THE BURNING OF THE 'VOLTURNO' - PAGE 33
FROM CONTEMPORARY REPORTS
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While most visitors would conclude that the Webmaster's knowledge of the Volturno disaster must be extensive, in his own view, his knowledge is truly, in fact, quite minimal. As each new piece of data is received, however, the data is tending to become almost repetitive & much of it adds little new to whatever is already on site. So as each new source arrives, I will try to report, on this page, just data which is new to the webmaster & perhaps new then to site visitors also.
But first, the cover of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch of Oct. 11, 1913. I have that newspaper available & hopefully soon the text will be on site.
The above newspaper was purchased via e-Bay from 'qrst' whose sale site is here. He specialises in old newspapers & his inventory of them is quite amazing.
And from the same source, but an item long since sold I do believe, is or was the following item. The Lewiston Saturday Journal issue dated also Oct. 11, 1913. Lewiston, Maine, perhaps?
And a third newspaper cover, from a now quite unknown source but surely from e-Bay. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin. The date is a bit difficult to read but I think it is also Oct. 11, 1913.
1) From the Liverpool Echo of Oct. 13, 1913
A "Times" Toronto, telegram says:- The Canadian Northern Railway Company are owners of the Volturno, but are not interested in the Uranium Steamship Company.
Mr. D. B. Hanna, vice-president of the Canadian Northern, estimates the loss at ₤80,000 but the company are protected by insurance to the extent of ₤60,000.
No Canadian passengers were on board. Two hundred and sixty immigrants had booked for Halifax, with Alberta and Saskatchewan as their ultimate destination.
As the vessel was chartered to the Uranium Company, there is much speculation as to whether any legal responsibility for lives lost rests upon the Canadian Northern Company.
It was pointed out in the "Times" marine insurance report, today, that the abandonment of the Volturno on fire is hardly likely to prove as expensive as the similar abandonment of the Templemore ten days previously.
The Volturno, valued at ₤45,000, was laden with emigrants, while the Templemore, valued at ₤43,000, was carrying cargo, including tobacco estimated to be worth ₤175,000.
2) From the Liverpool Echo of Oct. 13, 1913
THE FUNERAL SHIP.
DEPARTURE FOR SCENE OF DISASTER.
The New York correspondent of the "Daily Telegraph" says that at six o'clock last night the Uranium, a sister ship to the Volturno, left New York to search for bodies. She carried 100 plain pine coffins.
Captain Thomas Agassis expects to reach the spot where the Volturno was abandoned on Wednesday, and he will cruise in the vicinity for a radius of fifty miles.
If any bodies are recovered, they will be stripped and the clothing kept for identification. When the cruise for the bodies is ended the crew will be lined up, and, with the captain reading the burial service, the ill-fated victims of the sea will be consigned to the deep.
The funeral ship Uranium carries 300 passengers and a crew of 127. After the burial service, she will proceed to Rotterdam.
SAW DISASTER IN DREAM
Volturno's Wireless Operator So Terrified He Tried to be Transferred
Two women, one middle aged, the other in her twenties, who described themselves as Mrs. W. F. and Miss Alexander of Central Park West, called at the offices of the Uranium Steamship Company yesterday and told to Mr. Porman, the passenger agent of the line, an interesting story of an incident which took place on board the ill-fated Volturno, several weeks ago, when they were returning home on the steamer.
The story was of a dream told the women by Christopher Pennington, the second wireless operator, an Englishman about 22 years old, whose home is in Liverpool. Mrs. Alexander said that she and the younger woman met Pennington on deck, and he showed them a letter addressed to the London office of the Marconi company, in which he asked to be transferred from the Volturno to any other ship. They were curious to know his reason, and he told the following story:
"Last night I had a vivid and horrifying dream. I dreamed that this ship was on fire in midocean and that panic reigned aboard. I could see myself at the apparatus, sending frantic calls for help. Soon afterward six ships were surrounding this vessel, which was pitching and tossing on the high seas, I could see the frantic men and women leaping overboard, while others were climbing into lifeboats.
"In my dream I leaned over the rail and saw a number of boats dashed against the sides of the burning hull and saw men and women go down to a watery grave. After it was evident that the vessel was doomed and all of the passengers were off, the order was given to the officers and crew to put away. I got into a small boat, and, after being dashed against the hull of the vessel, was picked up and taken aboard one of the surrounding steamers.
"When I woke the dream so impressed me that I wrote this letter, which I will post in New York, and by the time I reach Rotterdam I will receive an answer from the company."
Mrs. Alexander said that since her arrival she has kept in touch with the young man, and only last Saturday received a letter, postmarked Rotterdam, from Pennington, in which he told her that the company had refused to grant his request on the ground that he had given insufficient reasons, so he was making his last trip on her.
From what she had read of the disaster, the woman said, the dream, as related to her, corresponded in every detail with the exception that instead of six succoring ships there were ten. The women were anxious to ascertain whether Pennington had been saved.
Mr. Porman informed them that from what information he had received Pennington had been picked up by the Standard Oil tank steamer Narragansett and would arrive in London Friday.
4) From the Toronto Star of Oct. 16, 1913
TWO STOKERS TELL A THRILLING STORY
Had to Crawl Into the Bunkers Where the Coal was on Fire.
