Thursday, 31 August 2017


'In connection with the fire, a naval officer attached to one of the Cape cruisers, who pricked off the chart the position stated by the captain of the Harlow, as that in which he saw what he supposed to be a burning ship, was right at Gordon's Bay, in the mouth of the St. John's River.'

Wednesday, 30 August 2017



23 October, 1910, the Portuguese twin-screw passenger / cargo steamer, Lisboa, ran aground at Soldier's Reef (Paternoster) on her second to maiden voyage. At 7700 tons she was the largest steamer in the Portuguese mercantile marine (Empreza Nacional de Navegacao). The Lisboa was built by D & W Henderson on the Clyde, and commanded by Captain Menezes.  
The Lisboa was en-route from Lisbon to Lourenco Marques, Mozambique, when she experienced strong inshore currents driving her onto the rocks. At the time she carried a component of 250 passengers, 50 crew, prize bulls (for bull-fighting), olive oil and wine. Seven crew drowned while attempting to lower a lifeboat, but the balance of souls made it safely to shore where they endured harsh conditions for three days while waiting to be rescued.
The Lisboa incident included the first official (for South Africa) use of wireless communication from a stricken steamer to summon help. The wireless operator remained on board until he was sure the distress call had been received, after which he leaped into the sea and swam to shore.
This case proved that wireless communication off the South African coast could be effective in times of distress at sea. The Waratah foundered just over a year prior to this and her lack of wireless undoubtedly encouraged authorities to implement and strengthen effective land-based receivers, which paid off in the case of the Lisboa. Although neither vessel could have been saved by communications, the authorities at least knew where the problem occurred and could dispatch rescue teams for those who had made it onto shore.   
An interesting further note; the Lisboa (virtually new like the Waratah) was steaming in the same direction as the Waratah when she foundered - close to shore, where she was vulnerable to inshore currents. Both steamers were known for their extraordinary size, by the standards of the day. 
This factor + smoke inhalation and disorientation ---> St Johns Reef ?

visual top heaviness not unique to Waratah. circa 1910.

Monday, 28 August 2017



Colonist, Volume LI, Issue 12663, 7 October 1909, Page 4

'The Australian Star states -

'It seems that a man who was being escorted to South Africa on the Waratah on a charge of murder alleged to have been committed at Johannesburg threatened that his escorts would never land him alive at the Cape for his trial.' 

'He is said to have made the remark with determination that if he saw no other chance of escaping his trial he would set fire to the ship (Waratah).  This was regarded by the police at the time as mere bluff, but the threat has grown into significance in view of the cable that the steamer Harlow on arrival at Manila reported that when in the vicinity of Durban on July 27th she saw a steamer on fire.'


Brisbane, August 17.

'J. Mclaughlin, -who was arrested in
Queensland some months ago on a charge
of murder alleged to have been committed
in South Africa, was aboard the missing
steamer Waratah.'

'He was. under the escort of Detective Mynot
and Constable J De Beer, of the Johannesburg police.'

The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931)  Previous issue Thursday 8 July 1909


'By the Blue Anchor Line steamer Waratah, 
which sailed from Port Adelaide to
South Africa on Wednesday, a criminal
with a bad record has left the Commonwealth.'

'He is being taken from Brisbane
to Johannesburg by two officers of the
Transvaal police force.' 

'The charge against him is murder, 
alleged to have been committed 
in January, 1895.' 

'The accused, whose name is J. McLoughlin, 
was, during the steamer's stay at Port Adelaide,
lodged in the Adelaide Gaol.' 

'He is a one-armed man, aged 47 years, 
and is described as one of the most desperate
characters who ever came to Australia.'

'He was arrested on the present charge
rather dramatically on April 16 on board
the Government steamer Otter, in More-
ton Bay, immediately after he had served
a long sentence for burglary in Northern

'His arrest on the capital charge was due 
to the Brisbane detectives, and reflects 
credit on them.' 

'McLoughlin, it appears, was arrested in Mackay on a charge 
of burglary, and was sentenced to three years' imprisonment.' 

'In due course his photograph was sent to the
head department in Brisbane. There, one
of the detectives was struck with his resemblance 
to a description which had been published 
some time back in a New Zealand "Police Gazette." 

