Titanic’s sister at war: a guest post by John G. Sayers

We are grateful to John Sayers for continuing to commentate his fascinating donation of Ocean Liner ephemera in this series of blog posts.

The SS Olympic, sister ship to Titanic, was launched and entered service prior to the Titanic. They were so similar that interior pictures of the Olympic could also pass for images of the Titanic.

HMS Olympic








Titanic didn’t survive her first voyage, but Olympic sailed on for over 20 more years. Part of those years were during wartime and a recent postcard find reminds us of that service. Adding to the Stevengraphs in the Sayers Collection at the John Johnson Collection is a charming postcard captioned as the ‘H.M.S. Olympic’. This card is not to be confused with the other example of the same ship that is in the Collection. It’s from the period when she was serving as a White Star Line passenger liner and Royal Mail Ship (hence ‘R.M.S.’). This iteration is different.

Concert programme H.M.T.2810
Concert programme H.M.T.2810

Why ‘HMS’, which would denote a naval ship? Other references to her war service show her as HMT – His Majesty’s Transport. Specifically, a ‘Grand Concert’ Program of November 4, 1916 shows her as H.M.T. 2810 (left). One can only assume that the publisher of the card wasn’t familiar with naval designations. Regardless of the inaccuracy, it’s a beautiful card.




This postcard, and a significant amount of other White Star Line and wartime ephemera is contained in The Sayers Collection in the John Johnson Collection at the Bodleian Library. A vast quantity of other ocean liner ephemera capturing social, shipping, historical, and commercial information in The Sayers Collection, continues to migrate across the Atlantic to the John Johnson Collection.