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A History of our Firm
Chapter XIV -
Ships and Captains


Probably few firms have had greater cause than ours for thankfulness and appreciation for the services of their servants. The discernment which enabled Allan Gilmour senior to select his young men for abroad, served him, too, in the selection of the early shipmasters.

A certain proportion of the vessels built at St. John and Quebec was laid down and equipped to meet the firm's special requirements. While in the outside market the ordinary St. John-built ship carried a greater reputation and brought a higher price, the Gilmour yard at Wolfe's Cove, Quebec, commanded a considerable preference from the home firm. Generally the vessels built at Miramichi and Bathurst were as soon as possible marketed on arrival in this country; as were also, of course, those of the shipbuilding clients.

Two notable men among the early captains were Captain McArthur and Captain Alexander Mitchell. Captain McArthur became the Company's overlooker, but had disappeared before I entered the office in 1861. He must have been an able, conscientious servant and manager to have earned the confidence and respect of two generations of the firm so entirely as he did.

Captain Alexander Mitchell I just remember as master of the Argo, a dear, loveable, whiteheaded old gentleman, undoubtedly then past his best; a gentleman in every true sense. He would have been indeed a villain who would have thought of taking advantage of him. Many years before, he had given notice that he intended to retire at the end of the prospective voyage. When the voyage was over, after opening his letters he went in to Mr. Rankin's private office to say that his wife was dead, and that he had now no wish to retire. He was promptly told that so long as he had that desire and the firm had a ship to give him, it would be at his disposal. For many years afterwards he sailed, but at length he once again gave notice that, as his infirmities were increasing, he wished to retire at the end of the next voyage. That voyage never was completed, as, coming home in the autumn, the Argo encountered a hurricane, Captain Mitchell was killed, and she was abandoned, though it was always felt the mate could and should have brought her along. For a long time there were in the service men who had inter-married into Captain Mitchell's family; he was undoubtedly in my time the father-in-law as well as the father of the fleet, but that was very long ago.

When I entered the office in 1861 the captains largely hailed from Fifeshire, and particularly from the neighbourhood of Leven and Kirkcaldy. Captain Mitchell's home was at Leven. Every spring a very strong contingent of captains, officers, bo's'ns, stewards, and carpenters came up, in fact some of the ships became far too much a family party. In one case, however, it could hardly be so said. I refer to Thomas Dingwall, steward of the Adept. Captains might come and captains might go, but Thomas Dingwall always, from her first voyage, remained steward of the Adept, in which ship he spent the whole of his continuous service of forty-six years in the employ. If the Adept was laid up he remained in custody of her as ship-keeper. He retired in a ripe old age but only lived for three months thereafter. One is moved to ask if he had stuck, like the shoemaker to his last, how much longer might he not have gone on? An 'adept' in cooking he certainly was not, if I may judge from a breakfast I once had aboard.

I cannot give any list of the ships that were from time to time owned by Pollok, Gilmour & Co., but it is interesting to follow their nomenclature and thereby note the attitude of mind of the partners. Mr. Allan Gairdner's statement that a 90-ton coasting brig was the firm's first purchase spoils Mr. Hill's tradition that the brig Mariner, 312 tons register, built at Stockton, was their first venture. They did not build but purchased the Mariner, and I think she must have been a lucky vessel, for they resisted all temptation to sell and replace, but repaired and renewed her until, outclassed in size, they had to sell her. By this time she must have become like the Dutchman's gun, new in stock, lock and barrel. The Oxford, 389 tons register, was also an early purchase. When the firm began to build in their own shipyards, such of the vessels as they retained for the firm's own use were named after the homesteads, properties or domiciles of the connection, e.g., Craigton, Faside, Fingallon, Broom, Mearns, Ronachan, Marchmont, Miramichi, Bytown, Ottawa, Trenton, Quebec, St. John, Glasgow, Wolfe's Cove, Renfrewshire, Canton, and so on. Then came the personal element :—The Allan Gilmour, John Pollok, Arthur Pollok, Margaret Pollok, Gilmour, Agnes Gilmour, Rankin, Ann Rankin, and a Barbara. As regards the Ann Rankin, I remember it was somewhat of a grievance with my aunt to hear that the Ann Rankin was a 'pickpocket.' Then there were ladies of title, of which I only recall the Lady Falkland, the Marchioness of Queensberry, and the Countess of Loudoun. Later on they seem to have dipped into the classics :—the Argo, Achilles, Actaeon, Acme, Agamemnon, Arethusa, Apollo, Aniadne and others. Exhausting their limited classical knowledge they continued, however, the idea of the letter 'A' prefix; there was the Arthur, Allan, Ailsa, Arran, Advice, Advance, Adept, Alert, Agent, Award, etc.

