THE BURNING OF THE 'VOLTURNO' - PAGE 58
THE S. S. CARMANIA - PAGE 3
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On Carmania page 1, I indicated that after the outbreak of World War I, on Aug. 4, 1914, the Carmania was requisitioned by the British Admiralty & converted into an AMC 'Armed Merchant Cruiser'.
The conversion of the Carmania from a liner to a fully armed cruiser was effected with amazing speed, thanks generally, it would seem, to the wisdom and foresight of Winston Churchill. She was at sea, commissioned as an AMC, & armed with eight 4.7 inch guns, just one week after she ended her last passenger trip in Liverpool on Aug. 7, 1914. Under the command of Captain Noel Grant, R.N., 45 years of age, she sailed from Liverpool & arrived at Shell Bay in Bermuda on Aug. 23, 1914. Captain James Barr, then 59, had agreed to remain with the ship & serve as navigator & adviser to Captain Grant with the temporary rank of Commander, Royal Naval Reserve. The Cap Trafalgar, a German liner, (18,710 or maybe 18,805 tons, 613 ft long, designed for 1,586 passengers & a crew of 435) formerly of the Hamburg South America Line and indeed its flagship, had been reported in the vicinity but was believed to be headed for South Africa.
The Cap Trafalgar, image at left above, was brand new, having been completed only on Mar. 1, 1914 & having commenced her maiden voyage only on Mar. 10, 1914. She had been modestly armed at sea, by the Eber, a very tiny gunboat indeed, that had been used in the estuaries & lakes of West Africa. How tiny? Very, very tiny! See the two vessels side by side below! (A portion only of the total image, to just show you their relative sizes.) She had, it would seem, just two 10.5 cm. guns & 6 heavy machine guns.
Also above, (at right), is a most interesting (partial) image of a portion of the crew of the Cap Trafalgar. It can only have been taken in 1914. The image sold on eBay in late Feb. 2004 at EUR 9.00 (approx. U.S. $11.22). The vendor kindly granted his permission for its inclusion on this page.
I am happy to be able to show you the next image, a postcard image of Cap Trafalgar, which gives a fine indication of what the vessel must have looked like in 1914. The card was offered for sale via eBay in Dec. 2008 & was in fact stated to have been mailed in 1908, That date must be in error, however, since the vessel was not built until 6 years later. The image appears here thanks to the kindness of 'Oliver', an eBay vendor ('mainzminze') of Mainz, Germany. I wrote 'out of the blue' to the vendor offering to buy a scan of the card for use on this site, & this beautiful e-mailed image was the kind response. Thank you Oliver! Your kindness is much appreciated. Do drop by Oliver's store, available here.
The next beautiful image was a puzzle to the webmaster. It was an eBay item sold in early July 2006. Described as being 'SCHIFFE, DAMPFER, Gruss aus Litho, Cap Trafalgar, Hamburg-Südamerikanischen Dampfschifffahrts-Gesellschaft, 1912'. It depicts, however, the Cap Polonio with the name of Cap Trafalgar substituted in hand. Both were three funnel vessels & both were completed only in 1914 which is strange when the listing referenced year 1912. For a long time, I asked here if anyone knew which vessel it truly depicts. Ruediger Woberschal has kindly written to answer my question & advises that the ship depicted is in fact Cap Trafalgar - the window arrangement under the bridge being of 2 rows rather than three rows as it is on Cap Polonio. Thank you Ruediger!
On the morning of Sep. 14, 1914 the Carmania engaged the Cap Trafalgar near Trinidad. Now the Trinidad referred to is not the island of that name in the West Indies as one would naturally assume. Rather it is a small, rocky & isolated 4 by 2 mile island located about 620 miles east of the Brazilian coast. It is called 'Trindade' in my atlases.
The engagement is really quite interesting. The Cap Trafalgar was under the command of Kapitän Julius Wirth who had taken over from Kommandant Fritz Langerhannsz, who was, I read, the senior captain of his company & an accomplished man indeed - in languages, in polo & in yachting. The decision was made to disguise the ship & make it look like a British Cunarder or Union Castle vessel. That was made possible by a Dr. Hans Joachim Braunholz, then a passenger & apparently a veterinary doctor. I mention him particularly because he was aboard Carmania at the time of the Volturno disaster & had in his wallet some photographs of the Carmania & a faded news clipping.
(Before I move on with the story, I have now read the Carmania chapter in Stephen Harding's 'Great Liners at War', first published in 1997 (Motorbooks International Publishers and Wholesalers). It states the name of the master of the Cap Trafalgar to have been Hans Langerhansz (I believe that reference to be in error & that Fritz Langerhannsz is correct.) and identifies Julius Wirth as 'Korvettenkapitän' Julius Wirth. He also states that the Cap Trafalgar was disguised to look like the Edinburgh Castle of the Union Castle Line. And ... John Malcolm Brinnin in his 'The Sway of the Grand Saloon, A Social History of the North Atlantic', published in 1971, says in his chapter devoted to the battle that the commander of the Carmania thought his antagonist was the North German Lloyd's Berlin. It does gets a bit confusing, me thinks!)