THE LEAP IN THE DARK
One Man Threw Wife and Daughter Into Sea - Better Drown than Burn.
By H. B. GORDON.
"New York, Oct. 16. - What it means to be a stoker on board a burning steamship, to keep up steam when the stokehold bulkheads begin to glow a dull red, to crawl into stifling bunkers where the coal is already on fire and rescue enough fuel to keep the pumps working for a few hours more, and finally to leap into a rough sea, at midnight, and run the chance of being picked up by a tossing little lifeboat, some of this was told by two stokers from the Volturno, on board the Grosser Kurfuerst, to a Star reporter.
Joe Burns and Sam Rudoll are the stokers. The former is a Pennsylvanian, a sturdy, straightforward fellow, with steady eyes and open face that give an instant impression of frankness and honesty. The latter is a negro, now living in Brooklyn, but with a noticeable English accent derived from years spent in the East End of London. Both seemed much more intelligent than the average stoker.
Captain Always in Front.
"I was off duty when the first alarm came early Thursday morning," said Burns. "We were all ordered up on deck to work the hose lines. The flames came through the fore hatch rather fiercely. I was hotter than I'd ever been before - and a stokehold is no refrigerator - and than I hope to be again. We kept at it, though, with the captain always in front. The smoke smelt very bad. After we'd been fighting the flames for a couple of hours and they showed no signs of slackening, some of the passengers got discouraged.
"I saw one man, the only American cabin passenger, run to the side with his wife and daughter, throw them both over the rail, and then follow himself. That was before the Carmania appeared. He thought it was better to drown than to burn. After that I went down to the stokehold again. Late in the morning the fire reached the starboard bunker forward. We were ordered to go into the bunker and get out all the coal that we could, so we could keep steam up and the pumps working. Mr. Pintch led us in.
Smoke and Coal Gas.
"The place was full of smoke and coal gas, but we managed to get in a little work. We were able to get enough coal into the boiler-room, before it was necessary to close the doors, to keep steam up till four in the afternoon. We had to stay at work there. The fire had good hold of the fore part of the ship, and the fore bulkhead got so hot that it was impossible to touch it. Finally, at half-past four, we got called up on deck. It was so hot that no one could stand it. We stayed up on deck till midnight. Searchlights were playing all around, and we could see the boats from the other ships. Everyone to be saved had to jump into the sea. Where it wasn't black it was boiling with foam. After the passengers had got off it was our turn. I took a jump in. The suction of the waves was tremendous. It was all I could do to keep afloat, let alone get anywhere. When I was about all in, and still close to the ship, the chief engineer threw me a line and hauled me up on deck. After a little while I got my wind and made a second try. This time one of the Kurfuerst's boats caught me."
Too Hot for Negro Stoker.
Rudoll's story was briefer. "I 'ad to work in the 'ould all dy," he said in a pronounced London accent, doubly grotesque in that it came from a negro. "It was as 'ot as ----, I ought to be able to stand 'eat better than a white man, but it was about all I wanted. The fore bulkhead got almost red 'ot. We worked there keeping the fires going under the boilers. We didn't know when the ship would go down. At last fire got into the starboard bunker. Mr. Pintch told us we'd have to get some coal out of it to keep steam up. He led us in. It was pitch dark and full of smoke. And 'ot! It was scorching. We went in there two or three times and got some coal out. Then it got too 'ot for anybody, so we 'ad to shut the door. We kept the furnaces going till there was no more coal. Then we came up on deck. Along about midnight, when the passengers had got away, Captain Inch ordered us to go. We had to jump into the sea. At last I tried it. The water was awfully cold. Roasted one minute, frozen the next. I was picked up by one of the Kurfuerst's boats. That boat was two hours getting back. We got lost once, and were all alone in the dark with the tremendous big waves foaming down on us. I got scared. At last a searchlight picked us up, and the 'Kurfuerst' came over and picked us up. I was half dead."
5) From the New York Times of Oct. 17, 1913
Wireless Man Explains Dream.
Christopher Pennington, the assistant Marconi operator on the Volturno, explained the story about the dream that was related to the Uranium Line agents on Sunday by Mrs. Alexander of Central Park West.
"Mrs. Alexander, with her daughter Elsa, were cabin passengers on the last westward voyage of the Volturno," Mr. Pennington said. Half way across from Rotterdam to Halifax I had a dream in which I saw the Uranium, belonging to the same company, rolling heavily with the seas washing her decks fore and aft. I told Mrs. Alexander about the dream the next morning, and strangely enough when we arrived in Halifax the Uranium was there on fire.
"With regard to the letter which I wrote to the company asking to be transferred from the Volturno to another vessel, it was simply because there was not sufficient work to do here. I mentioned the letter to Mrs. Alexander, and I suppose the dream and the letter got confused in the report given out at the steamship office. I have had quite sufficient work to do this voyage, believe me. I escaped from the Volturno by jumping from the promenade deck twenty feet into the water at midnight on Thursday, as there was no more work for me to do, and Capt. Inch told me to save myself. It seemed as though I was going plumb down to Davy Jones's locker and would never come up again, but I managed to kick out and rise to the surface, and was dragged on board one of the boats belonging to the Kroonland by Fifth Officer Kummell.
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