This site is dedicated to the story and stories surrounding the life, times and loss of the  Australian steamship SS Wimmera of the Huddart Parker Line which operated in Australian and New Zealand waters between 1904 and 1918.

The site and pages within it are in progress – as time and circumstances permit. However, at whatever stage you visit I’m sure there will be something new or revised and of interest for you in your search for information about the Wimmera, her life and times – Ralph

During the Great War of 1914-1918, six thousand four hundred and seventy one British, Allied and neutral merchant navy vessels were sunk due to acts of war . The vast majority of them were sunk in Northern Hemisphere waters, in the sea-lanes of Europe, the Mediterranean, and in the North Atlantic between the ports of the United Kingdom and North America. 823 of those ships met their fate due to mines. The number of merchant seamen and men, women and children passengers who lost their lives aboard British Merchant ships is recorded as 17322.

Thousands of miles from the northern battlefields on land and ocean the young nations of Australia and New Zealand were relatively free from the direct threat of war, and the tyranny of distance could almost be counted as a blessing. The exploits of the first HMAS Sydney and its engagement with and ultimate destruction of the German cruiser Emden in the Cocos Keeling Islands off the Northwest coast of Western Australia in 1915 was an early encounter and probably the closest to Australia that most Australians might expect the war to come. Despite the call to arms, and shortages that the war brought about, and the propaganda, most Australians could expect to carry on their normal lives without a direct threat or fear from attack in their own backyard – much as we do today.

The “EMDEN” sunk by the “SYDNEY”
Postcard. Author’s Collection.

Nevertheless, in mid-1917, a converted liner from the German Hansa Line, the Wachtfels, now known as the S.M.S. Wolf, arrived in Southern waters to inflict both direct and indirect damage to our shipping. Over a course of weeks this single vessel laid hundreds of mines and captured and sank several vessels and although the Wolf safely returned to Northern waters and to a hero’s welcome her presence off the coasts of Australia and New Zealand would be felt into the future.

© Ralph L. Sanderson 2009-2021

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