The image at left is not related to the subject matter of this page in any way. It is a WW1 Valentines postcard ('Every Nice Girl Loves A Sailor') that surely deserves a place on this site for its simple beauty & elegance. John Daymond of Caerleon, Monmouthshire, England, kindly provided a print of the actual postcard & that print is the source for this very fine image. John, we thank you!
So the Cap Trafalgar was disguised to look like the Carmania photograph, & had one funnel removed to aid in that deception (only two funnels in the image above). The remaining two funnels were painted in the Cunard colours of red with a black top. The superstructure of the vessel was modified with canvas stretched & painted to make the small bridge appear to be the full width of the ship. The distinctive glass sides of a 'Winter Garden' area, at the stern, enclosed in glass & stocked with tropical plants and birds, were painted to look like the normal side of a ship with portholes. Even the lifeboats were painted in Cunard colours! So when the Carmania first spotted the Cap Trafalgar she looked like a British vessel. "From her funnels, she's one of ours, maybe Union Castle line", said Barr.
The Carmania had been modified as well, of course. Her hull had been altered to provide suitable gunnery angles & the Cunard funnels had been painted all black.
And one day before the Cap Trafalgar engagement, a third dummy funnel would seem to have been erected (a funnel that is not visible in the postcard images below nor appears in the other postcards of the engagement viewable on Jeff Newman's fine page). The funnel was however only intended to be seen by an enemy ship 'from the front or a quarter profile'.
The vessels were quite evenly matched, the German guns being, I read, rather more modern & more effective at long distances, even though of smaller calibre. In reality, it would seem, both vessels were poorly armed & ill-equipped to act as warships. But the circumstances of war required it of both of them.
The Carmania spotted the Cap Trafalgar at 9:30 a.m. on Sep. 14, 1914. The Cap Trafalgar, coaling when first seen, stopped that activity immediately & steamed away. Carmania demanded that the Cap Trafalgar identify herself & fired a shot (or maybe two shots) across her bow. The Cap Trafalgar returned fire, & with its third shot knocked out one of the Carmania's guns, killing most of the gun crew. The battle, conducted at close range, lasted 1 3/4 hours. Both ships were repeatedly hit & both were on fire. (Some 80 main gun hits on the Carmania but, I read some 400 hits on the Cap Trafalgar.) Despite having to abandon the bridge of the ship, due to fire, the crew of the Carmania continued to fire on the German ship. The Cap Trafalgar began to list, then lay right on its side & went down bow first. Sunk - the splendid flagship of the Hamburg South America Line, just 14 days after she was fitted for war (to the extent that she was) & just 6 1/2 months after she was completed. The Carmania lost 9 men in the action (2 of whom died two days later) & 26 were wounded.
This site has some detail about the engagement & says that only 279 of the Cap Trafalgar crew of 473 were landed in Buenos Aires by the Eleonore Wouvermans. (I must recheck that name because Stephen Harding names that vessel the Eleonore Wörmann. I believe, from Colin Simpson's book referred to here, that that data may be in error, & that the Cap Trafalgar had a total complement of 301 on the day of the engagement & that 286 were later landed. Thus 15 were lost including Julius Wirth, the captain. 66 were wounded. (But, maybe not! Stephen Harding states that 279 from the Cap Trafalgar were landed & interned and, while the numbers stated in the book's text do not jive perfectly, they would seem to indicate that 20 were lost in the action including Julius Wirth & that 20 others died in the water, either drowned or eaten by sharks. I was not there! Just reporting what I have read!)
I may have read it, but if I did I do not recall the words - about what happened to the Cap Trafalgar survivors after they were landed at Buenos Aires. An e-mail message from German Herrera of Argentina, in Apr. 2007, indicates that the survivors were held on Isla Martin Garcia, a small Argentinian island located in the estuary of Río de la Plata, near the mouth of the Uruguay & Paraná rivers, between Argentina & Uruguay. Interestingly, the island is entirely surrounded by Uruguayan territory. There it would seem they were interned. But were all of the survivors interned there? I do not know. But now see site page 60.
The words on the postcard which follows, read 'This post card represents the sinking of the German armed Liner "Cap Trafalgar" (disguised as a British vessel with two red funnels), by the famous Cunard Liner, "Carmania" in the South Atlantic on September 14th, 1914. At the time, the "Carmania" was acting as one of H. M. Auxiliary Cruisers.' Jeff Newman has a vastly superior image on his site. One site I visited stated the artist to be 'Turner' but with no additional data. But I spotted a reference to a Charles E. Turner, (1883-1965), an illustrator of marine subjects for the Illustrated London News & the Sphere in that general period. I learn that the E stands for Eddowes. (The image would seem to not be of the complete artwork. Stephen Harding's book has a black and white image of this work with the artist's signature visible at bottom right - C. E. Turner. He describes the work as being a postwar illustration executed for a Cunard Line publication with source attributed to Cunard Archives, University of Liverpool.) Should you be interested, a copy of this postcard was sold on eBay in Apr. 2004 for U.S. $8.05. Another copy sold in Feb. 2006 for GBP 19.85 or approximately U.S. $34.99. And another copy sold in Mar. 2006 for U.S. $41.00. And yet another copy sold in Nov. 2008 for just GBP 2.20 or approximately U.S. $3.25. Prices are, as they say, all over the map! Despite the above, the card seems most infrequently to be available.