Mr. W. Sydney Smith, of 155 Fenchurch Street, whose father was in the Lady Falkland in 1843-4, writes to me :-'As describing the largeness of the P., G. & Co. fleet, I have heard my father say that after a long spell of easterly wind he had known as many as forty vessels of their homeward fleet: in the Channel at one time.'

From 1838 to 1844 shipowning was anything but a profitable business, in spite of certain Acts which had been previously passed in its favour. Things culminated in 1843 in dire stagnation, utter absence of freights, sailors in extreme want, and shipowners going bankrupt. I have heard that the Brunswick and adjacent docks were quite inadequate to provide laying-up accommodation for the new colonial ships sent home for sale, and sale was impossible. In almost every case full advances, and as it turned out over advances, had been made on them. The mortgages on the ships had in many instances to be foreclosed, but this brought no relief to the mortgagee, as there was no remunerative outlet for the property so acquired. We are told the darkest hour in nature is before the dawn, though few of us take the pains to verify this. The case of shipping was so desperate that Parliament appointed a Committee to enquire whether anything and what could be done to save the industry from utter ruin.

In the midst of all this, guano was discovered almost simultaneously in Peru and Bolivia, and was reported to be found on the little island of Ichaboe, on the south-west coast of Africa. The local authorities would appear to have taken full charge of the South American finds, but at Ichaboe I understand it was a case of 'help yourself.'

Some seeking skipper had made the find of this island, which in one report I find described as one mile in circumference, and in another as 21 miles; he kept his secret to himself for a time, and then parted with it for a due consideration, but even so the vessels that went out had some difficulty in finding the place, afterwards described as being in lat. 26° 19' S., long. 15° E. The directions were 'to make the high land of Angra Pequena and to sail up the coast, keeping as near the land as possible.' In December, 1843, I see from the Nautical Magazine that there were then twenty vessels in the small secreted harbour between the island and the mainland and that there were 'a dozen more outside in search of the island.' This number in May, 1844, had by similar account risen to 132, and the following letter appears:-

'I have every reason to believe that no person in Britain knew of the existence of Guano on the South-west Coast of Africa, except Mr. Andrew Livingston, of 105 Duke Street, Liverpool, who communicated it to my father, Mr. John Rae, from whom it was somehow or other obtained by my elder brother, Mr. James Rae, by whom it was subsequently communicated to others.

(Signed) JOHN RAE.

Witnessed by CHARLES IMRIE, Surgeon,
13 Slater Street, Liverpool.
23rd April, 1844.'

It was a very rich deposit of guano; in some accounts I see it described as not less than 30 feet, and in others from 40 feet to 50 feet in depth. There was an admixture of decomposed seal, and at a depth of 30 feet there were to be found gannet and penguin eggs, quite whole and in excellent preservation; we are not told whether they were in condition for the breakfast table. One knows that the bodies of the captains who died on the voyage were frequently brought home buried in the guano. It was credited with having a wonderfully preservative effect.

I interviewed our old skipper, Captain Cruikshanks, then 89, but found that his memory had begun to play tricks. Only one stray 'book of sailings' has come to my hand, in which I see sixty of the P., G. fleet recorded; but he firmly maintains that in 1843-4 the firm had, with their own and the mortgaged vessels for sale, about sixty vessels here alone, many of which had lain up for two or three years, and that taken altogether the Company had over one hundred vessels under their charge, and worse—under their expense. Several of these, one of which was commanded by Captain Cruikshanks, were chartered and sent out to Callao for the Chincha Islands (guano), and more were sent to Ichaboe to help themselves there. This latter was a risky venture, as there was no assurance that the tale that was told was true. The result certainly saved the fortunes of such clients as Russell and Birchill, shipbuilders, of Miramichi, who were both very heavily weighted. R., G. & Co. placed Captain Robert Hutchison (who had recently come to Liverpool to join Mr. Jarvie in the firm of Hutchison & Jarvie) in charge of the Ichaboe fleet along with an experienced chemist; they were to remain on the island till the last vessel was loaded.

