Wednesday, August 15, 2018

VS Naipaul, RIP -- August 15, 2018
I was sorry to hear of the death of Trinidadian author VS Naipaul.  I haven't read any of his novels, but I enjoyed his short stories.  Many people complain that he was a bigot.  I would not have known it from his stories.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Bags Three Airplanes in Less Than a Minute -- August 14, 2018

Hickory, NC Daily Record, 21-August-1918
French ace René Fonck was the highest-scoring Allied ace, with 75 confirmed victories. 100 years ago today, on 14-August-1918, he shot down three German airplanes in seconds.


Paris, Aug. 21. -- Lieut. Rene Fonck, the French aviator, who shot down three German airplanes on August 14, as announced officially Sunday, accounted for all three of them in the record-breaking time of 20 seconds.

Fonck went out escorted by two patrolling machines. After cruising for 10 minutes he spied four enemy two-seater battle planes flying in Indian file with only a few hundred yards between each. The French flyer fell upon the first enemy machine with his machine gun. It fell in flames in 10 seconds. Later he got his sights on the second machine with the same result. The third dodged sideways before Fonck could take aim and escaped, but by a swift turn of the rudder he dashed at the fourth airplane and sent it down to join the first two.

Lieut. Rene Fonck, recognized as the greatest French air fighter since Captain Guynemer, is credited with bringing down 60 enemy airplanes. Of these he downed six in one day in the course of two patrols.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Let's Stay Awhile -- August 13, 2018

New York Tribune, 25-July-1915
Southern Pacific advertised that people could take their luxurious Sunset Limited from New Orleans to San Francisco or San Diego by way of Los Angeles, or take a Southern Pacific steamship.  San Francisco was hosting the Panama-Pacific International Exposition and San Diego offered the Panama-California Exposition.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Comic Book -- Did Spy Smasher Kill Hitler? -- August 11, 2018
I like Spy Smasher. He didn't have fancy powers. He just smashed spies. He had a cool uniform, too. Here we also see one of my favorite cover subjects, Axis leaders getting their comeuppance.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Dr Hugo Eckener 150 -- August 10, 2018

Washington Star, 21-October-1928
Dr Hugo Eckener, pioneer lighter-than-air pilot and promoter, was born 150 years ago today, on 10-August-1868.  He became a publicist for Ferdinand von Zeppelin's company and earned his pilot's license in 1911.  During World War One, he trained most of Germany's Zeppelin pilots.  After the war, Dr Eckener managed the Zeppelin company.  He toured Germany to raise money to build LZ 127, the Graf Zeppelin.

Eckener commanded the Graf Zeppelin on the first transatlantic passenger flight in 1928 and the first round-the-world airship flight

When the Nazis came to power, they nationalized the Zeppelin company and pushed out Dr Eckener.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Ken Norton 75 -- August 9, 2018
Heavyweight champ Ken Norton was born 75 years ago today, on 09-August-2018.  I remember the wide-spread shock when he beat Muhammad Ali and broke his jaw.  When Norton was given the title in 1978 because of a complicated series of events with Ali and Leon Spinks, I thought he would hold it for a long time.  I was surprised when Norton lost the title in his first defense, against Larry Holmes.

I should have written something here when Ken Norton died in 2013.

"When I talk to youngsters today, especially those involved in athletics, I tell them to get their education first." -- Ken Norton

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Pulp -- Operator #5 -- August 7, 2018

Operator #5 was Jimmy Christopher, a secret agent of the United States.  The magazine is famous for series of 13 stories known as "The Purple Invasion,"  about a Nazi Germany-like country, the Purple Empire, that invades and conquers the US.

Monday, August 6, 2018

German Air Raid Fiasco; Zeppelin Downed in Flames -- August 6, 2018

Wheeling Intelligencer, 06-August-1918

100 years ago today, on the night of 05-06-August-1918, Peter Strasser, the most important proponent and strategist of Zeppelins in Germany's Imperial Navy, was killed when L 70 was shot down by a D.H.4 near the English coast.  Strasser and the rest of his crew were killed.  This was the last Zeppelin raid on Britain during the war.  


LONDON, August 6. -- The attempted raid by German Zeppelins in the east Anglian coast last night proved to be a complete fiasco, according to reports thus far received.
British fliers who are ever on alert along the coast were ready, for the visitors, and met them well out at sea, bringing down one in flames, damaging a second and driving a third away. What happened to the other two airships in the squadron is not disclosed in the official statement. The fact, however, that the report said "Zeppelins crossed the coast" is ground for the presumption that these did reach land.

There is no evidence as yet that they dropped any bombs and it is probable that their crews were kept busy protecting their ships against pursuing British airmen.

LONDON. August 6.-- In last night's raid on England by German airships one of the enemy craft, a Zeppelin, was brought down, it was Officially announced today.

"Another of the German airships was damaged, but probably succeeded in reaching its base."

The official statement relative to the air raids reads:
"Five enemy airships attempted to cross the coast last night, but while still at sea were attacked by royal air force contingents, co-operating with naval units.

"Three were engaged in action and one was shot down in flames 40 miles from the coast. Another was damaged, but probably succeeded In reaching base."

Sunday, August 5, 2018

The Drydocking of the Oregon -- August 5, 2018

San Francisco Call, 27-April-1896
From the 27-April-1896 San Francisco Call. William A Coulter did many maritime drawings for the newspaper. Click on the image for a larger view. Oregon was a pre-Dreadnought battleship, built at San Francisco's Union Iron Works. When the Spanish-American War was on the brink of erupting, Oregon sailed around the Horn to the east coast in three weeks. This provided ammunition for proponents of a Panama Canal. Oregon served in the fleet that destroyed the Spanish fleet at Santiago de Cuba on 03-July-1898. In 1915 she visited the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. Starting in 1925, she was preserved at Portland, Oregon as a museum ship. When World War II broke out, she was converted to a barge. 

