THE BURNING OF THE 'VOLTURNO' - PAGE 43
AWARDS GRANTED RE THE VOLTURNO DISASTER
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Each time I add more data to this site, I have to decide exactly where the new data is best to be placed. That decision is often not an easy one since the content of the pages often 'overlaps'. Such is surely true re this subject - the various awards that were issued, mainly to the rescue fleet, re their efforts in saving lives in October 1913.
The data that appears on this page is the contribution of Tony Jones, of North Wales, whose interest in the whole subject is quite extraordinary. Tony, we thank you!
Now each of the pages re the vessels of the rescue fleet, already contains data about the medals that were granted. My purpose with this page is not to duplicate that data, but present summary and descriptive text to supplement the data already on site.
Tony Jones advises me that to his knowledge medals were issued by 7 separate organisations. But it would seem that there were medals also issued by a German life saving society. And also medals were awarded by the French Government to the officers and crew of La Touraine. So I now list 9 organisations and awards as follows:
1) The Sea Gallantry Medal, in two varieties, one for UK nationals and the other re 'foreign service'.
2) The Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society that issued 'Marine' Medals.
3) The Life Saving Benevolent Association of New York Medals.
4) The United States Congress Kroonland Medals.
5) The Lloyds's Medal for Saving Life at Sea.
6) The Royal Humane Society Medal.
7) The Quiver Medal.
8) The German Medals.
9) The French Medals.
An overall summary of the medals issued re the Volturno disaster.
A wonderful summary of all of the medals that were issued re the Volturno has been prepared by Bernard de Neumann. It covers medals listed above as items 1 through 7. And appears on this site at page 44, with Bernard's kind permission. I understand that Bernard is a member of the executive committee of the 'Gallantry Medallists' League', and personally runs the 'Gallantry Awards List', a discussion group to help descendents/relatives of gallantry award recipients from around the world find details of the particular award.
This surely is the most prominent medal of all unless the recipient served aboard the Kroonland.
The Board of Trade issued 'Medals for Gallantry in Saving Life at Sea' for a great many years. Certainly from 1854 through 1921. The medals in fact, I learn were issued re British personnel, who as a result could add the letters 'SGM' after their names. And they were issued also to 'foreign service' recipients.
On each of the vessel pages, is, I believe, a list of Sea Gallantry medals awarded to members of that particular vessel. Those lists generally originated with Tony Jones, and I will not repeat the detail here. Bernard de Neumann has an extensive study re the SGM, available here.
Images of more actual SGM medals are on pages 91 & 66. There is a superb example on page 80 also. The image at left is courtesy of Tony Jones.
And we now have another very fine image of a Sea Gallantry Medal (foreign service) on site page 71.
I learn that the Sea Gallantry Medal was instituted in 1855 by Parliament under the terms of the Merchant Shipping Acts of 1854 & 1894. The 1854 Act made provision for monetary awards for life saving at sea but with the creation of this award that was no longer offered. It was originally issued by the Board of Trade (& later by the Ministry of Transport) as a table medal 58mm or about 2¼ inches in diameter & came in bronze, silver, or gold in two categories, for gallantry (where the rescuer's own life was risked) & for humanity (where the risk to life was minimal). In 1903, the award was changed in its format to a rather smaller medal for wear of 33mm in diameter (1.27 inches) suspended by a bright red ribbon with narrow white edges (as is seen in the image above). The medal depicts a family on a storm-tossed shoreline reviving a drowning sailor, the work, I understand, of artist Bernard Wyon.
Since none of the images on site show well that side of the medal well, I provide, at left above, a fine image of that face of an 1891 medal.
The reverse had an image of the current reigning monarch, of course - in this case Queen Victoria. The information above & the fine image at left above came from an e-Bay listing, re a medal which sold in mid Sep. 2005, for GBP 145.89 or approximately $256.75. I trust that it is acceptable to feature it all on this non-profit & informational site. I thank the vendor, accordingly, his e-Bay site is here. Do drop by! The medal was issued, I read, to a crewman of the S.S. Siberian, in respect of the Sep. 24, 1891 wreck of the schooner Little Wonder of Fowey, however the name of the recipient engraved on the rim had been long since removed. Details of the awards granted re that incident were provided to the vendor by another e-Bayer. But I added a name into that list & a little additional detail into the text above per the data on another part of this total site, specifically here.
