May I suggest that you navigate the site via the index on page 01. PRIOR PAGE / NEXT PAGE

And, if you want to make a comment, a site guestbook is here. Test.

To search for specific text on this page, just press 'CTRL + F' & then enter your search term.


On page 1, I provided basic data about the marine disaster of Oct. 1913, the burning of the Volturno in mid Atlantic. On this and the next page I provide the text of the definitive work on the subject, the Arthur Spurgeon (March 31, 1861- June 9, 1938) book The Burning of the "Volturno", published in Dec. 1913. The many images contained in the book, twenty-one in all, are all now on site also, on a page of their own i.e. page 29.

Availability of the Spurgeon book? Go here.

I read that the entire profits of the book were to be distributed by Captain Inch at his discretion as supplementary to the Relief Fund opened at Rotterdam. Indeed, Arthur Spurgeon wrote, in Dec. 1913 in his Author's Note. 'A remittance has already been sent to Captain Inch for the purpose of assisting special cases of hardship and suffering arising out of this great disaster of the sea.'

Arthur Spurgeon, later (1918) Sir Arthur Spurgeon, would seem to have been an honourable gentleman indeed. We are in his debt today as the Volturno passengers were also in his debt in 1913, but in a very different way.

Chuck Spurgeon of Langley, B.C., Canada, told me that Arthur (image at left above, a few years before he died) was a journalist & publisher & learned his profession in East Anglia. He became General Manager of Cassell's in 1905, a director in 1915 & resigned in 1922. He was living in London in 1901. We thank you, Chuck!

The book would seem to have gone on sale on Dec. 11, 1913 as was stated in the London Times on Dec. 3, 1913, as can be read on site page 39.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that is another picture of Arthur Spurgeon on page 05. Not the best image, to be sure, but a picture none the less.

Now information about Sir Arthur Spurgeon is quite limited. Which is surprising because he must have been very well known indeed. So I was delighted to learn that he was Chairman of 'Sun Engraving Co.' in Aug. 1919 when that 1,000 employee company set up an engraving plant on Whippendell Road in Watford, England. Indeed a group photograph is available on line of the plant 'opening' in which Sir Arthur Spurgeon can be seen, along with Edward W. Hunter (1876-1965), founder of the company & three other original company directors. The page through which the full image & text can be found is here. Click on the first Photo available under year 1919. A history of Sun Engraving is included on this page. I note also that Sir Arthur, as the representative of Cassell's, was in 1914 appointed Chairman of André Sleigh & Anglo Ltd., another of the 'Sun' group of companies. And it would appear that he was on the 'Sun Engraving Co.' Board until a year or so before he died in 1938.

Mr. Peter Greenhill, co-founder of the 'Sun' website, whose family history is most closely involved with 'Sun', advises that the original, plate camera, plant 'opening' photograph exists & is stored in London, England. In the small image at right, Edward W. Hunter, company founder, is dressed in white. And Sir Arthur is at your right holding what looks like a 'programme' for the occasion. The white letters are identity codes.

By clicking here, you can now see, thanks again to the kindness of Peter Greenhill, two larger images of Sir Arthur Spurgeon at that 1919 'opening', both sections of plate camera images.

The left image is already familiar to you. Sir Arthur is seated (left) in the other image beside Edward W. Hunter. Peter also advises me that the leftmost of the three children in the dinner picture is Edward Hunter's daughter Eileen.

But we do now know more about him now from his obituary which appeared in the London Times on Jun. 10, 1938. It appeared in one long column in the newspaper. I have rearranged it in columnar form for easy viewing on this page. And if you click here you will see that the National Portrait Gallery would seem to have a photographic portrait of him - by Bassano & dating from 1936. No image available there, however.

The Jun. 1, 1918 edition of 'The Sphere' has, I have read, a photograph of Sir Arthur Spurgeon presenting a Rolls Royce Amburland. To whom, I wonder? Have not seen it yet. 'Amburland' was perhaps the name of a particular model of the Rolls Royce motor car? Ted Sinclair suggests here that the vehicle was most likely an ambulance, which would seem to be most likely, during WW1, in 1918.