'Copies of the paper were hunted up, 
and the photograph and the description were carefully

'As a result a telegram was sent to the Transvaal, 
and in due course information was received from 
there which led to McLoughlin's rearrest on board 
the Otter.' 

'He was brought before the Brisbane court 
and charged with the murder of Albert George 
Stevenson and Hadje Joseph Mustaffa, and after 
several remands was extradited in the custody of 
the two Transvaal police officials, one of whom
identified McLoughlin.'

'McLoughlin's crime is described as one
of the most sensational tragedies which
occurred on the Rand in the days of the

'George Stevenson was known variously as 
Stevo, Georgy, Fernie, George Stephens, 
Stephenson, and Davidson. He resided at 
the corner of Bezuidenhout and
Commissioner streets Johannesburg.' 

'Previous to 1895 it is alleged that he had been
involved in the robbery of a safe from
the Pretoria railway station, in company
with McLoughlin and Thomas Howard.'

'Immediately after the robbery the trio
left Pretoria by train together for
Johannesburg. The authorities obtained
information concerning them and 
telegraphed to the guard of the train, 
who, to secure the men, fastened up 
the carriage in which they were sitting.' 

'McLoughlin. however, whilst the train was
in motion, notwithstanding that he was
handicapped by having only one arm,
jumped out of one of the carriage windows
and escaped.'  

'Stevenson also jumped from the train 
farther along the line, but was recaptured. 
Subsequently he turned State evidence, 
and his testimony against Howard in the safe-breaking case 
was instrumental in securing for the latter five
years' imprisonment with hard labour.' 

'Efforts to find  McLoughlin proved futile.
It was surmised that he escaped to Rhodesia.' 

'A few months later, however, he
was again seen in Johannesburg, and it
was reported to the police that he had
sworn he would shoot Stevenson for having 
given evidence against Howard.' 

'Before he could be apprehended he had
carried out his purpose. One Saturday
morning in January, 1895, he accosted a
woman who was living in the same house
as Stevenson and told her of his intention.'

'At dusk McLoughlin entered the premises
and shot his victim before he could reach
his own weapon to defend himself. He
fired also at the woman, but missed her.'

'McLoughlin. it is alleged, then left the
house and walked down the street. The
two revolver reports were heard in the
street, and a hue-and-cry was raised.' 

'McLoughlin took to his heels. A man tried
to stop him. McLoughlin fired at him
and missed him. Then a young Malay,
Hadje Mustaffa, stepped forward as if to
stop him. and McLoughlin shot him dead.'

'The murderer, having a straight run, managed to 
elude his pursuers.' 

'Then followed an unsuccessful search, lasting
months. As the country at that period
was in a disturbed state - it was about the
time of the Jamieson raid - the task of
tracking him was rendered difficult.' 

'It is now known that he lost no time in leaving
South Africa. He found his way to
New Zealand. and was not long there before 
he was sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment 
for having house-breaking implements in his 

'From New Zealand he came to the Commonwealth,
where he continued his criminal career.'

'When taken to the Adelaide Gaol during
the steamer Waratah's stay at Port Adelaide
he remarked to one of his custodians,'

"I know this place. I spent a month
here once."

'McLoughlin. it is said, lost his arm in a
successful attempt to escape from Potchefstroom 
Gaol, South Africa. He made the attempt in company 
with a fellow prisoner who was shot dead by a warder.'

'McLoughlin ran away with a bullet wound
in his right arm, which eventually had
to be amputated.'

The Origins of Organised Crime in Frontier Johannesburg and the Response of the Kruger State, 1886-1892

One evening in January 1895, in a room behind a pub in downtown Johannesburg, a thirty-seven year old Mancunian-Irishman, John McLoughlin, executed a police informer - a young Englishman by the name of George Stevenson who hailed from Staffordshire, England. While effecting his escape, McLoughlin shot dead a young ‘coloured’ man, recently returned from the Hajj in Mecca, by the name of Mustafa Carr. Once clear of the town centre, McLoughlin, with the help of several members of his highly successful safe-cracking gang, staged a final safe-robbery at one of the nearby mines which yielded gold worth several thousands of pounds. McLoughlin then made his way to Lourenco Marques where he boarded a ship for parts of the Indian Ocean world which were already well known to him from his earlier travels as, first a sailor and, some time later, a soldier. As a fugitive, he worked his way through huge swathes of India, New Zealand and Australia. In 1909, as he was released from prison in Brisbane, he was arrested by an off-duty policeman who recognised him as a man wanted on a charge of murder in South Africa and subsequently extradited. His trial, was an extraordinary event, insofar as the prosecution managed, after the elapse of nearly fourteen years, to reassemble almost every witness to the two murders in downtown Johannesburg in 1895. McLoughlin was convicted and hurriedly sentenced to death and executed in 1910 – just months before earlier legal dispensations were about to be superseded by the new Union of South Africa.

