THE BURNING OF THE
'VOLTURNO' - PAGE 97
VESSELS LESS CLOSELY RELATED TO 'VOLTURNO'
CANADA, CAMPANELLO, FLORIZEL,
ROYAL EDWARD AND URANIUM
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The data available on the WWW about the Canada seems to be truly quite limited. The Canada that concerns us in these pages was built in 1896 (launched May 14) by Harland & Wolff of Belfast for the Dominion Line. Hull # 300. ON 106806. 8,800 or 8,806 gross tons. About 500 ft. long, 152.5 metres perpendicular to perpendicular, 58 ft. beam, a single funnel, two masts, twin screw & a speed of 15 knots. She had accommodation for 1,200 passengers (200 in both 1st & 2nd Classes & 800 in 3rd).
On her Oct. 1, 1896 maiden voyage, Canada (e-Bay postcard image at left) sailed from Liverpool to Quebec & Montreal, Canada, but after just two such round voyages, she was transferred to the Liverpool/Boston service. She saw service as a transport ship during the Boer War (from Nov. 1899 to late 1902), and in Mar. 1903 resumed passenger service to North America on the Liverpool/Halifax/Boston run. At this time she was rebuilt (became 9,413 tons) & resumed service from Liverpool to Quebec & Montreal.
She was rebuilt again in late 1909, & resumed the Liverpool/Quebec/Montreal service. In Nov. 1909 she was further altered, it would seem in order to be able to carry more passengers (data seems incomplete).
In the fall of 1914, she assisted in carrying part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force to Europe, then saw service, in England, I have read, as an accommodation ship for German prisoners. And then (1915/1918) as a transport ship. In Nov. 1918, the war having ended, she resumed service to North America on the Liverpool/Portland, Maine run. In 1921, she was transferred to Leyland Line ownership but retained her name & continued to carry Dominion's livery. Her last run was on Aug. 13, 1926 (Liverpool to Quebec & Montreal). Almost the end of a long life. She arrived at Genoa, Italy, on Sep. 29, 1926, to be scrapped. That data mostly originates I gather from a posting by Ted Finch dating from 1977. Thank you Ted.
There are a number of fine images of the Canada available on this site which explains that Dominion Line was part of J. P. Morgan's International Mercantile Marine. There is more data about Canada on this page (look for Canada 1896). Miramar has a listing for the vessel, here, but you must register to be able to access the page. They reference Richard Mills (Richard Mills & Company) as the owner - they would seem to have been, indeed, the owner of Dominion Line when Canada was built.
It is confusing when a vessel in its lifetime, changes names many times. This particular vessel was, it would appear named, in time sequence, British Empire, Campania, Camponello & Flavia. Read on!
I read that it was named the British Empire when it was built in 1901, by Palmers Co. Ltd. of Jarrow-on-Tyne for British Shipowners Co. (or maybe Ltd.). Launched on Aug. 29, 1901.
Linda Robertson (see below) has kindly provided an article about the launch of what later became the Campanello. From the 'South Shields Gazette', of Saturday Aug. 31, 1901. The article states that the vessel was christened but does not mention the name it was given, which would however have been the British Empire. The article makes no reference to passenger capacity. I wonder why not? Possibly intended to be a cargo vessel? The British Shipowners' Company, Limited may have been a very small shipping line indeed. Its name is not mentioned in Whitaker's Almanack for 1901 which lists the then largest ship owners in the world with vessels & tonnage (33 companies) and then other large ship owners of the time (66 more owners the smallest of whom had a fleet of 6 vessels).
LAUNCH AT JARROW.