Now I think that Sir Arthur Spurgeon would be glad to know that his book is still read & appreciated today, in 2008, almost 95 years after it was written.

A copy of the volume, sold via e-Bay in Jun. 2008, had a handwritten inscription signed by the author & addressed to Lord William Cecil.


At left is Cary Ginell's 'Aunt Sarah', very possibly the last survivor of the Volturno disaster. As a very young girl aged 7, Surke Tepper, as she then was, was aboard Volturno in 1913.

The image at left shows her at age 97 on Sep. 7, 2003. She had just been shown a copy of Sir Arthur Spurgeon's book & 'was amazed at the clarity of the photographs and the accuracy of the text'. Aunt Sarah is on manifest page 423 Surke Tepe, aged 8, a boy! (And also on manifest page 421 - line 26 in both cases). We wish you many more happy and healthy birthdays, Shirley (Sarah) DeCovnick!

Two years have passed since the above words were written, & on Sep. 8, 2005, Aunt Sarah celebrated her 99th birthday. She much enjoyed her birthday party, I understand.

Yet another year has passed (how time does fly) & here we are in Sep. 2006. You will all be most interested in Cary Ginell's Aug. 31, 2006 following words about Aunt Sarah.

Hi Peter,

Just to let you know that we will be celebrating Aunt Sarah's 100th birthday this Saturday, Sept. 2 at the home of her son, Stan DeCovnick. She's still with us, but her memory is failing and she doesn't eat much at all anymore. In April, she attended my son's bar mitzvah and got out of her wheelchair to climb the stairs to the bimah (stage area) where we did the symbolic "passing of the Torah through the generations" ritual. There were four generations of us up there and it really brought a tear to everyones' eyes. At the party, she got up and danced and thought the whole party was for her! I'll take pictures to pass along from this Saturday's party.

Incidentally, although her official birthday is September 8, 1906, it's actually earlier because the Gregorian calendar wasn't adopted in Russia, where she was born, until Lenin's time. So, as a result, her 'real' birthday is 13 days earlier, or August 26, which means she's already 100 as of last Saturday!

Cary Ginell

It is with sorrow that we must report that Aunt Sarah passed away in Los Angeles, California on Sep. 22, 2006. To the best of the collective knowledge of a great many people, Aunt Sarah was the last survivor who actually experienced the Volturno fire of 1913 - as a very young girl just seven years of age. So the last personal link to the events of that day is now gone. Her health had been slowly failing, & her passing away had been expected. We all express our condolences to her son, Stan DeCovnick, to Cary Ginell & to all of her extended family.

We mentioned above that the family had held a birthday party on Sep. 2, 2006 for Aunt Sarah to celebrate her 100th birthday. Here she is, in a fine photograph taken that day. We bid you farewell, Aunt Sarah. And safe travels.

Now it is difficult to figure out the data re the rest of Aunt Sarah's family, who originated from Njeilowice, Russia or maybe Mahalowitz, near Odessa in the Ukraine. It would seem that Sarah/Surke arrived via the Seydlitz with her two sisters also listed on the manifest as linked above. But their ages, names & even sex does not seem to agree with Cary Ginell's article on Jan Daamen's site, written now some years ago. I am quite sure, however, that Gary has his family data correctly. Aunt Sarah's mother & another sister arrived (see manifest page 497) aboard the Campanello (ex Rotterdam) having been rescued by the eastbound Czar, & landed at Rotterdam. Named in the manifests as Cire and Hudel, but better, perhaps, Celia (Sarah's mother) & Ida. It sure gets confusing!


But first an image of the cover (at left), thanks to Ellen Karp - a most modern looking cover for a book published so long ago.

Word has it that the book may have had a dust cover on it when published in 1913. Can anybody confirm that? And perhaps provide a scan.

