THOMAS M. M. HEMY (1852-1937) - PAGE 16


Thomas M. M. Hemy datapages 01, 02 & 03 are now on site. Plus all of the other image pages, accessible though the index on page 05. PRIOR PAGE / NEXT PAGE

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For a number of years, I have tried to locate an image of Thomas Hemy's work The Wreck of the 'Aidar'. And for all of that period what was above was just a blank box. Waiting to be filled!

Now I eventually did find the image, on this site where it states 'AIDA EXPLOSION When his ship is wrecked and the crew leave in lifeboats Captain Nutman refuses to abandon an injured fireman : he is rescued the next day and receives the Albert Medal. Thomas M Hemy in the Boy's Own Paper 1905 1896'. I think that AIDA means AIDAR & that the text meant that the Thomas Hemy work was dated 1896 & was published in 'Boys Own Paper' in 1905. Yes? Not quite, actually, since I now know that the work is signed with the date of 1903. But by a bit of deduction it became clear that the work was titled I’ll Not Desert Him in the Boys Own Paper Annual (1904/05 Volume 27). Which may partially explain my difficulty in finding the image. And there was a related article also.

The large image of the Hemy artwork that I now show above is of the work as it appeared, then, in Annual #27 of Boy's Own Paper re 1904/05. We present it thanks to the combined efforts of William (Billy) McAlpine of Newry, & Clive Scoular of near Downpatrick, both of County Down, Northern Ireland. Billy bought a copy of the BOP Annual via e-Bay with Clive's help. Billy scanned in great detail both the print & the related article. Both have been most kind to provide, without reservation, their time & assistance to advance the content of this page. We sincerely thank them both.

I note that under the print BOP says that the artist was 'Thomas M. Henry'. It is not the first time that error was made!

The related BOP article is now, below, transcribed for this page.

The artist must have felt that this was one of his most significant paintings. At the back of 'Deep Sea Days', the artist's book published in 1926, he provided 'Notes on some of my pictures'. The notes that he then provided, covered 'The Wreck of the Birkenhead', 'Every Soul Was Saved', & this particular work, which he called The Wreck of the 'Aidar'. Only three paintings of his entire body of work did he mention. Hence my conclusion.

In Feb. 2009, a copy of the print ex 'Boys Own Paper', was available via e-Bay. But the link is long gone. A double fold-out print plus the related article.

If YOU can help in providing more information about the whole subject, I would love to hear from you.




It was one evening when sitting in the lounge of an hotel at Port Said that I heard the yarn of the wreck of the Aidar, which was verified upon my return to England, when the hero of it, Captain W. I. Nutman, was the recipient of well-deserved honour.

The s.s. Aidar was caught in a heavy gale in the Adriatic and was hove down on her beam ends through the cargo shifting. She was fast sinking, when in response to their flares and rockets the Bibby liner Staffordshire bore down upon her. On seeing their plight a lifeboat was despatched, but, owing to the rolling of the ship, had great difficulty in approaching. It was at length accomplished, and a batch of men taken off; on the second journey, however, the lifeboat was struck by the Aidar and partially stove in, but, nevertheless, managed to return to the Staffordshire with its freight of shipwrecked  seamen.

On the third journey with another boat, the remaining men were taken off, with the exception of the captain and a fireman, whom, owing to an injury - a broken leg - it had been impossible to get on the rescuing boat. As there was every prospect of the Aidar going down, the second officer of the Bibby boat called on Captain Nutman to come aboard without delay - a request joined in by his own men, who beseeched him to join them. But the captain's only reply was, "If I'm going to be saved, this man is to be saved too. Ask your captain to lay by until daybreak, and if we're afloat pick us up."

The Aidar was sighted at 2 a.m., but when daylight came at 7 a.m. and glasses were levelled from the bridge of the Staffordshire, no vessel was to be seen; the Aidar had foundered. One of the lifeboats was launched and rowed in the direction in which it might be expected to meet wreckage from the sunken ship. A floating boat was at length seen, on the bottom of which was Captain Nutman holding the wounded fireman across the keel. It proved that when the ship went down the captain had clung to the fireman, and by the sheerest good luck when they rose to the surface came across one of their own boats floating bottom up. It was a hard struggle to reach her, hampered as he was with his burthen, but a still harder one to reach the comparative safety of the keel. Time after time did the captain fail to reach it, but when almost at his last gasp he got his grip through an extra heavy wave coming to his assistance, and managed to haul his companion to his side.

