THE BURNING OF THE 'VOLTURNO' - PAGE 56
THE S. S. CARMANIA - PAGE 1
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I will place on this page such data as can be found about the Carmania, which played the lead role in the Volturno rescue effort. Survivors were picked up by the smaller rescue vessels and Carmania landed only one Volturno survivor, Walter Trentepohl, who was plucked from the high seas at night, totally exhausted, after swimming for an hour. His story is on page 35 of this site.
The image at left is of the Carmania by Real Photographs Co. Ltd. of unknown date but surely very early.
Hopefully the page will expand as new data becomes available.
I have read that the Carmania would normally have landed at Queenstown, Ireland, but because of bad weather could not do that so and went straight on to Fishguard, Wales. The London Times advises us that arrangements were made for passengers who had booked to Queenstown to cross the Irish Sea to Ireland a little later.
I like to start off with a full size image of the vessel to give you a quick idea of what she looked like. In Carmania's case, I can now, thanks to Tony Jones of North Wales, provide an image of the Carmania taken, it is believed, on the Mersey in 1915. The text at left reads simply 'R.M.S. Carmania' and at right is the name of the photographer which reads, on the image, 'Priestley & Sons Egremont 25'. A part of the image is however missing at right and it should, I think read 'Priestley & Sons Ltd. Egremont' and the number should be probably of 2 extra digits. Then I have an image derived from an e-Bay postcard item and dating also from about 1915. And beneath that image, we have Charlie's 'home for a week' - a Tuck Oilette postcard image ex e-Bay that you will enjoy. (Tuck #9268 of a painting by Samuel J. M. Brown, I learn. It surely dates from no later than Jul. 1907 when a for sale item on the WWW was postmarked). I trust that I may be permitted to use the last two images on this non-profit and informational site. With all three images, the visitor will have a good idea of what the Carmania looked like - a distinguished looking ship indeed!
A fine 1907 print of Carmania comparing her size with that of Brittania, Cunard's first ship in 1840. We thank giant e-Bay vendor 'periodpaper' for their 2014 listing image, now long gone. The image below was webmaster size reduced. The full listing image is here.
On this 'www.greatships.net' page Jeff Newman has assembled a fine archive of Carmania postcards, each of which can be seen in a bigger format with a click of the mouse.
Or maybe I should say Carmania I, because there would seem to have been three liners of that name. This page relates solely to the Carmania involved in the Volturno rescue. But some limited data on the other two Carmania's is below.
'Our' Carmania, officially numbered 120901 per Kathryn Atkin (thanks!), was built by John Brown & Co. Ltd. on the Clyde in Glasgow, Scotland, (Yard # 366) in 1905, a vessel of 19,524 gross tons, a capacity for 2,650 passengers, (300 in 1st class, 350 in 2nd class, and 2,000 in 3rd class) just over 650 feet long (650.4) and almost 73 feet wide (72.7). She was launched on Feb. 21, 1905, the naming ceremony being performed by Lady Blythswood, the wife of a former aide to Queen Victoria. Cunard Line built two vessels at that time, the Caronia and the Carmania. The Caronia was powered by traditional steam 'quadruple-expansion engines'. The Carmania was powered by the then innovative steam turbine engines, which promised higher speeds, easier maintenance and lower operational costs. On her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York, on Dec. 2, 1905, Carmania's triple screw Parsons steam turbines proved their worth and turbines became the standard for liners of the future including the Lusitania and also the Mauretania which held the Blue Riband for nearly 25 years! In their time, the Caronia and the Carmania were the largest ships of the Cunard Line. Carmania had a service speed of 18 knots, I read, but could exceed that speed and surely did in getting to the scene of the burning Volturno in some very rough seas. Both Caronia and Carmania were equipped with the 'Stone-Lloyd' apparatus which closed all watertight doors throughout the ship simultaneously by hydraulic controls from the bridge.
I had not read anywhere that Carmania went aground approaching New York on Sunday Dec. 7, 1907 and was, in fact, aground for twelve hours. But it clearly was aground, as you can see from the next image which is of a page from the New York Herald. The item was for sale on e-Bay, in Feb. 2005, and the image appears here with the kind permission of Alan Bergins whose eBay store no longer exists, whom we sincerely thank! I did modify the image in one minor way. I moved the publication date at the top a bit to the left to permit visitors to read it all on screen.