And (below) an image of the title page and an image of Captain Francis J. D. Inch, the Captain of the Volturno (from the Spurgeon book facing page 10). The scan of Captain Inch is courtesy of Tony Jones, then of North Wales.

The image inset in the text below is of Francis John Reddie Gardner, 1st Officer of Carmania, a part of a larger image in the Spurgeon book. We again thank Tony Jones, who provided the base scan to the Webmaster.

The numbers in brackets in the text below are the webmaster's notations & indicate the start of a page of that number.


London, New York, Toronto and Melbourne - 1913


"British steamer 'Volturno,' from Rotterdam for New York, abandoned on fire, October 10, latitude 48.25 north, longitude 34.33 west."

How the World Heard

Such was the message to Lloyd's which reached London on Saturday, October 11th, 1913, recording one of the most appalling tragedies in the history of navigation. It was followed shortly afterwards by a brief aerogram from Captain Barr, of the Cunard Liner Carmania, who recounted how he received a wireless call at sea to go to the assistance of the Volturno, on fire 78 miles away, with 657 souls on (10) board; and in the message he reported that the following ships had rushed to the help of the burning vessel:

Carmania Rappahannock
Seydlitz Czar
Grösser Kurfürst Narragansett
La Touraine Devonian
Minneapolis Kroonland

I happened to be a passenger on the first-named vessel, and earlier in the week I had agreed to edit the daily newspaper published on the ship. This will explain why it came about that I wrote the first description which appeared in print of this great drama of the sea. It also gives the reason why my fellow-passengers should have asked me to put the story into permanent form. Fortunately I have been able to enlist the good offices of Captain Frank Inch, the heroic Commander of the Volturno, (11) and the narrative, therefore, covers the tragedy from the point of view both of spectator and chief actor. Never before has the spectacle been witnessed of so many giants of the ocean assembled round a burning vessel in mid-Atlantic, yet powerless to help her, and probably so long as ships go down into deep waters such a drama will never be witnessed again.

The Call and the Answer

On Thursday morning, October 9th, I was informed by one of the officers that a wireless call had been received from the steamship Volturno on fire about 78 miles distant. A wild storm was raging, and terrific beam seas were running which we thought would make the work of rescue very difficult, but we never imagined that it would prove altogether impossible. The engineers crowded on every ounce of steam, and the Carmania made a record for such bad (12) weather, the 78 miles being covered in just under four hours. Long before the ship came into view we saw clouds of smoke darkening the horizon, and when we came nearer we realised that the fire had obtained complete mastery, the doom of the vessel being sealed beyond all question.

How the Fire Started

It was about noon, and for hours the fire had been burning furiously. When and how it started no one knows. The Volturno belonged to the Uranium Steamship Company, and left Rotterdam the week previously with 564 passengers and a crew of 93 for Halifax and New York. The vessel carried a general cargo, consisting of chemicals, oils, rags, peat moss, straw bottle covers and mats, and large quantities of wine and spirits - all highly inflammable goods, and providing fuel for the fire which was to occasion such a thrilling tragedy. The (13) suggestion that the fire was started by a lighted cigarette falling into the hold on the morning of the disaster cannot seriously be entertained, as it was evident it had been smouldering for a long time previous to its discovery. It may have been caused by spontaneous combustion among the rags which might have been placed on board in a damp or oily condition. Whether this be so or not, it is a fact that within a few minutes of its discovery the hold was blazing madly.


Captain Inch was in his room when the Chief Officer reported that smoke was coming out of No. 1 hatch. He ordered the Chief Officer to slow the ship down, to get all hands to stations, but not to tell the passengers what had happened. The Chief Officer, however, told him that the passengers knew already. The Officer then left to carry out his instructions, and before Captain Inch (14) could dress, a second message came that the ship was in flames forward. He at once rushed on to the deck, and realising the danger, ordered the Marconi operator to send out the S O S call. At the top of the companion-way he met a Quartermaster, whose face was black and bleeding, and whose clothes were torn and begrimed.

"Where have you come from?" asked the Captain.