To sum up, between the Peruvian earnings and realization of the cargoes brought home from Ichaboe, the corner in the firm's shipping interest was well turned, and handsome profits made on what was a very sporting venture.

The general distress in shipping for that period was over, the Parliamentary Committee dispensed with, indeed nothing more was heard of it, and people ceased to worry about the Navigation Laws; but several times since have we had awkward times to come through—vide the following taken from the Steamship Owners' Report for 1918:-

'Between 1904 and 1911 the shipping industry had passed through one of those recurring cycles of depression to which it has always been subject. That depression lasted longer and was more widely spread and more severe than usual. Important shipping companies had to suspend dividends and in many cases the earnings were not sufficient to cover even the actual depreciation on the ships. The position had become so serious and the outlook for shipping appeared to be so hopeless that in 1908 international proposals were brought forward for a general reduction in the shipping tonnage of the world.'
I would add from 1908 to 1913 the outlook generally became more promising-1911 saw more than double of new tonnage built in this country than was put into the water in 1908. So, too, in 1912 and 1913, and in view of what happened in 1914 it was well it was so, for that and several succeeding years saw the utmost strain placed upon the merchant fleet—the liners to transport the fighting forces, the cargo steamers to bring supplies—and nobly did they respond to the call.

In 1865 the junior partners, after much cogitating, decided to depart from wood, which had been so long the main plank of their business, and to build iron ships. I can recall the difficulty they had in fixing the name for their first ship, and as Glasgow had been their firm's foster-mother, they decided to adopt the name of her patron Saint, Si. Mungo. To her succeeded SE. Magnus, St. Marnock, SE. Monan, SE. Mildred, SE. Maur, St. Malo, SE. Mirren, St. Malcolm and St. Margaret. It will be seen in this case that the letter 'M ' gives the lead.

Once more, in 188o, there was a change, and from sailing ships to steam. We have had the St. Albans, St. Andrew, St. Bernard, St. Bede, St. Columba, St. Cuthbert, St. Dunstan, St. Enoch, St. Egbert, St. Fillans, St. George, St. Hugo, St. Irene, St. Jerome, St. Kilda, St. Leonards, St. Michael, St. Nicholas, St. Oswald, St. Patrick, St. Quentin, St. Ronans, St. Ronald, St. Regulus, St. Stephen, St. Theodore, St. Ursula, St. Veronica, and St. Wini/red. On our adverse experience of the letter 'C,' we have not repeated St. Columba and St. Cuthbert, whose losses were both accompanied by some loss of life. My brother always favoured Saints' names taken from his favourite Sir Walter Scott.

No doubt much of the romance of shipowning has departed, for in these days of steamers, of telegrams, of Marconigrams and submarine signalling, the merchant and shipowner are seldom, if at all, out of touch with their ventures.

In previous times the sailing-ship was often not seen or heard of from her time of departure to her return.
In the days of wooden ships no insurance was effected on our ships, freights or wood cargoes. With the larger values in iron ships the practice had to be relaxed. The value in the ship was greater, the capital in the firm less. The Insurance Account in our books was a very lucrative one.

The overlookers or superintendents were first, Captain McArthur, from 1820-30 to i86o; Captain Cranston, who previously had been in the employ, about 1863 to 1873; Captain Crawford, 1873 to 1877; Captain Wyles, 1877 to 1887; Captain Davey, 1887 to 1907; Captain Pugh, superintendent 1908, retired 1918; Captain McPherson, assistant superintendent 1908, died 1919, after 53 years in the service; Mr. Reid, superintendent engineer from 1894 to date. All these were bred in the employ, and with the exception of Cranston, all were appointed fresh from their commands. To them is largely due the success that has attended the firm's shipping operations.

At the time I entered the office in 1861 there were among the captains some hard cases, but undoubtedly more first-class men. Among the latter may be named Mitchell, Crawford, Wyles and Lawson, than whom none were more competent, loyal, and trustworthy, all Fifeshire men. Then there was White, the intellectual atheist, and a great shipmaster. I recall one November night in 1861 when in the Marchmont he was hemmed in in Liverpool Bay, a North-west gale blowing, and he could not weather out to sea. It was a question of drifting on the banks, or taking the bar with very scant water underneath. No pilot could board, so he brought her into port under canvas, with pilot boat leading up as well as could be done in the darkness. Whilst crossing the bar the crew were in the rigging, as had she struck, the vessel would have broken her back and they would have been washed away.