There was launched on Thursday, from the Jarrow yard of Palmer's Shipbuilding and Iron Company, Limited, a finely modelled twin screw steamer of the following dimensions: Length between perpendiculars 470 feet ; breadth, extreme, 56 feet 6 inches ; depth moulded, 35 feet. The vessel will be rigged as a four-masted fore and aft schooner, and has been built under special survey to take the highest class in Lloyd's Registry. The vessel will be lighted throughout by electricity and will be fitted with all the most modern appliances for the rapid loading and discharging of cargo and for the general working of the ship. The vessel is designed to carry about 10,500 tons deadweight on about 27½ feet mean draught. The engines which are also being constructed by Palmer's Company, are of the triple-expansion twin-screw type, with cylinders 26in., 43in., and 71in. diameter, and 48in. stroke, steam being supplied by two double-ended boilers 15ft. 3in. diameter by 17ft. 6in long, and two single-ended boilers 15ft. 3in. diameter by 11ft. long, with a working pressure of 190lbs. The vessel has been constructed for the British Shipowners' Company, Limited (Gracie Beasley, and Co.) of Liverpool for their Antwerp-New York trade and she is a sister ship to the British Prince and British Princess, which carried such an excellent reputation as transports, having been chartered by the Government for a considerable period to carry troops, etc., to South Africa. The christening ceremony was gracefully performed by Miss Elizabeth M. Gracie, daughter of Mr. W. Gracie, one of the managing owners of the British Shipowners' Company.
9001 tons. 470 feet long & almost 57 feet wide with capacity for 2,270 passengers. Official Number 115224. Signal letters JMNF. In 1906 the vessel was purchased by Navigazione Generale Italiana Line, was renamed the Campania, & sailed on the Genoa - Naples - Palermo & New York run. In 1909 or maybe in 1910, she was chartered to Northwest Transport Line, of London (Hamburg/Rotterdam/Halifax & New York). Then sold to Canadian Northern Steamships (Rotterdam to New York via Halifax), chartered to their subsidiary company Uranium SS Co. & renamed (1910) the Campanello. In 1916 it was sold (or rather it would seem that the entire Canadian Northern & Uranium lines were sold) to Cunard & she was renamed the Flavia. (Mercantile Navy List of 1917). How do I know all that? There used to be great detail about the Campanello with exact data & dates etc. - thanks to Ted Finch. But the site no longer exists & I appear not to have saved the data. Also go here (look under Campania). And here (Cimorelli) also under Campanello. The Flavia was sunk by a German submarine off Tory Island, Northern Ireland, on Aug. 24, 1918. And I read (look under Flavia) that one life was lost when it was sunk. British Empire, when it went into service, had two masts only (per Jonathan Farley). Lower on this page are two images of what became, after conversion, the Campania/Campanello. Should you be curious, as the webmaster was, the name Flavia literally means, I am advised, 'the woman with the golden hair' - from Latin origins, with 'Flavius' being the male equivalent.
Crew lists for the vessel are available via this page.
In the text above I indicated that I had read that just a single life was lost when the Flavia was sunk in Aug. 1918. A most interesting message has been received from Jonathan S. Farley of Farnborough, Hampshire, U.K. Now Jonathan has a family interest in the matter because his grandfather, Horace Wibrew Black (1894/1982), known as 'Fred', was a Flavia crew member at the time & was, in fact, one of the survivors of the sinking. He had joined the vessel, I see from Jonathan's web site (link at the end of this paragraph), as a seaman at Tilbury on Jul. 1, 1918. Jonathan's family archive data indicates that when the vessel was torpedoed it was en route from Canada & carrying 300 Servian/Serbian soldiers bound for the Western Front. And also 100 cattlemen similarly bound but aboard also to service the 750 horses & mules on board. Jonathan advises that there were additionally 100+ crew & assorted personnel aboard. And that only 126 were saved. Of the total of 500+ people then, who were on board when she sank, 374 plus therefore would have been lost. Why the listing of just one person lost, as above? Jonathan believes that data was taken from propaganda war records where the casualty numbers were purposely kept low to try to make the Germans think that their U-boat fleet was ineffectual. And just maybe the words were crafted for the British reader also! Jonathan has a web-page about Flavia that can be seen here. And here. He even has an image of U-boat 107 which, captained by Kurt Siewert, sunk the Flavia! Jonathan we thank you!