"Out of the fo'c'sle. and there are four burnt to death," he answered in a dazed manner.

This was Death's first toll. Although the alarm had been given only five minutes before, this body of fire had sprung up and encompassed five of the men of the watch below. Of those five only the Quartermaster came out alive. The other four were found later, just charred remnants of (15) human form, hardly recognisable as having once been men.

Within five or six minutes after the Captain came on deck the flames were reaching back to the bridge, and the life-rafts stowed alongside the foremast were on fire.

Life-belts were served to the passengers, and, whilst this was being done, three explosions took place, the second blowing the compasses out of the binnacle and disabling the steering-gear and engine-room telegraph. Had there been a fourth, there is no doubt, in the opinion of Captain Inch, that the vessel must have foundered.

Fighting the Fire

The Officers and crew set to work at once to grapple with the fire. They got out the hose, pumped steam into the holds, and for twenty-four hours played upon the flames. Chemical extinguishers were available, but were not used, (16) as they could be of no assistance. When Captain Inch saw what a mastery the fire had obtained he did not think the Volturno could last an hour. With the hatches gone, steam, which is very effective provided the compartments can be made air-tight, was streaming out again almost as soon as it was forced in. At one time the Captain and the Chief Engineer gravely discussed the possibility of flooding the two forward holds as a last desperate means of extinguishing the fire. If there had been no passengers on board they would have resorted to this expedient, but the risk was too great. The bow was already dipping and the flooding of the two holds might have caused the vessel to plunge bow foremost into the deep, carrying the five hundred passengers with her, with results too awful to contemplate. That was a fateful conference between these two officers, and one (17) can easily understand how racked they were with the tremendous responsibility thrust upon them by the circumstances of the hour. Flooding being ruled out, the Captain decided to launch the boats, and it was at this time that several of the emigrants jumped overboard in their terror and were drowned. When the order to lower boats was given, others of the emigrants, casting all ideas of discipline to the winds, attempted to get into the boats while they were still on the chocks; and it was only by the free use of sticks that they were driven off.

The story of the sea is full of big tragedies, but I can imagine nothing so horrible to the beholder as to watch a boat full of human beings, many of them women and children, being swung out and dropped upon the turbulent water, being turned turtle by some giant comber as easily as a child (18) will topple over a penny craft, sliding all her human cargo into the sea, and then righting herself again - empty. That is what happened to No. 2 boat, which was launched in charge of First Officer H. P. Miller. Twenty-two out of the twenty-four cabin passengers were assisted into this boat, and among the other occupants were the Chief Steward and Stewardess. So far as I can learn, the block of the aft tackle got caught on the gunwale of the boat, causing its bow to swing round to the sea. This led to the disaster. The Chief Officer, the Chief Steward and the Quartermaster - who a few minutes earlier had had such a marvellous escape from fire - and another person managed to get back into the boat. They cut the block away with a boat-axe, and the boat drifted astern and was never seen again.

No. 6 boat was next launched in (19) charge of Fourth Officer Langyel. This was soon crowded with passengers and crew, and, apparently got safely away. One can only guess what followed; in such a furious sea it must have been speedily engulfed.

The Crushed Boat

No. 7 boat had an even more tragic fate. The Captain had doubts as to the wisdom of launching any other boats as the sea was so rough, but the occasion seemed desperate. Accordingly, the boat was filled and safely lowered. It made the water and floated, but in the great heaving ocean the Volturno, drifting where the waves carried her, rose high at the stern and came down upon the frail craft. The ship literally sat upon her, and the occupants met with a horrible death.

At this juncture Captain Inch received word from the Marconi operator that the (20) Carmania was coming to their assistance. He immediately gave orders to the Second and Third Officers, whose boats had been stove-in while they were endeavouring to get them out, that no more boats were to be launched, and he went forward to continue fighting the fire.

Was There Panic?

