THE BURNING OF THE 'VOLTURNO' - PAGE 91
THE S. S. RAPPAHANNOCK
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This is the first of two pages re the Rappahannock. The second page number is 92.
I am gradually, as you may have seen, working through the list of ships involved with the Volturno rescue. But it is getting harder and harder to find data of any sort as one works down that list. But we will do what we can, with this page dedicated to such data as can be found about the Rappahannock, which landed 19 Volturno survivors at Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, on Oct. 14, 1913. Hopefully the page will expand as new data becomes available.
I like to start off with an image of the vessel to give you a quick idea of what she looked like. In Rappahannock's case, I have only seen one image, from this page.
Maybe you can provide another image?
The S.S. RAPPAHANNOCK
I know very little about this ship. And references to her seem to be scarce. That may mainly be due to the fact that she was a cargo vessel. While there is a lot of interest in passenger & immigrant steamers, there seems to be a lesser interest in cargo vessels.
The only references I have so far found are fragmentary. The ship was owned by the Furness Withy Line of Liverpool. She was built in 1893, 370 feet long, measured 3,884 (or 3871) tons gross and had a service speed of 13 knots. Her official number was 102106 I understand. She would seem to have been torpedoed in 1916 & sank. She was built, it would seem, for the North Atlantic run carrying freight between England & Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. I learn that that her freight was, in fact, cattle from the Prairies on eastbound voyages & immigrants on the westbound.
Miramar (you now must be registered to access) further tells us that the vessel was built by 'Alexander Stephens & Co.' of Glasgow (Linthouse). She was launched on Jul. 27, 1893 & delivered that August for Chesapeake & Ohio Steamship Co. Ltd. ('Chesapeake'), of Liverpool. The vessel was transferred in 1908 to Furness Withy, with whom Chesapeake had an association. She was sunk by a torpedo on Oct. 26, 1916, 70 miles from the Scilly Islands. 37 were lost in the sinking, including the Master. While Miramar states she was torpedoed, a number of sites state that the vessel was captured by a submarine but also state that how exactly she was sunk is not known. See 1 (1916 re Walden), 2 (26 October 1916). BUT .... a gravestone at Ilfracombe, North Devon, states that Edward S. Gage, aged 33, 3rd Officer of Rappahannock is buried there - 'torpedoed on homeward journey from Halifax NS Oct 1916'. His body apparently washed ashore at Ilfracombe, in January of 1917. We sincerely thank 'L. Crosthwaite' of Ilfracombe, for that most interesting data.
In Aug. 2013, Archie Munroe was in touch (thanks so much Archie!) via the site guestbook. To advises of a significant event in Rappahannock's history that occurred in 1910. Archie's words were as follows:-
I'm interested in the ship Rappahannock because of its role as a rescue ship in 1910.
In January of 1910 a blizzard struck the Northeast tip of Nova Scotia. A small town (Canso) and two villages, White Head and Dover, were home to many fishermen, including my Grandfathers. In spite of being blown offshore all except three fishermen survived. There would have been more casualties had it not been for the rescue by the Rappahannock of the fishermen from the small fishing schooner, Trilby, of Dover.
The Rappahannock was headed for Halifax, Nova Scotia, from England and by luck, sighted the tiny fishing vessel, & under difficult circumstances rescued the men. Within minutes of the men being taken aboard the Rappahannock, the Trilby sank.
The Captain took the men to Halifax and paid for their train tickets back to their homes in Dover.
There is a WWW references to the matter, I now see - available on this page. Eight of Trilby's crew of eleven were rescued by Rappahannock, which was under the command of Captain Buckingham. Captain John Boudro, part owner of the uninsured Trilby (with Abner Boudro), was in command of Trilby. It would seem that Archie's grandfathers were likely both amongst the rescued - Daniel & George Munro. The 'Halifax Herald' newspaper text which contained the names of the Trilby crew members who lost their lives in the blizzard is unintelligible, it would seem. So I cannot advise you of their names. The page indicates that the 8 survivors were as follows:- 'John Boudro, (captain), Abner Boudro, Daniel Munro, George Munro, George Harnish, William Haines, and Charles Bushey. They were more or less related, in many instances to one another.'
The one additional reference I have to her is to her modest involvement in the Titanic disaster. Now the Titanic, as everyone knows, hit an iceberg and sank, south and east of Newfoundland, on Ap;. 14/15, 1912. Per Robin Gardiner and Dan van der Vat (The Titanic Conspiracy, 1998) it would appear (but see link below) that at 10:30 p.m. on Apl. 14, 1912, the Rappahannock was headed eastbound out of Halifax. She had passed through heavy ice & seen several icebergs. Indeed she had herself suffered ice damage - to her steering gear. Anyway at 10:30 p.m. Rappahannock signalled by signal lamp 'Have just passed through heavy field ice and several icebergs' The message was acknowledged by lamp from the Titanic's bridge. Titanic replied 'Message received. Thank you. Good night.' The Rappahannock proceeded to the east in her damaged condition. And, not being radio equipped, took no further part in the Titanic disaster. The acting Master of the Rappahannock at the time was Albert Smith, no relation whatsoever to Edward John Smith, the Captain of the Titanic.
