THE BURNING OF THE 'VOLTURNO' - PAGE 80
THE S. S. LA TOURAINE - PAGE 1
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I will place on this page such data as can be found about the La Touraine, another of the steamers that took part in the Volturno rescue effort & landed 40 survivors at Le Havre, France. Hopefully the page will expand as new data becomes available. It already has! Here are more La Touraine pages - 81, 82, 83 & 84.
I like to start off with a full size image of the vessel to give you a quick idea of what she looked like. In La Touraine's case, I do not yet have much by the way of images. But I do have a postcard image ex e-Bay that you would enjoy - of a postcard which dates from c 1905. I used to show in this space an image which had the postmark date of Apr. 4, 1908 prominently visible but have substituted this larger & better quality image. The postcard sold for U.S. $10.50 in late 2004 & is artist signed by Fred Pansing.
Beware! I have seen the identical image with the name of La Lorraine (a sister ship) upon it! Don't just believe me! Here it is! I guess that one image was used to cover off two different vessels in an economy drive of the early 1900s. The postcard as I have it used to be available as a print but the website of the vendor is long gone. There was a second print available on that now long gone page also, a postcard of which is now visible a little lower on this page.
And Jeff Newman has a wonderful postcard image of La Touraine departing for New York on his Great Ships site. Go here for La Touraine, the right of the two images. Do click on it to see it larger.
Maybe you can provide additional images? Or data?
Hans R. Wüthrich of Elsau, Switzerland, has provided the following image. Of a postcard which his grandfather, Karl Götz, posted to his grandmother in Basel, Switzerland from Le Havre in May 1906, before Karl's departure on La Touraine for New York. It is a beauty. Thank you Hans!
What I do want to get onto these pages at a future date is a composite image of some of the wonderful bronze medals that were produced by Compagnie Générale Transatlantique ('CGT'). There are a great many of them, each for different fleet vessels, & they are quite beautiful. There are even medals issued to shareholders of the company! That presentation will, however, have to wait, until images of good quality become available to me. Did other shipping companies do the same thing? I do not know. I just know that I have seen on e-Bay a lot of CGT medals & they are splendid.
I am quite surprised that so far at least I have been unable to locate many quality images of La Touraine, which surely is a most famous ship indeed. I have seen many postcards of the vessel for sale on e-Bay, but almost without exception the images lacked visual interest or image quality & very often lacked both. No images I have so far seen match the beauty of the two postcard images that you can see on the 'greatships' La Touraine page, already referred to above. Both can be viewed in a large size by a click of your mouse. I will continue my search, however - who knows what La Touraine imagery will grace this page in the future.
And having said that, here is a most interesting pair of postcards of La Touraine, both ex e-Bay. The one on the left dates from Dec. 1906, as you can read, & sold (with two other postcards of other vessels) in Jan. 2004 for U.S. $6.00. I cannot track the source data about the other postcard image which, however, comes up for sale quite frequently on e-Bay. The last two such cards that I saw did not however sell.
A kind site visitor has advised that a large chromolithograph of La Touraine was published depicting the vessel passing the Statue of Liberty in New York. The print is 21 x 35 in. in size (53.3 x 88.9 cm.) & is based upon a painting by Fred Pansing, (1844-1912, but some sites indicate that he died in 1910 or 1916). Possibly a promotional issue by Compagnie Générale Transatlantique soon after the ship entered service. No date for the litho is yet to hand, however it would be before 1902 since the litho shows the vessel with three masts, one of which masts was, we have read, later removed in either the 1900 or the 1902 overhaul. The litho was printed by Joseph P. Knapp who set up American Lithographic Company in 1892. In the words of my visitor 'As is often the case with promotional paintings of ships, the stacks in this poster are significantly taller than the rather stubby stacks depicted in photos of La Touraine.'
I can find no WWW reference to a Fred Pansing painting featuring La Touraine. But I presume there must have been such a work. He certainly was a most prolific marine artist. The poster? It was featured, I am advised, in at least one fairly recent Christies auction catalogue. An image of it was visible on the Artnet site (but seems no longer to be available), & I reproduce it next. It is of the chromolithograph print sold at Christie's, New York, at a sale held on Sep. 6, 2006. 21 x 35 in. or 53.3 x 88.9 cm. in size. I should advise that I have not sought permission from the folks at 'Artnet' for its use on this informational & non-profit page. So if they would prefer it be removed, I will do so. Hopefully to be replaced in the future with an image from another source.