What happened at this stage is a little difficult to determine. The Captain declares there was no panic, but, judging from the statement made by Walter Trentepohl, the German clerk who was picked up by the Carmania, there evidently was a great deal of confusion. People rushed around wildly, and, according to his statement, the crew, who were chiefly Dutch and Germans, seemed to think they ought to have first place, and instead of quieting the passenger, they made the panic worse. The Captain was splendid, and remained on the forward (21) deck, directing the operations for fighting the fire. Third Officer Dusselmann, in a statement which he made in New York, declared that the only trouble they had was when some of the stokers became excited and tried to rush the boats, whereupon the Captain drove them back with a pistol, telling them there was no danger if they would only stand by him and help him to try and save the ship. Other statements have been made declaring that the Captain had to use his revolver in order to put down the panic, but Captain Inch himself assures me his revolver never left the drawer in his room. It appears, however, that the Third Engineer drew his revolver on one of the stokers, who had refused to obey his orders to leave the boat-deck, and go below. I have no doubt this is the explanation of the revolver story. My own opinion, after carefully considering (22) all the evidence, is that there was a panic on the after-deck, but that as he was engaged forward Captain Inch did not see it.

After the Captain had given the order that no more boats were to be launched, some irresponsible persons tried to launch No. 10a boat. It was overcrowded, and, when an attempt was made to lower it, only the aft end went down, with the result that all the occupants were spilled into the sea.

The Toll of the Boats

It is believed about 120 people were killed or drowned in connection with the launching of the Volturno's boats. In the absence of official figures I cannot make any definitive statement, but I am told that not more than one-third of those who got into the boats were women and children. If true, this shows there was a lack of discipline somewhere.

By good chance there was not more (23) than half the usual number of emigrants on board the Volturno on this trip. On every voyage during the previous eighteen months she had carried at least 1,000 passengers, but, happily, this time her complement was only half that number. One's imagination reels at the thought of what would have happened had there been 1,000 instead of 500 emigrants, huddled together in the after part of the ship, with the fire gradually forcing its way from hold to hold.

Tragedies of Despair

After the awful fate of the boats a great many of the passengers believed that the end had come, and they became very hysterical. One woman, with a baby clasped to her breast, jumped over into the seething waters. A still more tragic case was that of a young French married couple who decided they could not endure the horror any longer. They placed their arms round each other, (24) exchanged a farewell kiss, and jumped into the sea. Fortunately this madness did not spread.

When the Carmania came in sight the Captain ordered the Chief Engineer of the Volturno to stop the engines so as to save the coal for working the pumps and dynamos. The ship then fell in the trough of the sea, and lay in that position the whole time, the wind thus driving the flames to leeward.

Captain Barr, having learned by wireless of the tragic results of the attempts to launch the Volturno's boats, resolved to send one of the Carmania's life-boats to the burning vessel. Naturally, this boat was placed in charge of First Officer Gardner with a crew of picked men, whose names deserve to be recorded, as they played the part of undoubted heroes: James Donaghue, S. Smith, W. Turton, Michael Murray, T. Titchen, W. Donking, John Wise, H. Payne and G. O. Thompson. (25)

The ninth man jumped in at the last moment, and, as he begged so hard to be allowed to stay, Mr. Gardner did not insist upon his going back.

Launching the Carmania's Life-boat

The launching was a difficult operation, but it was smartly done, and a ringing cheer sent those gallant men on their way. Two or three oars were broken at the start, but these were replaced, and the men bent themselves to their task. Oil had been poured on to the sea, and for a short distance the water was fairly smooth, but soon they were lost to view, and it was only occasionally those on board the Carmania caught a glimpse of the boat, so terrific were the seas which it encountered. I do not believe the boat would have lived had it not been for the wonderful effect of the little oil bag which hung from the weather bow. This bag was (26) filled with waste and fish oil, the latter falling drop by drop through small holes at the bottom of the bag; and these little drops of oil prevented the seas breaking over the boat's bows. The sea anchor was also of immense assistance, especially when seven oars out of ten were lost.

