THE BURNING OF THE 'VOLTURNO' - PAGE 38

THE OCTOBER 1913 'VOLTURNO' COVERAGE BY
THE ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS & THE GRAPHIC

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COVERAGE IN 'ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS' OF OCTOBER 18, 1913

I now have available to me, a giant volume of issues of Illustrated London News (ILN) covering the months of Oct. through Dec. 1913. Of the greatest interest to the Webmaster is the coverage of the Volturno disaster in the issue dated Oct. 18, 1913. I will need to work out just how I can sensibly show the 2 double page images which that issue contains. Because they are so very large & quite difficult to scan on a scanner designed for material a mere 8 1/2 x 11 inches in size. Even the single page images were difficult to scan.

The principal image is really splendid, a double page spread of an artwork by famed marine artist Norman Wilkinson. That results in an image roughly 11 1/2 x 19 inches, but with a bit of a problem. The image crosses the centre binding so parts of the image are difficult to see clearly. And the two pages are not in alignment in my ILN volume. The left page is rather higher than the right page! Scanning may well prove to be impossible without destroying the volume which I am not prepared to do with such a precious item. Scanning any portion of the volume is delicate since the binding is old & no longer robust.

To whet your appetites, while I figure out how I can get all of the material on site, I will list what is in fact there. (But note that a copy of that particular issue of ILN was sold in late Feb. 2006 for U.S. $15.50 to bidders whose interest would seem to have been the marriage of the Princess of Fife to the Prince Arthur of Connaught, the cover story. And not Volturno.)

1. A splendid full page image of a work by Cecil King, R.B.A., 'drawn from material courteously provided by Mr. C. F. Hart, M.I.M.E.' It shows, at night, the Volturno ablaze & at right the Carmania with a spotlight illuminating in the black sea a lifeboat from the Minneapolis. An unnamed liner is in the left distance. The accompanying words read:

"The Burning of the "Volturno", the dramatic scene during the night of terrors." "With the ships of the international rescue fleet, called to her by wireless, about her: the "Volturno" ablaze - on the right the "Carmania," with searchlight on a life-boat of the "Minneapolis." And ...

In the story he contributed to the "Daily Mail," Mr. C. F. Hart, who was a passenger on the "Carmania" and gave us the material for this drawing, said: "Darkness fell on the Atlantic. In the centre of the picture, the 'Volturno' was burning fiercely . . . Grouped round, and still helpless, was the fleet of great liners . . . At three a.m. the searchlights showed a boat's crew struggling despairingly to get their boat head on to the sea. They were acting in evident distress. The 'Carmania' was again skillfully manoeuvred into position close to them and finally got a line to them and brought them alongside. It was found that the boat was one belonging to the 'Minneapolis' which had been at sea for four hours."

The above image was clearly published elsewhere also. An e-Bay item in Feb. 2006 offered for sale a 7 x 4 inch Cecil King print, said to be from a 1913 publication (unnamed). The print looks to be rather lighter in tone than the full page ILN image presented above. It would be good to know the source of that print because the publication may have an article or other information that would be of interest.

2. A full illustrated page which features small images of junior wireless-operator 'Mr. John Christopher Pennington, of St. Helen's' and senior wireless-operator 'Mr. Walter Seddon of Wigan' (top left and right), and of Captain Inch (left below) (Volturno) and Captain James Barr (right below) (Carmania). And a chart by Marconi, quite a complicated one as you can see. There are also images of Volturno, Carmania and Narragansett. The image of the Narragansett is the first image of that vessel I have found. I will place it on the Narragansett page available through index page 01.

3. The double page spread referred to above. With accompanying words which read:

"The Burning of the "Volturno": when the oil-tank steamer was calming the sea about the doomed ship". "Drawn from material supplied to our special artist by Mr. C. F. Hart, M.I.M.E., who was aboard the "Carmania": the "Narragansett" pouring oil on the troubled waters and so subduing the waves and making the rescue of passengers easier." And ...

In the course of his full story, published in the "Daily Mail", Mr. C. F. Hart, manager of the mechanical department of that paper, who was a passenger on the "Carmania" said: "About six o'clock daylight came and the sea had gone down considerably. I had heard during the night that the 'Narragansett,' an oil-tank steamer was on the way . . . A minute or two after six o'clock the wireless operator in the 'Narragansett' got in touch with the operator in the 'Carmania,' and said: 'We are on our way with the milk.' . . . About half-past six a dense cloud of smoke came up on the horizon and we were soon very certain that it was the oncoming tank-steamer. The sea had by this time gone down a great deal, but it was still very heavy. In spite of the sea, however, boats were got alongside the 'Volturno' and the people were being slowly taken off. . . The tank-steamer was rushing madly through the water. At ten minutes past seven she came to a dead stop to the windward of the 'Volturno' and, quicker than I can tell it, had two large streams of oil pouring on to the water. She also lowered two boats. Within five minutes the sea for a hundred yards away from the 'Narragansett' and towards the 'Volturno' became absolutely calm, apart from a slight roll. . . . The 'Narragansett' moved about and distributed the oil on the water through two huge pipes."

