THE BURNING OF THE 'VOLTURNO' - PAGE 86
THE S. S. MINNEAPOLIS - PAGE 2
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A PAIR OF FINE 1913 S. S. MINNEAPOLIS IMAGES
The two images which next follow appear thanks to Margaret Hampton of Pontypridd in Wales. The photos, both postcard sized in the original, were owned by Margaret's husband's grandfather, Mr. Percy Hampton, who worked as a purser with Union Castle Line at Tilbury in the early 20th century. Margaret believes that Percy Hampton would accordingly have known the people who brought the Minneapolis into Tilbury with the Volturno survivors, hence the photos being in Percy's effects.
Both of the photos have writing on their backs, & the writing links the images directly to the Volturno disaster. The first simply says 'Burning of the Volturno Oct 9th 1913' while the second has identical words but with the following additional text: 'Survivors brought home to Tilbury by the Minneapolis.' The writing is by the same hand on both photographs & the second one is initialled A.J.L. The identity of A.J.L. is not known.
The webmaster's interpretation of those facts is that both photographs would have been taken aboard Minneapolis, & the unnamed photographer was most likely a passenger aboard Minneapolis on that eastbound voyage (but could also have been an officer). The first image does not, in its content, appear to have been taken aboard the Volturno which whole ship would have been in a high state of agitation & crisis, burning & in the middle of a raging storm. All except one of the Volturno lifeboats were, in fact, launched before the Minneapolis even arrived on scene in the evening of Oct. 9, 1913. And the final Volturno lifeboat, was launched at about 6:00 p.m. on Oct. 10, 1913, at a time when the full sun, shown in the image, was unlikely. The photo may, however, have been taken on Minneapolis on the morning of Oct. 11, 1913 when the lifeboats of many of the rescue vessels were launched. Or perhaps, & even more probable, could instead depict a Minneapolis lifeboat training exercise & launch, rather than the actual launch of lifeboats re the Volturno. But read on! My conclusion may be quite wrong!
In the interests of accuracy, I should indicate that the original print is somewhat yellowed with age. I darkened it accordingly for better presentation on this page.
Now I am advised by Jonathan Kinghorn of Lexington, Massachusetts, U.S.A., 'that the first of Margaret Hampton's photos (next below) is definitely the boat deck of Minneapolis, looking aft, with the boats before a launch. And was probably taken from someone standing part way up the ladder to the officer's accommodation. It shows the boats being launched - the boats and crew seem dry, and at least two boats are being worked on simultaneously. There are a lot of kit and blankets strewn about suggesting something rather more than an exercise. The captain, or a senior officer can be seen on the roof of the wireless room (not a normal place for him to be). Behind the men hauling on the ropes is the casing for the funnel and engine room ventilation. The open door led (on Minnehaha at least) to a bathroom and small sitting room located between these.' And, re the second of Margaret's pictures (second below) 'The second shows men standing on the main deck just aft of the superstructure. The doorways behind them led to the shelter deck cabins and, on the far side, to the engineers' cabins and the galleys. And behind all the men in the image would be the sick bay (doctor's office, dispensary etc.), and that just might have had something to do with why they were assembled there'. Thanks again, Jonathan! One of Jonathan's great grandfathers was chief engineer for Atlantic Transport Line for at least 20 years before his retirement in 1910, hence Jonathan's detail knowledge that he has now kindly shared with us.
And Jonathan adds the following words: 'The boats in the photo are apparently being launched for use. The whole image suggests to me something unusual in progress, rather than a routine exercise or activity. As well as a number of officers watching, the men actually doing the work seem to include several stewards, a boiler stoker? (in dark shirt, with neckerchief) and in the distance, a cook? Some of the stuff on deck is perhaps the boat covers.'
In a later message, Jonathan advises his further thoughts:
'It occurs to me that the photograph may well have been taken on October 9 as the Minneapolis was steaming to the scene. I understand that the distress calls went out around 9 a.m., and know from other evidence that Minneapolis steamed 12 hours to reach Volturno and got there around 9 p.m. I wonder if the crew are not seen preparing the boats for launching -- this was quite an involved process -- the boats had to be raised up and swung outboard (with their davits) before they could be lowered. It was common practice for ships to sail with one boat swung out like this ready to be lowered at a moment's notice should the need arise in an emergency. Minneapolis certainly had lots of time to get ready while steaming to the site. Maybe they swung the boats out in the early afternoon and that explains the angle of the shadows?
Looking at the angle between the horizon and the roof of the smoking room the ship was rolling significantly when the photo was taken, which fits with the known conditions at the time.'
Before we move on to the next image, Jonathan Kinghorn has also provided an image of the Upper Promenade (Boat) Deck of the S.S. Minnewaska. As it appeared in an Atlantic Line brochure dating from 1913/14, & showing the pristine and deserted vessel when, Jonathan believes, the Minnewaska was completed in early 1909. The image can be seen here. It is somewhat similar to the scene above.