Heroic Failure

Unhappily the hopes the gallant crew entertained of being able to save some of the Volturno passengers were frustrated, for Mr. Gardner found it impossible to get anywhere near the burning ship. Huge waves were breaking against the vessel, and an attempt to get alongside meant certain death to his crew; so, regretfully, he had to turn back, and after two hours' battling with the angry sea, once more was within hail of the Carmania.

It was an amazing feat of skill to bring his boat back safely with only three oars. (27) Further oars were thrown to him from the ship, but more than once it looked as if nothing could prevent the life-boat from being smashed against the Carmania's side. Captain Barr shouted in stentorian tones:

"Get the crew out and let the boat go."

A Modest Hero

Mr. Gardner made one more effort, and the boat was made fast. Three or four of the crew seized hold of the rope ladders that were in readiness for them, and they climbed aboard to safety. The others remained in the boat, which was hauled up to the boat deck, a number of the passengers assisting the crew in this operation.

A great cheer greeted Mr. Gardner and his men when the boat was raised to her davits and they jumped on to the deck. One lady passenger, evidently hailing from Lancashire, rushed forward, grasped him (28) warmly by the hand, and said, "God bless you, lad!" a salutation and benediction that greatly embarrassed Mr. Gardner. He at once proceeded to the bridge to report to the Captain, and resumed his ordinary duties as if he had just returned from a little rowing exercise, instead of having fought grimly with death on a tempestuous sea for over two hours.

A Daring Manoeuvre

Having failed to reach the Volturno in this way, Captain Barr, by an act of splendid seamanship, manoeuvred the Carmania quite close to the burning vessel. It was then seen that the forepart of the ship was deserted, the passengers and crew having all been driven aft by the awful heat. Signals of comfort and hope were waved to the awestricken passengers, some of whom fluttered a few handkerchiefs in return, but it was evident they were overwhelmed with the (29) calamity that had befallen them. All were wearing life-belts, and hoping against hope that rescue might come, although the tragic fate which had overtaken the launching of their boats had undoubtedly struck terror into their souls.

It was impossible to make communication, and the two vessels drifted apart, while those on board in each case watched and waited with baited breath.

Coming of the Titans

Earlier in the day Captain Barr had sent out messages to all ships within call, and these were promptly responded to by the vessels whose names I have already given. The first to arrive after the Carmania was the Seydlitz at 3.30 in the afternoon, and later came the Grösser Kurfürst. At 6 o'clock the Kroonland hove in sight, followed at intervals by the Minneapolis, La Touraine, Rappahannock, Devonian, Czar and Narragansett, the (30) last four arriving early on Friday morning. The Asian also arrived, but took no part in the rescue operations.

When the Seydlitz was getting close, Captain Inch suggested that the Carmania should go to look for the two boats that had got away. Captain Barr steamed twelve miles north-west and circled, but nothing was seen of the missing craft.


Later in the afternoon, Captain Barr made another effort to get in touch with the Volturno, as wireless messages had been received stating that the position was becoming more desperate. The suggestion has been made that if the Carmania had had a rocket apparatus on board communication might have been effected and rescues achieved. I particularly asked Captain Barr his opinion on this point. He told me he had rockets available, but if he had made (31) connection with the Volturno it would have been futile. The strongest hawser ever made, the stoutest chain ever forged, would have snapped like thread under such a terrific strain. I have assisted in working the apparatus in a shipwreck on the East Coast, and I know from experience how difficult it is to work the cradle even when the ropes are firmly affixed at one end. Captain Inch shares Captain Barr's opinion. "No rope," he said, "could be fixed from ship to ship, for nothing could stand the tug of two big ships pulling against each other as they swung upon the heaving waters."