How the Great Battle-Ship Was Handled at Hunters Point.
Went In on the Instant of Slack Water at Extreme High Tide.
The Tugs Monarch and Hercules Pushed the Mammoth Hull Safely Through the Gates.

With two-redstack tugs, the Monarch and Hercules, to work her along, the big battle-ship Oregon last night slipped into Hunters Point stone drydock and the falling tide grounded her gently in the chocks.

It was a ticklish bit of work, for if the ebb had caught her on the dock sill her steel back would have broken like a pipe-stem. The tide in that locality, when it reaches its highest point/does not stand the usual sixty or seventy minutes, but immediately begins its overflow, and should that great mass of 10,000 tons dead weight have come down on an insecure bed, beams and plates which fit to each other with the nicety of a watch's make-up would have been ruined beyond repair. With only a few inches to spare on each side of the bilges and under the keel the greatest care must be exercised regarding depth of water and the momentum of the great mass as it is* moved toward the dock gates.

The stone basin is 500 feet long, 115 feet wide at the top and 60 feet at the bottom, while the Oregon is 69 feet 3 inches in beam and as she stands draws about 23 feet of water. It was calculated that there would be almost 27 feet of water at high tide in the dock.

At 10 o'clock the Oregon, silent, white and ghostly in the bright moonlight, arrived off Hunters Point. Under her quarter were the two tugs holding her tightly against the still flooding, tide. Ahead of the majestic craft were the tugs Redmond and Rockaway standing motionless in the smooth water.

The big caisson had been removed, leaving a clear roadway into the dock, and everything was ready for the rush in when the water was at rest. On the pier-head the dock superintendent was watching intently the passing current and from time to time testing its flow by throwing chips out into the stream.

A large number of people came down to see the battle-ship come in to the dock that was a few sizes too small for her.

Captain George Harvey of the Merchants' Tug Company stood on the forward turret over the two monster 13-inch rifles and directed the two tugs. From time to time could be heard his shrill whistle as he jockeyed his 'great team for the start.

Superintendent Dickie of the Union Iron Works was stationed in the extreme forward part of the bow waiting for the vessels to cease their drift. The other tugs took their places between the dock and ship.

Presently the floating bits of wood thrown in the water stood stationary and Captain Harvey whistled "go ahead."

The stern of the battle-ship had swung toward the south, and Captain Shaw of the Redmond was directed to push the craft back into position.

The Redmond pressed her nose against the Hercules, which was on that side of the ship, and though she made the beams of her sister tug groan, her strong engine slowly jammed the Oregon; around until the shield on her stem faced the dock. Then the procession drew slowly in toward the gate.

Different currents threw her first one way. then the other, but the tugs backing, stopping and going ahead kept her pointing ever toward the center of the basin and soon her forefoot was in the threshold.

Would she go in? was the question each one asked himself. The men onshore watched the tide-gauge and those on the battle-ship watched her course.

As she drew in, so accurately had she been navigated that her smooth white flanks never touched the temporary wooden fenders, though there was only about five or six inches to spare on each side.

As the space became too, narrow for their entrance with the Oregon, the Hercules and Monarch let go, and the splendid battle-ship glided majestically into the basin, and the gate was closed behind her. To-day the great pumps will draw the water from under her and she will settle down on the blocks which will be adjusted to a nicety to catch her ponderous weight.

Then she will be cleaned and prepared for her trial trip and will prove her metal in speed. The test of the great thirteen inch guns and their sisters will come only when war sends them barking over the deep.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Eddie Jefferson 100 -- August 3, 2018

Eddie Jefferson, the father of vocalese, was born 100 years ago today, on 03-August-1918.  I loved listening to his music on KJAZ.  I remember when someone shot and killed him in 1979.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

James O'Neill Monte Cristo -- August 1, 2018

Alta California, 15-June-1884
Actor James O'Neill, father of playwright Eugene O'Neill, spent a significant portion of his career playing Edmond Dantes, The Count of Monte Cristo.  O'Neill played the part over 6000 times between 1875 and the early Twentieth Century.  He grew sick of the role and felt that it stunted his growth as an actor, but the public demanded that he play the Count.

The ad above is for an 1884 week at San Francisco's California Theater.

Moving Picture World, 25-October-1913

In 1912, James O'Neill played the part in the first production of the Famous Players Film Company.  It was directed by Edwin S Porter.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Bus Substitutions -- July 31, 2018

Muni has closed the Twin Peaks tunnel for refurbishment.  While they are at it, they are working on the outer portions of the K-L-M lines.  People have to ride buses to Castro Station.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Frank Linke-Crawford -- July 30, 2018

Summary of Information, Vol 3, page 895
Frank Linke-Crawford had an unlikely name for an Austro-Hungarian ace, but his mother was British. 100 years ago today, on 30-July-1918, he was shot down in a fight with two Italian airplanes.

I couldn't find any US newspaper accounts of his death, but I found the official Austrian communique for 03-August-1918, which includes this: "On July 30 one of our most successful pursuit aviators, Lieut. Frank Linke-Crawford, died a hero in the course of an air fight."

Notice that the German dispatch mentions Ernst Udet, Lothar von Richtofen and a Sergeant Thom.

I'm going to have fun with this book.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

We Have No Agents -- July 29, 2018

Scientific American, 05-April-1902
Elkhart, Indiana's Elkhart Carriage and Harness Manufacturing Company was still offering horse-drawn carriages and buggies in 1902.  Later they produced the Elcar, an automobile.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus -- July 27, 2018

Fergus Falls Ugeblad, 03-July-1918
100 years ago this month, the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus was playing in Minnesota, as reported in the Fergus Falls Ugeblad, 03-July-1918.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Flyer Who Downed 58 Foe Aeros is Missing -- July 26, 2018

Washington Times, 03-August-1918
100 years ago today, on 26-July-1918, Edward "Mick" Mannock, the highest scoring English ace, was shot down and killed by ground fire.  After the war, Mannock was awarded the Victoria Cross.

