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Postcard of TSMV Manunda in Adelaide Steamship Co. livery (buff funnel with black band at top), c.1930
Postcard of TSMV Manunda in Adelaide Steamship Co. livery (buff funnel with black band at top), c.1930
Career (Australia)
Name: TSMV Manunda
Owner: Adelaide Steamship Company, Melbourne
Builder: William Beardmore and Company, Dalmuir
Yard number: 651
Launched: 27 November 1928
Completed: 16 April 1929
Acquired: 23 May 1929
In service: June 1929
Out of service: September 1939
In service: April 1948
Out of service: September 1956
Identification: Official number: 153933
Fate: Sold, October 1956
Career (Australia - 2nd Australian Imperial Force)
Name: AHS Manunda
Acquired: 25 May 1940
In service: 22 July 1940
Out of service: September 1946
Fate: Returned to owner, 1948
Career (Japan)
Name: Hakone Maru
Owner: Okadagumi Shipping Ltd., Japan
Acquired: October 1956
Fate: Broken up at Osaka, June 1957
General characteristics [1]
Type: Passenger/cargo ship
Tonnage: 9,115 GRT
5,300 NRT
Length: 430 ft (130 m)
Beam: 60 ft 2 in (18.34 m)
Depth: 35 ft 7 in (10.85 m)
Propulsion: Harland & Wolff oil-fired engines, 1,304 nhp
Speed: 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)
Capacity: 312 passengers (176 first class / 136 second class)

TSMV Manunda was an Australian registered and crewed passenger ship which was converted to a hospital ship in 1940. During the war Manunda saw service in both the Middle East and Pacific Campaigns, specifically New Guinea. She resumed her passenger duties after the war, before being sold to a Japanese company and finally broken up in 1957.

Early history[edit]

In 1927 the Adelaide Steamship Company in Australia ordered a new 9,119 GRT liner to provide full-time Australian coastal passenger services, which had previously only been offered by the company on a limited scale.

The Twin Screw Motor Vessel Manunda was built by William Beardmore and Company at Dalmuir in Scotland and was launched on 27 November 1928. Completed on 16 April 1929, she arrived in Australia in June 1929 to begin her duties on the Australian Coastal Trade, running passengers and cargo between Sydney, Fremantle, Melbourne and Cairns.

She accommodated 176 first class and 136 second class passengers and sailed at a service speed of 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph). She was the largest ship operated by the Adelaide Steamship Company at the time, and as a result of her success the company commissioned a larger, faster sister ship, Manoora, which was completed in 1935.[2]

Manunda in World War II[edit]

The newly fitted hospital ship Manunda in Sydney Harbour on 17 August 1940

The declaration of war saw Manunda fitted out as DEMS ship (Defensively Equipped Merchant Ship), under the control of the Australian Shipping Control Board.

She was converted into a hospital ship at Sydney in compliance with the Geneva Convention Regulations and was taken over by the authorities on 25 May 1940, and entered service as AHS Manunda on 22 July 1940, under Captain James Garden, previously the captain of the Adelaide Steamship Company Manoora and Commodore of the Adelaide Steamship Fleet. The general hospital based on board was commanded by Lt. Col. John Beith, and members of the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) on board were led by Matron Clara Jane Shumack (1899-1974).

Manunda sailed on a shakedown cruise to Darwin, Port Moresby and returned to Sydney, before heading for Suez in the Middle East (she made four trips to the Middle East and Mediterranean between November 1940 and September 1941). She was then despatched to Darwin. On the morning of 19 February 1942, Manunda was damaged during the Japanese air raids on Darwin, despite her highly prominent red cross markings on a white background. 13 members of the ships’ crew and hospital staff were killed, 19 others were seriously wounded and another 40 or so received minor wounds. The Manunda was able to act as a casualty clearing station for injured personnel from other ships involved in the attack. She sailed to Fremantle the next day. Captain James Garden was later awarded the OBE, in 1945,[3] for his bravery and skill, both during the attacks, in leading a fire extinguishing team on the ship and in later navigating it by the stars to Fremantle with no navigation equipment and a jury-rigged steering system.

After a refit in Adelaide, she went to Milne Bay in Papua New Guinea, where she acted as a floating hospital for the Allied forces who were stationed there. She spent several nights in Milne Bay, during attacks by Japanese warships, but her status as a hospital ship was, on this occasion honored by Japanese naval units, which raked her with searchlights on three nights running. She made a total of 27 voyages from Milne Bay to Brisbane and Sydney transporting wounded troops.

As the war continued, she was relocated as required and she followed the Allied forces the various islands around the Pacific.

Six days after the sinking of AHS Centaur, a request was made by the Australian Department of Defence that the identification markings and lights be removed from Australian hospital ship Manunda, weapons be installed, and that she begin to sail blacked out and under escort.[4] The conversion was performed, although efforts by the Department of the Navy, the Admiralty, and authorities in New Zealand and the United States of America caused the completed conversion to be undone.[4] The cost of the roundabout work came to £12,500, and kept Manunda out of service for three months.[5] On 9 June 1943, communications between the Combined Chiefs of Staff on the subject of hospital ships contained a section referring to the Manunda incident as a response to the attack on Centaur, with the conclusion that the attack was the work of an irresponsible Japanese commander, and that it would be better to wait until further attacks had been made before considering the removal of hospital ship markings.[6]

Manunda's final wartime voyage was to New Zealand transporting civilian passengers. During the war she carried approximately 30,000 casualties to safety.

After the Japanese surrendered Manunda was despatched in September 1945 to Singapore to repatriate ex-POWs and civilian internees who had been imprisoned in Changi Prison. She also sailed to Labuan in Borneo to pick up ex-POWs and civilian internees from Batu Lintang camp.

Post war career[edit]

Manunda was decommissioned in September 1946 and received an extensive 18-month refit in Melbourne. She returned to service on 2 April 1948, transporting passengers around the Australian coast. In September 1956 she was withdrawn from service and placed on the market. She sold very quickly and was purchased by Okadagumi Shipping Ltd. of Japan. She sailed from Sydney for the last time as TSMV Hakone Maru on 4 October 1956.

The company’s plans for her did not eventuate, and she was broken up the next year in Japan, arriving in Osaka for scrapping on 18 June 1957.


  1. ^ "M/V Manunda". Clyde-built Ship Database. 2012. Retrieved 24 September 2012. 
  2. ^ "TSMV Manoora & Manunda". 2011. Retrieved 24 September 2012. 
  3. ^ "Australian Honours". 2012. Retrieved 24 September 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Milligan and Foley, Australian Hospital Ship Centaur, pp. 189–92
  5. ^ Milligan and Foley, Australian Hospital Ship Centaur, p. 192
  6. ^ Milligan and Foley, Australian Hospital Ship Centaur, p. 191
  • Goodman, Rupert, Hospital Ships - Manunda, Wanganella, Centaur, Oranje
  • Milligan, Christopher; Foley, John (2003). Australian Hospital Ship Centaur – the myth of immunity. Hendra, QLD: Nairana Publications. ISBN 0-646-13715-8. OCLC 31291428. 

External links[edit]