The next dramatic postcard image, shows the Carmania / Cap Trafalgar action. With text reasonably legible even though I rotated the image for this page. Published by Abrahams & Sons of Devonport. It would be good to be able to provide a high quality scan of this postcard. Such a postcard sold, I see, in Sep. 2005 for U.S. $12.00. And in Jan. 2006, another copy was available for sale via eBay, with however some condition issues. No bids it would seem. But a fine postcard none the less. Another copy was available in Aug. 2006. One was sold in Oct. 2008 for U.S. $9.99.
And next is a postcard image (below) of the damaged bridge of the Carmania. (A copy of the postcard was for sale on eBay in Nov. 2005 for U.S. $60.00 but did not sell. Another copy, just possibly the same copy because the vendor was the same, was for sale in Mar. 2006 at the lesser opening bid price of U.S. $50.00 but did not sell). The postcard is, I learn, of a photo by Carmania Chief Gunner Henry Middleton, then 55 years of age. Colin Simpson has such an image in his book & states 'Surgeon Edwin Maynard is wearing the hat'. That means, I trust, that the surgeon is at top right. (That would seem to be so, Stephen Harding says the ship's surgeon is at right, in dark jacket, in an image attributed to Illustrated London News.) Colin's image is credited to the Imperial War Museum. I see that the photograph was published in Volume 2 of 'The Great War', a 13 volume illustrated history of WW1, & is, in fact, in that Volume in rather better detail. But the postcard is visually interesting so I have not substituted the imagery. (The image was also published, full page, in the Nov. 18, 1914 issue of Illustrated War News.) Colin's book contains, in fact, five images attributed to Chief Gunner Henry Middleton, a keen photographer who, tripod in hand, spent his spare time taking the photographs for which we are today indebted.
This is as good a place as any to comment about the WWW pages that say that the Cap Trafalgar lost the battle because they aimed for the bridge & superstructure of the Carmania & as a result severely damaged the vessel, whereas the Carmania aimed for the Cap Trafalgar waterline & as a result sank it. It would seem that that statement has much truth. Kapitän Wirth intended to come alongside & board the Carmania & capture the ship - complete with its armament, stores & coal. And he had planned and practiced to do just that.
This is a good place to refer to the 'temporary bridge' that was constructed on Carmania once the debris of the original bridge was removed. A press image, 20 x 15 cm. in size, of that 'temporary bridge' was, interestingly, in May 2008, available for purchase on eBay. Described as being an 'International News Service / New York / USA' press photograph of 'The temporary bridge from which the armed liner "Carmania" was navigated after she had sunk the German armed liner "Cap Trafalgar" in the South Seas.' Next. It may well be the same image that appeared in the Nov. 21, 1914 issue of 'Illustrated London News'.
'Great Liners at War' has an image (not shown here) of Cap Trafalgar in its death throes, lying on its side, presumably shortly before it sank, & attributed to Bundesarchiv Koblenz. The book also has an image, (next below), attributed to the Cunard Archive at the University of Liverpool, of one of the 4.7 inch guns installed on the Carmania. There would seem to be no way today to be able to contact that Archive. I show it here without permission accordingly & will remove it should the Archive so direct. It is, however, a fine image & a welcome addition to the story & these pages.
But, the modest image of Cap Trafalgar in its death throes, lying on its side, is available on line, on a Japanese site, right here, the image 3rd up from the bottom of the page. I show that image next - I trust that is in order. I think it is the very same image that appears in 'Great Liners At War' & originates then with the Bundesarchiv Koblenz. I tried, without success, to translate the text under that image & under other images on the page also but had zero success. I note however, for your interest, that that page also has an image of Noel Grant (4th image down), & two wonderful postcard images of the interior of Cap Trafalgar, of the dining and smoking rooms, (9th and 10th images from the top). And also an image of the Winter Garden area aboard Cap Trafalgar (8th image from the top).
Temporary repairs were made to the Carmania & she limped, escorted by the Bristol & later the Cornwall also, to the Abrolhos rocks, some 50 miles off the coast of Brazil, for further emergency repairs. After a brief stop in the Brazilian port of Pernambuco (Recife today), she then was escorted to Gibraltar by the Cornwall, (arrived Sep. 28, 1914) & placed in dry dock where repairs were completed in November 1914. 'Until May 1915 the ship patrolled the coast of Portugal and the Atlantic Islands, but was afterwards required to assist in the Gallipoli campaign. It also assisted in quelling a mutiny on board the British steamship Maristan.'
I have read, in an eBay listing, that North German Lloyd's Kronprinz Wilhelm, which was at sea when the war broke out 'became a commerce raider taking and sinking 15 ships but did not sink the crippled RMS Carmania for fear of a trap.' I wonder exactly when that could have been?
An image of Carmania at Malta is at left below. A postcard image of an Imperial War Museum photograph dating, I believe, from 1914.
Perhaps card # SP 454. An essentially similar image appears in Colin Simpson's volume, said to be by Carmania Chief Gunner Henry Middleton, in 1914.
