THE BURNING OF THE 'VOLTURNO' - PAGE 59
THE S. S. CARMANIA - PAGE 4
May I suggest that you navigate the site via the index on page 01. PRIOR PAGE / NEXT PAGE
If you want to make a comment, a site guestbook is here. Test.
Here are Carmania pages 56, 57, 58, 60, 61 and 62.
To search for specific text on this page, just press 'CTRL + F' & then enter your search term.
A rather large page. But mostly text which should download easily and quickly. The page continues to cover the strange but true sea battle fought in 1914 between two passenger liners - the Carmania and the Cap Trafalgar. And also includes items related to the Cap Trafalgar itself.
It is surely appropriate to have images of all the main antagonists side by side in these pages ~ Noel Grant and James Barr of the Carmania and Julius Wirth and Fritz Langerhannsz (I believe that to be his correct name and not Hans Langerhansz as per the Stephen Harding reference referred to on site page 58) of the Cap Trafalgar. And here we have those officers. Noel Grant is at left from Volume 11 of a WW1 Illustrated 13 volume history entitled 'The Great War', published (that particular volume) in 1918. Next is Captain Barr, from Arthur Spurgeon's 1913 book about the Volturno, Next is Julius Wirth in 1911, from Colin Simpson's book (and attributed to Bundesarchiv) but modified for these pages. Fritz Langerhannsz? I have now included an image of him at right even though he was not aboard the Cap Trafalgar at the time of the engagement, and perhaps strictly was not therefore even an antagonist. He was, however, aboard Eleonore Wouvermans and carried Cap Trafalgar survivors to Buenos Aires).
The image of Kapitän H. Langerhannz was found on a page that seems no longer to exist. The name appeared in two of the images on that page, one of which dated to 1907, so I think that the matter of the correct spelling of the name is now resolved. I suspect that the H. does mean Hans, but that he was known as Fritz. At the bottom of the page was a fine image of the Captain. I have, after a great many years, included a part of that image above. But will remove it, with regret, upon the request of Christian Biedekarken who indicates that he owns the image copyright.
Captain Wirth lost his life in the engagement. A shell struck the Cap Trafalgar and a 'jagged piece of the bridge rail' ended up firmly imbedded in his left armpit. His body was recovered from the water and he was buried at sea on Sep. 15, 1914. The cause of death was, per a 'primitive' autopsy performed by a Dr. Violet, heart failure, 'probably induced by the splinter in his armpit blocking the supply of blood from the heart. Either the shock of immersion or of trying to swim caused cardiac arrest'.
Maybe you can provide additional Carmania images? Or data?
I learn that prolific author Colin Simpson (1931 - ) wrote a book about the Carmania and Cap Trafalgar incident of Sep. 1914. Entitled 'The ship that hunted itself', a wonderful title as I am sure you will agree, the book was originally published in 1971 and republished a number of times later. Hard cover and paper back editions are available. Of 186 pages or maybe 207 pages depending on the edition. I have now read a 1977 edition of the book which indicates that to be the first published date also. I thought I had seen that Stein Publishing published it in 1971, hence my date above, but maybe the used book listings I saw were in error. Or maybe there is more than one 'first published' date, which happens all the time for perfectly logical reasons. Anyway, Colin's work is the source of much of the detail data on the battle contained in these pages. The book also contains some fine photographs which I commend to you, including one of the Carmania approaching Trinidad (or Trindade) island. A good read! A copy of the book was sold for U.S. $6.50 on e-Bay in Feb. 2004, but it is generally available, it would seem. But only 'used', today, I do believe. It was published in the German language also, I find, with the title of 'Seeschlacht vor Trinidad'.
'The War Illustrated' - November 28, 1914
Next, I provide what would appear to be the very first 'complete' description of the Carmania/Cap Trafalgar sea battle that appeared in the British Press. It appeared in the November 28, 1914 issue of 'The War Illustrated', a weekly publication costing twopence an issue at the time, the cover of which appears at left.