The next image is most interesting. As Margaret puts it, the image is of 'a group of rather bedraggled-looking men standing and sitting around on the deck of a ship'. How very true! In the words of the London Times, when they arrived in Tilbury the Volturno survivors 'presented a forlorn appearance in their wretched and tattered clothes many of them having lost all trace of their wives, children and friends in the flight from the burning ship last Friday morning.' The poor fellow at left looks particularly gaunt. It would be wonderful were we to be able to identify any of the depicted Volturno survivors! Probably however an impossible task from this distance in time.
In that regard, the manifest pages where 27 of the 30 Volturno survivors rescued by Minneapolis later arrived in New York are available via these links (428 and 427). All except line 7, I believe. All are men, & of ages which range from a low of 16 to a high of 49. From Russia, Bulgaria, Austria & Hungary with one survivor being from Macedonia. Are they all men in the image below? It would seem that there probably is one woman in the photograph below - in the centre at the very back with a white band on her hat. A Volturno survivor? Or a Minneapolis passenger? Most likely a Minneapolis passenger in view of these words in the London Times of Oct. 15, 1913, available in this paragraph elsewhere in these pages: 'The passengers taken off by the boats of the Minneapolis were all men, the explanation being that the women and children were taken off by earlier boats..' But identifying any specific person in the image? Quite impossible, alas! For the webmaster, at least.
It sure would be good to find out what happened to the final three Volturno survivors who were rescued by the Minneapolis. They may have decided to return to their original homes in Eastern Europe. Or they could have been members of the Volturno crew. The crew numbers re Volturno still do not tally correctly. A list of the names of the 30 survivors landed by Minneapolis in Gravesend would probably help - were such a list to become available.
As for the image above, I darkened the photograph for better presentation on this page.
Thank you so very much, Margaret Hampton, for this most relevant & interesting material.
ATLANTIC TRANSPORT LINE?
Jonathan Kinghorn kindly penned the following words about 'Atlantic Transport Line' for use on this site, words that site visitors will find informative. But now also see below.
'The American owned and British operated Atlantic Transport Line was founded by a Baltimore businessman in 1882 to carry freight and developed a passenger business in the 1890s. Instead of sailing from Southampton or Liverpool, the company maintained a direct London to New York service. It shuttled a fleet of large cargo vessels back and forth between Tilbury, on the River Thames near London, and lower Manhattan, carrying mixed goods including live cattle and racehorses, indeed the steamers were built purposely to prevent sea-sickness among the cattle. Each ship carried a few passengers, all first class, and while the service was not the fastest available it was frequent, convenient, and comfortable. One passenger wrote in 1897 that she had chosen the line because the steamers are built purposely to prevent sea-sickness among the cattle.
The Atlantic Transport Line reserve steamer Mesaba alerted Titanic to the presence of icebergs, but the most celebrated ships in the fleet were the Minnie class. These vessels, the Minnehaha, Minnewaska, Minnetonka, and Minneapolis were almost identical sisters built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast between 1900 and 1909. They were 187.8 m long and 19.8 m broad and weighed around 13,450 tons. For a time they were the largest vessels sailing from London. Quadruple expansion engines and twin screws enabled them to cruise at 16 knots and up to 250 passengers could be accommodated (330 on Minnewaska).
The maiden voyage of the Minneapolis departed London on May 10, 1900 for New York. She became a British Military troopship in 1915, and was torpedoed and sunk 195 miles northeast of Malta on March 23, 1916 with the loss of 12 lives. None of the Minnie class survived WW1.'
Should you wish to learn more about Atlantic Transport Line, we can now provide a link to further information. Jonathan Kinghorn now has a WWW site about the shipping line available here. And on that site he maintains a page about Minneapolis in particular - right here. Do drop by!
IMAGES FROM A C. 1909 ATLANTIC TRANSPORT LINE BROCHURE.
This page is fast becoming the Jonathan Kinghorn page! Since a large portion of its content originates with Jonathan. But I am not complaining! I thank Jonathan indeed. Maybe YOU can add more data or imagery to the total story?
The following four images originate from an Atlantic Transport Line brochure that Jonathan owns, a brochure for Minnie class ships which is believed to date from about 1909. The first pair shows 'a drawing of the fore deck (fanciful and exaggerated)' and a view of the dining room. The next image (much reduced in depth at top and bottom from the original) shows the promenade deck, 'viewed from far forward under the bridge'. The final image (also reduced in depth) shows the smoking room of such a vessel.
SOME MORE MINNEAPOLIS RELATED IMAGES
A Minneapolis related image that I hope you will enjoy! Hopefully more in the future.
The sources of the images which follow? Data below. Some of the images will be clickable & link to a larger original.
Hold your mouse over each image item to see the image number coding. The images will surely, with time, not end up numerically sequential.
Item 1 was an e-Bay item as this page was first up-linked with a postcard section. I have not sought permission to show the item here but I gladly provide a link to the e-Bay listing & I invite you, should you have an interest, to check the item & bid as you may wish. And I thank the vendor - who probably would not wish to devote his time to addressing any messages from me - & might be content that his image graces this informational & non-profit page.
Item 1) From an e-Bay item from Jun. 2008, long expired.
This page will, hopefully, track data about the Minneapolis 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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