These pages are a distillation of data from quite a number of WWW sources. Foremost among those sources was, until I had read the book by Colin Simpson & Stephen Harding's chapter on the battle, a 2002 posting by Frank Young of Kensington, Maryland, available here. But I now think that Frank's data truly originated on the official Cunard page which I can today no longer access.
Colin Simpson advises that Captain Noel Grant, never a healthy man, died of tuberculosis on Mar. 6, 1920. He was then a Rear Admiral having been promoted on Jan. 27, 1920 & having retired the very next day. He had been found to be medically unfit for further sea duty in Feb. 1916 & assumed command of a shore installation. He had been named a Commander of the Bath (military division) in Jun. 1915. Captain Barr (1854? - March 30, 1937) was similarly decorated, was found to be medically unfit for further duty with the Royal Navy & returned to Cunard. He commanded the Mauretania, Saxonia & Carpathia, all engaged as troop ships. He clearly also was in command of Caronia - at least he was re the Jul. 29, 1911 voyage of Caronia from New York to Liverpool, via Queenstown & Fishguard. Per a saloon passenger list long ago available on eBay. He retired as Senior Commodore of Cunard in 1916 & died on Mar. 30, 1937 at the age of 82. I read in Colin's book that Captain Barr had first gone to sea in 1877 in sailing ships, had rounded Cape Horn when he was just 17 years of age & had been shipwrecked three times in South American waters before he joined Cunard in 1885 as a young deck officer. The engine room nicknamed him 'Smokey' I read. Not because of his pipe, but because he would complain when soot fell from the funnels onto the deck & onto the liner's passengers! I find it interesting to read also, that he had been awarded medals for his service in the South Africa Wars. Captain Barr had visited that area of the South Atlantic some 30 years earlier. Colin's book seems not to say what later happened to Commander Hans 'Fritz' Langerhannsz, but does clearly state that he was aboard the Eleonore Wouvermans at the time of the battle. The Cap Trafalgar survivors, were interned for the duration of the war on the Brazilian island of Martin Barcia in the Plata estuary. But I do not think, from Colin Simpson's wording, that that would have included Langerhannsz. I have not read how old he was at the time of the engagement but he clearly was no youngster. And he was a civilian. He stood trial in Montevideo, I read, but was acquitted. Can anybody add to that? We do in fact now have a little more data about him on site page 59, including an image of him!
A postcard mailed in 1941, available on eBay in January 2006, of the interior of St. Nicholas Church, Royal Naval Barracks, in Devonport, U.K., is of interest. (Devonport is beside Plymouth in south-west England).
Hanging on display are the ensigns flown by H. M. ships Lion, Princess Royal, Warspite, Warrior, Carmania, Carnarvon etc., during Great War Engagements. And Tiger too, I think. Published in black & white by Abrahams.
Are they still hanging there today? Most probably, but I really don't know.
Site visitors interested in Cap Trafalgar may like to know that an attractive cross stitch pattern of the ship was available on eBay in Dec. 2009. 8.7 x 12.5 inches in size. And... there was a second similar item available also, of Deutschland. A little bigger at 10.0 x 12.5 inches in size. They would make a fine pair indeed, side-by-side in a single frame. The above data is now ancient. The vendor is/was 'Pure Nature Cross Stitch', of Libby, Montana, U.S.A., whose store is here.
The Cap Trafalgar cross point is of the poster visible elsewhere on this site. An image which is visible also here.
A DATA CARD OF CAP TRAFALGAR
I understand that in 1963, The Journal of Commerce and Shipping Telegraph Ltd. published a series of 'data cards', referenced to J. H. Isherwood. One of the cards was of Cap Trafalgar.
SOME OF THOSE WHO SERVED ABOARD CARMANIA AT THE TIME OF THE CARMANIA / CAP TRAFALGAR ENGAGEMENT
Somehow these pages never seem to stop expanding!
It would be good to be able to record here the names of all of the nine Carmania crew members who lost their lives. And, were the data available, the names of the additional 26 crew members who were injured in the engagement (5 seriously injured). But so far such lists have eluded me.
How many were aboard Carmania at the time of the engagement? 'The War Illustrated' of Nov. 28, 1914 tells us (see site page #59) that there were 421 aboard, all told. Colin Simpson revises that number slightly to 420, which number includes 38 Royal Marines & 'an imported naval contingent' of 62, comprising, I read, experienced seaman drawn from the Scottish herring fleets. 17 of those seamen are referred to by name a little lower on this page though they were, in fact, from Clogherhead, Ireland. Most of the crew were, it should be mentioned, regular Carmania personnel who volunteered 'en bloc' for active service.
CARMANIA CREW LOST AS A RESULT OF THE ACTION (3 of 9)
BURFITT, JOHN C.
I have read that Chief Petty Officer John C. Burfitt was the most senior of the seven Carmania crew who were killed on the day of the action. He came from Bourton in Dorset. That is all I know today. That info comes from 'Atlantic Liners of the Cunard Line' by Neil McCart, published in 1990 by Patrick Stephens Limited.
