Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Waratah - deckchair, cushion and lifebelt discovered?

The Advertiser (Adelaide) Saturday 10 December 1910

Melbourne, December 9.
The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931) Saturday 10 December 1910

"A deck chair bearing a passenger'sname, and 'S.S. Waratah.' was picked upon the foreshore at Coffee Bay on Thursday, November 3." 
"It will be remembered that the Waratah was estimated to have been somewhere off Coffee Bay on the evening of July 27, 1909. when she disappeared." 
"The above cutting from the  "Cape Argus" of November 10 has been forwarded from Cape Town by Mr. A.Nickson, a former resident of Sydney."
"Mr Nickson writes -
"The deck chair was washed ashore some miles north of the port of East London, and close to the part of the coast where the Waratah was last sighted." 
"I, like many others on this side, am of the opinion that the Waratah turned turtle a little south of East London, going down like a stone, taking everyone and everything with her to the bottom."
"It would be an easy matter to discover ifsuch is the case. Soon after her disappearance I suggested here that a submarine be obtained from England to search along the bottom of our coast where the Waratah was last sighted."
Naturally a submarine was not commissioned to search for the Waratah.
Not only was a deckchair alleged to have been found at Coffee Bay, but it bore the name of a passenger (which one?) (Moir - not on the passenger list) and the Waratah's insignia. If this is true it seems most likely that the Waratah went down off Cape Hermes rather than south of East London. The explanation is a simple one and relates to the currents off the Wild Coast. If the Waratah had gone down off Cape Hermes, flotsam would have been carried south with the Agulhas Current.
Captain Bruce of the Harlow did make reference to a 'large steamer' coming up astern less than ten miles offshore in the vicinity of Cape Hermes, which suddenly disappeared.
If we combine the witness account of the crew of the Harlow with the discovery of the deckchair and the policeman on the shore who saw a large steamer foundering off Cape Hermes, we have three separate pieces of circumstantial evidence placing the Waratah off Cape Hermes when she disappeared.
During March 1910, a cushion with the letter 'W' was reported having been washed ashore at Mossel Bay.
In February 1912, a lifebelt with the name "Waratah" on it, was washed ashore in New Zealand. The lifebelt may very possibly have fallen overboard when the Waratah was in Australian waters.
Nelson Evening Mail, 5 March 1910.

"An officer of the Lund line says there is nothing to signify that the cushion found on the Cape Coast belonged to the Waratah."

"If any of the vessels cushions were marked, it would be with the name in full."

"It might, of course, happen if the 'W' was worked on the cushion that it was a present to an officer."

(Received March 5, 1910, 10.40 am)
London, Friday.

"Lunds do not place credence in the reported evidence of wreckage from the Waratah, since their Cape Town agents have not notified them, as arranged should evidence concerning the Waratah be discovered."

And so it was cast in stone. No verified flotsam was officially discovered from the Waratah. But what became of the deckchair with the passenger's name and the mysterious cushion with the letter 'W'?

Important update:


deckchair from Titanic 

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