Jonathan's grandfather used to say, I am advised, that the matter which would haunt him to his grave 'was the sound of the horses screaming as they were drowned'. I can well imagine!
Next, for those who would like to read in some detail what actually happened to the Flavia when it sank, is an account of its sinking, as related by Jonathan Farley's grandfather. It would seem that the Flavia was not the first time he was aboard a vessel which was torpedoed! Earlier he was aboard the Princess Maud, when it was torpedoed in Jun. 1918.
AN ACCOUNT OF THE AUGUST 24, 1918 SINKING OF THE FLAVIA
The following has most kindly been provided by Jonathan Farley:
My grandfather, Horace Wibrew 'Fred' Black (1894/1982), in the '70s was befriended by some schoolchildren from Thamesview School in Gravesend, U.K., where he lived. As part of their 'lives of local people' project, he was invited into the school to give an account of his life. This is a transcription of the Flavia portion from his notes, (Jonathan says he took a little liberty with the grammar): The notes are, incidentally, safely in Jonathan's possession today. He kindly provided copies to the webmaster.
'After several weeks at home, I joined a ship in Tilbury Dock, her name was "Flavia". The voyage was to Montreal, Canada. We took on board seven hundred and fifty horses and mules, 300 Serbian soldiers, 100 cattlemen and, with the crew 500 souls in all. Leaving Montreal we steamed around to St. John's, Halifax, waiting for several days for other ships to arrive. Finally leaving St. John's with about eight ships in convoy. Everything went OK until the early morning of August 24th at five minutes to five, the weather being dull but fine. I was on duty at the time and told the helmsman to stand by as we would be altering our course in a few minutes to zig zag. This idea was introduced to put off the enemy torpedo firing, all ships were continually turning right round the clock, perhaps six then eleven and then nine minutes. The master of each ship had to meet on shore before the voyage to adjust and synchronise their clocks to ensure that all ships turned at the same time. Then, such a bash, a torpedo hit number one hold forward and knocked that 22,000 ton ship down on her side as though it was a tug, everybody going crackers. No boats could be lowered on the starboard side as they would fall inboard. Then bash again in number two hold and the ship started to sink fast but levelling up at the same time, allowing us to get the boats away. An old bargeman named Welland from Rainham in Kent was helping me to get our boat away from the ship, our only chance was to get clear, and even then I had about eight persons more than I should have on the boat, we prayed the weather held fine for us. After several hours a destroyer picked us up and steaming fast for forty eight hours we arrived in Ardrossen, Scotland. Out of 500 souls, 126 were saved.'
My correspondence with Jonathan Farley dates back to March of 2006. Jonathan's e-mail address must have changed in the interval, since mail to him in Feb. 2019 was returned undeliverable.
The statements above that Flavia, at the time of its loss, carried 500+ persons & that 374 or more of them lost their lives are not undisputed. In April 2012, Michael Clunas was in touch with the webmaster respecting the matter. Michael's father, Robert Philipps Clunas (1895/1974), served as a junior (7th) engineer aboard Flavia in 1917 & 1918 at the princely monthly salary of £12. He was aboard the vessel at the time of its loss. Alas, Michael's words did not then get onto the site. But I provide them now, in late Feb. 2019. But before doing so, I should note Michael's advice that this was not the first time Flavia had been attacked. In Nov. 1917, the vessel was attacked by torpedo but the torpedo missed. You can read some detail re such attack here. Michael's report follows:-
A SECOND ACCOUNT OF THE AUGUST 24, 1918 SINKING OF THE FLAVIA
Jonathan Farley's interesting story of his grandfather, H. W. Black’s, description of the sinking of SS Flavia raises some interesting points with its reference to 300 Servian/Serbian soldiers, 100 cattle men & others making a total of more than 500 souls aboard when she was torpedoed.