This suggested a subject after my own heart, and soon after my return to London it engaged my attention. I got into communication with Captain Nutman (always make a point to get into touch with those who are the actual actors in these dramas of the sea), but, as usual, found it somewhat difficult to get anything from him that referred to his splendid achievement. The men of the Merchant Marine, like their brethren of the Naval Service, do not talk about their doings, they all come under the head of "duty," and are taken in a matter-of-fact manner. Nevertheless, this episode of the Aidar's captain rightly ranks among the heroic actions of the sea, and is characteristic of the spirit that pervades our "sailorman," a fact which was demonstrated in innumerable cases during the submarine campaign in the Great War.

The statement of Captain Harris, of the Staffordshire, provided me with most of the facts, and is as follows:

"On approaching the distressed vessel at 2.5 a.m., found it was the s.s. Aidar, 1585 tons burthen, on her beam ends, and to all appearances sinking fast. Steamed to windward and, owing to excessive darkness and a high sea, had difficulty in approaching her. Took off twelve men, came again, seven men rescued, but had to return immediately as side of boat stove in by heavy rolling of sinking ship. Another boat at once sent off in charge of second mate. Reached the Aidar just as she was sinking, and rescued eight more. Captain Nutman, after vainly attempting to persuade a passenger who refused to leave the sinking ship, threw him into the water as the only means of saving his life. (Said passenger threatened him with prosecution for assault when he got ashore.)

"The captain himself refused to go as there was a fireman whom it was found impossible to get into the boat. He called to the second officer of the Staffordshire, directing him to pull his boat away from the wreckage, saying, 'If I'm saved this man is to be saved. If we are here in the morning come back for us.' The entire occurrence was witnessed by the captain of my ship from 2 a.m. to the final rescue at 7 a.m."

2) FROM 'BOYS OWN PAPER - 1904/1905'

The following account of the incident which forms the subject of my picture, and also the story of how it came to be painted, will probably interest the readers of the " B.O.P."

Some few years ago I made a voyage in a cargo-vessel up the Mediterranean to endeavour to shake off a long and serious illness. Everything about the steamer (which was a larger and better-found craft that the usual type of vessel that makes the round of Port Said with coals, and thence into the Black Sea for grain, and so back to Europe) was of great interest to me - so very different from the sailing-vessel of my boyhood in every way.

Being on the look-out for a good subject of a nautical character for my Academy picture of the following year, I interviewed the captain, but found that from boyhood he had made the same voyages to the same ports as methodically as a bus-driver might from Putney to the Bank. Endeavours in other directions also failed ; for with one or two exceptions the sailors were an entirely different species from those I knew of yore. One evening, however, at Port Said, under the hospitable roof of Mr. George Royole, so well known to those who pass through the Canal, my host suggested to me that I could not have a finer subject than the foundering of the ss. Aidar in the Adriatic ; and my readers will, I fancy, quite agree with Mr. Royole after the perusal of the story - one that no brush could do justice to. It is as fine an instance of pluck and heroism as the history of the sea could well show. As long, indeed, as we can put men like Captain Nutman in command of our vessels there is no fear of the so-called national degeneration extending to the sea. However, I must keep the adjectives in subjection, as I know the captain is very sensitive, with the modesty that so often goes hand in hand with true courage.

Briefly told, then, on Sunday morning, January 19, 1896, in latitude 36.30 N. and longitude 19.34 E., the second officer of the Bibby liner ss. Staffordshire reported signals of distress. Captain Harris, on approaching the distressed vessel, found it was the ss. Aidar of Liverpool, commanded by Captain William Nutman. She was to all appearance sinking fast. Steaming to windward the lifeboat was launched under the command of the chief officer. Owing to the darkness and heavy seas, much difficulty was experienced in reaching the sinking vessel. When twelve men had been taken off, a strong wind blew the boat to leeward. The Staffordshire had to follow to pick them up. Another boat was launched, and on another attempt being made seven more were rescued. Then the boat had to return to the ship, having been stove in by a heavy sea.

Another boat was at once sent off, which reached the steamer in safety after taking in eight men, including a passenger who, refusing to attempt to enter the boat, was hurled into the sea close to her by the captain as the only way of saving his life.

All were now rescued but two. It was found impossible, however, to get a fireman, who was severely injured, into the boat, so Captain William Nutman, deaf to all appeals to leave the vessel, ordered the boat away from the foundering ship and wreckage, and shouted these memorable words : " If I am saved this man must be saved. If we are here in the morning, come for us ! " As last seen, the captain was standing on the bridge holding a blue light, lighting the boat clear of the dangerous wreck.

Later, the wreck went down, and, struggling in the water, with a grasp of iron on the fireman, the brave captain emerged from the whirlpool. Espying a boat floating near, bottom upwards, he made for her, and, grasping the keel, tried again and again, though ineffectually, to haul the man into comparative safety. When almost in despair, and utterly exhausted, a wave, heavier than the rest, gave him the necessary leverage, and enabled him to haul the wounded and nearly drowned man on to the boat. He actually held him across the bottom of the boat until day broke, when he was espied by the anxious crew and passengers of the liner. A boat was immediately launched, and, amidst the wildest enthusiasm, the two were taken on board of the Staffordshire.