No names are mentioned. Not even, in fact, the name of the Carmania crew member who wrote the article! Nor indeed is any other name mentioned such as the names of the respective captains.
The wording is most interesting - 'it had never been known before that a floating hotel fitted with miniature artillery should meet and engage on the high seas a similar adversary similarly armed.'
'Illustrated'? Yes! The article did contain three modest black and white images, but they are not of great quality and would add little to the site were I to scan them and include them here. A copy of the above issue of 'The War Illustrated' did not sell in late Feb. 2007 for U.S. $19.99.
THE FIRST SEA-FIGHT OF IT'S KIND
Thrilling Tale of the Battle between
the Carmania and the Cap Trafalgar
BY ONE WHO TOOK PART IN IT
Very little has been heard of the excellent work of the Royal Naval Reserve since the outbreak of the War, but this branch of our Navy has figured in several important engagements, and especially distinguished itself in the famous fight between the Carmania and the Cap Trafalgar, when our merchant-cruiser destroyed and sank the splendid new Hamburg-South-American liner which, like the Carmania, had been fitted out for war service. No complete account of this engagement, which is likely to be famous in the annals of the Navy as being the first battle of the kind in history, has yet appeared in the British Press, and we are fortunate in being able to present to readers of THE WAR ILLUSTRATED a graphic description of the fight penned by one of those who took an active part in it.
On the morning of September 14th the auxiliary cruiser Carmania steamed south on a reconnoitring expedition towards Trinidad Island - not the West Indian island of that name, but the tiny island rock about four miles by two that lies in the South Atlantic, about 700 miles east from Brazil. Early in the forenoon the lofty rock loomed large ahead, and a group of masts and funnels that were made out to the westward of it resolved, later on, into three steamers. Like hornets they buzzed around, undecidedly at first, and then took to their heels, but when it was ascertained that the intruder had no company, the largest of them, a magnificent liner with two red funnels and a grey hull, evidently changed her mind, turned around and made for the piratical-looking surprise-packet, for the Carmania was black from rail to keel, what with the generous laying on of the tar-brush in Liverpool and the smoke and grime of a long sea voyage.
The sun stood directly overhead. The scene was one of undimmed tropical splendour when the Carmania mastheaded the white ensign and fired a shot across the other steamer's bow. The stranger, who had disregarded all previous signals, there and then hoisted his colours, and returned the challenge by a broadside from his starboard guns. It was a German ship right enough, no other than the Cap Trafalgar, as subsequently proved, the pride of the Hamburg-South-American Line, built in 1913 for the express purpose of ousting the Royal Mail and kindred British companies in that part of the world.
These preliminary shots gave both sides an accurate range. No sooner were sights adjusted, than every gun that would bear opened fire, and the two combatants set them to a deadly duel, in which one or both must sink. It was a fight to the finish between two ships that only a few weeks previously had been carrying passengers, mails, and cargo from New York to Liverpool, from Hamburg to South America. Both ships had been built to withstand stress of weather, not stress of warfare. Armour they had none, nor very great speed, and their triple tier of decks, littered with every conceivable sort of cast-iron menace, lent security to the crew only in their vastness.
A gross tonnage of 19,524 in the case of the Carmania, and 18,710 in the case of the Cap Trafalgar, constitute targets so colossal as to be beyond the scope of credulity to one at all initiated in modern gunnery. The duel was therefore unique, because the combatants were not men-of-war in the proper sense of the word, and the first of its kind on record, as it had never been known before that a floating hotel fitted with miniature artillery should meet and engage on the high seas a similar adversary similarly armed.
In weapons, as well as in size and speed, the two ships were evenly matched. The Carmania mounted eight 4'7 guns, the Cap Trafalgar eight 4'1 guns, up-to-date, the difference in calibre equalising the difference in age at normal range. But the modern weapon with its low trajectory is far more effective at long distances, and it is surprising that the German did not take advantage of the fact, and be the first to commence operations. The action took place at a distance of a little over 8,000 to a little over 4,000 yards from start to finish.
