The steamer Westmoreland

The steamer Westmoreland, photographed here in Wellington Harbour in the interwar years, had a long association with New Zealand.

In September 1922, almost four years after the end of the First World War, this freighter carried the last cargo of New Zealand wool purchased by Britain under the wartime imperial ‘commandeer’. Built in 1917 for the British-owned Federal line, an affiliate of the New Zealand Shipping Company, the Westmoreland had survived a German U-boat attack in the Irish Sea in 1918, and the following year brought home the members of the New Zealand (Māori) Pioneer Battalion, one of only two New Zealand formations to return from the war as a complete unit.

The Westmoreland was a regular visitor between the wars, and during the Second World War was again used to transport New Zealand agricultural exports commandeered by Britain.

The ship’s luck ran out in 1942: after sailing from Wellington with a cargo of 28,000 sheep and pig carcasses, butter, cheese and wool, it was torpedoed by a German U-boat off Bermuda on 1 June.

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