A site visitor, Angus Macleod, of Airdrie, near Glasgow, Scotland, has kindly advised that Norman Grant, Angus's grandfather, served aboard Carmania at the time of the engagement with Cap Trafalgar. Norman was then 41 years of age, & a member of the Royal Naval Reserve. Angus advises me that Norman was a seaman, acting that day as a gunner. And that he was killed when his gun suffered a direct hit. He was the son of Ewen Grant of near Portree, Isle of Skye, & was married to Catherine Grant of the same location.
It is noteworthy that Catherine Grant had, when she lost her husband, seven young children, one of whom died at birth. She never remarried. I doubt whether we can truly imagine what she must have gone through in her life - bringing up her large family on a small war widow's pension. Catherine Grant died in 1962, 48 years after her husband was killed.
Noteworthy also was that during many of those years, until sometime in the thirties, every Christmas a food parcel would arrive from Captain Noel Grant's widow - so long as she herself was alive. Angus does not know if similar gifts were given to other families who lost their loved ones in the engagement. How very touching!
Angus, we thank you!
John Cunningham, of Ayr, Scotland, advises that Kenneth John McLeod (born Jul. 20, 1895), a 19 year old seaman aboard Carmania & a member of the Royal Naval Reserve, lost his life in the engagement with Cap Trafalgar. Seaman McLeod was from Ranish (1), a village essentially due south of Stornoway & close to Crossbost on the Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides. McLeod was the son of Colin and Catherine McLeod of Ranish &, I am advised, a brother of John Cunningham's grandmother.
His memory is preserved on this page. With the image that appears at left. He is named on this family gravestone.
There would seem to be confusion, in fact, as to the correct spelling of the surname.
As an example of that, Donald McLeod (or perhaps MacLeod), John Cunningham's grandfather, joined 'Lord Strathcona's Horse' from Canada in Sep. 1914 as part of the 'Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force' & his related 'attestation papers' that he himself signed, contains both name spellings.
The family has always spelled the surname 'MacLeod', however. Donald's attestation papers were signed on Sep. 25, 1914, 11 days after Kenneth John McLeod, who would, had he survived, have become Donald's brother-in-law, was killed in the Carmania engagement.
In early Jan. 2015, John Cunningham was further in touch to advise that the Dec. 2014 issue of 'Dùsgadh' (cover at left) contained a fine page re Carmania's engagement with Cap Trafalgar - and of the local men who served in her.
'Dùsgadh' (the word means 'awakening' or 'revival') is the quarterly journal, available by subscription, of the North Lochs Historical Society (1 & 2) of Leurbost, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides.
The page contains a fine image of Kenneth John McLeod, at left below. And provides the names of other Isle of Lewis men who also served aboard Carmania - John Macleod, John Mackenzie & Donald Macdonald. And also Malcolm Nicolson & Malcolm Macdonald - shown below.
CARMANIA CREW WOUNDED AS A RESULT OF THE ACTION (2 of 26)
In Feb. 2006, an interesting medal was sold via eBay. For GBP 51.62 or approximately U.S. $90.10. Awarded to Lance Corporal Edward Felstead, RMLI (Royal Marine Light Infantry), for his service in the Carmania / Cap Trafalgar engagement.
He served aboard Carmania from Aug. 1914 to Jun. 1916 & was wounded in the engagement with Cap Trafalgar.
The image of the medal provided with the listing could be improved a bit but I am grateful for what was provided. A thumbnail of it is at right above.
And in late Feb. 2006, a pair of Royal Marine Light Infantry shoulder titles complete with backing & clasps and a pair of 'RMLI' collar dogs, also owned by the same Lance Corporal Edward Felstead, were sold by the same vendor via eBay. For GBP 7.53 or approximately U.S. $13.23.
I show them here because the collar dogs, the lower items in the image, I guess, are visually most interesting. Sold to a different purchaser & now separated therefore from the medal above. But together on this page!
We thank Jim Ferrier for the information that follows, about Jim's grandfather.
John O'Donnell served as a quartermaster on the Carmania at the time of the engagement. He was slightly wounded in the battle & presumably in view of those wounds, left the ship at Gibraltar, where Carmania was dry docked & repaired in Nov. 1914. John was born in Ireland, but married & settled in Greenock, Scotland.
DALBY, EDWIN BALLARD (1883?/1917)
You can find some data about Edwin Ballard Dalby, RNR, on two sites: here, almost at the bottom of the page, & here (look for Dalby). It would seem that he served aboard Carmania at the time of the engagement with Cap Trafalgar & later became indeed its second in command. A New Zealander, he died, a few years later, at the age of 34, when he was a Lieutenant aboard the Joshua Nicholson which vessel was sunk by German submarine U-70 off Land's End on Mar. 18, 1917.
Arthur S. (Stanley) Fletcher was a seaman aboard Carmania at the time of the Cap Trafalgar engagement. For his service in that sea battle, he was granted the Distinguished Service Medal, as was reported in the 'London Gazette' of Apl. 10, 1915. It is fitting that that medal, & other medals that he was also granted, are still, today, in the possession of the Fletcher family.
Arthur was born at East Looe, Cornwall, in 1885, & in his family tradition, became a trawler fisherman & a seaman. He enlisted in the Royal Naval Reserve in 1905, was called to duty by a proclamation of service in the Royal Navy, & joined Carmania on Aug. 13, 1914 - a day before Carmania left Liverpool for Bermuda.
