Although there have been a number of ships named Marmora, the name was only used once by P&O.
Marmora was the third of 10 'M Class' P&O passenger ships to be built before the start of WW1. The previous two had been built by Caird & Co. but this time it was the turn of Harland & Wolff. She was named after the Sea of Marmora (or Marmara) which lies between Gallipoli and Istanbul in Turkey.
Marmora served with P & O as a passenger liner until being requisitioned by the Admiralty in 1914. After conversion to an Armed Merchant Cruiser, she served as HMS Marmora and was sunk by German submarine UB-64 off the south coast of Ireland in 1918.
|Type||Cargo/Passenger Ship (Ref)|
|Original Owners and Managers||The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation|
|Country First Registered||UK|
|Shipbuilder||Harland & Wolff Ltd|
|Country where built||UK|
|Call Sign||Signal letters VJDS|
|Classification Society||Lloyd's Register|
|Breadth or Beam||60.3 Ft|
|Draught||26 Ft 5.5"|
|Engine Type||Quadruple-expansion Steam Engine|
|Engine Details||2 engines each with cylnders of bore 29", 42", 60", 85" and stroke 54"|
|Engine Builder||Harland & Wolff Ltd|
|Engine Builder Works||Belfast|
|Engine Builder Country||UK|
|Boiler Details||5 double-ended and 2 single-ended boilers operating at 215 psi|
|Propulsion Type||Twin Screw|
|Cost of Vessel||£344,084|
|Passengers||377 first class, 187 second class|
|Cargo Capacity||233,320 Cu. Ft. inc 84,205 insulated|
- 2 decks and spar deck
- Fitted with refrigeration machinery
- Fitted with electric light
The launch of Marmora was reported in the Northern Whig newspaper on 10 April 1903.
Ship construction was always a dangerous business before better health and safety measures were put in place and one unfortunate driller met his death during the construction of Marmora as reported in the Irish News and Belfast Morning News on 20 May 1903.
The high standard of finish of the public rooms, especially the ornate woodwork, is shown on the photos below.
Marmora was registered at Belfast on 13 November 1903 and commenced trials after which she was handed over to P&O.
|9 Mar 1903||Launched|
|20 Nov 1903||Completed|
|1 Jan 1904||Maiden voyage to India|
|3 Aug 1914||Hired by the UK Admiralty for use as an Armed Merchant Cruiser (AMC)|
|Nov 1916||Requisitioned by the UK Admiralty - this action was contested by the company|
|Feb 1917||Ownership returned to P&O but vessel continued to be used for war duties|
|23 Jul 1918||Torpedoed and sunk by UB 64|
Marmora arrived at Tilbury Docks in early December 1903 and on 18th and 19th December P&O opened her to visitors for a small admission charge to raise money for the Passmore Edwards District Cottage Hospital at Tilbury.
On 1 December 1903, P&O placed advertisements in several newspapers including the Daily News for Marmora's forthcoming maiden voyage to India on 1 January 1904.
As advertised, Marmora left Tilbury on 1 January 1904 bound for Bombay and calling at Marseilles. The journey to Australia required bunker stops at Marseilles, Port Said, Aden, Columbo, Fremantle and Sydney; these ships consumed about 9,000 tons of coal during each round trip to Australia. After her maiden voyage Marmora undertook scheduled trips to Australia until the outbreak of WW1.
In October 1907 Marmora repatriated survivors from cargo vessel Mervinian which had foundered in the Bay of Biscay in heavy weather causing the cargo to shift. Six people had drowned and the survivors had been in an open boat for a week before being picked up by Greek vessel Cristofore Vagliano and taken to Gibraltar.
Naval-History.net has logs of the voyages of HMS Marmora from which a lot of this information is derived. 
The Admiralty hired Marmora on 3 August 1914 - the day before the UK declared war on Germany. She was commissioned as an Armed Merchant Cruiser (AMC) on 10 August 1914 and fitted with eight 4.7" guns. Work was done to convert her to an AMC at a yard in London - presumably immediately after commissioning as HMS Marmora. Given the speed this happened the work must have been planned some time ahead of commissioning.