McLoughlin was escorted off the Waratah at Durban, 25 July. He was not on board when the steamer went missing.


Barrier Miner, 22 February, 1909

[Reuter's Message.]
London, Sunday.
The President Roka, a steamer running 
to Southern Argentina from Buenos Ayres, 
caught fire yesterday, and sank. Twenty 
persons were drowned, and 350 saved.

The Week, Brisbane, 5 February, 1909
Steamer on Fire.
German Liner Tubingen.
Flames Extinguished by Flooding.
... noticed smoke issuing from the fore 
hatch. Captain Johannes Nauss was at 
once acquainted with the fact, and the 
Metropolitan Fire Brigade was summoned 
without delay.
Deputy-superintendent Milne brought,
with him the motor and a 2-horse reel
from the head station, and a reel and
curricle from the Valley station, and lost
no time in commencing the fight with
the flames. After some time, however,
it was deemed prudent to flood the hold,
                          (= list)
and a fireman having been got into the
affected hold, this was done, the streams
of water from the firemen's hose being
assisted by the inrush of water from the
sea cocks, which were turned on
Shortly after 3 a.m., by which time the hold
showed a depth of some 10 feet 6 inches
of water, the flames were entirely subdued. 
The forehold contained about 1,022 bales
of wool, which had been loaded at this
port, and some 2,500 bags of wheat,
taken in at southern ports. 
The origin of the fire is a mystery. The
men who are engaged in stowing the wool
in the hold on 27th January ceased work
at 5 p.m., and the hatchway, covered by
a tarpaulin, was immediately put on. 


