Rohilla (steamship)


Rohilla (steamship)

"Rohilla" was a steamship of the British India Steam Navigation Company which ran aground in 1914 while serving as HMHS "Rohilla" (His Majesty's Hospital Ship "Rohilla").

The steamship was named "Rohilla" in honour of Rohillas. Rohillas were Afghan highlanders ("Roh" means "mountains" and "Rohilla" literally means "mountaineer" or "highlander") that entered India with Nadir Shah Durrani and were awarded territory in northern India later renamed Rohilkhand, in modern Uttar Pradesh state.

History

"Rohilla" (7,114 tons gross) was built in 1906 in Belfast by Harland & Wolff. It was called up at the outset of World War I and converted into a naval hospital ship.

Sailing south through the North Sea, at around 4:00 a.m. on 30 October 1914, the "Rohilla" struck a reef at Saltwick south of Whitby. At the time there was a fierce gale and due to wartime blackout conditions no landmarks were visible. Although only 600 metres from shore, the treacherous conditions of the high seas and storm force winds made rescue difficult.

Six lifeboats of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution effected a rescue operation lasting fifty hours. Many of the 229 people on board were saved, but 85 died in the disaster.

Amongst those resued from "Rohilla" was Mary K. Roberts, who had survived the sinking of RMS "Titanic" in 1912.

The Empire Gallantry Medal (later changed to the George Cross) was awarded to Major Burton of the Tynemouth lifeboat for his role in the rescue.

Further reading

* Brittain, Colin: "Into the Maelstrom: The Wreck of HMHS Rohilla". (The History Press, 2002) ISBN 0-7524-2384-3

ee also

* Rohillas
* List of United Kingdom disasters by death toll


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