The Carmania was on the New York run for a number of years. I read that on Jun. 2, 1910, whilst the ship was in Huskisson Dock at Liverpool, a fire broke out in her coal bunkers resulting in considerable fire & water damage to the passenger accommodation. The hull & machinery were undamaged, however. Repairs were effected & it re-entered service on Oct. 4, 1910. (That last date would seem to be incorrect since there was, it would appear, a voyage from Liverpool to Boston via Queenstown & New York on Sep. 6, 1910. See lower on this page.)
The date of that fire at Liverpool, would seem, correctly to have been not Jun. 2, 1910 but rather Jun. 2, 1912. I was alerted by a postcard that was available on e-Bay in May 2009, which showed the fire actually in progress. With the caption 'Fire on the Carmania June 2nd 1912 8pm'. Image at right - it does say 1912. What is a puzzle is that Cunard's own history pages, used to state, here (history seems no longer to be available), that the fire was in 1910. Proof that it was, in fact, in 1912? Read this dramatic New York Times reference of Jun. 3, 1912 (probably not today unless you subscribe!).
It was a major fire! And it surely was in 1912 - unless there were 2 fires, one in 1910 & another exactly 2 years later, in 1912! More on the subject.
In Sep. 1911, I read, when in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the Carmania's turbine blades were damaged. The damage was quickly repaired.
On Jan. 1, 1913, Captain James Clayton Barr, Captain of the Carmania became Commodore of the Cunard Line, in succession to Captain R. C. Warr, recently retired. So it was that Captain (maybe I should call him Commodore) Barr was in command of the Carmania when it heard, in the early hours of October 9, 1913, the SOS message of the Volturno, broadcast via the new-fangled 'Marconi wireless'.
Throughout these pages, there are numerous references to the service that Captain Barr and the crew of the Carmania provided in the total Volturno rescue effort.
May I suggest that you might best read the text of Arthur Spurgeon's definitive book, published in late 1913. The full text of that work is available in these pages - indexed on page 1 of this site. It is from that work, indeed, opposite page 48, that the image at left of Captain Barr was obtained, thanks again to Tony Jones. In the book it had his signature also.
I have read in Colin Simpson's book referred to on Carmania site page 59, that Captain Barr was 5' 4" in height and stocky. If you have other images or data, re Captain Barr, I would welcome it in these pages. The exact date of his birth perhaps. There is more data, in fact, on Carmania page 58.
After the outbreak of World War I, on Aug. 4, 1914, the Carmania was requisitioned by the British Admiralty and converted into an AMC 'Armed Merchant Cruiser'. But the material already assembled on that subject requires a page of its own, hence Carmania page 58.
After the sea battle between the Carmania and the Cap Trafalgar, temporary repairs were made to the Carmania and she limped, escorted by the Bristol and later the Cornwall also, to the Abrolhos rocks, some 50 miles off the coast of Brazil for further emergency repairs. She then was escorted to Gibraltar by the Cornwall, and placed in dry dock where repairs were completed in Nov. 1914. "Until May 1915 the ship patrolled the coast of Portugal and the Atlantic Islands, but was afterwards required to assist in the Gallipoli campaign. It also assisted in quelling a mutiny on board the British steamship Maristan."
In May 1916, Cunard re-assumed control of the Carmania which was employed largely on trooping duties between Halifax and Liverpool.
The next postcard image of Carmania, mailed from Halifax, Canada, on Dec. 13, 1919, to Glamorgan, Wales, is interesting due to its hand written words, which indicated:- 'Arrived at Halifax today, Dec 13th, after rather a rough voyage. I suppose you have heard about the accident this boat met with, nothing very serious, everybody shaky.' But with no words as to exactly what had happened. The card, written to his great aunt Kesiah (Ciss) Herbert, was kindly provided to the webmaster by Meurig Thomas, of Epsom, Surrey.
