‘That ship will be a coffin for somebody,’ W Sharpe, able seaman, was told when seeking employment on SS Waratah in April 1909. Nothing better offering, he took his chances, shipping on her for a voyage to
. Off Australia Ushant
he noticed the vessel would roll to leeward, stop, continue the roll and
recover. That was unusual in any ship.
The prediction came true only two months later: Waratah would indeed became a coffin for over 200 souls in July 1909.
Their memorials are scattered worldwide, showing how their deaths impacted on numerous and diverse families. If you can add a photograph of a relevant memorial inscription – or are a descendant of one of those who travelled on the Waratah - you are welcome to contact me via the blog comment form. Some inscriptions are shown below:
'To the Glory of God and in loving memory of
Col Percival Browne CB of
Fifehead Magdalen, Dorset, born July 27 1862.
Third son of William James Browne of Buckland Filleigh Esq. Lost in the S.S.
Waratah July 26 1909.'
[Photos by Gail Dixon-Smith]
The following announcement refers to Able Seaman T Newman of the Waratah: from The Times 18 December 1909: NEWMAN Lost in the SS Waratah, Thomas, eldest son of the late Richard & Mary Newman, formerly of Devon, England, late of the Civil Service, Tasmania, grandson of the late John Feneran of Kinsale, Ireland, and nephew of the late Revd. T H Newman, M.A. Cantab.
Harris Archibald Gibbs was an apprentice on the SS Waratah which was lost with all hands off the east coast of South Africa on 27th/28th July 1909. He was born in Bognor late 1890/early 1891 and his parents were Harris Hornsby Gibbs (born in Littlehampton) and his wife Ella (née Plucknett).
Comment from a blog reader finally sums it all up:
The truly sad thing in all of this is lack of closure for families/descendants of victims and for those who wished to make ship travel safer (learning from mistakes). The truly marvellous thing is we have a mystery that is as solid and unbreakable today as it was 100 years ago.
UPDATE Sept 2013:
VISIT A NEW BLOG AT www.waratahrevisited.blogspot.com