If these numbers had been on the ship there would have been a terrible loss of life as only 145 survived. My father, who was an engineer, never once mentioned it even though he was to spend the next 40 years at sea & would be expected to have a keen interest in the matter. There is no mention in the crew list for the Flavia’s final voyage of Servian/Serbian soldiers or 100 Cattlemen; the total number being 110 crew (including the Master) & 36 passengers. The passengers are not listed and it is assumed that they were the Servian/Serbian Horse Attendants’ who are noted in Captain Fear’s report of the sinking. The number of Horse Attendants was similar to those carried on previous voyages and they would have been supervised by the Conducting Officer & the foreman Horseman who are listed in the crew.
Horace Wibrew Black, age 23, & his friend Albert Fentiman, age 20, joined Flavia as seamen in the last week of June in Tilbury shortly before it set sail on a voyage to Montreal at the beginning of July 1918. Their previous ship was the Princess Maud. The reason Fentiman wrote to Black was because they had become separated after the torpedoing. Fentiman was the only person who did not take to the life boats after the explosions. He had jumped into the sea and was fortunately picked up by a destroyer which took him to Buncrana on Lough Swilly in Northern Ireland. This also explains why Fentiman was not around to collect his pay with the rest of the crew who were landed in Ardrossen.
On 11th September the Master, Captain E. T. C. Fear (Edwin Tresidder Christian Fear) completed his 'Examination Under Oath' in which he set down the facts relating to the sinking on Saturday the 24th August 1918 at 4.53 a.m. and gave the number of persons on board as 146. SS Flavia was in convoy and was the leading ship on the starboard wing.
Captain Fear stated that the weather was overcast with drizzling rain with a moderate to heavy swell and he left the bridge at 1.00 a.m. leaving the First and Third Officers, a cadet, a spare quartermaster and a man at the wheel. Black was right with his time when the torpedoes struck although Fear states that the two explosions were in quick succession.
Concerning the Servian/Serbian Troops and seaman Fentiman, Captain Fear says:
During this time the boats were being lowered, the ship’s company and the Servian horse attendants getting into them. The only persons who did not get into the boats were a lunatic DBS who would not and Fentiman AB who jumped overboard immediately and was picked up by a destroyer later.
[DBS for Distressed British Seaman, an abbreviation used in the Merchant Navy for a seaman who is ill being brought home on another ship or who is in hospital]
The remainder of the ship's company was picked up by HMS Convolvulus which was one of the first sloops built as convoy protection vessels. Convolvulus was completed in 1917 and sold for breaking up in 1921.
The log of HMS Convolvulus has the Flavia being torpedoed at 5.55 a.m. and sinking at 6.30 a.m. 143 survivors were picked up and HMS Convolvulus rejoined the convoy at 7 a,m. By 11 p.m. the convoy had dispersed and speed was increased to 15 knots for Ardrossen where the survivors were landed on Montgomery Wharf at 3.30 a.m. on Sunday morning, 25 August 1918.
The total number saved was 145 out of 146 aboard.
There is no evidence of any hidden troops or missing persons referred to by Black. Indeed the Crew List itself has some endorsements which indicate thorough checking and nit picking observations about small inconsistencies. It seems therefore improbable that there has been a massive cover up to hide the drowning of several 100 Servian/Serbian troops. Had this been the case then Fear would have had to lie about the numbers of passengers aboard which itself seems improbable in an official deposition about the sinking. It is also difficult to imagine a situation whereby all the troops were lost whilst all the crew & horse attendants were saved.
The 'Examination under Oath' of Captain Fear is of considerable significance in the telling of the Flavia sinking history. The document is held by National Archives in London, Ref. ADM 137/1524. It is the webmaster's understanding that Crown copyright in the document would have expired in 1968. Captain Fear's 'Examination under Oath' can be read here.
The name of the single crew member who was lost appears not to be known.
The following two images have been kindly provided by Michael Clunas from his father's photo album. The first image, while not specifically identified, is believed to be of Flavia in 1918. The second shows a few of the many horses which Flavia had aboard on what proved to be its final voyage. In pens on the vessel's deck.
