SS Vaderland (1900)

HMT Southland after torpedo hit in September 1915
  • 1900: Vaderland
  • 1915: Southland
Owner: International Navigation Company
Port of registry:
Ordered: July 1899
Yard number: 341
Launched: 12 July 1900
Maiden voyage: Antwerp – Southampton – New York, 8 December 1900
Fate: Sunk on 4 June 1917 by U-70
General characteristics
Class and type: ocean liner
Tonnage: 11,899 GRT
Length: 560 ft 10 in (170.94 m)
Beam: 60 ft 2 in (18.34 m)
Speed: 15 knots (28 km/h)
  • Passengers:
  • 342 first class
  • 194 second class
  • 626 third class
Crew: 121
Notes: two funnels, four masts

SS Vaderland was an ocean liner launched in July 1900 for the Red Star Line service between Antwerp and New York. During her passenger career, the ship initially sailed under British registry, but was re-registered in Antwerp in 1903. Vaderland was a sister ship to Zeeland and a near sister ship to Kroonland and Finland.

After the beginning of the First World War, Vaderland was re-registered in Liverpool and converted to a troopship, ferrying troops of the Canadian Expeditionary Force from Halifax to Liverpool. While under the operation of White Star–Dominion in 1915, she was renamed Southland to avoid the German-sounding Vaderland.

In September 1915, Southland was torpedoed in the Aegean Sea by German submarine UB-14 with the loss of 40 men. The ship was beached, repaired, and returned to service in August 1916. While in service between the United Kingdom and Canada in April 1917, Southland was torpedoed a second time, this time by U-70; she was sunk off the coast of Ireland with the loss of four lives.

Early career

In July 1899, the Red Star Line announced plans for the construction of four large steamers. Two ships, Vaderland and Zeeland at John Brown & Company of Clydebank in Scotland, and two others, Kroonland and Finland, were to be built at William Cramp and Sons in Philadelphia.[1] Owned by American Line and managed by International Navigation Co. Ltd. London, she was 11,899 gross tons, and after modification provided accommodation for 342 1st class, 194 2nd class and 626 3rd class passengers.

Launched on 12 July 1900, Vaderland began her maiden voyage on 8 December 1900 when she left Antwerp for Southampton and New York. She was chartered to the American Line and made three Southampton – Cherbourg – New York roundtrip voyages between 11 December 1901 and 8 April 1902. On 16 May 1903 she commenced Antwerp – New York service under the Belgian flag, starting her last on 25 December 1914. On 22 September 1914 she commenced Liverpool – New York sailings under the British flag and in December was chartered to White Star–Dominion for three Liverpool - Halifax - Portland sailings. In 1915 she was requisitioned as a troopship. In 1915 she was renamed Southland as the Dutch word vaderland was considered too similar to the German Vaterland

Forty-two members of the 1912 United States Olympic Team returned from Stockholm to New York aboard the Vaderland on July 31, 1912.[2]

Mediterranean and first torpedo attack

The Southland was later used in the Mediterranean to carry troops of the 6th Essex regiment and two companies of l/7th Essex, transported from Devonport to Gallipoli from 4 July 1915 to 11 August 1915,[3] and later from Alexandria, the Australian 21st Battalion with some troops from the Australian 23rd Battalion, General Legge and staff and 2nd Division Signals Company.[4] During its sail from Egypt to Gallipoli on the 2 September 1915 at 9:45am it was torpedoed at right forward[5] by the German submarine UB-14 30 nautical miles (56 km) from Lemnos in the Aegean Sea. The ship did not sink immediately, and was eventually beached on Lemnos, and all but 40 of 1400 men were able to leave in lifeboats and were picked up by other transports and HT Neuralia, although mostly by HMS Ben-my-Chree by about midday though some troops spent up to 4 hours in the water. During the subsequent rescue operations Ben-my-Chree took on board 649 troops and 121 crew from 21 boats and rafts and provided medical attention as required until all were transferred to the troopship SS Transylvania in Mudros harbour. Southland eventually limped back to Mudros assisted by HMS Racoon and was repaired.

The sinking was reported as

"A Splendid story is told of the sinking of the transport Southland in the Mediterranean Sea. When the torpedo struck the vessel reeled and the order was given to abandon the ship. There was never a cry or sign of fear. The Australian soldiers merely came briskly on deck singing 'Australia Will Be There.'

The troops all went to their stations and lowered the boats in an orderly manner. The subalterns searched the interior of the ship for wounded and finally came on deck to find only the general staff on board. They helped to lower the last boats and got into a half swamped one themselves. Fourteen persons were killed by the explosion and twenty two were drowned including Brigadier General Linton."[6][7]

A record of this event is recorded in the war diary of Captain Herbert Franklin Curnow:

"Thursday 2 September

Up 6am. Drew 120 rounds of ammunition and iron and landing rations. Pulled into Lemnos and dropped anchor about 10am. The Military Landing Officer came on board, got my disembarkation return and meantime informed us that the Southland having on board 2 Aus Div H.Q 6th Inf Bge HQ., 21 Bt 1 Coy 23rd Btn. some A.S.C. A.M.C. & Signalling details had been torpedoed behind us. Later ascertained about 25 lives lost including Col Linton, Brigadier. Turned in soon after dinner."

However, a member of Australian unit reported one crew shot for behaving improperly.[5] The remaining men and ship's crew were able to get to the Allied vessels later the same day. HMT Southland carried James Martin whose experiences, and those of his friend Cecil Hogan, were described in a book by Anthony Hill.

The sinking was depicted in the painting Sinking of the Southland[8] by Fred Leist, who was appointed an official war artist in September 1917, and attached to the 5th Division AIF.

North Atlantic and second torpedo attack

Southland was repaired and returned to White Star–Dominion for Liverpool–QuebecMontreal service in August 1916, but on 4 June 1917 was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine SM U-70 while 140 nautical miles (260 km) northwest of Tory Island off the Irish coast at position (56°10′N 12°14′W / 56.167°N 12.233°W / 56.167; -12.233Coordinates: 56°10′N 12°14′W / 56.167°N 12.233°W / 56.167; -12.233) with the loss of 4 lives.[9][10]


  1. Bonsor, p. 840.
  2. "Olympic Athletes Welcomed Home: Forty-two of the Victorious American Team Arrive on the Vaderland" (PDF). The New York Times. New York. August 1, 1912. Retrieved April 29, 2012.
  3. Burrows, p.61.
  4. , Royal Australian Corps of Signals, History
  5. 1 2 , Matthews
  6. London Gazette, Sinking of the Southland, a story of heroism, 'Gazette's' Special Service, London, Nov. 16
  7. the commander of the 6th Brigade, Colonel R. Linton
  8. AWM Collection Record: ART09829 Sinking of the Southland
  9. Bonsor, p. 855.
  10. Shipping Times site


Further reading

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