The object of each ship being to let water into the other as quickly as possible, the guns were laid on the water-line, and an identical portion of it kept as the point of aim every time they were fired. Of the first few shells that hit the Carmania on the port side three made holes, big and small, at and above the water-line; one tore through the steward's quarters and embedded itself in the protective sandbags outside the engine-room; another made havoc in the galley on the lower deck and carried away the fire main leading to the fore part of the ship and bridge, with well-nigh disastrous results, as will be seen later. One more ripped through a lifeboat and burst in the corner of the engine-room casing, missing the wireless operating-room by a few feet.
The following account of the action itself is taken from a diary which was written up about two hours after the event:
"One never saw such a scatter as when we sat down to lunch and 'action!' was sounded. Feeling ran high that this time we were in earnest; everyone was at his post in the twinkling of an eye. Ten minutes afterwards the conflict started, at a range of about six miles, both ships closing rapidly. The din that followed was unnatural and terrifying, and men's hearts leaped to their mouths, for here was death amongst us. But the heat of work changed white faces to red. Blood once seen revives savagery in the human breast, and all our thoughts, after those first few moments, were concentrated in the grim work at hand, which was to sink as speedily as possible the monster that was vomiting red and steaming arrogantly towards us.
Seamanship that Helped the Victory
"By a clever manoeuvre our captain turned the ship round just as the enemy was bringing his pom-poms into play as well as the big guns, and brought our starboard battery, fresh and eager, to bear. Then we turned into demons, in a scene that had turned diabolical. Screaming shrapnel, returned by salvos of common shell, splinters everywhere, lumps of iron, patches of paint, a hurricane of things flying, men discarding garments, and laughing with delirium - over all a white pall hiding the ghastly work.
Death-dealing Shells from the Cap Trafalgar
"What matter that a shot cannoned down the after-companion and laid low three of the whip party? Volunteers were not wanting to close in the breech and keep up a brisk supply of ammunition to the hungry guns. Or that a shot glanced off the shield of No. 1 gun, past the officer in charge, and blew away the neck of a corporal of Marines passing projectiles along the deck, leaving him leaning over the magazine hatchway, head dangling down, and dripping blood on the madmen working below? Or that a shell burst by the feet of a man carrying another one in his hands?
"Word went round that we were on fire forward - the bridge, in fact, was blazing. A shell had torn through the cabins below, setting them alight, and the flames by this time reached and enveloped the bridge, since water could not be turned on in the first instance, as the main on the lower deck had been shot away. But the ill news was more than compensated for by the frenzied announcement that the enemy was also on fire, and listing, moreover, on his side. So our main control was gone. The captain, first lieutenant, and navigating party had to leave the bridge to the flames - not before gaining us victory, however, by the splendid way they handled the ship in heading off the enemy, preventing him from turning round and bringing his idle guns on the port side to bear, and by keeping him on our starboard quarter so we were able to use five of our guns to his four.
"The enemy listed a little more, and our work was done; his shooting became higher and more erratic, then stopped altogether. We ceased firing, and turned our attention to fighting the flames roaring up on high in the fore part of the ship. Luckily, we were able to stop the engines and keep the ship before the wind. The bridge and all of its precious fittings were doomed, as also the cabins below it; the officers who occupied them lost all their effects. A fireproof door in the staircase leading to the lower cabins effectually kept the fire from spreading in this direction, otherwise there might not have been very much left of the Carmania. The action raged hotly for an hour; after that desultory firing was continued until the end.