Another truly fine image from Robert Clunas's photo album. Which image is believed to date from Jul. 1918 prior to Flavia's last voyage. Per Michael Clunas, the central sitting figure with three braids is W. C. Bannerman, the Chief Officer & next in command to Captain Fear, and on his left is Chief Engineer W. D. McGregor with four braids. Of the remainder the only ones who can be identified with certainty are: a) Robert Philipps Clunas (back row third from the right), b) Surgeon J. J. Ketchum with the white moustache (seated 2nd from left) aged 71 & a U.S. citizen, & c) the four apprentices sitting at the front who have been on no other voyage in no particular order, Barry White, age 17, Edward Jones, age 18, Douglas Valder Duff, age 17, and Leo Victor Denbury(?) age 16. The gentleman at left in civvies is probably the Veterinary Conducting Officer. You can click the image to see it in a larger size.
A brief account of the vessel's history and an image of Flavia is available here.
It is pleasure indeed to be able to present an image of the Campanello at dock, possibly taken in Rotterdam, Holland. The image was kindly provided by Susan L. (Linda) Robertson, of the U.K., who has also provided an image of her grandfather, Mr. Pieter Drost (Apr. 22, 1884 - Jun. 1927) taken aboard Campanello. Pieter was, I learn, a Master Hairdresser aboard the vessel & we see him in the hairdressing salon aboard the ship. Pieter was born in Dordrecht, Holland, of a family with Dutch roots that have been traced back to the 1630s. In 1914, Pieter married Cissie Bentick Medlin (1895-1990) & Cissie can be seen in the image below in fancy dress as a Japanese girl for a church function. The couple had 3 sons & two daughters. One of the daughters was Madeline Drost (1922 - 1985), who married Granville Barnett, & is Linda's mother, I learn. Anyway, Pieter settled in Barry, Glamorgan, South Wales, but unfortunately died very young, at the age of just 43. Linda advises me that the family still has in their possession Pieter's hairdressing tools used on the Campanello. Part of the front page of his Dutch-English dictionary can also be seen below. More about Pieter's family can be seen here.
Now the vessel in the image above has probably four masts and clearly more than two masts. The image of the Flavia, available by link above, has two masts only and is, it would seem the vessel when she was the British Empire. At left below is an image of Campanello that was published in 'Koers Amerika', a 1964 publication of the 'Prins Hendrik' Maritime Museum of Rotterdam. I am advised that the name Campanello can be read on the side of the ship in the image as it was published. And at right is an image of Campania, which became the Campanello when renamed. That image accompanied Captain F. J. Thompson's article in 'Sea Breezes' of Sep. 1960. I thank both of those sources.
There are an enormous number of websites which talk about the 1918 wreck of the Florizel - truly a Newfoundland institution in its time.
In a gale and snowstorm, & in 'slob' ice, en route from St. John's, Newfoundland, to Halifax & New York, & only about 50 miles after leaving port, she ran aground on Feb. 24, 1918, at Horn Head, Cappahayden, near Cape Race, Newfoundland. 94 passengers & crew members were lost out of a total complement of 138.