There was also Walker the growler, but withal most fortunate and competent of shipmasters. I remember Duguid, an ex-Navy man of iron nerve, afterwards most successful of blockade runners. More than any other he set at naught the vigilance of the U.S. blockading squadrons, whether at Charleston, Savannah or Wilmington. On several occasions his vessel was sunk, or had to be run ashore and set fire to. Captured he was never. On the majority of occasions he was so successful that when he did fail Nassau had always another craft forthwith to offer him. His wages were large, so also his perquisites; when outward from the cotton port, I believe, he had choice of any five bales of the cotton he carried. He would naturally select, when such were available, bags of Sea Island cotton, worth 5s a pound in the Liverpool market; anyway, it was a bill of lading for that quantity and description that we on several occasions received. Sometimes, too, would come a draft remittance, without comment whatever, for without leave or ceremony he had made us his bankers. For letter-writing he had no taste, and when blockade running was over we heard nothing from him till one day he walked into the office and, asking for his account, found well over £20,000 to his credit.

There was Cummings, the successful trader; Cruikshanks, who shortly afterwards abandoned the sea and successfully conducted a business ashore; and when I saw him as aforesaid at the ripe age of 89 flourished hale and hearty; the versatile Harry Miles, prince of penmen, who retired to undertake the keeping of the firm's books for Sir Andrew Lusk, London's Lord Mayor in 1873, an old and long-lived friend of Mr. Strang; Francis Scott, who was ship-carpenter before he was ship-master; Thomas Dick, whose self-importance was in inverse ratio to his stature. Of an earlier date there was 'Nicol,' a Hercules; when he approached 'with intent' no prudent person thought of anything else but personal safety. He was somewhat addicted to strong drink. A policeman at Brunswick dock who remonstrated with him, and a pilot at Miramichi Bar who ventured to chaff him, were both picked up like rats and dropped into the water. After leaving the sea he was for many years Harbour Master at Port Glasgow. There was Watson, insignificant of appearance but intrepid, who, when his ship the Illustrious had sprung a leak off the Cape, rather than take her into Cape Town or St. Helena, which would have been about as disastrous as a total loss (his vessel was uninsured), decided to bring her home—and did so. Once the men lost heart; they would not pump any longer. Watson sent for the pump handles to be brought aft, lit a cigar, and told them they would have to be very civil in asking for them if they wanted them again. As the water increased in the hold they were not very long in begging for them! Another time in close proximity to another ship they wanted to take to the boats. Watson and his officers were there before them and with crow-bars threatened to knock a hole in the bottom of each if they carried the matter further. This was pretty cool, and possibly hardly fair as between man and man; but I can vouch that the Jacks of that day and of that ship respected the master who had so acted, more than they would have done had he given in to them. I paid the crew off, and an honorarium of two months' extra pay all round made the owners almost as popular as the captain. I may say all the trouble to the Illustrious had arisen through a defective butt, scamped in the caulking.

Scott above named always regarded with pride the superior navigation he evinced when he was sent out in a tug to pick up the Arthur, prematurely abandoned ten days' sail from Queenstown. One would have said that the undertaking was akin to 'looking for a needle in a hay-stack.' When he got near to what he considered was 'the ground' he zig-zagged his course up and down, and towards evening of the second day spotted his quarry, her position being within a few miles of where he had, before starting, laid her down to be—not so bad for an ex-carpenter; for to-day with all our improved facilities and all the advances made in navigation, similar attempts are, unless aided by subsequent and recent information, rarely successful.