"Of the two colliers that accompanied the enemy, one steamed away at the commencement of the action and was never seen again. The other, and smaller of the two, followed suit until he noticed the plight of his escort, and returned to pick up the survivors. Anon, an order went around the decks; 'All firemen down below' The firemen had been doing yeoman service, running hoses and buckets of water to the scene of the fire, just as the stewards had distinguished themselves by taking round water and lime-juice to the guns' crews under shell fire, and also helping with carrying away the wounded. The reason for this order was ominous. The yeoman of signals had sighted smoke on the horizon to the north, and made out a bunch of funnels. It could not but be the Dresden, or whatever German cruiser the armed merchant-man we fought was in company with, returning to the assistance of her consort, who had been signalling to her during the action. A great pity, indeed, one of our cruisers was not in touch with us at the time. What a fine haul it would have been!
"Just as we got the fire well in hand, and were starting to run to the American coast, we beheld the most awe-inspiring sight of our lives - the last moments of an ocean leviathan. The wounded ship, distant from us about five miles, suddenly lurched over on the starboard beam end, looking for all the world as if she were about to turn turtle. Lower and lower she went, until her huge funnels were level with the water, pointing in our direction like two tunnels side by side, and dense clouds of smoke and steam escaped from all parts of her as from a volcano in a high state of activity. As quickly again, the mammoth righted herself; down, down went her bows; up and up her stern, till quite one-third of the hull stood upright to the sky, then with a majestic plunge she slid beneath the waves, game to the end, for the last to disappear was the German flag.
"A ring of foam, and half a dozen boats crowded with dark forms, were all that was left at 2 p.m. of the brave Cap Trafalgar and her ornate saloons and winter gardens, the ship that conveyed Prince Henry of Prussia on his triumphant tour to the South American Republics.
The action thus hung in the balance for nearly an hour. The Carmania gradually gained the upper hand by superior rapidity and concentration of fire, and by the skilful manner in which she was handled. Shrapnel, too, which the Cap Trafalgar used, does not seem so effective as common shell, which at short range is almost armour piercing. The crew of the British ship formed a rare combination highly suitable to that type of war vessel - a navigator captain and a gunnery first lieutenant from the Navy, Reserve officers and men, volunteer engineers and firemen.
The casualties of the Carmania amounted to nine men killed and twenty-six wounded out of four hundred and twenty-one hands all told, a low percentage owing to the wide distribution of the various parties. The survivors of the Cap Trafalgar landed at Buenos Aires consisted of eighteen officers and two hundred and ninety-two men, which would give her casualties at about eight officers and one hundred men if she carried the same number of men as the Carmania.
Seventy-nine direct hits were counted on the Carmania, and innumerable small holes from splinters; her boats were riddled, as also masts and ventilators; her rigging and wireless aerial were shot away.
Rumour has it that the unknown German cruiser chased the Carmania for two days in the direction of Monte Video, which was the first course the latter set forth upon from the scene of the action, until, under cover of darkness, she doubled on her track, making for Abrolhos Rocks instead.
It is a moot point whether the Cap Trafalgar did not fit out entirely as an auxiliary cruiser at Trinidad, disguising herself at the same time as a Union Castle liner, which necessitated the removal of the third funnel, a dummy put up for appearances only, like the fourth one of the Olympic. She certainly did look as fresh and trim before the action as if she had only just stepped out of the proverbial band-box. At all events, the German peaceful-commerce destroyer was to all intents and purposes filling up with coal when the Carmania bore down on her so unexpectedly, preparatory perhaps, to stealing across the Atlantic for the purpose of preying on the West African trade routes, where her masquerade would best serve its purpose, in lieu of the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse, recently sunk by H.M.S. Highflyer.
Finally, the use of Trinidad Island as a coaling base by the scattered units of the German South Atlantic Fleet constitutes daring effrontery and, one reluctantly adds, splendid powers of organisation on their part, considering its nearness to the trading routes of the South Atlantic, which carry a constant stream of British mercantile ships both on the east and on the west.
Next on this page is an image of a Cap Trafalgar 1914 medal. Indeed, I think it relates to the triumphant tour of Prince Henry of Prussia to the South American Republics, referred to in the article above.