It is pleasant to know that the " man " who faced almost certain death rather than desert his humble brother received the recognition he so well deserved from the late Queen, always ready to recognise such sterling qualities in her subjects. The Albert Medal of the first class was conferred upon him by Mr. C. T. Ritchie, the then President of the Board of Trade, by her Majesty's command. Our present King, as is his wont, did a graceful and kindly action by sending for Captain Nutman. He also introduced him to the Prince of Wales and Duke of Coburg, who, as sailors themselves, were fully able to appreciate the qualities shown in the dramatic incident.

In conclusion, I would also add my humble tribute to the captain. I have had real pleasure in trying to depict the incident. Such a subject is one after my own heart ; and I think some institute - say Lloyd's - should have a gallery where pictures of this kind might hang, in recognition of special services by that splendid body of men, the captains of the marine, mercantile and naval.

The picture was started by me whilst in the Grecian Archipelago, and the models which I used for the " laying in " were members of our crew.

I have so far found only one reference on the WWW to a ship named the S.S. Aidar.

A document by Bernard de Neumann (a good friend of this site), which document is now available on this very site, specifically here, lists the recipients of the 'Board of Trade Medals for Gallantry in Saving Life at Sea' - known as Sea Gallantry Medals (SGM), re Gallantry at Sea in Great Britain and the Empire. And lo and behold Bernard lists a number of crew members of the Staffordshire as receiving SGM medals re the Aidar of Liverpool - with a date of the incident of Jan. 19, 1896. The names are all in capital letters & that means that they received the silver medal, the highest medal, in fact of the two medals available, the other medal being a bronze. A most significant medal indeed. Recipients were permitted to append 'SGM' after their names!

M. BEASLEY, chief officer, A.B. CROSSE, 2nd mate, E. ROBIN, 3rd mate, T. POUND, L.W. ILEFF, QMs, T. RAILTON, R. BELL, A. JACOBS, S. PEMBERTON, C. HAGGES, E. ROHRER, W. EDWARDS, J. HINES, R. WOOLLEY, stewards, A.D. BUN, tindal, L. ALLEE, D. SOMEER, J. EBRAHIM, A. MAHOMED, Lascars, of Staffordshire re the Aidar of Liverpool. And they also list two passengers on board the Staffordshire who also received the medal - C.R. COWIE, and E.H. HUTCHINSON.

How very interesting. So now at least we know the date of the incident - Jan. 19, 1896. But strangely, the name of Captain Harris does not appear to be in the list. Maybe he received a different sort of medal? Or maybe medals were issued only to those personally or physically involved in the rescue. See below re medals for Captain Nutman. My dictionary tells me that a 'lascar' is 'an Oriental (originally Indian) sailor or camp follower' & that a 'tindal' is a 'petty-officer of lascars'.

Now the author of the document from which the above data came was Bernard De Neumann, of The City University in London, England. Bernard has kindly added to my limited knowledge of the Aidar with the following data. In fact, much of the data on this page comes from his archives. I thank you, Bernard, so very much. Bernard's paper on the subject of 'British Gallantry Awards at Sea', an overview of the subject, is available here. Bernard also advises me that the Staffordshire was built in 1894 by Harland & Wolff of Belfast & was of 6005 gross & 3592 net tons. And 'Steel2sc', which I think means of steel construction & with two propellers. I believe that is the first vessel of that name listed here, owned by Bibby, & in service from 1894 to 1912, when it was sold to another shipping line & renamed Samara. It was broken up at Genoa in 1923.

The Miramar listing re Staffordshire is here (though you now must be registered to access the page).

Before we leave the subject of the Staffordshire, next, & thanks to Rosemary Pearson of 'Lincoln Joyce Fine Art' of 40 Church Road, Great Bookham, Surrey, England, whose website is here, is what may very well be 'the' Staffordshire. How wonderful! A fine image indeed. Rosemary advises me that the image is of a painting that was for sale in the Lincoln Joyce Fine Art gallery, but that the artist's name is not known. It is, I understand, an oil painting of 5 x 11 inches in size, & is believed to have been painted at about 1900. While Rosemary has advised me of the asking price, I would prefer & invite any visitor, who has an interest in the work, to contact Rosemary directly at the address which is on that website. That text was written many years ago. The painting may well have since been sold.

