Wednesday 15 April 2015

Sinking of the S.S. Arcadian, 15th April 1917

On the anniversary of the Titanic disaster, it is appropriate to remember one of the Titanic survivors - Thomas Threlfall - who also survived the sinking of the HMT Arcadian five years later on 15th April 1917.

Threlfall noted that it was the "same date of the month that the Titanic went down, and I have come safely out of both affairs’. The story is included in the book  "Into the Danger Zone Sea Crossings of the First World War" by Tad Fitch and Michael Poirier, published by The History Press, Stroud, Gloucestershire, 2014.  For a review of the book, please see

The S.S. Arcadian was a steam powered passenger ship built in 1885 by Vickers, Sons and Maxim Limited of Barrow-in-Furthess (then in the County Palatine of Lancashire) and was run by the Pacific Steam Navigation Company as the S.S. Ortona out of Liverpool to Australia from 1885 until 1910.  In 1910, she was purchased by The Royal Mail Steam Packet Company Limited, based in London and her name was changed to the S.S.Arcadian.  I remember reading that it was considered unlucky to change the name of a ship.

The Arcadian was converted for use as a troop transport ship during the First World War and was in the Aegean Sea on her way from Salonkia to Alexandria with 1,335 troops when she was torpedoed with the loss of 279 lives - crew members as well as Army personnel.  1,058 of those aboard were saved perhaps because the ship had just had a boat drill.

David Marks has just informed me via Twitter that Sir Marc Armand Ruffer, pioneer of Palaeopathology, was one of those who died in the sinking of the S.S. Arcadian.  Many thanks David.


For information regarding the above-mentioned book, please see Facebook Page