I must mention, too, a narrow escape which the St. Magnus under Captain Walker had in 1876. One day in the Indian Ocean he found himself in the centre of a cyclone—a flat calm. Nothing could be done except to get all sail off her and well housed, and all moveables on deck doubly lashed—then await events. These were not long in coming. All depended on the cyclone's movements at the time it might strike her. If it struck well aft she could scud before it under her bare poles—if abeam then she would probably turn over and add another to the list of 'never heard of.' The moment arrived, and with it the St. Magnus was over on her beam ends and all hands were clinging to the weather bulwarks or what they could. The ship's long, flat side was exposed; her hatches were submerged for half their width, and it could only be a matter of minutes ere the hatch tarpaulins would have to give way to the boiling, lashing sea, when the vessel must inevitably fill and sink. Her only chance was to get rid of her masts, and then she might right herself. Without a moment's hesitation Fitzgerald, then apprentice, who became our senior Captain afloat, snatched an axe from his room and crawling on and along her storm-washed side cut the lanyards of first the mizzen and then the main mast. It was 100 to i on him being washed away in the attempt—i,000 to i against him getting inboard again when the masts went and the ship came upright with a jerk. But against all odds he managed it, and no life was lost. The St. Magnus, however, presented a very sorry appearance. Houses and everything on deck were gone, the poop was completely gutted, daylight could be seen from end to end of it. All that remained, singular to say, was the frame of the chief officer's room. The forecastle escaped unscathed. The foremast with some of the upper gear remained. With commendable foresight Captain Walker had divided his chronometers and other necessary navigating instruments. Some were in the forecastle, some in the hold, and these remained; some he had left in his own room in the poop, but the place of these knew them no more. The cyclone passed; the captain had his damaged foremast, his gear from below, his seaman's skill, and most important of all, a chronometer, chart, and compass, whereby to shape his course for the Sandheads. He reached Calcutta in safety, but he had even to borrow clothes in which to go ashore. A year or two afterwards he fell in with a brother in similar misfortune ; his chronometers, charts, compasses, etc., were all gone, and he was helpless; his vessel's plight, though no worse than that of the St. Magnus, was so alarming that he wanted to abandon her. Walker, however, gave him heart, some gear, and navigating materials wherewith he too made port. For this service the underwriters gave Walker £200, and equally properly we put forward no claim for salvage.

Then there was Benson the unlucky. When circumstances enabled him to do so he used to initiate his letters with the comfortable statement 'I am happy to inform you that I have got so far without accident.' He had the privilege of bringing my brothers Robert and Alexander in the Coverdale, and at a later date my brother Arthur and myself in the Actaeon across the Atlantic, and nearly ended my young life in a serious collision. One night we were struck in the waist, just by the front of the poop. The margin from my bunk of some 20 feet and on time ratio of half a second, served me in good stead. We floated only on our timber cargo; with any other we would have sunk at once, so deeply were we cut into. The ship's carpenter, John McPherson, did yeoman service. He remained for years afterwards in the employ, and met his death in the service; he was the father of our Captain McPherson. Suspended from the yard above, up to his waist in the water, he nailed boards, then tarpaulins, and then boards again over our gaping side, the while he was supplied with frequent whisky libations—throughout his life a congenial quantity to him. As some more than usually heavy sea came along he would be bounced half way up to the yard arm, but cat-like, if he could not alight on his feet, he always escaped being smashed alongside.

I recall our being towed up the entrance to the Clyde one July Sunday morning in 1854, and Captain Benson sweeping with his telescope the shore of Dunoon or some like resort, as the people were coming out of church. Boylike I was interested, and when he put the telescope down with the ejaculation 'Aye! yon's the auld de'il,' I was puzzled. Years afterwards I divined that it was his respected owner Mr. Gilmour whom he had seen. Doubtless what was oppressing his brain was what might be in store for him on the morrow. The Actaeon was built in 1838 by Gilmour, Rankin & Co., and in 1906 or 1907 passed up the Mersey, but her name no longer appears in Lloyd's Register Book. Either because they thought her too maimed by her many serious adventures afloat and ashore, or possibly in order to get quit of old Benson, the firm sold her about 1859.

In the main the captains in those days were thrifty men; it was a bad look-out for them if they were not, for their wages were very low. What was a fair wage in 1830 was not so in 1860, and it had not, I think, been altered in the interim, and since the last-named date wages all round have been trebled or quadrupled, and very rightly so. The rigours of the Atlantic Trade made them good sailors and strenuous men; even those addicted to drink had for the most part a strong sense of duty—albeit on a code of their own. I quote my experience with Captain Kevan, of the Choice, with whom I made a winter passage from St. John to London in 1868. Navigation may not have been his strong point; " he worked by dead-reckoning, even at that date. We looked for sixteen hours to make our landfall at the Lizard, and picked up the Casquets on the French Coast! When I looked askance he merely said :-' And no sic a bad landfall at all.' He was sobriety itself all the way across, but when we took a pilot aboard off Dover he deliberately went to his bunk and locked himself in with a bottle of whisky, remarking, 'As the pilot is aboard I've nothing more to do wi' it.' Afterwards he sailed for other owners with a cargo of coal for the Plate. Spontaneous combustion set in; after some days the crew demanded to leave on a passing vessel, and eventually did. Kevan conceived it to be his duty to stand by his ship, and before daylight both had gone to their long account. The masters of the timber carriers of those days may have been somewhat deficient in education, but they were of the same good stuff as to-day.