The West Australian, Tuesday 25 January, 1910

Not since Mr. Pierpont Morgan and hissyndicate of American capitalista, in 1901,acquired the controlling interest in theWhite Star, Leyland, Dominion, Beaver,and other lines, chiefly engaged in theNorth Atlantic trade, and Mr. (now SirJohn) Ellerman, having relinquished hisinterests in the Dominion Line, broughtabout an amalgamation of the Leyland(Mediterranean), Papyannia, Hall, and CityLines, concerned with the Levant and Indian trade, has an event of such importancein the British shipping world been announced, as the brief cable in the "West Australian" of Saturday morning, indicatingthat the Peninsular and Oriental SteamNavigation Company had acquired Lund'sBlue Anchor Line of steamers. 
So far as the general public is concerned the newscame in the nature of a genuine surprise,and the same may be said of the shippingcommunity, though the few in Australiawho were cognisant of what was proceedingmanaged to keep the secret remarkablywell. Sir Thomas Sutherland, in his addressto the shareholders of the P. and 0. Company, at the annual meeting last December, dropped no hint as to the sensational policy of development which was practicallyto mark the opening of the new year thenso close at hand. 
That address contained a brief review of British shipping, a detailed explanation of the business of theP. and O. during 1939, a dissertation orthe social changes governing passenger,and consequently the nature of accommodation provided for them during the lastquarter of a century, and a statement asto how the P. and O. had been led into thetourist traffic, and incidentally how profitable a venture it had turned out to be. Itwas somewhere about 1896 that a moveon the part of the P. and O. Company ledto much comment, and most of is not atall favourable to the concern. 
Traveller and shipping men are all familiar with theClan Line. Fourteen or fifteen years agothe vessels of this company enjoyed a largeand growing share of the Indian passengertrade. During the outward season thesteamers, which sailed from the MorpethDock, Birkenhead, always carried a fullcomplement of passengers bound for Bombay, Madras, and Calcutta. Greater thingswere expected from the Clan Line, and itwas felt that what was described as the"P. and O.'s grip on India" would be relaxed. All at once the newspapers reportedthat an arrangement had been come tobetween the P. and O. and Clan Lineswhereby the latter had decided to do awaywith the carrying of passengers and restrict themselves entirely to cargo. Herewas a bolt from the blue. Precisely whatfreight quid pro quo the Clan Line receivedis a matter the public know not, or arelikely to know.
This Clan Line arrangement may be regarded as the first move of what can be termed the policy of external expansion adopted by the P. and O. Six years agothe company began to devote attention tothe carriage of freight, and the magnificent10,000-ton steamers of the Pera and Palermo clans were built. India, the Far East and Australia were all embraced in the freight area for which these ships hadbeen designed. Here success was immediate. It is not. necessary to make more thana passing reference to the inception of thetourist business, with the transference ofthe well-known Australian mail steamerRome into the cruising yacht Vectis, or theopening by the company last year of anoffice at 281 Fifth-avenue, New York, withMr. I. J. Garcey as agent. 
Each move from the Clan Line agreement pointed inone certain direction. Sir Thomas Sutherland last month said, "We may not be the largest British line, but we are thewealthiest." The accretion of tonnage bythe absorption of the Blue Anchor Line,placing that at 40,000 tons, will bring thetotal P. and O. tonnage up to close on halfa million, and will place it first of all theBritish-owned lines in the world on thebasis of tonnage, if not of ships. And nocompany has ever been more favourablysituated financially to embark on an important venture such as this purchase of theLund fleet undoubtedly is. 
Last year the company made a profit of £655,780. Ittransferred £375,288 to depreciation fund,apportioning the greater proportion to thepayment of a final dividend of 13 per cent.for the year, and carrying the balance of£66,488 forward to the current year. Andthe figures quoted by Sir Thomas Sutherland of the company's assets are striking:
Sundry balances, £1129,078; fleet of ships,£3,901,556; fleet of tenders, £119,580; cashinvestments, £2,938,666. And how carefullythe business of this great concern is conducted, and what an eye to the future is displayed may be understood from the fact that the company's fleet stands at a gross cost of £10 Is. 10d. per ton. Nowdeducting reserves their net value is £6 4s.2d. per ton. As the tonnage embraced inthis statement is 400,017 tons a very fairestimate of the strength of the company inthis particular alone can be formed.
The purchase of the Lund fleet is at anopportune time. The mystery of the Waratah is an incident that, in view of popularprejudice and sailors' omens of ill-luck, haspossibly played an important part in thefortunes of the corporation. Indeed theWaratah's disappearance may have acted soprejudicially in the future that as a passenger concern the Lund Company might becompelled to withdraw from competitionbecause of the comparatively littletrade offering. And it is not unlikely that those upon whom the workof carrying on the business whichCaptain William Lund founded in 1851,realising how powerfully prejudice can actto the detriment of a shipping concern,decided that the best thing possible wouldbe to sell the entire fleet and connection,lock. stock, and barrel. Whether they wereso actuated or not is a mere matter ofspeculation. That they have sold out is afact. And what further part is the P. andO. now to play in the trade of the Empire?The surmise is that the company's extendedservice will embrace a route to Australiavia the Cape. This surmise is reasonableenough; but may not this further conjecture be hazarded that the White Star Line, an American-owned concern, will be shortlyfaced in Australian and Cape waters at allevents with an opposition worthy of thename? That the White Star Line has donemuch for Australian travellers none willdeny. But it may be affirmed that if theP. and O. proceeds to conduct a popularcheap service to Australia via the Capethat service, from every standpoint, willbe superior to the White Star, excellent asthat admittedly is. 
Future developments are sure to be followed with the greatestinterest. The enlarged scope of the P. and O. work will result in the centering in London of all the best men the company possesses. Mr. F. G. Allen, the agent at theimportant port of Colombo, has just beencalled to London. He is certainly one of the ablest men in the company's employ, and to him is due, in a great measure, theexcursion tickets issued at present betweenCeylon and Australia. The P. and O. commences its seventy-second year of incorporation most auspiciously, and all who takea pride in the maintenance and expansion of British shipping will rejoice that the British flag will not pass from one servicewhich the old owners have decided to relinquish.