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Personal Log of Arthur Read

The Orvieto was en-route to Australia when the First World War broke out, and upon her arrival was requisitioned by the Government of Australia for use as a troopship.

Carrying the General Staff and over 1,000 officers and men of the AIF (Australian Imperial Force), and at the head of a convoy of ships escorted by Royal Navy and Japanese cruisers, including HMAS Melbourne and HMAS Sydney, she sailed in October 1914 for England, calling at Colombo, Aden, Suez, Port Said and Alexandria. The troops she carried, although originally destined for Europe, were to be disembarked at Alexandria and sent into action in the Gallipoli campaign.

At Colombo the Orvieto took on board a number of prisoners from the German cruiser Emden which had been disabled and grounded by HMAS Sydney in an engagement near the Cocos Islands.

Arthur Read was a steward aboard the Orvieto during this voyage. This is the log which he kept, as transcribed and sent to me by his grandson Steve McArragher.

This is so far the largest of all readers' contributions to this site, and surely counts as the most interesting. I would like to express my appreciation to Steve for his work in typing up the diary and for giving me permission to feature it on this site.

Like the Diary of Alfred John Hotton, which was recorded during the very same voyage, it provides a personal insight into a significant episode of the Great War. Reading the two accounts alongside each other, I have no doubt it will be possible to spot real or apparent discrepancies. I have already spotted one such problem, which concerns the date of departure from Melbourne. According to Hotton's account, this took place on October 21st, while Arthur Read's log has October 20th. Since I have simply reproduced both documents as I received them, I (Peter Manchester) accept no responsibility for any such issues, although I may provide annotations where appropriate.

Photographs of the ship taken at Melbourne and Alexandria are also available.

R.M.S. Orvieto Voyage 13

Personal Log of Arthur Read

Diary of Voyage

Copyright © Steve McArragher


Begin reading Arthur Read's log..