The article above reports him as missing.  I liked the other articles, so I included the whole block.  His final score was determined to be 61.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Monday, July 23, 2018

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Ardenwood Farm Train Ride -- July 22, 2018

Today we visited Ardenwood Farm and took a ride behind their Plymouth locomotive, Katie. Katie pulled two nicely painted picnic cars. The handicapped car has dry rot, so it is being worked on. The brakeman on our car said that they can't give rides behind the Porter steam locomotive for the Labor Day Railfair this year for legal reasons. They are rebuilding the runaround track at Deer Park Station.

The 2018 RailFair flyer.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Explanation of the Decapitation Trick -- July 21, 2018

From The Book of Magic: Being a Simple Description of Some Good Tricks and How to Do Them, with Patter by Archie Frederick Collins, 1916.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

U.S. Cruiser San Diego Sunk Off Fire Island -- July 19, 2018

New York Tribune, 20-July-1918
The armored cruiser USS San Diego was launched as the USS California.  She was renamed San Diego in 1914 to free her old name for a dreadnought battleship.  One hundred years ago today, she was sunk by mines laid by a German submarine.  San Diego was the only major US ship lost after the country entered the war. There was not a firefight.

U-Boat Sinks Big U.S. Cruiser Off New York
San Diego, Hit By Torpedo, Goes Down Fighting
Battle With Camouflaged Submarine Occurs 8 Miles Off Fire Island
Many Lives Lost; Hundreds Rescued
Quartermaster, Left Aboard, Salutes Comrades as Boats Depart, Then Dies

The United States cruiser San Diego was sunk eight miles off Fire Island at 11:10 o'clock yesterday morning in a battle -with a German submarine. The vessel was torpedoed amidships during a fierce fight at close range, listed and went down within fifteen minutes after she was struck.

The number of men killed in the explosion of the magazine and boilers, and who went down with the sinking ship, was not known at a late hour last night. Thirty-five survivors who landed in lifeboats at Point o' Woods said that a number were lost, one or two estimating the casualties at 300 or more.

One of the men, a member of the ship's starboard gun crew, declared he and his comrades continued to blaze away at the submarine after the deck was awash. He insisted he saw one of the shells strike forward of the submarine's periscope and she immediately disappeared.

Barrel Conceals Periscope

According to the story of the rescued sailors the attacking submarine disguised her presence by concealing the periscope under a floating barrel. The lookout noticed that the barrel was moving toward him against the tide, grew suspicious and sounded the alarm.

When the attack came the gun crews fired at the barrel, but it is believed the U-boat already had dived. The majority of sailors on the vessel were recent naval recruits. Stories of coolness and heroism were told by the survivors. All stayed by their posts.

Several explosions were reported, the boilers going first and the magazines blowing up a few seconds later. The ship heaved up clear out of the water and then immediately began to settle. One of the most heroic deaths was that of a quartermaster, who had been ordered to stand on the bridge while the men were being sent to the boats. This officer stayed at his post until it wag too late for him to save himself or be saved.

Salutes as Ship Goes Down

Just as the San Diego was going down, the quartermaster turned, facing to the sea where hundreds of his comrades were in boats and in the sea, and calmly saluted. The last seen of him the ship was going down and he was still at salute.

There was no excitement after the explosions. The men were piped to their battle stations and life belts were quietly donned. The gunners stood by to the last, fighting waist deep in the water that washed up over the sloping decks. It was feared that several of them were carried down by the sinking ship.

The captain and the first officers stayed until the ship made her final plunge. It was reported that the engine room crew was trapped below and lost to a man.

The Navy Department early this morning received information that two steamships, which are proceeding to an unnamed port, have aboard 1,1S6 officers and men of the United States cruiser San Diego. These are in addition to the one officer and thirty men previously reported landed.

If this should prove true, it would leave only fifty-eight men unaccounted for.

Other Ships Reported Attacked

The men are said to be in good condition. So far as is known none was injured.

There also were reports last night, though not confirmed, that other ships had been attacked, one being described as a coastwise passenger ship.

The coastwise steamer is reported in marine circles to-day as having sent out wireless signals of distress on account of a submarine attack, had among her passengers a detachment of marine recruits. She carried a large quantity of freight.

Intermittent cannonading was heard all day and evening along the coast, causing intense excitement among the villages within radius of the sound. Residents believe generally that the San Diego encountered enemy raiders early in the morning and was torpedoed after a sharp engagement.

A dispatch from Washington stated that information from reliable sources indicated that a submarine flotilla is operating off the port of New York. Rumors that the San Diego had collided with another ship or struck a mine were discounted.

Coast guard patrols sighted a submarine off Fire Island between 10 and 10:30 a. m., according to persistent reports at Bayshore. A half hour later the guns were heard.

Cause Not Stated

Telegraphic reports from Washington failed to determine the cause of, the vessel's sinking. The Navy Department earlier in the day issued this statement:

"The Navy Department has received reports from the 3d Naval District stating that the U. S. S. San Diego was sunk ten miles southeast of Fire Island at 11:30 o'clock this morning. One officer and two boat's crews were landed at Life Saving Station 81, on Long Island. Other survivors are in boats, and four steamers are standing by.

"So far as it can be ascertained there appears to have been no loss of life. The cause of the sinking has not yet been ascertained."

Residents of Point of Woods, on the south shore of Long Island, said an aviator had landed there with a story of hundreds of sailors struggling in the water as he circled overhead. The aviator telegraphed to the wireless station at Sayville. and a S O S call sent a half dozen vessels to the scene of the disaster.

