THE BURNING OF THE 'VOLTURNO' - PAGE 85
THE S. S. MINNEAPOLIS - PAGE 1
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I will place on this page such limited data as I have available about the Minneapolis, which landed 30 Volturno survivors at Gravesend, U.K. in Oct. 1913. Hopefully the page will expand as new data becomes available. Perhaps YOU can provide some data?
I generally like to start off with a full size image of the vessel to give you a quick idea of what she looked like. In the case of the Minneapolis, I do not yet have much by the way of images. But I do have a postcard image that is available on quite a few WWW sites. I now show you the best example of that postcard that I could find. It was available on a site that is no longer in existence, it would seem. So it lives on here. It is, I read, Card No. 9126 in the Tuck’s Atlantic Transport Series, an Oilette process card. For your interest, a copy of the card sold on e-Bay in early Nov. 2005 for GBP 1.50, approx. U.S. $2.66, and another sold in Feb. 2006 for U.S. $3.00.
The S.S. MINNEAPOLIS
Now there are very few references to the Minneapolis.
It would seem that she was built in 1900 by Harland & Wolff, of Belfast, Northern Ireland (Yard # 328) and operated by Atlantic Transport Line on the London to New York service. She was 187.8 metres long and had a beam of 19.8 metres. 13,401 gross tons; and a service speed of 16 km. She could accommodate only 228 passengers (a low number and possibly inaccurate) and had three sister ships - the Arabic, the Minnehaha and the Minnetonka.
The image at left above is part of a postcard believed to date from 1906. As you can see from Jeff Newman's page, where he has copies of both Minneapolis postcard images that appear on this page in good quality, (click to see them in a larger size), I trimmed the postcard 'frame', for use on this page.
Above, I stated that the 228 passenger number was 'possibly inaccurate'. But a kind message from Jonathan Kinghorn of Lexington, Massachusetts, U.S.A. states that that number IS indeed fully accurate. He advises me that the ship was principally a cargo ship, & carried amongst other things live cattle & racehorses. Unusually, it operated out of Tilbury, near the mouth of the Thames & east of London rather than Liverpool or Southampton, & she, together with her sister ships, were the largest vessels using the Port of London. The passengers inhabited the superstructure on deck, & all of the passengers were in first class. One of Jonathan's great grandfathers, a Scot, was chief engineer for Atlantic Transport Line for at least 20 years before his retirement in 1910, hence Jonathan's interest in & knowledge of the whole subject. Jonathan we thank you!
When I say that data is scarce I am not kidding! Her voyage arrival dates in the U.S. are listed here but no other data. It would seem that she was used as a troop ship by the Royal Navy in 1915. And Mike Francis has been in touch about her earlier use as a troop ship. Mike, who is researching the history of the 35th Brigade of the Royal Artillery advises, per a war diary, that the brigade sailed on Minneapolis from England to Zeebrugge, Belgium, in early Oct. 1914, leaving England on Oct. 4, 1914 & docking in Zeebrugge the next day. But on Mar. 23, 1916 she was torpedoed by German submarine U35 and sank northeast of Malta with the loss of twelve lives - of the 189 persons aboard. Her official number was 110515 I understand. I have also read that she was launched on Nov. 18, 1899 and completed in May 1900. Later that month, specifically May 10, 1900, was her maiden voyage on the London to New York run.
Now it would seem that the Minneapolis may have a couple of particular claims to fame. Firstly, she would seem, in 1901, to have assisted a four-masted steel barque named the Comet when she was dismasted during her maiden voyage to New York. Minneapolis towed her back to New York. Secondly, it would seem that Mark Twain travelled on the Minneapolis & indeed read to the passengers from his autobiography. On Jun. 14, 1907, a concert took place on board the Minneapolis while the vessel was en route to England. A concert in aid of 'The Seamen's Orphanage' with, as the finale of the concert, a presentation by Mark Twain featuring a page from his autobiography. It used to be that you could see the concert program, with Mark Twain's signature no less, via a page on the website of the Rowan Public Library of North Carolina, but alas I cannot find it at their website today. But all is not lost! Thomas W. Briggs has kindly come to our rescue with a link to an 'Edith Clark History Room' page where you can both read about the concert & see the 4-page concert program - here - (such room would seem to be related to the Rowan Public Library). Thomas' interest in the matter is that his grandmother, Carlotta Welles, was the violin soloist at that 1907 concert & was scheduled to play Gabriel Fauré’s Berceuse, op. 16. Carlotta later became a friend of & corresponded with Mark Twain. Thank you, Thomas, for your kind input!
And here, I am pleased to show you most of what would seem to be a similar concert program - re a concert on board the Minneapolis on Jun. 15, 1912. A very pretty program indeed! But I cannot tell you exactly where it came from except that it almost certainly would be from a 2003 e-Bay item. It is very difficult indeed to record all data sources when one's files become so very large. My memory says that it did not sell at a quite modest asking price. But I never succeeded in finding the e-Bay source a second time to check my memory.