Arthur served aboard Carmania until Jun. 5, 1916 when he joined HMS Kingfisher, an armed trawler which performed minesweeping, patrol & escort duties in the North Sea. He served aboard her for the duration of WW1.
Arthur was demobilised on Feb. 26, 1919, lived until 1961, & at age 76 died at Plymouth. At left above is a photograph of Arthur, taken in later life, provided by David Fletcher, his grandson.
William G. (Gemell) Carlton advises that John Gemell, his grandfather, was a gunner aboard Carmania, at the time of the engagement.
Tim O'Neill advises that William James O'Neill, his grandfather, was mentioned in dispatches, in 1921, for his role in the Carmania/Cap Trafalgar sea battle. I wonder why the recognition was so late?
Richard H. (Henry) Richards served aboard Carmania at the time of the Cap Trafalgar engagement - part of a stern gun crew. While he was not wounded during the battle, he did suffer some temporary hearing loss from the firing of the guns.
Richard was born in Mousehole, a picturesque & perhaps the loveliest village of all in Cornwall, U.K., on Sep. 6, 1889, the third of six sons born to Thomas Richards, a fisherman, & his wife Bessie.
Richard became a fisherman also & before joining the Merchant Navy served aboard Acacia, one of the family's two fishing boats.
In 1914 he joined the Carmania & served her thru May 1916 when she was decommissioned. During the rest of the war he served, it is believed, on escort duties in the North Sea. Once WW1 was over, Richard returned to Cornwall & to his life as a trawlerman. He married Lavinia Ann Harvey in 1924, the couple having a single daughter, Betty Iris. Richard was, by all accounts a fine seaman & crewed for some most prominent yachtsmen indeed, including Lord Louis Mountbatten in the 1930s. He retired from the sea in the late 1950s.
While Richard apparently never spoke of his WW1 experiences, he certainly did not forget them. A print of the Carmania / Cap Trafalgar engagement graced his home throughout his lifetime. He lived until 1972, when at age 83 he died of prostate cancer.
The fine image which follows shows a group of seaman in dress uniforms aboard Carmania, with Richard standing at the left of the image. The date of the image is not known, but must be in the 1914/1916 period. The identities of the other five seaman are also not known. Perhaps a site visitor might be able to assist with their identification? And above, at right, is a thumbnail of Richard, taken later in his life, in the 1960s.
We sincerely thank Jenny Fitton, Richard's granddaughter, for all of this most interesting material.
Claude Henry Shore was an engineer with 'Cunard' at the outbreak of WW1. While he had joined Cunard in Feb. 1904, the first available record of his service aboard a particular Cunard ship is Phrygia, from Jul. 1912 to Jun. 1913. And then Ultonia to the end of Dec. 1913. In 1914, however, he was serving aboard Carmania, & he volunteered for active service as did every other crew member. He became a member of the Royal Navy Reserve in Aug. 1914 as 'Temporary Engineer RNR'. His name was deleted from the Navy List in Aug. 1916, when he had the rank of 'Temporary Engineer Lieutenant Commander RNR'.
In Jan. 1917 he joined Feltria & it would seem, would have been aboard Feltria when that vessel was torpedoed & sunk by UC-48 on May 7, 1917, at 51.56N/07.24W, off Mine Head, County Waterford, Ireland. With, per most WWW references, the loss of 45 lives, including many who died of exposure in lifeboats.
He continued his career with Cunard in the following years & the list of vessels on which he served is long indeed. In WW2 he was aboard Franconia & Vasconia, & for a period was also aboard Athelvictor (an Athel Line tanker). He was aboard Franconia in Mar. 1944 when he was discharged & retired after a very long period of service indeed, including service in two World Wars. He was '2nd Engineer in 1923', but his later status appears not to be available.
We sincerely thank David Slade of the U.K. for all of this data, & for a list of medals that Shore was awarded, a list which again covers both WW1 & WW2. David advises that he will be making a presentation in Nov. 2008 about the Carmania / Cap Trafalgar sea battle & intends to feature the many medals & decorations that were awarded to Shore.
It is a pleasure to receive e-mail messages from 'out of the blue' with new & important additional data. A message received from Ailish Evans, in Mar. 2008, advises me that there were 17 crew members who all came from the very same small fishing village in Ireland. From Clogherhead, a tiny village indeed, located on the E. coast of Ireland in County Louth, about 70 km. N. of Dublin. Ailish tells me they all were fishing off the Scottish coast when called up. And that all were members of the Royal Navy Reserve. Included in the list is Patrick Levins, who was Ailish's grandfather.
They all survived the engagement! A blessing because the community might otherwise have been devastated.
The 17 were as follows, in alphabetical order by family name. Including more than one from a single family, perhaps: a) Peter Burke, b) Michael Fanning, c) John Garvey, d) Tom Garvey, e) Pat Kelly, f) James (Noy) Kirwan, g) Patrick Levins, h) Anthony Lynch, i) 'Smoker' Lynch, j) Thomas Lynch, k) Pat (Red) Rath, l) James Reilly, m) Pat Sharkey, n) Pat Smyth, o) John Tallon, p) Pat Tallon, q) Peter Tallon.
We thank you, Ailish!