Another cyclone adventure was that of the St. Margaret in March, 1884, at the foot of the Bay of Bengal. In the middle of the night the dismasted ship Duchess of Edinburgh nearly drifted on top of her; shortly afterwards she sighted the Terpsichore with bulwarks gone, and in the morning she ran through the wreckage of the Cassio pea. The St. Margaret was sold to 'John Orth,' really the Archduke Salvidore of Austria, the heir presumptive to the throne, who sailed her. After leaving Rio de Janeiro she was never heard of, but whether the Archduke was with her then is very problematical. One thing is sure, he wished to lose his identity.

Among other incidents of the late war the following are important in connection with our own fleet, although, unfortunately, similar incidents were of common occurrence at the time.

St. Egbert.—The St. Egbert left Colombo on 17 October, 1914, en route for New York from Japan. On Sunday, 18 October, the steamer was overhauled and ordered to stop by the German cruiser Emden. An armed crew was put aboard, and the vessel compelled to follow the cruiser during the night. The following day it was seen that the steamers Troilus, Buresk, Chilkana and Exmouth had also been captured and compelled to keep in touch. Captain William Barr of the St. Egbert was eventually ordered to take aboard the crews of the above steamers, in addition to those of the Benmohr, Clan Grant, and Pon Rabble (vessels previously captured and sunk by the Emden), and to set a course for any port within the limits of Cape Comorin and Calicut. The vessel arrived safely at Cochin on the 2o October, where the crews, numbering in all 381 persons, were landed.

The cruiser Emden was eventually run to. earth by the Australian warship Sydney. On board her, amongst other things, were found a quantity of silver dollars, evidently loot from one of her many captures. These coins were eventually suitably mounted by the Australian Government as souvenirs of the event, and one of them was presented to each firm whose vessels had fallen foul of the Emden.

St. Ronald.—The St. Ronald left Chesapeake Bay on 31 August, 1917, in a convoy of 26 vessels all told, in charge of a Vice-Admiral. She had a full cargo of nitrate from the West Coast of South America, and was bound for Liverpool.

The vessels were in five columns, the St. Ronald's place being third in the line of the inside column on the port side of the convoy. The distance between each ship was 1,800 feet and between each column 3,600 feet. The convoy zigzagged until about 1-30 P.M. on the 19 September, when, owing to the condition of the weather, orders were given to cease zigzagging. Seven destroyers and a parent ship had joined the convoy on 17 September, and immediately taken up their stations.

At about 2-15 p.m., 19 September, when about 130 miles West of the Irish Coast, the St. Ronald was struck by a torpedo and, following a very heavy explosion, commenced to settle down at once. The fo'c'sle was submerged in a few seconds, and within two minutes the stern came right out of the water and she sank.

The master, Captain S. H. Hobbs, was carried down with his vessel and was in the water something like two hours before being picked up by a destroyer, and it would appear that he owed his life to one of his Japanese sailors, who, seeing his exhausted condition, managed to get to him and help him on to some wreckage. The Jap afterwards stubbornly refused a monetary gift handed him in graceful terms by the Company in consideration of his splendid service, and said that what he had done was but his duty. Only 14 members of the crew were saved out of a total of 38, owing, no doubt, to the rapidity with which the vessel sank.

Although the St. Ronald had been in commission from the commencement of the war up to this time, it was the first occasion on which she had been in convoy. It may have been a coincidence, but the Captain himself was not in favour of the convoy system, and would rather have been allowed to make his way alone, although he admitted that the presence of other vessels and the escort with them gave a great feeling of security to the ship's company.

St. Ursula.—This vessel was on a voyage from Salonika homewards in ballast. The master who was in command, John Jamieson, was a man of very few words, hence the details of this disaster are but meagre. The vessel was sunk by a submarine on the 12 December, 1916, at 9-45 a.m. The submarine was not seen before she had fired the first torpedo, which struck the vessel in the engine room, completely wrecking the engines. Unfortunately, two engineers, one donkeyman, and a greaser, who were on duty at the time, were never seen again; presumably they were blown up with the engines. All the other members of the crew got away in the boats, and were picked .up some five hours later and landed at Malta.