The capital letter text in German reads, 'Prinz u Prinzessin Heinrich V Preussen' and 'Hamburg-Südamerikanische Dampfshifffahrts-Gesellschaft / I. Fahrt der "Cap Trafalgar" März 1914'. It was sold via e-Bay for U.S. $332.00 on Apr. 2, 2004. The vendor indicated that the vintage Art Nouveau bronze medal dates from the 1914 launch of the Cap Trafalgar of the Hamburg-South America Line and shows the Prince & Princess of Prussia with an image of the steamer. A design signed by M. Hansen. 6 cm or 60 millimeters in size. I see that another such item sold in late Jun. 2004 at EUR 26.53 or approximately U.S. $32.07. And in early June 2005 another example of the medal did not sell on e-Bay at U.S. $202.50 after 15 bids - such value being below the reserve price. It became (end of Aug. 2005) available as a 'buy it now' item at U.S. $375.00. The vendor of that item, rosfil1, listed another similar medal in late Aug. 2005, which sold for U.S. $197.50.
Another copy of the medal was sold in Apr. 2009 at U.S. $124.00. Here.
It would seem that the National Maritime Museum in the U.K. has a copy of the medal and you can see the front and back of their medal right here and here. Fine images indeed! Much better than the images I have immediately below. It would seem that to download the images for a non-commercial and personal use is permitted, and that would include, I trust, this non-profit website. But I direct you to that page instead. You will need a magnifying glass to read the very tiny descriptive text however! You are only permitted to download or print material from their website for your own non-commercial and personal use. If you would like to order prints of any of their images you need to click on the shopping trolley icon, labelled 'buy a print', and follow the instructions.
At right below is a 1914 German postcard image of the Cap Trafalgar. A lovely image indeed! I would sure like a larger image of this beautiful card. With text that I believe reads 'Hamburg-Süedamerikanische Dampfschifffahrts-Gesellschaft'. Re her maiden trip from Hamburg to Rio and Buenos Aires on Mar. 10, 1914. This image comes from e-Bay - the card sold for U.S. $50.00 in Apr. 2004. (Another copy of that card with probably, in actual fact, a better available image, was sold in Jun. 2004 for the equivalent of U.S. $23.01. And in Aug. 2005, a similar card sold on e-Bay for U.S. $202.50 after no less than 22 bids by four bidders.) I trust that I may be permitted to use the image on this non-profit and informational site. Ditto re the image at left below, which is of another 1914 Cap Trafalgar postcard that originated from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and was available for purchase in April 2004 on e-Bay. It had, as the vendor indicated, some defects. But it is a beautiful image, regardless. And the opening bid and final price were modest - both just U.S. $2.00. And a good copy of the card sold in late Jan. 2005 for U.S. $26.00.
It would be good to know what all of the words mean in the right image. Can anybody provide that text written out in German to record on this page and for translation into English? And now, thanks to Gary from New Zealand, we do have a translation of that wording. German and English - left side and then right side in both languages.
Am 10. Marz 1914 von Hamburg nach
Rio de Janeiro und Buenos Aires
23000 t Wasserverdrangung
18 Knoten Geschwindigkeit
Triple Screw Express Steamer
On 10 March 1914 from Hamburg to
Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires
23000 t Displacement
18 Knots Speed
There is considerable interest today in 'Cap Trafalgar' ephemera.
Another postcard of the vessel (just a thumbnail of it is at left) was sold in Aug. 2005 for U.S. $61.99. The card was mailed on Jul. 14, 1914.
And a fine advertising card, of the inaugural run of the Cap Trafalgar ex Buenos Aires on Apr. 9, 1914. It was an e-Bay item which sold in late May 2004 for U.S. $37.50. A beauty, indeed. I trust I may be permitted the use of the image on this non profit and informational site. The least I can do, by way of thanks, is to invite you to visit the vendor's extensive store. It will probably take you a while to see all that he has for sale.