The Florizel was built in 1909 by Charles Connell & Co. Ltd., of Glasgow, Scotland. In data attributed to no less an authority than the 1967 edition of the Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador, she is said to have been commissioned by Bowring Brothers to replace the shipwrecked Silvia as the flagship of the Bowrings Red Cross Line. A second site, which used to be of 3 pages, reported upon the disaster as it was recorded in the contemporary St. John's Daily News, & advised that she was built for the New York, Newfoundland and Halifax Steamship Company (I have expanded their words). I assume that both those statements are consistent? The St. John's Daily News articles mentioned Bowering, with an 'e', I think incorrectly, a number of times. The Florizel was of 3,081 gross tons (1,980 tons net), approximately 306 ft. long & 43 ft. beam, with accommodation for a total of 181 passengers (145 in 1st Class & 36 in 2nd). A most advanced ship in her time & fitted with 'submarine signalling apparatus', wireless & especially constructed to contend with the ice conditions of the region. One funnel, two masts, single screw. Speed? I have not seen that stated anywhere, so I don't know. But I doubt if high speed was the most important criteria in her construction. Interestingly, she was also a sealer, & spent a large part of her life amongst the ice floes with the sealing fleet. She was used almost entirely in the Newfoundland trade, but on Oct. 4, 1914, under the command of Captain William J. Martin, still her Captain when she later ran aground, she transported the 'Blue Puttees' to Plymouth, England, to serve in WW1. The 'Blue Puttees', also known as the 'First Five Hundred' (in fact, 537) were assigned naval puttees because no army ones were available to them. All subsequent recruits to the Newfoundland Regiment - it became 'Royal' in late 1917 - wore khaki ones. Alastair Rice advises that Newfoundland was then an independent Dominion of the British Empire and the 'Blue Puttees' correctly, were never a part of the WW1 Canadian Expeditionary Force ('CEF'). But Florizel did carry the 'Blue Puttees', & Florizel joined the convoy of ships carrying the CEF to Europe.
There is lots of data available today by a routine search re the Florizel, including the names of all those that were lost & survived, but you might wish to know that in 1976 Doubleday Canada Limited published 'A Winter's Tale, the wreck of the Florizel', written by Cassie Brown (1919-1986). (There are six circulating copies of the book in the Toronto library system, and the book would seem to be easily available in both hard & soft cover). An image of the volume's cover is here. I did read via the 'Twillingate Sun and Northern Weekly Advertiser' from the Notre Dame Bay Region of Newfoundland, that Captain Martin was held responsible for the disaster. On Jun. 1, 1918, the findings of the Court of Enquiry were published. 'The decision of the Marine Court of Enquiry into the Florizel disaster was given to the public Tuesday night. The Court finds Captain MARTIN solely responsible for the disaster, it being described as due to faulty navigation on his part. His certificate has been suspended for 21 months, but in view of his previous good record, he is recommended for a 1st Mate’s certificate during that period. All the other Officers and crew of the ship are held blameless.' I saw a second WWW site which stated that Captain Martin died soon after the disaster. But Cassie Brown clearly advises us: 'Captain William Martin left Newfoundland & never returned; he settled in Brooklyn, New York, & because of his previous excellent record, was quickly accepted by the Munson Lines &, later, Wessel Duvol. His trips as master were to ports in South America. In later years, when visited by old shipmates, he told them he knew why the Florizel had gone ashore, but would say no more' & 'He never spoke of the tragedy to his two sons, William and Robert. .... He was Port Captain when he died of a stroke, Jan. 20, 1939, at the age of sixty-three'.
It would appear that there were a number of contributing factors to the disaster. 'Exactly what happened on the Florizel throughout the night of February 23, 24, will never be known.' Evidence would appear to have been withheld even from the Court of Enquiry as to why the Florizel had made so little progress southbound after leaving harbour. That fact would seem to have been in reality the most significant of the contributing factors. 'One could have walked faster' was said about its slow passage along the coast. The Florizel's engines would seem to have been 'shut-in' or 'throttled' by the Chief Engineer, John V. Reader, for personal family reasons, without the Captain's knowledge (though he did not at any time insist on knowing what was being done with the engines of his ship) and that is probably why the ship was travelling so slowly & was not clear of Cape Race, as it should have been, at the time it ran aground. John Reader died in the disaster. I understand that the navigation of the ship was most difficult in the darkness, lack of lighthouses & weather conditions. The ship's position would in part have been determined by the captain by time travelled and its estimated speed of about 8 knots. It would seem that the captain thought that his ship was further south that he in fact was when he changed course, not thru what the open water south of Cape Race but straight onto the rocky coast, But enough! My subject is the Volturno! The Florizel deserves a page of its own to pull all the data together in a single comprehensive page. The fact that the Florizel had earlier carried Volturno survivors to New York is truly what concerns these pages & only that.
A reprint of an old photo. Of Florizel. Click the image to see it in a larger size.