Note however that the fine medals shown on page 80 & 71 of this site, issued to seaman who were not British, has a very different image upon it. Presumably that was because it was issued to a 'foreign service' recipient.
Here is the announcement that appeared in the 'London Times' on Mar. 11, 1914 about the award of Sea Gallantry Medals etc. The article was all in one continuous column. I made it into two columns for ease of viewing on this page. We thank Bernard de Neumann for the item.
What follows is a Report of the Society, at the time the Volturno awards were granted. An image of the front of an actual medal (bronze) is on page 91. The London Times reported the presentation on Dec. 4, 1913 of LSHS medals etc. to Captain Harnden & the crew of the Rappahannock (see site page 39) & on Dec. 11, 1913 to Captain Barr & the crew of Carmania (see site page 39). And there were surely more of such award ceremonies re other vessels of the rescue fleet.
And an image of both sides of such a medal is next, thanks to Bernard de Neumann. I have read that the medal was designed by William Wyon (1795-1851), chief engraver at the Royal Mint & from a family of well known medal engravers. We refer to Bernard Wyon earlier on this page; presumably he was another member of the Wyon family.
In Feb. 2004, a silver such medal awarded to W. McCarthy, a fireman on the S.S. Junin, for gallant service rendered on Aug. 5, 1924 at Antofagasta, Chile, was for sale via e-Bay. Not in any way related to the Volturno, of course. But my curiosity wondered what such a medal might be worth. It was bid to GBP 145.50 or approximately U.S. $275.60, with less than a day to go. But the sale, it would seem was then aborted. To be re-listed maybe? Was that a representative value? I just do not know.
A mid-Atlantic drama was played out on October 9th and 10th 1913, when the “Volturno,” en route from Rotterdam for America with 93 hands and 561 passengers, encountered a full gale with a heavy sea and was discovered to be on fire. She was finally abandoned. There were saved 63 of the crew and 458 of the passengers, the losses being thus 30 officers and 103 passengers. The disaster befell with paralysing speed. Only five minutes after discovery of the fire, the flames – apparently by means of an explosion which blew off the hatch – were shooting to a height of thirty or forty feet. Three later explosions destroyed the compass and wrecked the steering-gear. The society granted awards for gallantry in the rescue of fifty-nine of the passengers. The steamer “Devonian,” under Captain Alfred William Vincent Trant, was the first boat to get right alongside. She received some damage, but kept tight. Two boat-loads of women and children were first taken aboard in coal-baskets. A third boat brought off eighteen male passengers, other ships having taken the rest. All the officers and men who went out in the lifeboats were volunteers. A Gold medal and illuminated certificate of thanks were awarded to Captain Trant; a silver medal, silver mounted barometer, and illuminated certificate each to Chief Officer Thomas Steele, First officer Thomas Burdett Knight, and Second Officer William H. Baker; a silver medal and certificate to Bo’sun Jacinto Navarro; and a bronze medal, certificate and substantial money award to every one of the fourteen other members of the life-boats crews. As an example of their mettle may be cited the conduct of Able-Seaman Arthur Hazelwood, in Number five boat. A frenzied woman on the Volturno with the intention of having her child caught by those in the boat, threw it down; but it fell between the ship and the boat. Though in danger of being crushed between the ship’s side and the boat, Hazelwood immediately jumped into the water and grasped the child in his arms. With great difficulty both were saved. Hazelwood received a silver medal.
The steamship “Carmania,” under Captain James Clayton Barr, also figured in the picture. Barr received the distress call on Thursday morning, the 9th; and after sending wireless messages to all vessels within call, crowded on full steam and with extra stokers made over twenty knots an hour in the teeth of a raging gale, reaching the “Volturno” at noon. Notwithstanding the gale, the “Carmania,” with difficulty lowered a ship’s boat. This, in charge of First officer Francis Gardner, made a futile but magnificent effort to get alongside the “Volturno.” After two hours battering and losing all but three oars (the rest being broken or torn from the crews hands) the boat had to return to the “Carmania.” Barr received the society’s gold medal and illuminated certificate; Gardner a silver medal, a similar certificate and a silver mounted barometer; the silver medal and certificate were given to Chief Officer Robert John Johnstone and Able-Seamen William Garvey and E. J. Heighway; and the bronze medal, certificate and a money award to each of the other nine in the life-boat, for their brave endeavour.