A fine S.S. MINNEAPOLIS etching c. 1913
And here, I am pleased to show you, a fine etching of the Minneapolis as it arrived in England with survivors from the Volturno. It is the work of Nelson Ethelred Dawson. Dawson (1859-1941) a British marine & coastal painter, well known for his watercolours & etchings. The work is entitled 'S.S. Minneapolis with Volturno survivors on board' and is pencil signed 'Nelson Dawson Sc. et Imp' (etched and printed) at bottom left. How splendid! Not only a Minneapolis image but one that directly relates to the Volturno.
The item, which appears here with the vendor's kind permission, was for sale on e-Bay where I found it. The vendor from time to time has other Dawson works also available for sale. Do drop by! And do also visit Fetching Etchings the website that Michael Spring, maintains re his Tunbridge Wells, Kent, U.K., store. The Minneapolis etching is now sold - to a good friend of this website, in fact - but the etching is still visible on Michael's website, marked 'sold' of course. All sorts of interesting etchings are available there today & every day.
On Jan Daamen's site there is a list of those members of the crew of the Minneapolis who received medals re the Volturno rescue - provided by Tony Jones of North Wales. Tony's list tells us the ship's home port was Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Here, with his kind permission, is Tony's complete list. With one slight change - I have recorded the 1st Officer's name as being Robison, which I think is correct, rather than Robinson. 22 names in total. Thank you, Tony!
F. O. Hasker Captain G. J. Horton able bodied seaman Walter Robison 1st Officer Samuel Gaskell able bodied seaman Percival John Lewis 3rd Officer F. R. Pitts able bodied seaman James Maginnis Coates 4th Officer Joseph Arthur Rogers able bodied seaman T. Garvey able bodied seaman John Cummings Lawrence able bodied seaman Walter Else able bodied seaman William Henry Coward able bodied seaman George William Madams able bodied seaman Joseph Kendall able bodied seaman Frederick Walter Stephens able bodied seaman William Honeyman able bodied seaman George Leonard able bodied seaman George Shaw able bodied seaman Wilhelm Liesen able bodied seaman V. Botterill able bodied seaman William Crawley able bodied seaman Robert Potter able bodied seaman
All of the recipients listed above, except only for Captain Hasker, received the silver version of the Sea Gallantry Medal, a very prestigious medal indeed. And all of them, I believe, received medals from The Life-Saving Benevolent Association of New York also, with Captain Hasker receiving the Large Gold Medal, Robison, Lewis and Coates the Large Silver Medal, and all of the other names receiving the Bronze Medal Pin & a cash award also.
I am advised that the Sea Gallantry Medal awarded to William H. Coward, AB, in a very fine condition, but with a few scratches & some edge bruising was sold at a Jun. 11, 1996 auction by 'Dix Noonan Webb' of London. The hammer price was £370, I find. It was acquired by the Coward family, in whose hands it rightfully belongs.
Other medals will be referenced in due course, I hope.
It would seem that the Minneapolis must have launched three lifeboats at least. Each with an officer in command & a crew of six. Read Walter Robison's words at the Board of Trade inquiry (link below) to see why I say that.
An e-Bay item in Sep. 2005, a memorandum of log for an Oct. 9, 1911 voyage from New York to London, indicates that F. O. Hasker was then the Captain of the Minneapolis. The item had as its cover, a black & white version of the image at the top of the page. On the back page it had an image of the lounge, I read.
DATA RE INDIVIDUAL CREW MEMBERS OF MINNEAPOLIS
I can tell you a little about G. J. Horton, thanks to Peter L. Horton of Staffordshire, U.K., who has been in touch with the webmaster.
George James Horton, who was, in fact, Peter Horton's grandfather, was born, I learn in 1884 (exact date unknown). A tall man indeed - 6ft 6in tall. In 1902 he joined the Royal Marines but left the service for medical reasons in August of 1913. As Peter says, 'he obviously wasted no time in joining the Merchant Marine' since in Oct. 1913 he was an able seaman aboard Minneapolis & was one of the brave seamen who manned the Minneapolis lifeboats. For his efforts in the Volturno rescue he was awarded the Sea Gallantry Medal in the silver version, & also the bronze medal of The Life-Saving Benevolent Association of New York, together with modest cash awards from both. While the whereabouts of the medals is unknown today, the Horton family archives do include the medal award letter from the Board of Trade, apparently made out in error in the name of G. J. Hortsch. The official Board of Trade announcement presumably also used that incorrect name since he is listed as G. J. Hortsch in the list of awards on page 44 of this site, which list was I believe derived from the officially published data. The family also has a letter from The Atlantic Transport Company Limited addressed to the Commander & officers & crew of the Minneapolis congratulating them all for their efforts re the Volturno & conferring cash awards.
