The Royal Mail Ship Orvieto was a steamer of the Orient Line engaged in the passenger trade between England and Australia. During the Great War she was requisitioned for naval service, first as a troop ship, and then as an armed merchant cruiser and mine-layer. My grandfather Albert Manchester, R.N.R (1889-1935), a second mate in the merchant marine and a naval reserve sub-lieutenant, was an officer of the ship during this time. It is my belief that he served aboard Orvieto from 1914 all the way through to 1918, although the only hard evidence relates to the month of December 1916. I can recall some of the stories which my grandmother told me about him, which included an account of the taking on board of prisoners from the German cruiser Emden.
The names of many of the ship's officers were engraved on a wedding gift to my grandparents in 1916.
There is also a postcard sent by a passenger of the ship on the outbreak of the First World War, a letter written by another passenger in 1922, and a certificate of seamanship owned by a member of the crew.
On related pages you can also find the Orvieto in service as an Australian troopship in 1914, a fountain pen bearing the name of the ship RMS Orvieto, the bell and maker's plate of the SS Orvieto, and Alfred Slater, R.N., a 17-year old rating on H.M.S. Orvieto in 1917.
- Passenger Ships of the Orient Line by Neil McCart, published by P&O
- The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918, Volume I by C.E.W.Bean, published by Angus and Robertson, Sydney 1920
- The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918, Volume IX by A.W. Jose, published by Angus and Robertson, Sydney 1928
- History of The Great War, based on official documents, published by John Murray
- Origins, Orient and Oriana by Charles F Morris, published by Teredo Books Brighton, 1980 (ISBN 0903662078)
- The Last Corsair: the Story of the Emden by Dan van der Vat, published by Birlinn Limited, 2000 (ISBN 1841580619)
(Acknowledgements and thanks also to The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company and to Mr Ross Mallett for providing information.)