Thirty sailors, one lieutenant and one ensign made Fire Island in life boats, landing at a point about eight miles from Point of Woods. Telephone communication with shore has been taken over by government officials, and civilian residents were unable to learn the story of the survivors.

Explosions at Sea Heard 

Citizens of Bay Shore and Babylon heard explosions at sea early in the morning, which were described as sounding like heavy gunfire. The fact that submarines have been expected off the coast was made known by orders issued to masters of coastwise vessels within the last few days, warning them to steer as close to shore as safety permitted.

All the boats at the naval training station at Sayville were sent across Great South Bay to Fire Island Beach, according to a report. It was understood that these boats had been assigned to transfer rescued survivors from the island to the mainland. None had returned last night.

Inquirers who besieged the naval station and the headquarters of the Third District for information were all referred to Washington.

Measures to deal with a new U-boat raid were said to have been taken promptly by naval and military officers. Flotillas of destroyers and patrol boats were reported to be scouring the waters in the vicinity of New York Harbor. Later in the day airplanes joined in the extending search.

Airmen Hunt for U-Boats 

When the first news of the disaster reached the aviation field at Hempstead, the student fliers stampeded for the hangars. Every available machine was manned, and the squadron proceeded across Long Island and turned out to sea in a hunt both for survivors and lurking submarines.

A thick mist bung over the ocean all day, adding to the difficulties of the rescuers.

The members of all the boat crews at the Fire Island and Oak Island coast guard stations put to sea early in the afternoon, and none had returned, at a late hour last night. The men were said to be assisting in the transfer and rescue of sailors from the sunken ship.

It was reported in marine circles that wireless calls for help had been picked up by coastwise steamers, and all within radius proceeded at full speed toward the point where the vessel sunk, which was located definitely a short distance off Cherry Grove.

Hundreds Rescued 

The crews of incoming vessels declared later in the day that they had passed rescue ships at sea with hundreds of survivors aboard. Several tankers and one naval vessel were declared to have joined the searching flotilla. One tanker reached Quarantine late last night, but the survivors were not landed.

A return of the undersea raiders has not been unexpected. The sinkings in May and June had forewarned the navy against the possibility of future attacks. The sinking of a war vessel, however, had not been anticipated.

The San Diego is the first major naval vessel the nation has lost since the beginning of the war. Nothing but coastwise vessels were victims of the submarine flotilla that visited American waters earlier in the year, and only destroyers and submarines have been successfully attacked in the war zones.

The vessel itself is not regarded as a serious military loss, and naval officers were more concerned about the probable casualty list.

Preparations have been made at the United States Base Hospital at Fox Hills, Staten Island, to receive wounded men. The authorities there were not certain whether these belonged to the crew of the San Diego, although it was considered highly probable.

Firing Preceded Explosions 

In elaborating on the story of the firing they had heard off shore, residents of Bay Shore stated that there had been a few shots at first, and later a series of heavy explosions, as though a vessel were blowing up. There was silence for several hours, and then the firing broke out again. This continued all of the afternoon and into the evening, and indicated that patrol boats may have brought a submarine to bay.

Outside of the firing a veil of mystery concealed the events that were taking place at sea. The story told the villagers by the aviator who flew over the scene of the sinking, however, was reported by credible witnesses.

The aviator was flying along the coast when his attention was attracted by the report of guns. He turned off his course in the direction of the sounds and a few miles off shore found himself hovering over a naval vessel which was awash with the waves and on the point of settling.

He wheeled above in the air for a while in an effort to make out some point of land through the fog that would help him in marking down the exact location of the sinking ship. In the meanwhile the vessel went under and the aviator later described the scene below him of sailors floundering in the water and clinging to boats and life rafts.

He turned back to shore and came down in an open field in the outskirts of the village of Point o' Woods. As soon as he had telegraphed his news to the nearby wireless station he left the village and his identity was not ascertained.

Several residents declared the aviator had told them of sighting a submarine on his return trip to land.

The San Diego served for many years as the flagship of the Pacific fleet. She and other craft of her type have been' used in convoy work, although classified as of no service in fleet maneuvers. She carried an armored belt, fore and aft extending above and below the water line. This belt was five inches thick. The armament consisted of four 8-inch guns, fourteen 6-inch guns and eighteen .3-inch rapid firers. Her cost is estimated at $5,341,754.

U-boats appeared east of Cape Race a week ago, sank the schooner Manxman and unsuccessfully attacked other vessels. It is believed that these submarines continue to lurk in American waters.

The San Diego was southward bound from the Portsmouth (N. H.) Navy Yard when she was sunk, running her course in near the shore. She was commanded by Captain H. H. Christy, and had a compliment of 51 officers 1,030 enlisted men and 63 marines. The vessel formerly was the California, but was rechristened when the dreadnought of that name was launched. She was an old type vessel, laid down in 1902, and was not equipped with the newer devices of protection against submarines. Her speed was twenty-two knots.

San Diego Colors, Saved by Survivor, Cheered by Crowd 
By William J. Carve

POINT O'WOODS, Long Island, Jul. 19. -- The first men to reach shore from the cruiser San Diego, sunk ten miles off the coast and nearly opposite this place, landed here at 3:15 o'clock this afternoon. They rowed ashore in twelve lifeboats.

Many of them were nearly naked none more than half clothed. One carried a bundle, held tightly beneath his arm. As the lifeboat grounded on the sandy beach he was the first to sprint into the water and stagger up beyond the reach of the surf.

Then, while willing hands were helping his companions from the two small boats, he slowly unwrapped the bundle and shook out into the breeze the color of the San Diego. The effect was magnetic.