Florizel at the ice fields. Also available in a larger size - click the image.
In Nov. 2013, a brochure, published by the Red Cross Line, was sold via e-Bay - a 1915 brochure re the summer cruises of Florizel & Stephano. In the words of 'seafareeditor', the e-Bay vendor - 'RED CROSS LINE, NEWFOUNDLAND 1915 FLORIZEL, STEPHANO, DECK PLANS, RATES etc. This 16-page booklet measures 9 x 8 inches (23 x 20 cm). It advertises summer 1915 voyages from New York to St. John's with a call at Halifax. The ships were Stephano, built 1911, and the slightly smaller Florizel. There are deck plans of each ship, which carried cargo as well as passengers. Much of the text is about ports of call and adjacent regions. The cover is striking and colourful. (Red Cross Line had no connection with the charitable organization of the same name. The ships' funnels were black with a large white band that included a red cross.)'
I provide here, the Red Cross Line 1915 summer route map which was contained within the brochure, plus the brochure's cover & the Florizel page.
A 1912 Bowring & Company Red Cross Line advertisement featuring Florizel.
The Royal Edward had a rather short life & a most tragic end. She was built by Fairfield & Co. of Glasgow, Scotland & launched in Jul. 1907 - of 11,117 gross tons, approximately 526 ft long & 60 feet beam, with accommodation for a total of 1,114 passengers (344 in 1st Class, 210 in 2nd, & 560 in 3rd). Two funnels, two masts, three screws & a speed of 19 knots. She was named the Cairo when she was built for the short-lived British owned Egyptian Mail Line. In 1910 she was sold to the Canadian Northern S.S. Co., renamed the Royal Edward, & plied the seas from May 1910 to Sep. 1914 from Avonmouth (Bristol) to Quebec/Montreal or Halifax, Canada, depending on the season. She then became an internment vessel from Nov. 1914 to May 1915. In Aug. 1915, bound from Alexandria, Egypt to Moudhros (on the island of Limnos or Lemnos in the Aegean) en route to Gallipoli, Turkey, & travelling quite unescorted, she was torpedoed by German submarine UB 14. The vessel sank, south-west of Nisyros in the Aegean, in just six minutes! I cannot spot Nisyros in my atlas but believe it is quite close to the island of Thera or Santorini. Most of that data comes from this site which states that the data originates from N. R. P. (Noel Reginald Pixell) Bonsor's 'North Atlantic Seaway - An Illustrated History of the Passenger Services Linking the Old World with the New', Volume 3, originally published in 1955 in one volume but later revised, enlarged & republished in five volumes. And also from a U-Boats losses treatise by A. J. Tennent. The above linked listing states that 132 lives were lost including her Master, when the Royal Edward was sunk, but this site indicates that the loss of life was, in fact, much much greater, & that less than 500 out of 1,586 aboard were rescued. Though the source for that data (Dictionary of Disasters 1824-62) is a bit strange re the years covered. A typo presumably. Part of the above data puzzles me. I have also read and seen via e-Bay items that the Royal Edward was owned by Royal Lines, & am advised that vessels of the Canadian Northern S.S. Co. were known by that name. There is a book written about the Royal Edward, incidentally, written by Richard Oliff & entitled 'Fastest to Canada - The Royal Edward - from Govan to Gallipoli'. And 'Govan'? That was a puzzle to me but I now learn that Govan, (pronounced 'govern'), is located on the south side of the river Clyde about three miles west of Glasgow, Scotland. It was where Fairfield & Co. had their shipyards. I have seen in 'Forgotten Empress' by David Zeni, a 1909 advertisement for Fairfield, part of an article on the company's then history. In that advertisement, the company was named 'The Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Co., Limited', a name used, I read from 1884 through to 1970.