We can now advise the circumstances of the 'accident' or some of them at least. Carmania left Liverpool on Dec. 3, 1919 with 950 passengers aboard, G. W. Melsom in command, bound for New York. She was, however, directed to Halifax to load coal to get her first to New York & then back to England. On Dec. 10, 1919, in stormy conditions, high seas, snowstorms, fog - and also darkness, the vessel was about 300 miles S. of Sable Island. At 45.40N/52.17W. Visibility was so bad that lookouts could not see a ship's length ahead. It suddenly became apparent that Maryland, a 4731 gross ton ship of Atlantic Transport Line, bound from Baltimore for Liverpool, was about to run head on into the side of Carmania, amidships. Evasive action was taken & what could have been a serious collision indeed became instead a glancing blow to Carmania with modest damage, in fact, to both of the vessels. A few of the Carmania passengers, those whose cabins were located right at the point of impact, were hospitalized - with shock rather than with damaged limbs. Carmania was further delayed by weather in entering Halifax, but arrived there on Dec. 13, 1919. You used to be able to read the detail in 2 archived articles at the New York Times (1 & 2 but no longer) & at this interesting page (again no longer made available) ex 'Chronicles of Barabbas', which page indicates that Carmania was temporarily repaired at sea 'by timbers and cement'. Thank you, Meurig, for bringing this whole matter to our attention.
Carmania was completely reconditioned in 1920 and returned to the Liverpool to New York service. And in 1923 she was converted to oil, while the passenger accommodation was reduced to 1,440 (425 in cabin class, 365 in tourist class and 650 in 3rd class). In the early 30s, she had become outdated. In Mar. 1932 she was sold to Hughes Bocklow & Co. and scrapped at Blyth, Northumberland, about 125 miles, as the crow flies, from where she was built 27 years earlier. The end of a distinguished career, indeed.
These pages are a distillation of data from quite a number of WWW sources. Foremost among those sources was, until I had read Colin Simpson's book and a chapter on the Carmania/Cap Trafalgar battle in Stephen Harding's 'Great Liners at War', a 2002 posting by Frank Young of Kensington, Maryland, available here (Google says the site is now unsafe). But I now think that Frank's data truly originated on the official Cunard page which I can today no longer access.
I wish I could provide more information about the next image than I can. It was an e-Bay item some while ago, but so long ago that the item can no longer be viewed not even the text. It would seem, however, from my file name, that the photograph was taken aboard Carmania in about 1919, and shows a group of passengers listening to a 'Sonora' phonograph. I have trimmed the image a little to make it entirely visible on this page without scrolling. I trust that it is in order to use the image on this non-profit and informational site. If anyone knows anything more, about the image, do please contact me.
On Jan Daamen's site there is a list of the crew of the Carmania provided by Tony Jones of North Wales. Here, with his kind permission, is Tony's list, which I believe is of medal recipients re the Volturno rescue. Thank you, Tony!
James Clayton Barr Captain 2a William Turton Seaman 1, 2c Robert John Johnstone Chief Officer 2b Michael Murray Seaman 1, 2c Francis John Reddie Gardner 1st Officer 1, 2b William Henry Donking Seaman 1, 2c William Garvey Seaman 2b Thomas Titchen Seaman 1, 2c Edward John Heighway Seaman 1, 2b, 3, 4 John Wise Steward 1, 2c James Donohue Seaman 1, 2c Harry Payne Steward 1, 2c Sidney Smith Seaman 1, 2c George Oliver Thompson Steward 1, 2c
The crew members who were awarded medals are identified after their roles by the following:
1 - All of the recipients listed above, except only for Captain Barr, Robert Johnstone and William Garvey, received the Sea Gallantry Medal (SGM), a very prestigious medal indeed.
2 - The Marine Medal of 'The Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society' - 2a = gold, 2b = silver, 2c = bronze.
3 - The Honorary Silver Medal of 'The Royal Humane Society' was granted to Edward John Heighway.
4 - Lloyd's Bronze Medal for Saving Life (at Sea).
In addition to the above, I should indicate that Bernard de Neumann advises that Edward John Heighway received the Bronze Medal of The Life-Saving Benevolent Association of New York, (plus a cash award) as you can read here. Other medals may very well be referenced in due course, should new data be received.
I am advised that 'The Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society' medal awarded to Chief Officer Robert John Johnstone, in a nearly extremely fine condition, was sold at a Dec. 5, 1995 auction by 'Dix Noonan Webb' of London. The hammer price was £150, I find.