Many of the sailors, as it was learned later, had been in the water for hours before being dragged into the boats All were tired, hungry and thirsty Many could scarcely stand. Yet, a sight of the strip of bunting, every man stiffened to attention, and another instant, fairly shattered the air with cheers, half exultant, half defiant. For an instant, theirs were the only voices heard. Then the several hundred summer visitors who live, either at the hotel or the cottages, took up the shout. Another instant and this sailor reverently folded the flag, and with an ensign at his side, led the handful of survivors up the beach, two by two. and singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" as they marched.

Thirty-five Men Reach Shore

Thirty-five men in all came ashore Six were officers, the others members of the crew. They had started ahead of the other boats to make the nearest point of land and give the first complete tidings of the disaster, as well as to summon aid for their companions.

Their arrival had been anticipated by the summer Folk. Shortly after 11 o'clock the sound of firing and one tremendous explosion had given ample warning that, something unusual was taking place off shore.

All through the rest of the day the shore was lined with members of the summer colony. Most of them had no other aid in their eager scanning of the sea than the shade they secured from a hand over their eyes. Some few, however, had binoculars. And it was these who first gave word that far out on the ocean were two small boats headed here.

As the two lifeboats broke into the surf and dropped down into a roller one moment, only to be lifted high the next, on wild shouts of encouragement after another greeted the men pulling at the oars.

Scores rushed out well into the surf to meet the incoming boats. As the keel of one and then the other grated on the sand eager hands laid hold and rushed them high up on the beach.

Food Awaits Sailors

Most of the men were wet to the skin. Those on shore whipped off coats and sweaters to wrap around them. Up at the hotel big pots of coffee and huge piles of sandwiches had been prepared at the first word of the approaching boats.

Escorted by practically the entire summer colony, the thirty-five survivors went to the hotel. There, fitted out with warm, dry clothing and still carrying sandwiches in their hands, the men asked for the telegraph office. Their first thought was to get a message off to their homes.

Hundreds on the San Diego were naval reserve men, only recently assigned to the ship. Many came from California.

Despite the willingness of the men to tell what they could of the loss of the San Diego, it was clear that they had only a partial knowledge of the events that had taken place themselves .Of one thing they were certain -- a submarine had sunk their ship.

Several of the men declared they had seen the U-boat. Two of them, members of a gun crew, declared they had shot at it, and one was certain he had seen at least one direct hit scored.

The officers, however, were not certain whether it had been a torpedo or a mine which accounted for their vessel. They said that the huge cloud of smoke which spread out over the water an instant after the explosion made it almost impossible to tell what had sent the ship down.

Although they had only a brief moment to sense the extent of the disaster. the men this, afternoon expressed the opinion that at least three hundred of their companions had been lost. They waited around the telegraph office and the telephone most of the afternoon, anxious for definite word.

Discipline Is Perfect

Discipline on the boat, every man agreed, had been perfect. They were making ready for the shore leave that had just been granted them at the moment of the explosion. Some were shaving, some, bathing, most only half dressed and all planning just how they were going to spend the free hours in town. Then came the explosion.

The San Diego floated for at least fifteen minutes after the explosion. Every one of the 1,114 members of the crew had dashed to their posts within a few seconds after the shock. They stayed there until ordered into the boats.

The gun crews were the last to leave the ship, and some of them were forced to dive into the sea, so fast did the big cruiser go down during the last minutes it remained afloat.

Many of the sailors stood at their positions along the decks until they became flush with the water, and then calmly stepped off and swam until picked up by the boats which had been launched in perfect order and without a hitch.

All through the afternoon the two lifeboats lay side by side on the beach. The sailors were hurried to the hotel and the cottages and made as comfortable as possible. Back from the men to the boats and then back again to the hotel, the summer visitors wandered in an endless procession.

Hour after hour every pair of binoculars in this place swept the sea, the owner of each eager to be the first to discover the next boat that came in. No more arrived, however, through the afternoon, but the watchers were rewarded along toward the middle of the afternoon by the sight of five tankers which swept past the shore line in single file, the decks of two of them crowded with white-clad sailors believed beyond doubt to have been other survivors from the warship.

As the afternoon wore on and word came that they were to be taken on board a navy patrol the men, with the people here, spent the time in watching the seaplanes and dirigibles which shot out to sea to lend a hand at rescue or possibly take a shot at a U-boat.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Nelson Mandela 100 -- July 18, 2018

Nelson Mandela was born 100 years ago today, on 18-July-2018.  

I remember him being in prison much of the time I was growing up.  I didn't see how apartheid could end without bloodshed.  But then I couldn't see how the Soviet Union could fall without a war.  Mandela could have called for a revolution when he got out of prison, but he was willing to talk and negotiate. 

He was a great human being. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

RMS Carpathia -- July 17, 2018

New York Tribune, 20-July-1918

RMS Carpathia was a Cunard ocean liner that went into service in 1903.  In 1912, she rescued survivors of RMS Titanic.  During World War One she carried Canadian and American troops to Europe.  One hundred years ago today, on 17-July-1918, while sailing from Liverpool to Boston, Carpathia was torpedoed and sunk by U-55.  Five crew members died.

Torpedo Sinks Carpathia Off Irish Coast 
Five on Transport Killed, but Crew Escapes and Lands in Safety 
Rescued Passengers in Titanic Disaster 
Vessel, Returning From Trip With U. S. Troops, Is Victim of U-Boat 

AN ATLANTIC PORT, July 19 -- The British transport Carpathia, bound westward, was sunk off the Irish coast some time last night by a U-boat. Five men who were in the engine room when the torpedo struck the ship were killed. All others on board escaped in lifeboats and landed at the nearest port.

Three torpedoes in all were fired at the Carpathia and all found their mark. Despite the fact that the ship sank rapidly excellent discipline prevailed and. so far as is known now, not one single accident marked the lowering of the lifeboats and the abandonment of the ship.