And another image of the print has now been received from a kind site visitor! Thank you so very much! This second image, which appears below the 'Artnet' image, is identified at bottom right with 'Knapp Co.' & 'N.Y.' with the initials only of the artist, i.e. 'FP'. The site visitor believes that this print shows the first arrival of the La Touraine in New York Harbor in 1891 at the conclusion of her maiden voyage from Le Havre. He also indicates that 'Knapp Co.' began to manufacture prints in 1892 under the name 'American Lithographic Co.' & that accordingly it may make sense that the print was made in 1891.
He also asked me as to the likely value of such a print, a question I am unable to answer. Can another site visitor answer that question for us?
A print of the vessel arriving at New York, after her maiden voyage (Jun. 20, 1891) from Le Havre, was available via e-Bay back in Jun. 2012. I include it next.
The data which next follows, initially came, or at least most of it did, from the website 'www.greatoceanliners.net' which contained a lot of data about a great many ocean liners, the La Touraine being but one of a very great many. When I first set up this page that site was unavailable & I was able to see it only via a Google cache - but the absence was then only temporary. In 2009, the absence seemed to be permanent as the site appeared to be for sale. Its current status? I now see that data about the vessel is in fact in a number of places on the WWW today, often thanks to data posted by Ted Finch ex Volume 2 of North Atlantic Seaway by N. R. P. Bonsor. While I cannot locate Ted Finch's 1998 posting, I think that his words about La Touraine are, in fact, preserved here. Scroll down for La Touraine.
It seems that La Touraine was built by Chantiers de Penhoët, in Saint-Nazaire, France, & launched on Mar. 23, 1890. On Jun. 20, 1891 she completed her maiden run from Le Havre to New York in six days, 17 1/2 hours. She was 536 feet long, had a beam of 56 feet, three masts, two propellers & 'steam triple expansion engines'. Hope you know what that last means better than I do! Her service speed was 19 knots & she could carry 1,090 people - 392 in first class, 98 in second, & 600 in third class. I am advised that La Touraine was the last Atlantic liner equipped to carry sails, (until 1900/02) although apparently they were never used.
'greatoceanliners.net' stated - 'La Touraine quickly became one of the most popular liners on the North Atlantic. She became known for her handsome lines and the two widely spaced squat funnels. Passengers seemed to favour La Touraine before many other ships not only because of her appealing appearance – she always managed excellently well in rough weather, and was soon known as the ‘Steady Ship’. This steady ship was also a fast ship – during a July crossing in 1892 she clocked up a record speed of 21.2 knots over the measured mile.' But see below re those words.
She was the flag ship of the 'French Line', owned by Compagnie Générale Transatlantique. La Touraine was not a giant of a ship at 9,047 gross tons & for a very good reason. The harbour at Le Havre (map) was quite shallow & that was as big a ship as the harbour could accommodate!
She was overhauled in 1900 & 1902, at Saint-Nazaire, France, I read. One of the original three masts was removed, & passenger capacity in third class was increased from 600 to 1,000. The overhaul resulted in a decrease of the ship’s gross tonnage – it 'shrank' to 8,429 tons!
Now the image at left is interesting. As you can read above, the vessel was overhauled at Saint-Nazaire, France. The postcard (it sold via e-Bay in early May 2004 for U.S. $15.00), describes the vessel as being 'en réparation' at Saint-Nazaire & the vendor (do drop by) states that that expression can mean 'repair' or 'refit'. He believes the image (I lightened it a little) is of the 1903 rebuilding as a result of fire damage as described in the next paragraph. My dictionary uses the expression 'remettre en état' for refit & the word 'réparation' solely for repair. It is however a very small French/English dictionary indeed!
It might help if we could find out where the 1903 repairs were effected. Does anybody know?
Before we leave the subject of that repair postcard, another copy of it was for sale on in Nov. 2005, the card having been written in 1920 (it sold for U.S. $9.00). Maybe then the above image is not of the 1903 repairs but rather of later repairs?
On Jan. 21, 1903, La Touraine was damaged by a very serious fire at Le Havre. The grand staircase, the first class dining saloon & the first class deluxe cabins were entirely destroyed, & had to be rebuilt. (An account of the fire, in French of course, could be read about halfway down a now long gone page - at the paragraph which commenced 'Au Havre, le 21 janvier 1903'. But the link no longer brings one to the proper data. And trying to find it again brings you only to sponsored links. I thank Valerie Lebigot for that previously useful link). She re-entered the North Atlantic run more dashing than ever, however, the new first class areas becoming immensely popular. It boasted an outstanding kitchen, & attracted gourmets from all over the world. She was one of the first French liners to be called ‘a piece of France itself’, indeed the company slogan at the time was, I read, ‘You are in France as soon as you cross the gangplank!’ La Touraine was the first ship with the modern Cabin Class – when first and second class were 'merged' in 1910.