The above is, regrettably, all I have so far about the vessel. And the Titanic data is in significant doubt. See this page. Which indicates that it does not make sense for that exchange of messages to have been on Apl. 14, 1912 since the Rappahannock left Halifax on Apl. 9, 1912 and would have been much further east of the Titanic site at her relatively known speed, in order to be able to arrive in Gravesend, U.K., on Apl. 19, 1912 which apparently she did. And even Apl. 13, 1912 has its problems!
There is more! Michael Painter, (thanks!), in Jun. 2009, kindly advised of this link. A story written by 'Mike' (Michael Painter himself?) about his (unnamed) grandfather. Now Mike's grandfather, since passed on of course, was in the wheel-house of Rappahannock when Titanic passed by. Ablaze with lights. Travelling at high speed & headed for the ice field. A warning message was sent by Aldis lamp to Titanic. Which it would seem received that message but did not slow down ....
Stay tuned. Hopefully more data will surface in the future.
Now the Rappahannock must have done something significant re the Volturno rescue because 10 of the ship's crew received medals for their efforts. I presume that she launched lifeboats as did the other vessels of the Volturno rescue fleet.
On Jan Daamen's site there is a list of those members of the crew of the Rappahannock who received medals re the Volturno rescue - provided by Tony Jones of North Wales.
Here, with his kind permission, is Tony's complete list. 10 names in total. Thank you, Tony!
Frederick John Harnden Captain 1a, 2a William Archibald Stewart Seaman 1c, 2c John Owen Davies Chief Officer 1b, 2b Stanley Waygood Seaman 1c, 2c John Henry J. Barker Boatswain 1b, 2c Henry F. Hargan Seaman 1c, 2c George Hendrick Olaveson Carpenter 1b, 2c William Black Seaman 1c, 2c William Pine (Pyne) Donkeyman 1b, 2c John Bell Seaman 1c, 2c
All of the recipients listed above, except only for Captain Harnden, received the Sea Gallantry Medal ('SGM'), in silver, a very prestigious medal indeed. The list of SGM medals on page 32 spells the carpenter's name differently (Olafsen) and states Seaman Waygood's initial to be A.
The crew members who were awarded other medals are identified after their roles by the following codes:
i) The Marine Medal of 'The Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society' - 1a = gold, 1b = silver, 1c = bronze.
ii) From 'The Life-Saving Benevolent Society of New York'. - 2a = Large Gold Medal, 2b = Large Silver Medal, 2c = Bronze Medal Pin plus an unknown amount of money.
Other medals will be referenced in due course, I hope.
On Sep. 19, 2003, the Sea Gallantry Medal awarded to William Archibald Stewart, Seaman, in a very fine but with slight edge bruising condition, was sold at auction by 'Dix Noonan Webb' of London. The hammer price was £290.
It is with pleasure that I can now show you the medals awarded to John Henry James Barker, boatswain of the Rappahannock, in recognition of his rescue efforts re the Volturno disaster. The images come from Mr. Peter Beddard, of Willingdon, Eastbourne, Sussex, England. John Barker is, I understand, Peter Beddard's maternal grandfather, & the images which follow are from his family archives. John Barker is also great grandfather to Gill Georgeson, of Orpington, Kent, U.K., who made contact with the webmaster via the guest book. Thank you Peter. And thank you Gill.
In the image which follows, you can see both sides of the prestigious 'Sea Gallantry Medal' awarded to John Henry James Barker, in silver, & at right is the bronze medal (seemingly called a 'pin') awarded to him by the 'Life Saving Benevolent Association of New York'.
We do not know very much about boatswain Barker, but we do have an undated image of him (immediately below) & know that he was a 'mariner' when he was married in London, England on Nov. 20, 1892 at the age of 22. He married Elizabeth Coulton, 21, as you can see by the image of his marriage certificate lower on this page & provided by Peter Beddard. He was not blessed with a particularly long life it would appear, since he would have been born in 1870 & died, it is believed, in 1917. I presume that boatswain Barker was in command of one of the Rappahannock lifeboats which saved 19 Volturno passengers & landed them safely in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
And here is both front and back of the silver medal awarded by the 'Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society' - along with the above decorated certificate. I had not spotted before that the medal decoration is at top left and right on the certificate.
I know little, at this moment, about Henry F. Hargan except that he was a seaman on the Rappahannock & was decorated for his part in the Volturno rescue effort. He was awarded the 'Board of Trade Medal for Gallantry in Saving Life at Sea' - known as the Sea Gallantry Medal ('SGM'). And also the bronze medal of the 'Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society' along with a certificate & a money grant.
I read that seaman Hargan and his companions in the Rappahannock lifeboat crew chose not to wear lifebelts because lifebelts would have hindered the rescue work!
And now, thanks to a friend of the site, I am able to show you (at left) both of Henry Hargan's medals - with the Sea Gallantry Medal at left. The words on the other medal read 'lord, save us we perish' (all in block letters).
I am advised that 'The Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society' medal awarded to Henry F. Hargan, Seaman, in a fine condition but with an edge bruise, was sold at a Dec. 15, 2000 auction by 'Dix Noonan Webb' of London. The hammer price was £150, I find.
This page will, hopefully, track data about the Rappahannock 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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