For courage on the same occasion, awards were made also to members of the steamship “Rappahannock,” the gold medal and illuminated certificate going to Captain Frederick John Harnden, who was a hundred and sixty miles away when he received the call but arrived on the scene in ten hours. The first life-boat went out shortly after midnight in charge of Chief Officer John O. Davies, but returned in three hours and a quarter reporting that it was dangerous in the heavy sea to approach within fifty feet of the “Volturno,” and that the passengers on board, about four hundred, appeared too frightened to jump and trust in being picked up, though all had lifebelts on. At six o’clock in the morning the boat went again and succeeded in saving fifteen women and four children, all of whom were in a most pitiful state. These women had to climb down a rope from the ship’s deck being caught as they came down. The carpenter of the “Rappahannock,” George Hendrick Olaveson, climbed up the rope and on to the burning ship and brought down into the boat a ten-months-old child, the baby on the ship’s passenger list. After all possible rescues had been effected, eleven steamers scattered and searched over a wide area of the sea for further survivors, bodies, boats, but none was found. Davies who had stood in the boat for hours , received a silver medal, illuminated certificate and silver mounted barometer; Bo’sun John Henry J. Barker, Olaveson and Donkeyman William Pyne, silver medals and certificates; and bronze medals, certificates and money grants were awarded to the other five of the boat’s crew, who had not even taken lifebelts, as these would have hindered the rescue work!
What follows is a Report of the Society, at the time the awards were granted. The actual gold medal that was awarded to Max Spangenberg, Captain of the Grosser Kurfürst is visible on page 70. And an image of the bronze medal issued to boatswain Barker of Rappahannock, (seemingly called a 'pin') is on page 91. Please note that the number of survivors landed by the various vessels, as listed below, does not conform with the data I have listed on page 32. The biggest error would seem to be the number saved by Devonian where the lower Report text lists numbers which total 59.
But here I am happy to present a superb image of both sides of the bronze medal or pin, the image being of the medal awarded to Heinrich Schröder (or Schroder as they spelled it) of the Grosser Kurfürst. You can find data about Heinrich on site page 71.
British Steamship “Volturno,” Captain Inch from Rotterdam October 2nd, for New York via Halifax, was abandoned on fire in latitude 48 deg. 25 min. North, 34 deg. 33 min. West. The wireless called the steamships “Carmania,” “Czar,” “Devonian,” “Narragansett,” “Rappahannock,” and “Seydlitz” to her assistance. A heavy storm prevailed, which prevented the rescuing ships from operating their boats to advantage until the morning of the 10th, when the boats succeeded in taking off the survivors. Many of the saved were rescued from the water by the crews of the steamers. The tank steamer “Narragansett” assisted materially in the rescue by spreading oil on the heavy sea. The “Volturno’s” passengers and crew numbered 637 (should read 657, the webmaster thinks), of whom all but 162 were accounted for. The fire broke out in No. 1 hold on the 9th October and all efforts to extinguish it were made.
The rescuing ships made all possible efforts to save life. The “Grosser Kurfurst” had one of her boats out for six or more hours, in the height of the storm, and when it was picked up by the steamer the crew was exhausted and all of the oars with the exception of one were broken. The great loss of life was mainly owing to attempts to leave the burning steamer, for as fast as a boat was lowered it was smashed by the heavy seas that prevailed at the time.
The following is a list of the number of persons saved by each steamer:-
"CARMANIA" 1 passenger. "SEYDLITZ" 29 passengers. 16 crew. "GROSSER KURFURST" 83 passengers. 23 crew. "KROONLAND" 74 passengers. 14 crew. "MINNEAPOLIS" 30 passengers. "LA TOURAINE" 39 passengers. "RAPPAHANNOCK" 19 passengers. "DEVONIAN" 39 passengers. "CZAR" 99 passengers. 2 crew. "NARRAGANSETT" 27 passengers. ---- --- 440 55
The following are accounts made by several of the steamships that took part in the rescue:-
At about 10:30 a.m. the wireless operator acquainted me with the fact that a steamer called the “Volturno” was on fire and in distress. He had gathered the information from messages passing between other ships, amongst them the “Carmania.” I sent a message to the “Carmania” asking for information thus: “What is the matter with the ‘Volturno’? Can we render any assistance?”