The bronze medal awarded to this Carmania seaman by 'The Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society' was sold via an e-Bay and live auction that took place on May 12, 2005 - an auction by Bloomsbury Auctions of Bloomsbury House, 24 Maddox Street, London, U.K., W1 S1PP. The medal sold for GBP 170 or approximately U.S. $312.18. Bloomsbury Auctions stated both on their e-Bay listing and upon further enquiry that the medal is truly engraved 'C. Douking' rather than 'C. Donking'. Both of the site's U.K. experts on the subject of medals, indicate that 'Donking' was the correct spelling of his name. Alas, the e-Bay listing did not contain an image of the actual medal. I have no other data about this award winner who was, however, a crew member of the single Carmania lifeboat which attempted to rescue Volturno passengers and only with the greatest of difficulty made its way back to the Carmania.
But now we know a little more about him! Lauren Morgan has been in touch to advise (thanks Lauren!) that William Donking, Lauren's GG grandfather, was born in Devon, U.K., on Dec. 5, 1876, the son of Margaret & James. He married Cathrine Solan on May 20, 1895 at Liverpool, Lancashire. On Feb. 17, 1917, he died, at just age 40, at Birkenhead, Cheshire. He was buried at Liverpool.
There is, elsewhere on this site, extensive data about First Officer Gardner, most especially in the text of the Spurgeon book. And other references may be found via the site search engine at the foot of this and every other site page. The image at left is part of the image of Gardner at the Spurgeon link. The complete Spurgeon image together with another image of him in the Carmania lifeboat can be seen at about 1/3 down on page 29 of the site.
I was particularly interested to read, in the London Times, that he had, in a previous experience, spent 23 days at sea in an open boat. Can anybody tell us the circumstances?
The only fact about steward Thompson known to the webmaster is that he did a pencil sketch of the scene of the disaster. That sketch was reproduced in the Spurgeon book The Burning of the "Volturno" and it can be seen on site - about half way down on site page 29.
The Other Carmanias? (all Cunard or partially Cunard)
R.M.S. Saxonia, launched in 1954, was renamed Carmania in 1963 and later, when sold in 1973 to Nikreis Maritime Corp, of Panama, for the Soviet State Shipping Company, was renamed the Leonid Sobinov. I used to provide a link to an image showing her in Southampton, England, before being acquired by Russian interests but it is no longer available. I refer you to Wikipedia instead. The third Carmania was 'ex-Orange, 1976 purchased from Chichester Shipping, Glasgow renamed Carmania, 1986 sold to Greece renamed Perseus.' I think that means that the ship was originally named the Orange before Cunard acquired it.
OTHER CAPTAINS OF 'OUR' CARMANIA?
Other Captains of 'our' Carmania? I will add them in here as I see any references. Ten different captains, so far.
For one of those captains, namely Captain F. G. Brown, R.D., R.N.R, (captain during years 1926 to 1930) an unusual postcard was for sale in July 2008, a card which had his image added, overprinted presumably, to the standard 'abstract of log' card, & was signed by him. In watching e-Bay items re Carmania for a number of years now, I have not seen its like before.
The list that follows is becoming excessively long. I will need to modify the list soon to indicate just the earliest and latest referenced voyage of each Captain. Only one, so far, re Captain Barr. R.D. means, I read, 'Reserve Decoration', an award for service in the R.N.R. (Royal Navy Reserve).
1) 1906, Jul. 3 - Captain John Pritchard - per an e-Bay item sold in May 2006, a saloon passenger list re a voyage from New York to Liverpool.
2) 1906, Sep. 11 - Captain John Pritchard - per an e-Bay item on sale in May 2006, a 2nd class passenger list re a voyage from Liverpool to New York. And per another e-Bay item in Oct. 2007 a saloon passenger list for the same voyage.
3) 1906, Nov. 3 - Captain John Pritchard - per an e-Bay item on sale in Aug. 2006, a 2nd cabin passenger list re a voyage from Liverpool to New York and Boston via Queenstown.
4) 1908, Jul. 25 - Captain James C. Barr - per an e-Bay item on sale in Jun. 2007, and a similar item in Dec. 2008, a saloon passenger list re a voyage from New York to Liverpool via Queenstown. And this item, also, in Jul. 2009.