On the left is the "Devonian"; in the centre is the "Narragansett"; on the right the "Volturno".

I still have to decide how to present that splendid image in these pages.

I was surprised to see that the 'Norman Wilkinson' artwork was made into a postcard. Which was available via e-Bay in Sep. 2010. Here. In all of the years that this site has been in existence, I have never seen such a postcard before. The e-Bay listing image is next. I should add, that the image was featured in 'The Pathfinder' also, way back on Nov. 29, 1913 as you can see here.

4. A double page photographic image of the burning Volturno. Taken from the Carmania and supplied by C.N. I still have to decide how to present that image in these pages.

5. A full page photographic image of the Volturno burning and the Carmania's lifeboat struggling in the high seas. With accompanying words which read:

"The Burning of the "Volturno": a little life-boat's daring". "The first effort to near the "Volturno": The boat from the "Carmania" struggling against wind and waves, which left the crew with only three oars, and complelled their return to the Cunarder." And ...

George A. Thompson, of Liverpool, a steward who was one of the crew of six sailors and three stewards, under First Officer Gardner, who left the "Carmania" in one of her boats in an endeavour to reach the "Volturno," said, it was reported in the "Pall Mall": "We got the boat out in an almost impossible sea . . . but we held on and attempted to force our way to the 'Volturno,' which was blazing furiously. The bottom of the boat was full of water. . . . After a few minutes there were only three oars left amongst us. The rest were either washed out of the men's hands, or the wind, which was blowing a tremendous gale, smashed them like matches. We got so close to the 'Volturno' that we could see the people on the decks waving to us and shouting frantically. In the end, the little boat had to return. With regard to the use of life-rafts, Captain Barr, interviewed by the "Daily Chronicle," said: "I called a consultation of all my officers, asking them to make any suggestion. . . . The Chief Officer at once advocated dropping side-rafts. . . .  I dropped them well under the 'Volturno's' bows, but all my efforts were frustrated by the storm."

With the horizontal shape of computer screens, it is difficult to show large vertical pictures. So I show you, in the image below, the full image published in ILN on Oct. 18, 1913 along with a detail from that image showing the Carmania lifeboat & the burning Volturno. The original 'photograph by illustrations bureau', as published in ILN, was approx 11 1/2 x 9 inches is size.

A photograph of First Officer Gardner and a description of the whole Carmania lifeboat rescue attempt, as described in the Arthur Spurgeon book, can be found elsewhere in these pages via page 02 - the first half of the Spurgeon text. It would seem that the ninth man in the lifeboat crew, the George A. Thompson mentioned above, 'jumped in at the last moment, and, as he begged so hard to be allowed to stay, Mr. Gardner did not insist upon his going back.'

COVERAGE IN 'THE GRAPHIC' OF OCTOBER 18, 1913

'The Graphic', in its issue of the very same date, i.e. Oct. 18, 1913, also had at least two photographic pages of Volturno coverage. Most of one of the pages is below. Perhaps the cover page? - but I do not know that. With an image that would seem to be identical to the left image immediately above. It had a caption (not shown) underneath the image which caption read, I know, 'THE CARMANIA'S LIFEBOAT ATTEMPTING TO REACH THE BURNING SHIP'. There were three lines of smaller type under that headline, but the words must await my visiting a reference library to establish exactly what was said. If that is, they have it available. Finding items with 'graphic' in the name in the library search index is most difficult. And hopefully I might hope to find out if there was a related article.

The second page of 'The Graphic' coverage had three images.

COVERAGE IN 'ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS' IN 1935

This is as good a place as any to mention that an image of the burning Volturno, appeared also in a much later issue of Illustrated London News. In 'The Illustrated London News Silver Jubilee Record Number 1910-1935' issue. here. A copy sold some years ago for GBP 2.50 or approximately U.S. $4.75. The page which refers to Volturno covered 'Notable Events of 1911-1915'. An image of the page is at left. The Volturno image is second from the top on the right.

The page covers Titanic, Lusitania, the Battle of Sydney Street, the Gretna Green troop train disaster, the first Imperial Conference in London - and Volturno.

A page from what was really a book, published in 1935 & 14 1/2 x 9.5 inches in size.

The reverse side of the page covered 'Notable Events of 1916-1922'.

If any reader can provide material to add to the page, or provide more information about any of the images already on the page, do please write to me.

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