At 9:45 p.m. A.T.S. (apparent time at ship) in lat. 48 deg. 1 min. North, 37 deg. 40 min. West, I received a message from the “Carmania” that she was standing by the “Volturno” on fire – two boats were adrift with passengers – and giving the position. The “Devonian’s” course was altered towards the position given about 130 miles away; orders were sent to the chief engineer to make all speed possible.
The weather was a fresh N.W. gale and high sea and the ship was rolling heavily. At 5:15 p.m. in answer to an inquiry sent asking what the situation was, the “Carmania” replied that she had seen nothing of the missing boats and was preparing to take the people off the “Volturno.” Two German steamers were also standing by (the “Seydlitz” and “Grosser Kurfurst”). We had also in company with us the “Minneapolis” and “La Touraine” steaming towards the “Volturno.”
At 9:15 p.m. the “Volturno” was sighted with five steamers standing by (“Carmania,” “Grosser Kurfurst,” “Seydlitz,” “Kroonland” and “Minneapolis”). The weather was still a strong N.W. wind and heavy sea running with squalls of rain. At 10:10 p.m. as the “Devonian” drew up to the burning ship the engines were slowed; she was found to be blazing fiercely from forward to abaft and bridge; a short time previous to the “Devonian’s” arrival a violent explosion had taken place; a shower of rockets had also been noticed.
At 10:25 p.m. the “Devonian” was close under the “Volturno’s” lee and pitiful cries were heard coming from her. No. 3 lifeboat was lowered and sent away in charge of Chief Mate Thomas Steele and the following crew: F. Bailey, Bo’sun’s mate; J. Rossiter and W. Fletcher, quartermasters; W. Potter, Arthur Hazelwood, E. Cunningham and W. Brown, able bodied seamen.
The “Devonian,” when the boat was nearly clear on her way, steamed around to a position to windward of the “Volturno” to be handy to pick the boat up when she returned.
October 10th, at 0:30 a.m., an empty boat was seen on the starboard side, and immediately afterwards a man was heard crying out in the water. With great difficulty he was got on board, ordinary seaman J. H. Price showing great pluck in going down the ladder into the water and putting a rope around the man, who was in an unconscious condition. The doctor revived him and he was found to be a passenger from the burning ship. At 1:00 a.m. the boat returned with the crew in an exhausted condition. The Chief Officer reported he was unable to get alongside the “Volturno” on account of the heavy sea and the rolling of the vessel and also there were no lights about her aft end. He had saved one man, who had lowered himself down with a rope into the water but he had failed to induce others to do so. The rescued man was given every attention and was found to be a passenger. At 2:00 a.m., when attempting to hoist No. 3 boat in order to steam around to leeward to launch her again, she was swamped and stove in on the ship’s side and broke adrift. Her crew were got on board safely but with great difficulty. The weather now was a fresh N.W. wind with a heavy sea still running.
At 3:00 a.m. the “Devonian” steamed around and lay close under the “Volturno’s” stern (about 200 yards away) to be handy to get a boat away as soon as the sea moderated or broke down. The fire in the “Volturno” was not then burning so furiously and she appeared as though she would easily last until daylight.
At 6:00 a.m. early dawn the wind and sea were moderating. No. 5 lifeboat was lowered and sent away in charge of W. H. Baker, second Mate, and the following crew: F. Bailey, Bo’sun’s mate; E. Cunningham, W. Brown and Arthur Hazelwood, able bodied seamen. The boat managed to get right alongside the “Volturno” and was the first boat to do so; so she received some damage but kept tight. She took in women and children (I had instructed the officer to see that they came off first). The officer reported to me that the Captain and officers of the “Volturno” did good work controlling the male passengers.
The “Devonian” steamed around and at 6:30 a.m. the boat returned and the people taken on board by means of large coal baskets without mishap.