5) 1908, Sep. 5 - Captain James C. Barr - per an e-Bay item on sale in May 2009, a saloon passenger list re a voyage from New York to Liverpool via Queenstown.
6) 1910, Jun. 25 - Commander James C. Barr - per an e-Bay item on sale in Sep. 2009 - a saloon passenger list re a voyage from New York to Liverpool.
7) 1910, Sep. 6 - Commander James C. Barr - per e-Bay items on sale in Jan. & Feb. 2008 & in May 2008 - saloon passenger lists re a voyage from Liverpool to Boston via Queenstown & New York.
8) 1911, Jun. 17 - Captain D. Dow, R.D., R.N.R. - per an e-Bay item on sale in Apl. 2009, & another in Jan. 2010, an 'abstract of log' re a voyage from New York to Liverpool.
9) 1911, Jul. 7 - Captain D. Dow (As I read it but e-Bay listing said Dowd), R.D., R.N.R. - per an e-Bay item on sale in Jan. 2006, a 'Programme of Entertainment' in aid of 'Seamen's Charities of Liverpool and New York'.
10) 1911, Aug. 29 - Commander D. Dow, R.D., R.N.R. - per an e-Bay item on sale in Apl. 2007 re a passenger list and booklet re a voyage from Liverpool to New York via Queenstown.
11) 1912, Nov. 23 - Captain D. S. Miller, I. E. - per this reference re a 2nd cabin passenger list re a voyage from Liverpool to New York, probably via Queenstown.
12) 1913, Mar. 23 - James C. Barr - per an e-Bay item on sale in Apl. 2009 re a saloon passenger list re a voyage from Alexandria, Egypt, to Liverpool via Naples, Italy.
13) 1913, Jun. 28 - James C. Barr - per an e-Bay item on sale in Apl. 2008 re a saloon passenger list re a voyage from New York to Liverpool via Queenstown & Fishguard.
14) 1918, Mar. 1 - Captain A. H. Rostron, R.D., R.N.R. An e-Bay listing in Jul. 2007 re a 'Grand Concert' held on board the vessel in aid of 'Seamen's Charities of Liverpool and New York'. A little data about Roston.
15) 1919, Jan. 15 - Commander W. R. D. Irvine, R.D., R.N.R. - per an e-Bay item on sale in Jul. 2006, a programme re a 'Grand Concert' in aid of 'Liverpool Seamen's Orphan Institution'.
16) 1919, Dec. 03 - Captain G. W. Melsom, R.N.R. - as per data higher on this page. A voyage from Liverpool to Halifax & on to New York.
17) 1920, Jan. 13 - Captain G. W. Melsom, R.N.R. - as per Peter Wood, who had a relative on the voyage from Liverpool to New York.
18) 1920, Feb. 18 - Captain G. W. Melsom, R.N.R. - per an e-Bay item on sale in Jun. 2005, a saloon passenger list re a voyage from Liverpool to New York via Halifax.
19) 1921, Sep. 27 - Captain G. W. Melsom, R.N.R. - per an e-Bay item on sale in May 2007, a list of passengers re a voyage from Liverpool to New York via Queenstown and Halifax.
20) 1922, Apl. 22 - Captain G. W. Melsom, O.B.E., R.N.R. - per an e-Bay item in Feb. 2009, a Programme of Entertainment in aid of British & American Seamen's Charities. Held aboard the vessel.
21) 1922, Jun. 15 - Captain G. W. Melsom, O.B.E., R.N.R. - per an e-Bay item on sale in Sep. 2008, a list of Saloon passengers re a voyage from New York to Queenstown and Liverpool.
22) 1923, Apl. 07 - Captain G. W. Melsom, R.D., R.N.R. - per an e-Bay item on sale in Jan. 2008, an 'abstract of log' re a voyage from Liverpool to New York via Boston.
23) 1924, Jul. 05 - Captain S. C. S. McNeil, R.D., R.N.R. - per an 'abstract of log' on sale via e-Bay in Jul. 2005, re a voyage from New York to Liverpool.
24) 1924, Sep. 04 - Captain S. C. S. McNeil, R.D., R.N.R. - per an 'cabin passenger list' on sale via e-Bay in May 2007, re a voyage from Liverpool to Quebec via Belfast.