The Carpathia, which was of 13,603 tons gross, belonged to the Cunard Line. Prior to the war she was engaged in the transatlantic service, but was taken over by the British government immediately on the outbreak of the war and has done transport duty ever since.

Used to Carry Troops 

From the time this government began, the big rush of men across the ocean the Carpathia had been one of the ships to do valiant service. Her last departure from an American port was late in June.

The Carpathia was built in 1903. From the time she made her first trip across the Atlantic the liner enjoyed wide popularity among ocean travel1ers. This feeling became one of genuine affection for the ship following the sinking of the Titanic.

The Carpathia, 100 miles away, in answer to the calls for help sent out by the sinking Titanic, rushed through fog, mist and storm in an ocean filled with icebergs to the side of the sinking vessel. In all, she rescued 806 persons from the Titanic.

A few days later the survivors were landed in New York, and since that day the names of Carpathia and Arthur Henry Rostron. her commander, have been known in more out-of-the-way places than those of any other ship and navigator of the mercantile marine.

Honors Paid Sailors 

Britain and the United States united in showering honors on Captain Rostron and his crew. Medals and loving cups were numerous. Then he and the old Cunarder resumed their trips to and from the Mediterranean, until he left the vessel for another post.

When the war began the Carpathia, like all other vessels of the British lines, became a munition ship and transport. Since this country joined the Entente she has been almost exclusively a troopship, and little had been heard of her until the news of the torpedoing came yesterday.

Numbers of times she has escaped U-boat attacks. In March, 1915, a terrific gale encountered off New York followed her through an entire voyage and laid her on her beam ends several times. Captain William Prothero, her commander on this occasion, said it was the worst storm he had ever encountered.

Hero Is Modest 

The last heard of tfhe Carpathia, prior to yesterday, was on November 12, 1916, when she went aground off Ambrose Lightship and remained for a few hours stuck in the mud.

Of Captain Rostron hut little has been heard since the time of the Titanic disaster. He was the wearer of five medals, including one from Congress, before he left his berth as commander of the Carpathia. In his own eyes he was no hero and declared that most heroes were "accidents of fate."

"No man is a hero of his own volition," he explained. "But every man has the power to live up to the best of his manhood and duty."

215 Are Rescued 

The survivors number 215. Some who have been landed say the vessel was sunk by a German submarine at about 9:15 o'clock Wednesday morning. All of the passengers and crew were saved, with the exception of three firemen and two trimmers, who are supposed to have been killed by an explosion in the engine room.

Members of the crew say that just after the passengers had breakfasted a torpedo struck the vessel slightly forward of the engine room, and a minute or two later a second torpedo crashed into the engine room. There was no panic. Passengers and the surviving members of the crew got away in the ship's small boats without difficulty.

For a time it appeared as though the Carpathia might remain afloat, but the U-boat came to the surface and fired a third torpedo. The liner tilted rapidly and sank about two hours after being struck by the first torpedo. After her disappearance the submarine approached the Carpathian boats, hut did not fire on them.

Monday, July 16, 2018

No Prior President Has Ever Abased Himself More Abjectly Before a Tyrant -- July 16, 2018

Attribution: AP
Our so-called president committed treason today.  I'll just quote Senator John McCain:

“Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake.

“President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin. He and Putin seemed to be speaking from the same script as the president made a conscious choice to defend a tyrant against the fair questions of a free press, and to grant Putin an uncontested platform to spew propaganda and lies to the world.

"It is tempting to describe the press conference as a pathetic rout — as an illustration of the perils of under-preparation and inexperience. But these were not the errant tweets of a novice politician. These were the deliberate choices of a president who seems determined to realize his delusions of a warm relationship with Putin’s regime without any regard for the true nature of his rule, his violent disregard for the sovereignty of his neighbors, his complicity in the slaughter of the Syrian people, his violation of international treaties, and his assault on democratic institutions throughout the world.

"Coming close on the heels of President Trump’s bombastic and erratic conduct towards our closest friends and allies in Brussels and Britain, today’s press conference marks a recent low point in the history of the American Presidency. That the president was attended in Helsinki by a team of competent and patriotic advisors makes his blunders and capitulations all the more painful and inexplicable.

“No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant. Not only did President Trump fail to speak the truth about an adversary; but speaking for America to the world, our president failed to defend all that makes us who we are — a republic of free people dedicated to the cause of liberty at home and abroad. American presidents must be the champions of that cause if it is to succeed. Americans are waiting and hoping for President Trump to embrace that sacred responsibility. One can only hope they are not waiting totally in vain.”

#TrumpTreason #ImpeachTrump

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Menko -- July 15, 2018

Many early Japanese baseball cards were printed on thick cardboard and used to play menko, a game where a player throws down a card to try to flip his opponent's card.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Happy Bastille Day, 2017 -- July 14, 2017

Washington Times, 14-July-1918
Happy Bastille Day, everyone. The US and France march towards victory.

Roosevelt's Son Killed on Marne In Aeroplane Combat -- July 14, 2018

Chattanooga News, 17-July-1918
Quentin Roosevelt was the youngest child of former President Theodore Roosevelt.  Quentin volunteered to join the Air Service.  100 years ago today, on 14-July-1918, his Nieuport 28 was shot down in a dogfight and he was killed. The Germans buried him with honors. The articles are from the 17-July-1918 Chattanooga News.  Below I included a photo of a Nieuport 28 in the Museum of Flight near Seattle, which is painted to resemble Quentin Roosevelt's airplane.  

Lieut. Quentin Roosevelt, Youngest of Teddy's Family, Falls Hun Victim
Over Chateau -Thierry Sector. Was Third Flight of Gallant Young Officer.


Oyster Bay. N. Y., July 17. -- Col. Roosevelt learned that his son Quentin was missing through press dispatches this morning. He said he had nothing to say at this time, but would make a statement later. The colonel had planned to visit New York today, but canceled his visit when the news came that his son was missing.