Here is a composite image of the ship ex three postcards which appeared on e-Bay. The one on the right shows damage which was the result of the vessel hitting an iceberg in May 1914 when sailing in dense fog off Cape Race en route from Montreal to Avonmouth. A copy of that postcard (I show just a portion of it) was sold on e-Bay in Oct. 2004 for U.S. $45.35, in case you are interested. An 'Abstract of Log' postcard of a Royal Edward voyage to Halifax of Apr. 3, 1912 sold on e-Bay for U.S. $260.57 in Nov. 2004. And here are other images - 1 & 2.
The Uranium is another vessel that had quite a number of names in her lifetime. I read that she was built in 1891 as the Avoca, by William Denny & Brothers of Dumbarton, on the river Clyde in Scotland, for British India Associated Steamers (maybe in full British India Steam Navigation Co. Ltd.). Launched in June 1891. 5183 tons. 340 feet long 43 feet wide with capacity for 1,080 passengers, almost all in 3rd class. One funnel, three masts & rigged for sail, I gather. Single screw quadruple expansion engine & with a speed of 14 knots. Her maiden voyage was for the Queensland Royal Mail service in Sep. 1891. In 1896 she was chartered to the Spanish 'Compania Transatlantica Espanola', renamed the San Fernando & was used on the Central America service to Cuba, mainly carrying troops. She reverted to her initial name later in 1896 & was placed on the Australia service by 'British India'. She saw service as a troopship in 1899/1900 carrying troops to South Africa for the Boer War & did one voyage, in fact, as a hospital ship. One site I visited states that in 1903 she was transferred to British India Steam Navigation Company. In 1907 she was sold again to the East Asiatic Company of Copenhagen renamed the Atlanta & used as a Royal Yacht for King Christian's visit to Greenland (how interesting) before being laid up at Copenhagen. Sold again in 1908 - to the New York & Continental Line, she reverted to her original name of Avoca & on Apr. 1, 1908 commenced her first Hamburg - Rotterdam - Halifax - New York voyage. In Jul. 1908 she collided with an anchored German steamer at the Hook of Holland. (does anybody know the name of that German vessel?) Docked at Rotterdam, the vessel was 'arrested' for the costs incurred as the result of the collision. The New York & Continental Line being insolvent, the Avoca was auctioned off - for £15,000 to C. G. Ashdown & then resold, two months later to North West Transport Line for £35,000. At that point she was renamed Uranium, was in poor condition & fit only for the emigrant trade - & was placed on the Rotterdam - Halifax - New York route.
Now images of the Uranium are very scarce indeed. So it is with pleasure that I am now able to show you a postcard image of the vessel. The shield is, I understand, the Cornish coat of arms!
It appears here thanks to Kathryn Atkin & the 'Kathryn Atkin Collection'. Kathryn, we thank you yet again!
In 1910 the Uranium came under the ownership of Uranium Steamship Co.
On Jan. 12, 1913 she went ashore in thick fog near Halifax, Nova Scotia, while going to the aid of the burning Allan liner Carthaginian. She was salvaged & refitted & returned to the same service until Jul. 1914 when she was placed on the Rotterdam - Halifax - New York & Montreal route. It is possible that the image at the bottom of this page is of Uranium ashore as above.
In 1916 she was sold yet again, to Cunard Line this time, renamed the Feltria, & commenced Avonmouth - New York sailings. Unfortunately, on May 5, 1917 she was torpedoed & sunk by German submarine UC.48, when 8 miles off Mine Head, County Waterford, Ireland. 45 lives were lost.
So the vessel name sequence would seem to have been Avoca, San Fernando, Avoca, Atlanta, Avoca, Uranium & Feltria! The vessel really has no direct association with Volturno but some survivors who were landed in Europe did return to the U.S. on the vessel as you can read elsewhere on page 19 of this site.
There is lots of detailed data about the vessel on two fine sites located here (Avoca etc.) & here. I thank you both. A major original source for much of the original data would seem to be our now old friend N. R. P. Bonsor. Images of the vessel seem to be scarce, but there is, at that second site, an image of the vessel at one of the times when it was called the Avoca.
And we now have a Uranium first class deck plan on site. Low on site page 28.
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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