25) 1925, Feb. 14 - Captain S. C. S. McNeil, R.D., R.N.R. - per a 'cabin passenger list' on sale on e-Bay in Jul. 2005, - a 36 page booklet re a voyage from Liverpool to Boston & New York via Queenstown.
26) 1926, July 07 - Captain F. G. Brown, R.D., R.N.R. - per a List of Passengers for sale via e-Bay in Aug. 2009, re a voyage from New York to London via Plymouth & Havre.
27) 1926, July 23 - Captain F. G. Brown, R.D., R.N.R. - per a 3rd Class List of Passengers for sale via e-Bay in Jun. 2006, re a voyage from Havre to New York via Southampton.
28) 1926, Aug. 20 - Captain F. G. Brown, R.D., R.N.R. - per a Cabin Passenger List for sale via e-Bay in Oct. 2006, re a voyage from Havre to New York via Southampton.
29) 1927, Jul. 23 - Captain F. G. Brown, R.D., R.N.R. - per a Passenger List for sale via e-Bay in Aug. 2009, re a voyage from New York to London via Plymouth & Le Havre.
30) 1927, August 5 - Captain F. G. Brown, R.D., R.N.R. - per a Passenger List for sale via e-Bay in Jun. 2007, re a voyage from Havre to New York via Southampton.
31) 1928, May 25 - Captain F. G. Brown, R.D., R.N.R. - per a List of Passengers sold via e-Bay in Sep. 2005, re a voyage from New York to Plymouth, Havre and London.
32) 1928, Aug. 04 - Captain F. G. Brown, R.D., R.N.R. - per a List of 3rd Class Passengers for sale via e-Bay in Mar. 2006, re a voyage from Southampton to New York via Havre. And a similar item in Nov. 2007.
33) 1929, Jun. 21 - Captain F. G. Brown, R.D., R.N.R. - per an 'abstract of log' on sale via e-Bay in Dec. 2007, re a voyage from London to New York via Southampton & Havre.
34) 1929, Jul. 03 - Captain F. G. Brown, R.D., R.N.R. - per an 'abstract of log' on sale via e-Bay in Aug. 2005, re a voyage from New York to London.
35) 1929, Oct. 25 - Captain F. G. Brown, R.D., R.N.R. - per an 'abstract of log' on sale via e-Bay in Feb. 2006, and also on sale via a 'Buy-It-Now' listing, re a voyage from New York to London via Plymouth and Havre.
36) 1930, Jan. 18 - Captain F. G. Brown, R.D., R.N.R. - per a List of 1st Class Passengers on sale via e-Bay in Jan. 2009, re a voyage from New York to Havana, Cuba.
37) 1930, Mar. 22 - Captain F. G. Brown, R.D., R.N.R. - per an 'abstract of log' on sale via e-Bay, re a voyage from New York to Cobh (Queenstown) and Liverpool.
38) 1930, Jul. 4 - Captain J. C. Townley, R.D., R.N.R. - per an 'abstract of log' on sale via e-Bay in Jul. 2006, re a voyage from London to New York via Southampton, Havre and Queenstown.
39) 1930, Jul. 18 - Captain J. C. Townley, R.D., R.N.R. - per a 3rd cabin passenger list for sale in Oct. 2008 re a voyage from New York to London via Queenstown, Plymouth and Havre.
40) 1930, Aug. 01 - Captain J. C. Townley, R.D., R.N.R. - per an 'abstract of log' visible low on site page 57, re a voyage from London to New York via Southampton, Havre, and Queenstown.
A site visitor has asked an interesting question. Whether Carmania passenger lists are preserved anywhere. Such that you might search for a particular voyage & read who were the passengers on that trip. Does anybody know the answer? And if there is such a record, know whether it would cover all classes of passengers? If you know the answer, do drop me a line.
Another site visitor advises that his father arrived at Halifax, Canada, aboard Carmania, on Dec. 31, 1918. He seeks a passenger list re that voyage that hopefully will list his father's name. His father served with the Royal Canadian Engineers during WW1 & returned to Canada on that date. You can contact me via the link a few lines up & I will gladly pass on any messages that are received.
Maybe you can provide additional Carmania images? Or data?
This page will, hopefully, track data about the Carmania 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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