HMS Marmora was attached to the Cape Verde division of the Tenth Cruiser Squadron. As an AMC her complement and other features was as below: 
- 32 Officers
- 133 Seamen
- 38 Marines
- 118 Engine Room team
- 35 Non-executive ratings
- 1 six-oared gig - 27 Ft
- 2 five-oared whalers - 24 Ft
- 1 steam launch
- 5 eight-oared seamless steel lifeboats - 28.3 Ft
- 3 eight-oared carvel built lifeboats - 28 Ft
HMS Marmora set off for Las Palmas on 18 August 1914 and joined the task of intercepting and checking shipping on the route between Madiera and St Vincent in the West Indies. Wasting no time she intercepted the German three-masted auxiliary motor schooner Rhineland on 4 September 1914, took the crew prisoner and sunk the vessel with 11 rounds of gunfire. HMS Marmora spent much of the time through to 1917 patrolling the area between Freetown, the Cape Verde Islands, the Canary Islands, Gibraltar and the Caribbean.
On 23 June 1916 HMS Marmora arrived at Liverpool for a refit and update of her armaments. In November 1916 the government compulsorily purchased the vessel but, as with Moldavia, this was challenged by P&O and ownership reverted. There was another refit at Devonport in February 1917 after which HMS Marmora was assigned to escorting convoys between South Africa and South America and the UK. At some point she had been fitted with depth charge launchers as these were used against a submarine in 14 November 1917. She escorted her last Atlantic convoy from Rio de Janeiro to the UK
On 18 July 1918 HMS Marmora was instructed to leave Cardiff where she was docked and proceed to Dakar to escort convoy HD45 home to the UK. Early on 23 July and in the company of three other vessels a lookout spotted the tracks of two torpedoes but there was not time to take evasive action and both struck the ship with devastating effect. Within half an hour HMS Marmora was clearly beyond hope and Captain Woodward gave the order to abandon ship. The survivors were picked up by the accompanying ships, put aboard destroyer P67, and taken ashore at Milford Haven. The ship had been torpedoed by German submarine UB 64 captained by Otto von Schrader who during the course of WW1 sank 57 ships, damaged 6 more and took one as a prize.
Roll of Honour
The table below derived from data held by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission provides details of those that lost their lives. Most of them were firemen or trimmers. Edward Gallagher (not Galloway as in the press cutting) rescued several of his colleagues but lost his life trying to rescue another.
|Grave Ref.||Additional Information|
|David James||Aston||19||23/07/1918||Fireman||Mercantile Marine Reserve||Plymouth Naval Memorial||30||Son of Samuel and Lucy Jane Aston of 13 Pera Rd. Taibach Port Talbot.|
|R||Brazier||18||15/02/1919||Trimmer||Mercantile Marine Reserve||Liverpool (Ford) Roman Catholic Cemetery||Screen Wall (SJ. 368).||Son of John Brazier of 83 Latimer St. Liverpool.|
|Arthur George||Daltrey||19||23/07/1918||Able Seaman||Royal Navy||Chatham Naval Memorial||28||Son of Mr. and Mrs. John Daltrey of 47 Copperfield Rd. Mile End London.|
|Thomas||Fitzgerald||23/07/1918||Fireman||Mercantile Marine Reserve||Plymouth Naval Memorial||30||Husband of Mrs. E. Fitzgerald of 11 Bridge St. Swansea.|
|Edward||Gallagher||26||23/07/1918||Leading Fireman||Mercantile Marine Reserve||Plymouth Naval Memorial||30||Son of James and Sophia Gallagher of 27 Beersbridge Rd. Belfast; husband of Nancy H. Gallagher of 2 Whitewell Rd. Belfast.|
|Edward||Gammidge||20||23/07/1918||Able Seaman||Royal Navy||Chatham Naval Memorial||28||Son of Edward and Kate Gammidge of 18 Cleveland Place Infirmary Rd. Sheffield.|
|Alber A||Hedley||16||23/07/1918||Trimmer||Mercantile Marine Reserve||Plymouth Naval Memorial||31||Son of James and Margery Hedley of 33 Villiers St. Sunderland.|
|Albert James||Lindway||23/07/1918||Trimmer||Mercantile Marine Reserve||Plymouth Naval Memorial||31|
|Arthur||Morris||24||23/07/1918||Fireman||Mercantile Marine Reserve||Plymouth Naval Memorial||31||Son of John and Gwenllian Morris of 26 Church St. Briton Ferry Glam.|
|Alfred||Sargent||44||17/11/1916||Fireman||Mercantile Marine Reserve||Plymouth Naval Memorial||20||Son of Mark Richard and Sarah Ann Sargent of Woolwich London.|
|Edward||Steward||23/07/1918||Fireman||Mercantile Marine Reserve||Plymouth Naval Memorial||31|