The Lusitania Resource > Related Ships > RMS Mauretania > Service for Her Country

Service for Her Country

Mauretania was at sea and on her way to New York on 4 August 1914, when Great Britain declared war on Germany.  The British Government requested the requisition of all three large Cunarders, LusitaniaMauretania, and Aquitaniaas armed merchant cruisers, but their huge size and fuel consumption meant that they were unsuited for that role.  They resumed civilian service on 11 August 1914, but the lack of traveler demand led to Mauretania being laid up on 26 August (with Aquitania as well), with only Lusitania serving passengers. After Lusitania’s sinking in May 1915, Mauretania was considered to fill in for the sunken sister on the North Atlantic trade, but the British Government wanted her to serve as a troopship for the Gallipoli campaign later that May.  Mauretania made several trips to Mudros Bay on the Greek Island of Lemnos, where the Allies had based their operations for the area.  A submarine attacked her, but she was able to avoid the torpedo due to her high speed and her crew’s effective seamanship. With mounting Allied casualties, at the end of August, Mauretania returned to Liverpool to be converted into a hospital ship.  Her grey paint was covered over with white paint and Red Cross insignias.  She left Liverpool on 21 October to assist with the evacuation of Gallipoli.  She continued to serve as a hospital ship with Aquitania and White Star’s Britannic until the completion of her last voyage on 25 January 1916. in late 1917 that shows her wearing a rather dark, subdued grey with black hull and funnels. Behind the Mauretania is the new Orient liner Ormonde, wearing an early curvilinear scheme of her own. The Mauretania would wear two schemes in total, each with different patterns on port and starboard. On 29 September 1916, the Canadian Government requisitioned Mauretania to carry Canadian troops. The Mauretania was partially repainted to a medium grey for this service. Through November, she made two voyages from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Liverpool, where the troops would then head to France.  After this service was completed, she was laid up on the Clyde until 1918.  The United States declared war on Germany in April 1917.  In October 1917, painter Norman Wilkinson's dazzle paint scheme, an abstract, camouflage color scheme, was applied to confuse the enemy.  Mauretania adopted this livery, although she was back in grey at the end of the year. In March 1918, Mauretania was called up once again, this time to bring American troops to Europe under the command of Captain Arthur Rostron.  Mauretania was back in dazzle camouflage and carried over 30,000 American troops before the Armistice on 11 November.  During this time, the Admiralty called Mauretania the HMS Tuberose, although Cunard never changed Mauretania's name. Near the end of the war, Mauretania was repainted in grey, a color scheme she remained in until being repainted in Cunard livery in 1919. Rostron helped bring over a ship full of American soldiers 2 days before the Armistice on 11 November.  These troops debarked, and 2 days later embarked on Mauretania again.  They were the first American soldiers to return home after the war.

About the Author