail of one's parents, especially as in your case you did not have the benefit of knowing them after your youth.

A picture of SS Monterey.

Best wishes,

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