At 6:40 a.m., the boat again left for the “Volturno” and returned with nine women and children. At 7:26 a.m. she was back alongside, the coal baskets working very well as a means of getting them on board. Many boats were going to and from the “Volturno” to other steamers by this time. I wish to note that these two boat-loads of women and children were taken off before the oil steamer had poured any oil on the sea. She arrived some time after 7:00 a.m.
At 7:40 a.m. the boat again left for the burning vessel in charge of first Mate T. B. Knight and the following crew: J. Navarro, Bo’sun; W. Bailey, Bo’sun’s mate; W. Walsh, lamp trimmer; J. Souter, 5th engineer; W. Fletcher and L. O’Neill, 2nd Mates; J. Brown and Chris Woods. The boat returned a little after 8:00 a.m. with 18 male passengers. The remaining survivors had been taken off by the other ships assisting.
At 8:45 a.m. the “Devonian” proceeded on her voyage.
Every care and attention was given to the rescued people by the doctor and steward’s department. They were given comfortable quarters, a hot meal and many of the “Devonian’s” passengers and crew gave them clothes.
I am glad to report on the steady behaviour on the part of the whole crew during this experience and more especially is praise due the officers and men who volunteered to undertake the work in the boats.
The Second Officer, W. H. Baker, made a special report to me of the plucky conduct of Arthur Hazelwood, A.B. in No. 5 boat. When she was taking in women and children, a frenzied woman on board the “Volturno” with the intention of having her child caught by those in the boat, threw it down but it fell between the ship and the boat. Hazelwood at once jumped into the water and grasped in his arms. He ran a great risk of being crushed between the ship’s side and the boat. He and the child were got into the boat with difficulty.
In all 20 women, 21 children and 18 men were saved from the “Volturno.” I also wish to pay tribute of praise to the foreign-owned ships that took part in the rescue, especially the “Grosser Kurfurst,” the “Czar” and the “Kroonland.”
The Captains of the various steamers that assisted in making the rescue were each awarded a Large Gold Medal, suitably inscribed.
The officers who went in command of the life-boats were each awarded a Large Silver Medal, suitably inscribed.
The members of the crews that actually took part in the rescue were awarded a Bronze Medal Pin and a sum of money.
Elsewhere in these pages, I mentioned that a Dallas Library page, now long gone, stated that "the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled" recognised the rescue efforts of the Captain and crew of the Kroonland. They would appear to have specifically honoured Captain Paul H. Kreibohm, & issued him an 'American-made solid gold dial watch and chain', and one of four (or five) gold medals. It would seem that an additional 34 medals were approved for issue to Kroonland crew members. But were they issued? An image of one of the crew medals appears low on page 76.
Tony Jones advises me as follows re these awards:
"The Kroonland Medal was approved by Congress of the United States of America on 19th March 1914 on the recommendation of the Secretary of Commerce, for issue to the Officers and Crew of the s.s. “KROONLAND”, for rescue work on the occasion of the “VOLTURNO” disaster.
The medal is in Bronze, circular, 36mm in diameter, suspended from a three link double chain to a top bar bearing the word ‘BRAVERY’ with an oval wreath horizontally placed thereon. The chain is made up of five links, the centre link being more pronounced and proud.
The obverse has the figure of COLUMBIA in classical costume, she stands holding a palm branch in her right hand, her left arm is extended and in her left hand she holds a laurel wreath extended towards a burning steamer and an open boat in a stormy sea, this depiction itself within a further wreath; above:- S.S. VOLTURNO, below:- October 9 – 10 / 1913.
The reverse has the words THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES TO THE OFFICERS AND CREW OF THE S.S. KROONLAND (then there is a tablet for the engraving of the recipient’s name) FOR THE RESCUE OF SURVIVORS OF THE BURNING STEAMER VOLTURNO.
Forty KROONLAND medals were issued to the Master and Crew of the s.s. “KROONLAND.” (A list of the recipients is on page 76).
In addition to the KROONLAND MEDAL, the Master, Officers and Crew also received the SEA GALLANTRY MEDAL (FOREIGN SERVICES). (A list of the recipients of the SGM is also on page 76). The Master, also received a piece of plate.