Most images of passenger liners seem to follow a norm. A different vessel in a different port perhaps, but with great visual similarities between the images. Not so re this next image - a quite dramatic postcard of La Touraine at sea, dating from 1912. Enjoy!
In 1912, La Touraine made some special Canadian voyages between Le Havre & Halifax. Indeed, at 7:00 a.m. on Friday Apr. 12, 1912, La Touraine gave the very first warning to the Titanic of the ice conditions in the Atlantic - some 60 or so hours before the fatal collision. La Touraine's message was passed on to Captain Smith of the Titanic, & was posted on the Titanic bulletin board in the chart room for all of the officers to see. A year later La Touraine was placed on the Québec & Montreal summer service. I presume that that was her run at the time of the Volturno disaster.
During World War I, La Touraine served as an armed merchant cruiser & later as a troop ship. This site (low on the page - look for the year & date) states that on Mar. 6, 1915, La Touraine, bound from New York to Le Havre with an inflammable cargo, was discovered on fire 400 miles west of the Irish coast. The SOS call was answered by four steamships & a British cruiser & one of the steamships, the Rotterdam, stood by to take off passengers if necessary. The fire was brought under control by the crew. La Touraine was convoyed as far as Prawle Point by the steamship Rotterdam, & two French cruisers escorted the damaged vessel to Cherbourg.
When the war was over she continued for some years in French Line service, but as the ship began showing signs of age, she was in 1922 sold & became a hotel ship in Gothenburg, Sweden in 1923 during the Industrial and Agricultural Fair with the new name of Maritime. In Aug. 1923, she was again offered for sale, & was broken up at Dunkirk, France in October of that year.
A page available here (thanks again Valerie Lebigot) briefly covers the history of La Touraine in the French language. If I understand the words correctly, the vessel was the last Compagnie Générale Transatlantique vessel to have had sails! But they were not, I am advised, ever used. And initially it had three masts - see the image at that link - the third mast being removed in the 1900 or 1902 overhauls. The page states that in Jul. 1892 the liner crossed the Atlantic in 6 days, 17 hours & 30 minutes at an average speed of 21.2 knots. (The text earlier on this page stated that it did that only over a measured mile, quite a different thing.) Not an official 'Blue Ribbon' record however, it would seem. The page also refers to an 1894 voyage between Constantinople now Istanbul, Turkey & New York. And that is new data also, to the webmaster at least. The first reference I have seen to La Touraine venturing to the Eastern Mediterranean. But on that general subject, an e-Bay listing for a postcard sold in Oct. 2005 seemed to suggest that La Touraine had ventured all the way east to Saigon - in 1909. Can that possibly be true? I have retained the e-Bay listing image just in case the reference is later proven.
On Jan Daamen's site there is a list of members of the crew of the La Touraine provided by Tony Jones of North Wales. Here, with his kind permission, is Tony's complete list. 33 names in total. Thank you, Tony!
All of the crew members listed below would have been granted Sea Gallantry Medals (Foreign Service) re the Volturno rescue.
C. Caussin Captain Charles Josset Seaman Henri Rousselot 2nd Captain François Meheut Seaman Rene Izenic 1st Lieutenant Pierre Paitry Seaman Edouard Le Baron 2nd Lieutenant August Berest Seaman Paul Royer 3rd Lieutenant Leon Le Coz Seaman Louis Couté 2nd Boatswain François Gouzien Seaman Guillame Guillou Quartermaster Raphael Celerien Seaman Yves Le Flem Quartermaster François Blandin Seaman Leopold Rousselot Quartermaster Leon Nicolas Fireman Ernest Le Tiec Quartermaster François Hervé Fireman Gilles Le Faou Quartermaster Joseph Lefebvre Fireman Jean Le Manchec Seaman Gabriel Le Clerc Fireman Henri Neu Seaman Joseph Le Flem Fireman Francois Coic Seaman Maurice Le Gallais Trimmer Yves Briquier Seaman Charles Launay Trimmer François Scouarnec Seaman Baptiste Laforge Trimmer Pierre Rousel Seaman
I now know that the French Government also awarded medals to the officers & crew of La Touraine, though the name of the medal & who received exactly which type of medal is not known to the webmaster. Presumably everyone named above except the Captain. As reported in the New York Times, on Oct. 19, 1913, as follows:
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.
