Monday, 4 April 2016

BODIES, BASHEE RIVER.

The Register (Adelaide) Monday 16 August, 1909.

The captain of the British steamer Insizwa, 
which followed the course of the
Waratah from Durban to the Cape, in a
press interview, declared he was satisfied
beyond all doubt the objects he had seen
were human bodies. Two of them, he
said, were dressed in white, and the other
two had dark clothing. There was no
wreckage visible in their vicinity, but flocks
of birds were hovering about in the 
neighbourhood of the corpses. He did not 
consider it advisable to stop and pick up the
bodies, on account of the effect it would
produce on the lady passengers on board.


The Insizwa sighting took place two weeks after Waratah went missing. Officially the Captain of the
Insizwa claimed that turbulent seas prevented him from retrieving the bodies - concerns about stability.
Which ever way he defended his actions, one thing is clear, he had no intention of retrieving bodies
and confirming the public's worst suspicions about the fate of the Waratah.  

If the Waratah did indeed go down off the Bashee River how was it possible that crew from another
vessel, the Tottenham, sighted bodies off the Great Fish River at much the same time, considerably
further southwest? A possible explanation relates to the absence of visible wreckage suggesting the
Waratah foundered rapidly with passengers and crew trapped within. After a period of time bodies
could have come free of the wreck and floated to the surface. Those discovered off the Great Fish
River could have come free of the wreckage at an earlier time and then drifted with the prevailing
current southwestward.



The Sydney Morning Herald, Thursday 12 January, 1911.

Captain Moore (Insizwa), on August 12 1909, reported
by signal to the Agulhas lighthouse-keeper
that on that day, at the mouth of the Bashee
River, 70 miles from East London, he passed
four supposed bodies trending south-west, and
a large number of birds following in the same
direction.


Mbashe River Mouth.


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