London, July 17. -- Lieut. Quentin Roosevelt, son of former President Theodore Roosevelt, was shot down and killed on the Chateau Thierry sector of the Marne front on Sunday, according to an Exchange Telegraph dispatch from Paris today. According to the dispatch Philip Roosevelt, from his station in the trenches, saw the young American aviator fall a victim to a German air squadron.

According to the dispatch Philip Roosevelt, from his station in the trenches, saw the young American aviator fall a victim to a German air squadron.

Lieut. Roosevelt, the dispatch says, was returning from a patrol flight when he was attacked by a German squadron.

It was seen that Roosevelt suddenly lost control of his machine, having probably received a mortal wound.

Quentin Roosevelt was the youngest son of the former president and shot down his first German airplane in a fight north of Chateau-Thierry one week ago today. This was his third flight over the fighting front.

Lieut. Roosevelt received his commission in the aviation service on July 14. 1917, after being graduated from the Mineola, N. Y training school.

Dispatches Unquestioned.

Washington, July 17. The war department today was without any official confirmation whatever of the London reports that Lieut. Quentin Roosevelt had been shot down behind the German lines while in combat with a German machine. Officers, however, did not question the accuracy of the press dispatches. They said they would beat official confirmation by many hours, as Gen. Pershing would not report on the matter until all of the details had been obtained. Officers of the air service expressed the most keen regret over the loss of the gallant young officer, of whom great things had been expected. The last reports received dealing with him indicated that he was on duty about the section where he is said to have met his death.

Gravely Quiet.

New York. July 17. Col. Theodore Roosevelt was momentarily stunned when informed-over the telephone that his son Quentin was reported a victim of a German airplane on the Chateau-Thierry sector in France.

The colonel had just finished breakfast at his Oyster Hay home when the dispatch was read to him.

He was gravely quiet and listened without interruption. When asked if he had anything to say. he said:

"Nothing at all; nothing at all."

Col. Roosevelt said, however, that the press dispatch was the first intimation he had received that anything had happened to Quentin. Me left for New York shortly after receiving the message.

On April 13. 1917. Roosevelt, then a sophomore at Harvard university, came to Washington with letters from Representative Longworth, his brother-in-law, and Senator Lodge, of Massachusetts, asking that he be allowed to enlist in the aviation section of the signal reserve corps, that he might train for a commission. He was examined at Walter Reed hospital the same day and easily passed the physical tests. He was enlisted the following day and assigned to the flying school at Mineola, L. I., where he attained the rank of sergeant. He took final examinations for a commission on July 2, and was sworn in as a first lieutenant on July 7. He left almost immediately for overseas and after a short course at a French aviation school was, on Sept. 13, of last year, admitted as a fall-fledged aviator.

With Patrol of Thirteen.

Lieut. Roosevelt was last seen in combat on Sunday morning with two enemy airplanes about ten miles inside the German lines In the Chateau-Thierry sector. He started out with a patrol of thirteen American machines. They encountered seven Germans and were chasing them back, when two of them turned on Lieut. Roosevelt.

Glad of Boy's Play.

Oyster Bay, N. Y., July 17. -- "Quentin's mother and I are very glad that he got to the front and had the chance to render some service to his country and to show the stuff there was in him before his fate befell him."

This was the statement issued by Col. Roosevelt today after press dispatches had furnished confirmation of earlier reports that his son, Lieut. Quentin Roosevelt, had been killed in an aerial battle In France.

In July, 2010, we visited the Museum of Flight near Seattle. I took this photo in the Personal Courage Wing, which features airplanes, mostly fighters, from World War One and World War Two. The museum's Nieuport 28 is an original. It is painted in the colors of Quentin Roosevelt, the son of Theodore Roosevelt, who died in a Nieuport 28.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Statue of Liberty Sheltering -- July 13, 2018

Immigrant children hide behind the skirts of the Statue of Liberty on the cover of the 02-July-2018 New Yorker.  Thousands of children remain locked in cages in concentration camps.

Some people feel that images of Lady Liberty are insulting to our so-called president.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Canal Street New Orleans, LA -- July 11 2018

Canal Street in New Orleans once had four tracks for streetcars, like Market Street in San Francisco.  Then Canal Street had none, except for one block used by the Saint Charles Avenue line.  Now Canal Street has two tracks for most of its length.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Britain's Ace is Severly Wounded -- July 9, 2018

Richmond Palladium and Sun-Telegram, 06-August-1918
James McCudden, the top-scoring Allied ace with 54 victories, died on 09-July-1918 when his engine failed and his S.E 5a crashed.  I couldn't find any articles about his death, but the item above from the next month may be about the accident.  Below is an article about fighter pilots which mentions McCudden and Philip Foulard, who lived until 1984.

No Chance These Human Eagles Won't Take -- Captain McCudden, Flight Commander, Prefers to Work Alone and Has System of His Own -- Forces Foe to Fight and Has Never Lost an Encounter.

A few nights ago four members of the Royal Horse Guards, all more than six feet in height, and built like Apollos, stood in the lobby of a London theater between the acts. They resembled the Three Musketeers, and attracted attention because of their wonderful physique and splendid bearing. Near by stood three youngsters, none over five feet four, and none weighing more than 120 pounds. The Horse Guards, mere military ornaments, resemble battleships, the three youngsters torpedo boats; at least, such was the comment of persons who stood near by. The youngsters were airmen. An American, who had observed the six, said: "The big fellows are all right, but give me those kids."

Are the Real Heroes.

The airmen, or the flyers, are clean cut, alert, and full of confidence. They are the same as the flyers of all nations. Daredevils, many call them. Most of them expect to be killed, and in the long run most of them are. But, as the average American flyer says: "We get a good fly for our money at that."