St. Theodore.—The St. Theodore left Norfolk, Va., 5 December, 1916, with a cargo of coal for Savona (Italy). About 8-30 a.m. On 12 December when about 750 miles due West of the Azores, she was overhauled by a presumed merchant vessel which, as soon as she came up, ran up the German ensign and signalled 'stop instantly.' The vessel, which had guns mounted on her well-decks with full gun crews standing by, was the notorious raider Moewe.

The master of St. Theodore, Captain George Hallam, was instructed to keep in company with the raider and eventually the crew were replaced by a German prize crew. The St. Theodore's crew were kept aboard the Moewe until 12 January, 1917, when they were transferred to the Japanese steamer Hudson Maru, which landed them at Pernambuco on the 16 January.

From the log of the Moewe, which was afterwards published, it would appear that the S. Theodore was fitted out with wireless and guns and sent out to act as an auxiliary raider. It is uncertain what destruction she wrought among our own shipping, but she was eventually caught and sunk.

Hitherto I have mostly referred to the men who were masters when I entered the office in 1861. Next year there were considerable changes. I do not know the reason, but doubt it was wages. Cruikshanks, Cummings, Duguid, and White left, and I think some others, all good men. Still, when I recall Captains Crawford, Wyles, Walker, and William Watson, who remained and received command of the first four iron ships, I cannot think of any more competent, zealous and God-fearing men. Wallace came afterwards, a loyal, generous, delicate man, who coiled up his ropes some years ago and went to live at Dunoon—a relative of Captain Walker and also of our Captain McKenzie of to-day. And to the same generation belong Grosart, the dour, pugnacious Scot, and Dumaresq, of courtly Southern manners, who had a tendency to religious mania.

Then there was Captain John Mitchell, who, when his ship the Margaret Pollok was abandoned by the crew in the Atlantic, declined to leave her. He, and I think his chief officer, took up their residence in the main-top and hung on there for a week. A strong current was carrying her into the Bay of Biscay instead of into the English Channel as he had schemed for; and under these circumstances he considered it well to take advantage of a passing relief. Meantime an expedition was being fitted out by the firm here to rescue him and if possible the ship, when it was at the last moment stopped on the news of his safe landing. In another ten days, through some alterations in the winds and currents, the Margaret Pollok turned up, as Mitchell had expected, in the Chops of the Channel—an unwelcome visitor as being a danger to navigation. She was by herself making a true course for the Bristol Channel when she was fallen in with by H.M.S. Immortalité, which, after some very bad practice, succeeded in breaking her up, and thereby earning the anathemas of many navigators; for her cargo of large square white pine timber floated around for weeks, constituting a thousand almost imperceptible dangers in place of one relatively perceptible one.

Then there was Captain Davey, ever devoted to the service's interests, prompt in advice, and in any emergency ready to act. I think Captain Davey's and my own service date from about the same period, and during that time I do not remember a cross word on either side. One evening in the sixties I was sent down to the Bramley Moore Dock to a ship loading coal at the tips there to ask him to join in emergency as chief officer a ship then ready in London. Work had been knocked off, and there was only some splashing in the cuddy to guide me. Knocking, I gave him the message and asked when he could go. The reply came promptly, 'As soon as I can get out of this tub,' and he sailed in the ship next morning out of London. His first sailing-ship command with us was the St. Many; his first steamer command was the St. Bernard.

This ship was always an excitement if not a nightmare. Narrowly escaping serious disaster on her launch, she dropped in for it on her first voyage through a breakdown of steering gear. Then came a series of very meritorious and remunerative services; she picked up no less than three broken-down steamers at sea and towed them into port, for which she was awarded in all over £io,000. The three vessels were the Celtic Monarch, towed 1,200 miles, awarded £5,000 salvage; the Verona, towed 850 miles, awarded £3,500, and the Vesta, towed 800 miles, awarded £2,000. Whose luck was it, the St. Bernard's or Captain Davey's? But there was a reverse side. The St. Bernard was twice sunk, and twice raised—once in Havre Dock by the default of another steamer, and again in Newcastle-on-Tyne by another steamer running amuck. There was always something happening to her, and as she was quite too exciting, we sold her in 1889, and noted for some years afterwards the lively times which she gave to her new owners. It is to be observed that those on board the St. Bernard were in no way to blame for the various disasters that befell her.