And another fine card, which sold via e-Bay in Nov. 2005 for U.S. $93.90. Described as being 'superb' & 'a beautiful Hamburg Sud Amerika Line advertising card featuring the ill fated liner Cap Trafalgar'. As for the item immediately above, I trust I may be permitted the use of the image on this non profit & informational site. Again, by way of thanks, I invite you to visit the vendor's e-Bay store. Now the webmaster does try to maintain total site accuracy. So with that objective I should mention that another copy of the card sold in late 2005 on e-Bay for EUR 19.00 or approximately U.S. $22.50. And another copy sold in Mar. 2006 also for U.S. $30.00. I provide the German description & my probably poor translation effort via the WWW. Described as being i) 'Lichtdruck-Ansichtskarte MS Cap Trafalgar' which I believe translates into 'Photolithography picture postcard and vessel name', ii) 'Landkarte vor 1918' - 'dating from 1918 perhaps?', iii) '(Dt. Südwest usw.) - have no idea what that means, iv) 'gelaufen 1922 via Porto / Portugal mit Nachgebühr' - 'mailed in 1922 from Portugal with surcharge' & the German words that you can read set out i.e. 'Hamburg-Südamerikanische Dampfschifffahrts-Gesellschaft' - the shipping company name. The webmaster must say that he is not really sure what the term 'advertising card' exactly means & how such a card differs from a regular postcard. The listing also had an unexplained reference to number 95 - & the listing image showed a portion of the rear of the card with handwriting & postage stamp visible.
I cannot today provide, in late 2005, much detail about the composite image that follows. It is of two of many images from a book of postcards, an item listed on e-Bay a year or more ago & probably in the fall of 2004. Each card bears the name 'Hamburg-Südamerikanische Dampfschifffahrts-Gesellschaft' & my file names for the images include the name Cap Trafalgar. Many images were shown with the listing & I selected this pairing because the image at right is of the 'Winter Garden' referred to on page 58 of the site & also because of their general visual interest. I straightened the image at right for this page & surely, alas, lost some image detail. I may in due course attempt to create a giant image with the other ten images but it will take some effort since every one of them will require straightening.
I hope that in the future it will be possible to present here in better quality & a larger size all of the images which were contained in 'The Sea-Raiders', a volume by E. Keble Chatterton, first published in 1931 by Hurst & Blackett, Ltd. of London. It is not a truly rare volume in fact, but is not particularly common either. My interest in the volume is in its content on the subject of the sea battle between Carmania & Cap Trafalgar. it would seem to contain, on that subject, at least two images which are entirely new to the webmaster & some text also. The images & particularly the full page images of Captain Noel Grant & of Commander Barr would be most welcome in a larger size.
A copy of the volume is available, I learn, in our Central Reference Library here in Toronto, Canada. So obtaining the text it contains will be relatively easy, when I can find the time to visit the Library down-town. But obtaining good scans of the images will be most expensive to obtain from that source (user-pay) & therefore most difficult for the webmaster. Should you have a copy of the volume & could help, it would be most appreciated.
The volume contains, as you can see, an image of Carmania's rangefinder (a larger version of that image has since been added below), a full page image of Commander J. C. Barr, R.N.R., & some text, probably more extensive that the limited image of some of the text that I am able to show here. The chapter is, I believe, in fact of 13 pages. I also show the cover page to identify the title more clearly. All ex an item which was sold (for GBP 9.51 or approximately U.S. $17.66) on e-Bay in late May 2006. The book also contains, amongst the related images, a full page image of Captain Noel Grant, R.N.
The biggest 'Book Finder' record for the volume is here. Copies do come up for sale regularly via e-Bay & indeed three copies are available as this page is updated in Jan. 2012 - at prices - ranging from GBP 7.75 to GBP 28.75.
A CARMANIA GUN CREW
In late Dec. 2014, a fine photograph is e-Bay available from a French vendor - of the gun crew of one of the guns which sank Cap Trafalgar. You can view the image here, along with the modest descriptive material on the rear of the print. Do take a look! When the item is sold, I will include the image here for the viewing interest of visitors both today & into the future - probably converted into a black & white image.
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 (on this & the other three related pages) 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