The Aidar  
Built 1883 by Wigham Richardson & Co., of Newcastle, England - Yard No. 160. Launched as the Castlebank. Became the Aidar in 1886.
Tonnage 2,408 GRT & 1,583 NRT  - Iron Screw
Completed For Thomlinson, Thomson & Co. In 1886 sold to G. Tweedy & Co. of Liverpool. But am not sure of that data. The data is confusing!
Foundered January 19, 1896 - 36.30N/19.24E - in the Mediterranean, on voyage from Odessa to Marseilles with a cargo of grain and oil cakes, due to boiler failure
Owner in 1896 The owner of the Aidar, on the date she foundered, was London Steamers Ltd.

The Miramar listing re Castlebank/Aidar is here (though again you now need to be registered to view the page).

Re Captain Nutman, Bernard De Neumann advises 'Captain William John Nutman of the Aidar was awarded an Albert Medal First Class (Sea) (London Gazette, 14 April 1896), a Lloyd's Silver Medal for Saving Life at Sea, and also a Silver Medal of the Royal Humane Society (Case 28185).  The citation re that last award is set out below. A Royal Warrant of 15 December 1971 revoked the Albert Medal, and all living recipients were deemed to be holders of the George Cross, and offered the opportunity to exchange their Albert Medal for a George Cross. Not all took the opportunity. I can't as yet locate anything of Captain Harris.' So it would seem correctly to be Captain William J. Nutman rather than William I. Nutman.

"About daybreak on the 19th January, 1896, the British steamer AIDAR foundered in the Mediterranean near Messina.  When first sighted by the steamship STAFFORDSHIRE she was on her beam ends, and to all appearances sinking fast.  Two boats from the STAFFORDSHIRE rescued all the officers and crew with the exception of Captain Nutman and an injured fireman, whom he had dragged from his berth as the ship went down, and was supporting him on the bottom of an upturned boat.  The captain insisted on the last boat's crew seeing to the safety of those they had rescued, and return for him if possible.  This they succeeded in doing, and both men were saved after half an hour on the overturned boat.  There was a very high sea running at the time."

It would be good to know the name of the injured fireman!

I was under impression that Messina, near which the incident happened as per the above citation, is quite a long way from the Adriatic where Thomas Hemy places it. And so it is. From the coordinates that Bernard De Neumann & the artist have provided, it would seem to me that the Aidar foundered in the Ionian Sea rather than in the Adriatic, somewhat to the east of Sicily. But Messina is pretty close. So both of Thomas Hemy's texts are slightly in error. But no matter!

A now vanished page confirmed, in a summary form, Bernard's data as stated above in the following words: 'Castelbank (later renamed the Aidar) - She was built in 1883 for G. Tweedy & Co of Liverpool, and sank in 1896 following a boiler failure in the Mediterranean. The Aidar was owned at the time by London Steamers and was carrying a cargo of grain and oil cakes between Odessa and Marseilles. The crew were rescued by a steamship called Staffordshire.'

A U.K. correspondent named 'Daphne' has advised, in Sep. 2011, that her late husband's grandfather, Harold H. (Harwood) Jackson (1860-1911), was Captain of the Aidar prior to Captain Nutman. And that the reason Harold was not on the ship on the fatal voyage was because he was on his honeymoon.

NOT related in any way to the Aidar, and placed upon this page because of the artist's reference to Port Said. A portion of a splendid albumen image of vessels at Port Said, in the late 1860s through 1880s period. I will have to check my image files to confirm the name of the photographer, which I think however is Zangaki. There were in fact two brothers of that name & they were based, I read, in Port Said. The image does come up from time to time on e-Bay. When it next does, perhaps it will be possible to provide the image title & number also. There are many images of shipping in the Suez Canal in the late 1800s but mostly they are not as good as this fine image.

But it would seem that I am wrong! Dr. Nikos Kokkinos, Wingate Scholar and Research Fellow at the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at University College, London, advises me that he thinks that the image below is by H. Arnoux. He advises however (how interesting), 'that some photos of the Suez Canal taken by Arnoux, particularly those depicting locations south of Port-Said, were to be found later with the names of the Zangaki Bros or Peridis & Georgiladakis attached. I imagine that the Greek photographers somehow 'inherited' the negatives of Arnoux. Or, possibly, they worked for Arnoux before they started their own businesses (in Port-Said and later Cairo), and that they may even have taken the photographs themselves in the first place on behalf of Arnoux. Unfortunately we do not know much about their relationships or exact dates - but Arnoux must have been the oldest, already working in 1869 in the opening of the Suez canal.  Alternatively, the Greek photographers may have bought the negatives in the open market after the death of Arnoux. This is an area on which I am still gathering information, and bibliography is very thin on the ground.'

Do enjoy the very fine image!

We are making progress! An image of the Castlebank or Aidar is still needed. Just maybe, you could help?

Thomas M. M. Hemy datapages 01, 02 & 03 are now on site. Plus all of the other image pages, accessible though the index on page 05. PRIOR PAGE / NEXT PAGE

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