Subsequently Captain Pugh in the St. Jerome towed the ss. Salisbury 450 miles into Halifax, N.S., earning £2,075, and Captain McPherson in the St. Hubert towed the ss. Undaunted 640 miles into Fayal, earning £3,200; but it is long since we have had a salvage. There may be a bit of luck in falling in with broken down vessels or derelicts, but I can well believe from those who have been there that there is no luck to be counted upon but indeed great risk in making fast to them and bringing them safely into port. We have, for this reason, always discouraged as far as possible, attempts at salvage, except of life, in which matter the British officer and sailors never lack. In passing, I note that the three Captains who alone made salvages became Marine Superintendents. Their achievements in this direction had no bearing upon their appointments. It is a coincidence only.

Captain Campbell, who was selected to take command of our first steamer, was a dull-minded Hercules of a Highlander. Kindly, good-natured, devout of intention, with him obedience was the first duty, and an order given to or by him must be carried out.

Captain McPherson must have started his career early, and certainly maintained virility throughout : he was one of the oldest servants in the employ. He was with us through many scrapes, and was the only captain that commanded with us in wood, iron, and steam.

Captain Fitzgerald, who ultimately held our senior command, had an imaginative Celtic temperament. He certainly had some queer yarns to tell. He was the first apprentice whose indentures I signed; I recall the sound fatherly advice which I gave him on the occasion, not without some conscious pride in the position. I have mentioned him before in connection with the S€. Magnus disaster. This was not the only scrape he has come through with us; I recall the Advance arriving here waterlogged, with McPherson as first officer, Fitzgerald as second, and boatswain O'Brien (who as boy and man must have spent over forty years in the service), a pretty strong trio if work such as was then required had to be done. At Quebec while lying in the stream the M. E. Cox drove across her bows, carrying away her bowsprit and doing other heavy damage. Refitted she encountered a heavy gale at the entrance to the Gulf, lost some yards and eventually sprung a leak, about 650 miles from Queenstown. While she lay waterlogged the fore part of her deck blew up, and she was awash fore and aft. In this state, with all nautical instruments, charts, and food in the tops, they took her into Queenstown, paying only £ioo towage from Daunt's Rock; a very creditable performance. She was towed on to Liverpool a very different spectacle from the Advance that about 1859, all spruce and with canvas well spread, sailed up the Mersey under Duguid. He had made the record passage of eighteen days from Mobile, and all the way up from the Rock Light celebrated the occasion by serving his two carronades till they must have been almost red hot. The people of Liverpool near the docks hurried down to the pier head, and were amply rewarded by seeing what was a monster ship of her day, under full canvas unaccompanied by tug, making up to anchorage in the Sloyne. It is a sight we now never see, and at that time it was very unusual, requiring a man of strong nerve and a good sailor man to attempt it.

I draw a veil over the ghastly period wherein the ships St. Mirren, St. Maur and St. Malcolm disappeared with all on board. It was a terrible time. At a later date the St. Columba (steamer), Captain Dumaresq, was never heard of. I may have been overwrought, but a vivid dream wherein I saw her sinking is often times with me still. I pray that we may never have again to pass through such a time. Captain Davey, who revised these notes, told me Mrs. Dumaresq had a similar dream, of which she informed Mrs. Davey at the time. If I have written mostly of disasters it is to be said they have been relatively few. Successful voyages have largely predominated, but these are usually uneventful.

Captain Davey, my compeer, passed away in 1907. A more capable, active, and loyal fellow worker could not have been. He was always most keen when he had some stiff job on hand. As in his days of health, so throughout his long illness, he maintained a cheery optimistic spirit.

Captains Wyles, Pugh and McPherson, in addition to other qualifications, had a quiet way of inspiring officers and employees geneially to loyal and devoted service.

Mr. Reid, who had before joining us n inconsiderable shore experience, was one of our early acquisitions to the engine room, wherein he passed through all the grades, and has brought to bear on his work the above-named qualities combined with a sound judgment and undoubted capacity.

It is not without some pride that one recalls the continuous service in the firm of the captains and engineers.


 


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