I learn that C. Caussin was the Commandant or Captain of La Touraine for quite a few years. He certainly was Commandant of the vessel for a voyage from Bordeaux to New York on Jan. 29, 1916. I thank Valery Lebigot of Vaulx-Milieu, France for that info. From a booklet 'which was probably given to the first class passengers'.
Other Captains of La Touraine? I will add them in here as I see any references.
a) 1922, Jun. 29 - Captain M. Louis Lepretre - per an e-Bay item on sale in Oct. 2005, a cabin passenger list of a voyage from New York to Le Havre.
What a pleasure it is to be able to now show you the Sea Gallantry Medal that was awarded to François Hervé, a fireman on La Touraine at the time of the Volturno disaster. The medal was in the possession of Jean-Christophe Palthey, of the 'Galerie Histoire et Curiosités', of 1, rue Fontaine, in Paris, France. Medals are an area of specialty for Jean-Christophe tells me that he located it in Le Havre, the home port of La Touraine. The website of the Galerie is here but the particular page which had the medal on it is now gone. Below are images of the inscriptions on the edge of the medal.
The medal is now sold, but you are invited to contact M. Jean-Christophe Palthey by e-mail for other medal offerings via this link.
The text that accompanied the medal on Jean-Christophe's site follows, in French as it appears on his site & then in an English translation.
Grande-Bretagne: Sea Gallantry Medal (foreign service), médaille de la bravoure en mer pour les étrangers. Fondée en 1841 en vue de récompenser les étrangers ayant sauvé des sujets britanniques en péril, cette médaille est attribuée en 3 classes, or, argent ou bronze. Avers: "GEORGIUS V D. G. BRITT. OMN: REX F. D. IND: IMP: "Revers: "For Gallantry and Humanity - From the British Governement." Comme la majorité des médailles britanniques, elle est attribuée sur la tranche et peut ainsi nous raconter son histoire : "FRANCOIS HERVE, "VOLTURNO", 9TH OCTOBER 1913".
Le naufrage du Volturno, moins célèbre que celui du Titanic, eut pourtant lieu dans les mêmes eaux froides de l’Atlantique Nord. Appareillant de Rotterdam le 2 octobre, 1913 avec à son bord 650 personnes, essentiellement des émigrants de Hongrie, d'Autriche, de Galicie et de Russie, le bateau se dirige vers New York avec une escale prévue d'un jour à Halifax. Le jeudi 9 octobre, à environ 05:50 heure du matin, un feu éclate à l'avant du bateau, provoquant une explosion tuant sur le coup 90 personnes. L'opérateur radio envoie alors un appel de détresse qui sera largement entendu. En pleine tempête, 11 navires viendront au secours des naufragés, parmi eux La Touraine, navire de la Compagnie Générale Transatlantique qui sauvera 43 passagers. François Hervé, à qui cette médaille fut attribuée, était pompier à son bord.
Great Britain: Sea Gallantry Medal (foreign service), medal for bravery at sea for foreigners. Founded in 1841 to reward foreigners who saved British subjects in danger, this medal is awarded in 3 classes: gold, silver and bronze. Front side: "GEORGIUS V D. G. BRITT. OMN: REX F. D. IND: IMP: "Backside: "For Gallantry and Humanity - From the British Government." Like the majority of British medals, the circumstances of the award are engraved on the medal edge - in this case: "FRANÇOIS HERVE, "VOLTURNO", 9TH OCTOBER 1913".
The shipwreck of Volturno, less famous than the one of Titanic, took place in the same cold waters of the North Atlantic. Leaving Rotterdam on October 2, 1913 with 650 people on board, mainly emigrants from Hungary, Austria, Galacia and Russia, the boat was headed to New York with an intended stopover in Halifax of one day. On Thursday October 9th, at approximately 05:50 a.m., a fire started, causing an explosion which killed 90 people. The radio operator then sent a distress call which was heard by many ships. In raging seas, 11 ships came to Volturno's assistance, including La Compagnie Générale Transatlantique's 'La Touraine'. It saved 43 passengers. François Hervé, to whom this medal was awarded, was a fireman on board that vessel.
If you want to find out more about the fire and the Volturno shipwreck ....Links are above but links that a visitor to these pages will already surely know.
This page will, hopefully, track data about the La Touraine as it comes to hand. And hopefully data as it specifically relates to the Volturno tragedy.
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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