The Seydlitz tried to reach the Volturno by one of her little boats, but she also was unsuccessful. The Carmania then dropped half a dozen life-rafts overboard, but the Volturno could not get up sufficient steam to pick them up. They all drifted across her bow. Further attempts (32) at communication were tried. The Volturno put out a life-buoy and keg on a small line, but the ship was drifting so fast that they went to windward, and the Carmania could not get them. I have wondered a great many times what would have happened if the Carmania had picked up the life-buoy. My own view is that there was a misunderstanding somewhere, as both Captains knew very well that even if a line had been taken from one ship to the other it would not have been of any practical advantage, for the reasons I have given.

One will never forget the look of dire despair that settled on the faces of the passengers, huddled together in the after part of the ship, as effort after effort to save them resulted in failure. No longer did we wave signals of attempted comfort, for we knew that only a miracle could save them. (33)

The Arena of Death

They must have felt as if they were inside a ring of spectators who had come to watch them fight to the death. The first desperation had passed. The cargo that was alight had burned so fiercely that it had commenced to burn itself out. All the brass work in the forecastle melted and disappeared. Even the glass in the portholes, half an inch in thickness, melted away as easily as silver paper held in the fire. Hour after hour those on the Volturno  fought with the fire, but all the time it was winning against their puny efforts. Two of the seamen remained for twelve hours at a stretch at the hoses at the two hatches.

It was in the neighbourhood of the 'midship hospital that the conflagration was worst. A great deal of the woodwork had collapsed, and all that could be done with the hoses was futile. (34)

The heat generated by flames confined in such a limited space was terrific. Steel girders became white hot, and Captain Inch told me how he pushed a hose as far as it would go so that the water should pour into the burning hatch. As he stood watching the water making but a poor fight against the fire, he saw the flames rise and melt the nozzle of the hose from which the torrent was rushing.

When the Light Failed

The fire kept bursting out afresh at the back of the men with the hose, and it was then that Captain Inch found in the saloon that these back fires were started by the electric wires short-circuiting. He pulled out the fuses, and darkness fell over the ship, save for the glare from the fire itself. That was the most anxious time of the whole disaster, so far as the Captain himself was concerned. Up on deck the great (35) crowd of foreigners praying and crying; down below a raging inferno, with only a bulging steel barrier between the two.

Webmaster's Note. The above represents about half of the entire book. This page is already quite large. So to keep this page to a manageable size, the text will continue here.


The webmaster knows nothing more about this matter than is reported on this page. It would seem that Cunard must have published 'Daily Bulletins' in 1913 at least, because one such bulletin is available for sale via Bookseller John Blanchfield of Leeds, U.K. It is described as being the second edition of Friday Oct. 10, 1913, a single broadsheet, published by 'Cunard, At Sea' with what is described as being 'A breathless account of the heroic rescue of the crew and passengers of the Volturno. Printed to one side in three columns'. Presumably the 'breathless' account is the effort of Arthur Spurgeon. Available at U.S. $151.86. I found it via the main page after entering on that page Arthur Spurgeon as the author.


The Spurgeon book is quite scarce. And while I do not have confirmation of the fact, I have been advised that maybe only 300 copies were initially printed in 1913. Does anybody know definitively? Copies are available for reference only, I understand, in the New York Public Library & in the Toronto Public Library in Ontario, Canada. I believe a copy is available at Kent State University in the U.S. & that particular copy is, I understand, available for inter-branch loan. It would seem that there is also a copy in the Maritime Museum in Rotterdam. There is a copy in the Sydney Jones Library in Liverpool, & copies also in the British Library, the National Library of Wales & the National Library of Scotland. Those are the only publicly available copies that I today know about. If you can add to that list, perhaps with more data from the U.K., do please take a moment & advise me.

As I indicated above, it is believed that the book may have had a dust cover on it when it was published in 1913. It would be good to have that fact definitively confirmed by finding a scan of an actual dust cover. But, Richard C. Lina of Estates Gallery Books of Benicia, California, states that the copy he had for sale (was available book listed below) used to have a 'glasseine' protective cover, which he describes as being a see through protective cover, much like mylar today but similar in texture to tissue paper. Richard says there were no signs of any other type of covering or dust jacket. Over the years the 'glasseine' had yellowed, & became both clouded and brittle. So it was discarded. But Richard's copy was, I understand, a presentation copy from the author & may have been given 'special' treatment accordingly. Richard we thank you.