George Horton married Amelia, had three children of his own & raised also two stepchildren. On Jul. 27, 1927, while visiting his parents in Horton village in Buckinghamshire, he died quite suddenly, at the so young age of 43. Leonard A. (Alfred) Horton, Peter's father, the middle child of the three, was then just eight years old. Sadly Amelia, who lived in Kent, was too ill after her husband's death to be able to retrieve her three children from Buckinghamshire. They all were cared for at a naval orphanage in Edinburgh, Scotland. At age 11, Leonard, Peter Horton's father, was transferred to a naval school which school then was at Greenwich but later was moved to Holbrook in Suffolk. The marine association continued. Leonard joined the Navy & served it for 36 years. He saw action during WWW2 & while he mainly served in the Mediterranean - at Taranto, Italy, and in both Greece & Crete, he also served at Narvik in the far north of Norway. He will never see these words, alas, since he died in 1998, his sister Ivy having predeceased him by 5 years. Desmond, the last of George's three children, is, we believe, alive & living today in Hull.
The next following image is of George James Horton in his Marines uniform. So the image can be dated no later than Aug. 1913. And the image includes also the Board of Trade medal award letter, dated Mar. 10, 1914. Peter Horton has kindly provided a giant image of it in quite amazing detail. For presentation on this page I have darkened it a little to better show the text. And have reduced it in size so you can see it in full without scrolling, yet hopefully be able to read every word of the text without difficulty. It would seem to me that the hand-written name correction at bottom left would have been effected upon receipt of the letter at the Minneapolis - to correctly identify the crew member to whom the letter should be forwarded. It is most likely that George Horton would have advised the Board of Trade of the error made in recording his name, and that the SGM medal, presented later & of whereabouts unknown today, might then have been engraved correctly.
And next are the two pages of 'The Atlantic Transport Company Limited' letter dated Nov. 8, 1913 with, again, both pages of the letter presented side by side for ease of visitor viewing. Signed by Charles Y. Torrey, the Managing Director of 'Atlantic' at the time. But I have made some adjustments for presentation on this page. The lower area of the second page was 'going wasted' if I may so describe it, so I have inset into that area a section with the most colourful letterhead/logo of the shipping line.
We have no personal data about Walter Robison, 1st officer of the Minneapolis. But we do have his most interesting testimony at the Board of Trade inquiry. He apparently was hauled up onto the deck of the Carmania, unconscious, after a battle of over four hours with the raging sea. I try not to repeat data within these pages, so you can access that testimony via site page 39 & read the circumstances.
The Sea Gallantry Medal that was awarded to Frederick Walter Stephens for his gallantry re the Volturno rescue was sold at an auction sale by Spink, of Bloomsbury, London, sale #1229, on Apl. 27, 1999. It sold for £299 or approximately U.S. $497. We thank Pauline Campbell for that interesting 'snippet' of data.
VOLTURNO SURVIVORS RESCUED BY THE MINNEAPOLIS
Thanks to Tony Jones of the U.K., we can read words about the Volturno survivors rescued by the Minneapolis, as reported in the Times of London on Oct. 15, 1913. We thank you Tony!
EMIGRANTS AT TILBURY.
THE FIRST ALARM OF FIRE.
(FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT)
TILBURY, Oct. 14
The Atlantic Transport liner Minneapolis arrived in the Thames to-day with 30 survivors of the Volturno on board. They were mostly Russians, Bulgarians and Poles, all apparently of the peasant class, and they presented a forlorn appearance in their wretched and tattered clothes many of them having lost all trace of their wives, children and friends in the flight from the burning ship last Friday morning. With one or two exceptions they spoke no English, but, with the aid of an interpreter, they were soon made comfortable in an emigrants' lodging in London, and they are to continue their journey to America tomorrow. These arrangements were made by the Uranium Steamship Company, the owners of the Volturno, who have provided them with free passages on the Olympic, which sails from Southampton to New York tomorrow morning.
Jeff Newman on his page, link above, states that the source for his data on the vessel was 'Bonsor's North Atlantic Seaway' and 'Wiliams' Wartime Disasters at Sea'. So visitors who wish to find more data, might start their search there. An unusual spelling of the name of the author of that second source. After a book search, I think the author is correctly David Williams (and probably David L. Williams) & the book is called 'Wartime Disasters At Sea - Every Passenger Ship Loss In World Wars 1 and 11'.
This page will, hopefully, track data about the Minneapolis as it comes to hand. And hopefully data as it specifically relates to the Volturno tragedy.
If any visitor can clarify (or correct) or provide more information about any of these matters, I would truly welcome their help.
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