Ailish Evans was in touch again, in Jun. 2016, via the guestbook. To advise as follows:- Just a quick update, my Grand Father was the Patrick Levins from Crooked Street, Clogherhead. His parents were Peter Levins and Mary (nee Moore). The family tree gets very confusing as my branch alternated Peter and Patrick for generations as did some of the other Levins families in Clogher! It's highly likely that there were 2 Patrick Levins' from Clogher on board! As seems to be mentioned next.
Some further data received in Mar. 2015 from Dave Levins - who advises that the Irish Mariners data base shows that there may have been two Patrick Levins's serving onboard. Both from Clogher Head:
1) Able Seaman Patrick Levins, RNR 2272D, son of Peter & Mary, joined ship 1914,
2) Able Seaman Patrick Levins, RNR 3218B, son of Peter & Margaret, joined ship 1914.
Can it possibly be so. Or is it a duplication in some way? Can anybody comment? Dave Levins has further advised that the 1911 Irish Census shows that there were 2 Patrick Levins living in Clogher Head, both being listed as fishermen. One was married and living on Main Street with his wife and child - he was 28 yrs old in 1911. The second Patrick was listed as being 34 years old and living with his widowed mother and two sisters, on Crooked Street.
John Macleod, John Mackenzie & Donald Macdonald. And also Malcolm Nicolson & Malcolm Macdonald. I refer you to a section higher on this page, a section where you can view images of those last two names - i.e. Malcolm Nicolson & Malcolm Macdonald. Also see here re Malcolm Macdonald.
In David Slade's research materials (thanks!) re Claude Henry Shore (above), are listed the names of 7 engineers who also joined the Royal Navy Reserve in 1914 & served aboard Carmania at the time of the battle with Cap Trafalgar. All of them were removed from the Navy List in Aug. 1916, as was 'Shore'. In alphabetic sequence:
i) Robert G. Craig, ii) James Duncan, iii) Harold Kendall, iv) Alexander Lindsey, v) Charles Arnold Rennie, vi) John Owen Teare, vii) Robert Wison.
The webmaster is grateful for the assistance of David Fletcher, who advises that the following were granted the awards indicated re the engagement with Cap Trafalgar. As per the 'London Gazette' of Apr. 10, 1915.
Granted the Distinguished Service Cross:
Middleton, Henry, Chief Gunner, Royal Navy
Dickens, George Frederick, Acting Sub Lieutenant, Royal Naval Reserve
Colson, Douglas Nowell, Midshipman, (now Acting Sub Lieutenant), Royal Naval Reserve
Jo Lawler was in touch, in Oct. 2015, via the guestbook, to tell us about Carmania crew member G. F. Dickens. He survived and was appointed acting lieutenant (RNR) on board HMS M33 from Aug. 25, 1916 to Oct. 24, 1918. HMS M33 belongs to the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth, U.K. It is a monitor or shallow draft shore bombardment vessel, built in 7 weeks in 1915. It is in dry dock & open to visitors. Thanks for that Jo!
Granted the Distinguished Service Medal (in additional to those specifically listed above):
Jones, John Walker, Chief Petty Officer, Royal Fleet Reserve
Andrews, Robert Walter, Chief Petty Officer, Royal Fleet Reserve
Ware, Charles, Petty Officer, Royal Navy
Clark, William Frederick, 2nd Yeoman of Signals, Royal Fleet Reserve
Mitchell, Albert Edward, Armourer, Royal Navy
Dyer, William Samuel, Serjeant, Royal Marine Artillery
Branske, Richard Robert, Gunner, Royal Marine Artillery
Wadsworth, William Ernest, Private, Royal Marine Light Infantry
Hanlon, John, Seaman, Royal Naval Reserve
Green, Matthew, Chief Steward
Adams, Thomas, Officers' Steward (3rd. Class)
1) - WALTER FRASER (1889/1940)
Douglas Fraser has been in touch about his grandfather Walter Fraser (1889/1940). An image of Walter is at left.
Douglas believes that Walter would have been aboard Carmania at the time of its battle with Cap Trafalgar in Sep. 1914. Walter Fraser is, I understand, referenced as a Royal Naval Reserve engineer serving aboard Carmania in the 1914 Navy List issued in Nov. 1914. You can read about Walter Fraser in this page.
Carmania left Liverpool on Aug. 14, 1914 after a rapid refit to make her into an Armed Merchant Cruiser. After the battle with Cap Trafalgar, Carmania was taken to Gibraltar, where she stayed, while being repaired, from Sep. 18, 1914 to Nov. 1914. It would be good to be able to more specifically confirm, by contemporary records, that Walter Fraser joined Carmania likely at Liverpool in Aug. 1914 & was therefore aboard Carmania on Sep. 14, 1914.
2) - T. J. HOWARD - An eBay item, in Oct. 2008 & later relisted, offered for sale a pair of WW1 medals, the War & Victory Medals, issued to '2292S. T. J. HOWARD TR R.N.R.' [Trimmer Royal Navy Reserve], whom, the vendor indicated may be the 'John Howard' who died aboard Carmania on Nov. 15, 1914. Two months after the Cap Trafalgar engagement. So the item may not be related to that engagement, but may very well be so.