Now copies of the book occasionally are available on e-Bay & from other sources. I will try to list them as I know of them being available & sold. Prices mentioned are without shipping costs & I have used U.S. dollars as the prime currency. Arthur Spurgeon is of course, the author.

But ... I do not check often any more. The following may be helpful re historical prices and the places to try to find a copy,

Actual Sales    
April 2003 U.K. via U.S. $70.68 at the time
April 2004 e-Bay, but listing long gone U.S. $83.25 at the time (GBP 47.00)
October 2006 e-Bay, but listing long gone U.S. $62.04 at the time (GBP 35.45)
June 2008 e-Bay, but listing long gone U.S. $47.40 at the time (GBP 23.99). Had an inscription signed by the author addressed to Lord William Cecil.
July 2, 2009 e-Bay, but listing long gone. GBP 49.99 (U.S. $81.62). Had an inscription signed by the author addressed to Captain David Dow of the Mauretania.
October 2010 via Abebooks Sold for U.S. $60.44. Described as a poor copy.
Nov. 30, 2010 e-Bay, but listing long gone listing Sold for U.S. $53.25
Check with via  or Abebooks (type in Arthur Spurgeon). They frequently have copies for sale or with e-Bay.


Previously Available    
Nov. 14, 2012 e-Bay, but listing expired Did not sell for U.S. $150.00
Was available via UKBookworld

Was available in fall of 2005 at GBP 16.00 through Nineteenth Century Books via A copy that was of modest price but had condition issues & was missing 3 of the 20 plates.

Was available via or Abebooks (type in Arthur Spurgeon)

Was available at U.S. $69.50, from R. D. Hooker, bookseller, of Christchurch, U.K. But not any more!

Was available via or Abebooks (type in Arthur Spurgeon)

Was available at U.S. $250. Was on e-Bay with a U.S. $199 starting bid & 'buy it now' at U.S. $250. Item expired with no bids. (Estates Gallery Books, Bernicia, California)

Was available via  or Abebooks (type in Arthur Spurgeon)

Was available at U.S. $76.94 from John Blanchfield, bookseller, of Leeds, United Kingdom, LS4 2RR. Described as being a poor copy, but with two contemporary newspaper cuttings, one from the Daily Post (presumably of Birmingham) dated October 14, 1913 & entitled 'A Birmingham Mans Story' with a pen picture.

Was available via (type in Arthur Spurgeon)

Was available at U.S. $131.61 from Robin Summers of Suffolk, United Kingdom.  The book is described as being very good indeed.

Was available via (type in Arthur Spurgeon)

Was available at U.S. $157.52 & at U.S. $162.05 from 'Books and Collectibles' & from 'Page after Page', both of which are perhaps the same bookseller of 963 Canterbury Road, Box Hill, Victoria, Australia. The listings referenced 'Boards are worn at the spine ends with 1 cm of cloth worn away.' Also 'very rare in pictorial wrapper'.

Was available via Abebooks and (type in Arthur Spurgeon)

Was available at U.S. $147.49 or $168.06 from Marine & Cannon Books of the United Kingdom.

Was  available via

Was available at U.S. $300.39.

The Spurgeon book that was, long ago now, for sale via Westleton Chapel Books would seem to have been 'one of a kind' - the very copy of the Spurgeon book that was owned by Captain Inch himself. It is inscribed as you can see: "Francis Inch // late s/s Volturno // Burnt at Sea // Oct 9. 1913". The signature would surely seem to be identical to the facsimile signature of the Captain opposite page 10. It does also have a pencilled note at page 10, I read, concerning the subsequent fate of one of the rescue vessels which may also be by him (the La Touraine: 'since burnt at sea, but managed to return to port'.) On Mar. 15, 1915, La Touraine did burn 400 miles west of the Irish coast & indeed made it safely to Cherbourg in France.

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