Certain Officers and Crew may have received other medals and awards, there is no evidence of this. What is certain is that none of them received the LLOYD’S MEDAL FOR SAVING LIFE AT SEA, the LIVERPOOL SHIPWRECK & HUMANE SOCIETY MARINE MEDAL, the ROYAL HUMANE SOCIETY MEDAL or the QUIVER MEDAL."
I learn from Bernard de Neumann that Captain Francis J. D. Inch, Master of the Volturno received a Lloyd's Silver Medal for Saving Life (at Sea), and that both A. Hazlewood, Seaman of the Devonian and Edward J. Heighway (see page 35), Seaman of the Carmania received the Bronze equivalent. That data may not, however be complete. It is possible there were other recipients. And we have an image of a medal. Courtesy of Tony Jones.
It would seem that there was only one recipient of this medal - Edward J. Heighway of the Carmania. What he did is set out with his photograph on the Walter Trentepohl page located at page 35 of this site.
It would seem that there was only one recipient of the Quiver 'Heroes Medal' - Captain Francis J. D. Inch of the Volturno. There is a separate page re The Quiver Award & the magazine of that name, available on page 51. And on that page is an image of a 'Quiver' Medal thanks to Tony Jones.
Thanks to Keith Mills, of Swansea, Wales, & his research at 'British Library Newspapers' in London, I learn that 'The Times', on Feb. 5, 1914, referred to the fact that 'Captain Francis Inch was presented with a Quiver medal by the Lord Mayor of London for bravery and devotion to duty during the burning of the S.S. Volturno in the mid-Atlantic'.
I learn that a German live saving society, granted a cash award of $2,000 to the lifeboat crews of Seydlitz & Grosser Kurfürst & granted gold & silver medals to the captains & officers of those & possibly other vessels also. As per the text at left which appeared in the Calgary Herald newspaper of Calgary, Alberta, Canada on November 14, 1913.
The above was for quite a while all that I knew about German medals. I think now that the name of that German life saving society was 'Deutsche Gesellschaft zur Rettung Schiffsbrüchiger (DGzRS)', a very long German established lifesaving society indeed, dating from 1865. The name translates as 'German Society for the Rescue of the Shipwrecked'. Such data as I have about that Society can be seen here. Along with an image of a DGzRS medal. Can anybody provide any further details? I do not think I know, however, the name by which the medals are known.
Since the above was written, however, more data has emerged, and it would seem that there were two different sets of German medals issued re the Volturno. Seaman Heinrich Schröder was awarded medals re his actions in the Volturno disaster while a crew member of the Grosser Kurfürst. The medal I will next show you would seem to have been awarded by the German government rather than by a life-saving society. The image shows both sides of the actual Heinrich Schröder German medal, thanks to the photographic skills of Glenn Frazee, grandson of Heinrich Schröder, later Henry Schroeder. It is thought that the medal is 'The Prussian Medal of the Order of the Crown' and that the giant letters are 'WR' which would stand for Wilhelmus Rex (King Wilhelm or William in Latin) since the Kaiser at the time was Wilhelm (of Kaiser Bill fame). You can read about Heinrich at length on site page 71. And read the origin of that medal identification.
An e-mail message from Mr. W. von Dille in Nov. 2006, confirmed that the medal in fact is Prussian - The Order of the Crown medal. Thanks Mr. von Dille!
And I am now advised that the Medal is correctly '5th class' (which is actually the Medal of Merit).
The following is all I know about these French Government medals. The text that appeared on Oct. 19th 1913, in the New York Times. Can anybody provide any further details? Maybe the names of all of the individual recipients & the name by which the medals are known. And an image of one of the medals would be a wonderful site addition.
HAVRE, Oct. 18. - Thirty-two officers and men of the crew of the transatlantic liner Touraine, who took part in the rescue of the passengers of the Volturno, were decorated with medals to-day by the French Government before the departure of the vessel for New York.
A. de Monzie, Under Secretary of State for the Mercantile Marine, went on board the liner and in the name of the Government bestowed gold medals of the first class on Second Capt. Rousselet and Lieuts. Izenic, Le Baron, and Royer, and Mate Coutre. Gold medals of the second class or silver medals were presented to twenty-seven other petty officers, seamen and stokers.
This page will, hopefully, track data about the various awards granted re the Volturno disaster. If any visitor can clarify (or correct) or provide more information about any of these matters, I would truly welcome their help.
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