A listing of items that would, if available, add to my knowledge of the Carmania sea battle with Cap Trafalgar. I do not really want the following, per se. Just whatever new data that they might prove to contain. If you could help in any way, drop me a line.
1 'The Carmania's historic fight' Published by Cunard Steam Ship Company in 1919. 32 pages, illustrated. An account of the battle. 2 'The Sea-Raiders' by E. Keble Chatterton, first published in 1931 The volume contains, I understand, both text and images re the sea battle between Carmania and Cap Trafalgar. In particular, a full page image of Captain Barr and a photograph of the Carmania's rangefinder. The content sounds most interesting indeed. I do have limited data on the bottom of page 59, including the rangefinder image. 3 'A Merchant Fleet At War' by Archibald Hurd, first published in 1920 The volume contains both text and images re the sea battle between Carmania and Cap Trafalgar. In a chapter entitled 'Combatant Cunarders'. 4 The November 21, 1914 issue of 'Illustrated London News' Contains 3 relevant photographs - i) The Carmania's duel with the Cap Trafalgar, ii) The wrecked bridge of the Carmania, and iii) The temporary bridge rigged up on board the Carmania.
For many years, the above list contained also 'Cap Trafalgar. Eines deutschen Hilfskreuzers Glück und Ende', By Fedor von Zobeltitz. Published by Stuttgart in 1915. 298 pages. With the hope that it might contain an extensive account of the engagement. Thanks to Ruediger Woberschal, I can advise that the book can now be downloaded in its entirety here (via 'download' at right).
It would seem that text re the engagement is late in the book, in a chapter commencing at page 278. The book is searchable & using 'armania' as a search term ('Carmania' does not work) the first reference to Carmania is on page 283. Translation of that chapter will likely be most difficult, however. But now at least you can see it for yourself. It includes 4 images of the interior of the vessel.
This page will, hopefully, track data about the Carmania as it comes to hand. And hopefully data as it specifically relates to the Volturno tragedy or the Cap Trafalgar.
If any visitor can clarify (or correct) or provide more information about any of these matters, I would truly welcome their help.
A SITE SEARCH FACILITY THE GUEST BOOK - GO HERE
DEATH OF ADMIRAL GRANT.
CARMANIA V. CAP TRAFALGAR.
The death occurred on Saturday at Stanmore of Rear-Admiral Noel Grant, C.B., who commanded the Carmania when she sank the Cap Trafalgar in mid-Atlantic after an action lasting two and a half hours, on September 14, 1914.
Rear-Admiral Grant, who was born in 1868, was the son of John Miller Grant. He entered the Navy as a cadet in January, 1882, becoming commander in 1902 and captain in 1908, and being promoted to flag rank on January 27 last.
The action between the Carmania and the Cap Trafalgar was the first instance of armed merchant vessels engaging in battle and was one of the most gallantly fought engagements in the annals of naval history. Both vessels were heavily armed and had no armour protection and opened fire at about 12,000 yard's range, which was varied, the vessels closing to within 2,000 yards. The action was undoubtedly won by the skilful manœuvring and technical skill of Captain Noel Grant, who finally sunk his adversary, although his own ship was riddled by shell and very badly on fire. After this action Captain Grant received a wireless message from Mr. Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, saying:- "Well done ; you have fought a fine fight to a successful finish." Captain Grant received a C.B. for his distinguished service and was appointed shortly after to the Cochrane, but unfortunately, owing to illness, largely brought about by his experience in the Carmania, he was sent to hospital with pneumonia, a return of which after a severe operation for appendicitis caused his death.
Rear-Admiral Grant married in 1914 May Annette, daughter of Mr. E. Allen.
The funeral service will be held at St. Mark's, North Audley-street, at 2.45 on Wednesday.
I have so far seen only four images of Captain Noel Grant, the image which appears at the top of site page 59, an image on this page and the two images on this page. The label at left is, I understand, one of a set of 144 different 'Cinderella' labels issued in London in 1915 for the Lord Roberts Memorial Fund ~ to benefit 'Disabled Soldiers and Sailors'.
This particular label was for sale on eBay in September 2005 by vendor kiwisteve of New Zealand. The labels were, we are informed, printed by Fawcett & Co., 125 The Strand, London and featured allied war leaders, premiers and prime ministers, statesmen, soldiers, sailors and airmen, nurses, doctors, members of royal families.
All featured were British and Colonial or European Allies but no Americans were included since the set was issued before the entry of the U.S.A. into WW1. An album was issued for the labels.
An eBay item in September 2006 listed a 48 page paperback, entitled 'British Heroes of the War' - date of publication not stated but early surely in the course of WW1. One of a series. This was No. 4. And included amongst the heroes covered is Captain Noel Grant of the Carmania.
Thanks to Mike Morris of Bedfordshire, U.K., I now have available its content about Captain Grant - an image of him (below), a new artwork of the battle with 'Cap Trafalgar' (site page 61), and some descriptive text.
If any site visitor can provide further images of Noel Grant, or additional data about him, they would be gratefully received by the webmaster for inclusion on this site.
It would seem, however, that there are three photographs of him in the National Portrait Gallery in London, England, all attributed to Walter Stoneman and all dated 1917. But no on line images are available.