Wednesday, 26 July 2017


I have devoted many posts to the loss of the Waratah rather than the loss of 211 souls, 27 July, 1909. The mystery is seductive and my interest in looking for reasons and speculating what happened that cold winter's day, borders on the obsessive. Remembering what happened 108 years ago must give us all pause to reflect on the human aspect of the tragedy. 211 vibrant human beings were confronted by the terror of inevitable death. We hope it came quickly and mercifully, but the reality might have been prolonged and anguished. 

In my reading of similar tragedies (Titanic and Vestris to name but two examples), it has been, to a large degree, comforting that masters, officers and crew went beyond the call of duty to allay panic and fear. Reassurance, even though it be false, was given and limited the moment of horrific reality to the crisis point. I choose to believe that Captain Ilbery and his devoted officers did the same for passengers on Waratah. 

The public at large did not want to believe the Harlow account - one of fire and explosions. This is natural - who would? Rolling over in a severe storm was more palatable and 'merciful'. Even better, the remote possibility Waratah was adrift on the southern ocean and her complement safely awaiting rescue. 

I remain steadfast in my belief that Waratah and her souls met their end off Poenskop, 8 pm, 27 July. My only consolation is the probability that smoke and carbon monoxide inhalation caused disorientation and a lesser awareness of the horrors awaiting. I do not believe Waratah exploded, but rather due to a multitude of adverse factors and the consequence of fire on board, went down quickly in 38 m of water. I don't believe lifeboats would have been of much use. 

Once it was all over, it had just begun for the families and loved ones of those on board. This arduous journey was never going to provide crucial closure for the grieving process. Many wives were left widowed, not only having to deal with protracted grief, but also find a means of providing for children. Without closure, those battling with grief might have been susceptible to Complicated Grief Disorder (CGD). We sling about the phrase 'moving on' in the modern era. How were these poor unfortunates supposed to 'move on'? How were their descendants supposed to 'move on'? 

CGD can have debilitating consequences: a sense that life is meaningless; anger and bitterness regarding the circumstances of the loss; a persistent major depressive disorder with far-reaching effects for the individual and those nearest and dearest. I don't believe any of us can imagine the cortisol-driven detriments to overall health and well-being caused by prolonged hope (Waratah afloat) followed after many months by the harsh reality that Waratah was gone. The depressive backlash must have been all the more severe after being buoyed by false hope. 

Little is known of what present-day descendants feel, vicariously carrying their family loss and absence of closure? Is it something that lingers in the sub-conscience only to find a dimmed light of day when some terrible plane, rail, car, shipping tragedy makes the headlines on CNN? Who are the descendants and what is their collective voice? 

If Waratah were to be found, would it ease the hereditary despair by casting a wreath and offering a few private words to the sea breeze and foam marking the site of Waratah and her souls' last fight? Are blogs such as this a further inflammation of poorly healed wounds? Does it achieve anything, at the end of the day, speculating endlessly about a lost steamer? I am and could never be in a position to make this important judgment. Would I stop if told to do so? It is an obsession and it would be difficult to give it up. Let descendants speak freely, if they wish to, and I am listening...

Passenger List:

Mrs Adamson
Mrs Allen and infant
Miss Rose Allen
Mrs Ashe
Mr Niel Black
Mr T. Blackburn
Mrs Bowden and infant
Master Bowden
Mr Bowden
Miss Bowden
Mrs Bowden
Mr E.A. Bradley
Col. P.J. Browne
Mr P.J. Calder
Miss M. Campbell
Dr J.T. Carrick
Mr A. Clark
Miss P. Connolly
Miss Connolly
Miss L. Cooke
Mr Wm. Coote
Mr Wm. Cumming
Mrs Dawes and child
Mr Donaldson
Mrs Dunn
Miss D. Dunn (7 years old)
Miss B. Dunn (2 years old)
Mr J. Ebsworth
Father Fadle
Mr M.J. Govendo
Mrs Govett
Master Harvey
Mrs Harvey
Mrs J. Harwood
Miss H.G. Hay
Mrs A. Hay
Miss Henderson
Miss M. Hesketh-Jones
Mr R.E. Hugo
Mr J. Hunter
Mrs Ibbett
Mrs Lascelles
Miss K. Lees
Mr R. Lowenthal
Mrs A. Lyon and infant (1)
Mr J. McCausland
Miss Miller
Miss B. Murphy
Mr E.A. Murphy
Mr C.B. Nicholson
Mr P. O'Connor
Mr E.B. Page
Mrs Page
Mrs Petrie
Master Petrie
Mrs A.E. Press
Miss D. Schaumann
Miss L. Schaumann
Mrs Sillery
Miss Starke
Mrs Starke
Mr W. Stocken
Mrs Stocken
Stocken child (5 years old)
Stocken child (2 years old)
Mr J.G. Stokoe
Miss Taylor
Mr Charles Taylor
Mrs Taylor
Miss M. Taylor
Master C.G Taylor
Mr J.F.J. Taylor
Miss Taylor
Mr G.H. Tickell
Mr David Turner
Mrs Turner
Turner child (14 years old)
Turner child (12 years old)
Turner child (7 years old)
Turner child (6 years old)
Turner child (3 years old)
Mrs Wilson
Mrs Wilson
Miss L. Wilson
Miss Wilson (8 years old)
Mr Wright
Mrs Wright
Miss Young

Crew List:

P.R. Alexander - general servant
W.R. Allen - general servant
C. Allen - able seaman
G.W. Ambrose - able seaman
H. Barr- carpenter's mate
C. Baxter - general servant
A. Bellringer - trimmer
W. Belshaw - able seaman 
F. Benson - trimmer
A. Blake - general servant
R. Bocker - fireman and trimmer
P. Bonham - general servant
A. Brown - fireman and trimmer
L. Burgess - general servant
C. Butcher - fireman and trimmer
W.M. Campbell - general servant
J.C. Clark - assistant steward
J. Clarke - fireman and trimmer
N. Clarke - apprentice
W. Comper - greaser and fireman
J. Conn - greaser and fireman
J. Costello - able seaman
T. Coulson - trimmer
A. Cumming - greaser and fireman 
H. Dance - trimmer
A. Dennison - general servant
G. Dixon - trimmer
F. Dorander - fireman and trimmer
W. Edwards - general servant
A.R. Francis - general servant
C. French - fireman and trimmer
H.C. Fulford - surgeon
A. Georgeson - boatswain
H.A. Gibbs - apprentice
S.E. Gorham - pantryman
R.A. Hamelton - refrigerating engineer
J. Hamilton - junior engineer
C. Hammond - general servant
H.W. Harding - general servant
W. Harding -  - able seaman
O.E. Haysom - butcher
H.F. Hemy - second officer
G.W. Hodder - chief engineer
T. Humphreys - senior third engineer
F.T. Hunt - junior engineer
A. Hunter - second engineer
J.E. Ilbery - master
J. Immelmann - fireman and trimmer
T. Ings - general servant
P. Isaacs - general servant
J. Jacobson - fireman and trimmer
J.H. Jamieson - senior fourth engineer
J. Jewers - officer
J. Jones - second baker
J. Kelly - trimmer
K. Lindross - fireman and trimmer
J. Lydiard - fireman and trimmer
A. Martin - able seaman
H. McCrone - trimmer
M. McIlver - able seaman
W. McKierian - trimmer
W. McPhee - general servant
G. Meek - trimmer
P.F. Monaghan - general servant
F. Monk - fifth engineer
A.P. Moore - able seaman
J.P. Morgan - third officer
P. Murray - sculleryman
J. Nelson - fireman and trimmer
T. Newman - able seaman
A. Nicholls - forecabin steward
C. Owen - chief officer
P. Oxford - barman and storekeeper
K. Papinean - pantryman
S. Pearson - donkeyman
A.E. Phillips - baker and confectioner
F. Poland - assistant butcher
W. Rackliff - able seaman
W. Reinsch - fireman and trimmer
R. Robinson - ordinary seaman
W.B. Rogers - general servant
E. Rumbold - general servant
A. Sach - cook
F. Sale - cook
C. Samuelson - fireman and trimmer
A. Sandon - trimmer
E.J. Schafer - boatswain's mate and lamp trimmer
O. Schelier - fireman and trimmer
H. Seiffort - fireman and trimmer
F. Shasal - assistant pantryman
J.Shea - able seaman
P. Skailes - purser and chief steward
H.G. Smith - able seaman
W. Smith - storekeeper and refrigerating greaser
W. Smith - general servant
C.W. Southwell - cook
E. Stace - boatswain's mate
J. Steel - trimmer
B. Steiner - greaser and fireman
E. Sterne - general servant
G. Sudbury - general servant
E. Swan - stewardess
H. Tanner - fireman and trimmer
H. Taylor - trimmer
S. Templeton - chief cook
W. Thomas - general servant
W. Thornton - trimmer
G. Thruston - fourth officer
F. Trott - general servant
C. Turkle - able seaman
W. Waite - able seaman
R. Walker - carpenter
E.J. Walters - general servant
W. Walters - greaser
F.M. Wellington - general servant
W.G. White - general servant
S. Whitehorn - stewardess
A. Woodcock - general servant
G. Wyborn - general servant


Port St Johns, Eastern Cape (South Africa)

Updated at 21:32. Next update around 10:00.
Today, Thursday 27/07/2017
Clear sky.
15°0 mmGentle breeze, 4 m/s from northwestGentle breeze, 4 m/s from northwest
Clear sky.
21°0 mmLight breeze, 2 m/s from southeastLight breeze, 2 m/s from southeast
Clear sky.
15°0 mmLight breeze, 2 m/s from north-northeastLight breeze, 2 m/s from north-northeast
Tomorrow, Friday 28/07/2017
Clear sky.
11°0 mmLight breeze, 3 m/s from northwestLight breeze, 3 m/s from northwest
Clear sky.
10°0 mmGentle breeze, 4 m/s from north-northwestGentle breeze, 4 m/s from north-northwest
Clear sky.
23°0 mmGentle breeze, 4 m/s from eastGentle breeze, 4 m/s from east
Clear sky.
18°0 mmGentle breeze, 4 m/s from east-northeastGentle breeze, 4 m/s from east-northeast
Saturday, 29/07/2017
Clear sky.
13°0 mmLight breeze, 2 m/s from northwestLight breeze, 2 m/s from northwest
Clear sky.
14°0 mmGentle breeze, 5 m/s from northwestGentle breeze, 5 m/s from northwest
Clear sky.
27°0 mmLight breeze, 2 m/s from southLight breeze, 2 m/s from south
16°0 mmLight breeze, 3 m/s from westLight breeze, 3 m/s from west


Port St Johns

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