Just at the present time, the two heroes of the air In England are Capt. James McCudden, twenty-two years old, and Capt. Phillip Foullard, nineteen. The exploits of these youngsters have but recently become known in London, and when they return for leave, all Britain will be theirs. Captain McCudden has brought down 34 German machines; Captain Foullard has accounted for 42.

There is no chance these human eagles won't take. There is no such thing as fear in their make-up. Captain McCudden is the leader of a squadron which has brought down 99 enemy aircraft. Although a flight commander, he prefers to work alone. He manages his machine, and does his own firing, and is said to be one of the best wing shots in any army.

Battles Above Clouds.

His battle grounds lie away above the clouds. He flies, as a rule, at a height varying from 16,000 to 18,000 feet. He has a system all his own. When he spies an enemy aircraft he jockeys the foe from his own course and compels him to fight. He never yet lost an encounter. In a letter to his mother and sister, just published, he says that he recently brought down four German airmen in one day, two before luncheon and two after. The next day his score was three.

England has already had a view of many of the American flyers on their way from America to France. Many of these young men are university undergraduates, and one has but to see them to know that they will quickly take their place with the idols of the air of France, England and Italy.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Comic Book -- Uncle Sam -- July 7, 2018
Quality Comics made Uncle Sam a superhero during the war.  Here he breaks a chunk off of a giant swastika which he will throw at Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo who are being chased by his sidekick, Buddy Smith,

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Pulp -- War Aces -- July 5, 2018

This cover of War Aces features an aviator firing a Lewis gun.

Bert Hall was an original member of the Lafayette Escadrille.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy Independence Day 2018 -- July 4, 2018

Happy Fourth of July to all. 242 years ago, we declared our independence. This 1918 poster celebrates Uncle Sam's 142nd birthday.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Launching of the Formidable, Largest Warship in the World -- July 3, 2018

San Francisco Call, 18-November-1898

This drawing is from the 18-November-1898 San Francisco Call. William A Coulter did many maritime drawings for the newspaper.

HMS Formidable was a pre-dreadnaught battleship which was commissioned in 1904.  On 01-January-1915, while Formidable patrolled the English Channel, she was hit by two torpedoes from U-24.  547 died.  

Sunday, July 1, 2018

American Aviator Reported Killed -- July 1, 2018

Tulsa Daily World, 27-April-1915
William Thaw II was the son of a Pittsburgh banker.  He learned to fly in 1913 and was in Europe with this Curtiss Hydroaeroplane when the war broke out.  Thaw donated his airplane to the French and joined the Foreign Legion.  When the Lafayette Escadrille was formed, he transferred and became a fighter pilot and an ace.

This 1915 article reported that he had been killed, but he had a successful career during the war and lived until 1934, when he died at the age of 40.  I wonder why his name is hand-printed below the photo.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Red Devils Return to Pacifica #12 -- June 30, 2018

Pacifica is one of the two cities on the San Francisco peninsula that allow the sale of fireworks. The booths arrived last week. This is the stand at the Pedro Point shopping center. I took the photo on 29-June-2019.

Many Pacificans agree that selling fireworks is a bad idea: We have steep, brush-covered hillsides that pose a fire danger. People use the "safe and sane" fireworks to mask the unsafe and insane variety. Not to mention my cat hates the Fourth of July.

Unfortunately, our charities claim that fireworks are the only thing they can sell that will generate enough money. That can't be true. What about drugs? Weapons? They're not thinking outside of the box.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Transbay Transit Center Aerial Tram -- June 29, 2018

The Transbay Transit Center Aerial Tram waits to rise from Mission Street to the rooftop park. San Francisco's only current overhead cable car is the Transbay Transit Center Aerial Tram. It will carry riders from near Mission and Fremont Streets to the rooftop park of the Transbay Transit Center. It is scheduled to open some time in 2018. The original proposal was to build a funicular, but the developer decided it would be too expensive.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Harlan Ellison, RIP -- June 28, 2018
Author Harlan Ellison has died.  He took part in the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965.  He wrote a lot of fiction, and one of the best episodes of the original series of Star Trek.  I didn't read many of his stories, but I liked the ones I did read.  Some of my friends were big fans.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Hon. C.S. Rolls on the 20 H.P. Panhard -- June 27, 2018

Motor Car Journal, 15-March-1902
Charles Stewart Rolls was a pioneer of automobiles and aviation.  Two years after this photo was taken, he would team with Henry Rolls to found Rolls-Royce.  In 1910, Rolls was killed when his Wright Flyer crashed. Panhard et Levassor had sold their first auto in 1890.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Explanation of the Rope Test -- June 23, 2018

From The Book of Magic: Being a Simple Description of Some Good Tricks and How to Do Them, with Patter by Archie Frederick Collins, 1916.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Sinking of the British Battle Ship Victoria -- June 22, 2018

Washington Star, 23-June-1893

125 years ago today, on 22-June-1893, the Royal Navy's Mediterranean Squadron was performing exercises near Tripoli when the battleship HMS Camperdown rammed and sank the battleship HMS Victoria.  Blame fell on Admiral Sir George Tryon, who had given unclear orders to the ships under his command.  358 men died, including Admiral Tryon.  Victoria's XO (Executive Officer) was John Jellicoe, who later commanded the British fleet at the Battle of Jutland.  

Sinking of the British Battle Ship Victoria.
Lamentable Disaster in the Eastern Mediterranean. 
The Vessel Sank in Fifteen Minutes After the Collision. 
Report by Admiral Markham of the Trafalgar. 

London, June 23. -- A most terrible calamity has befallen the British battle ship Victoria, flagship of the Mediterranean squadron, and hundreds of lives have been lost.

The Victoria, which flew the flag of Vice Admiral Sir George Tryon, K. C. B., was run into this afternoon by the British battle ship Camperdown, also belonging to the Mediterranean squadron, and under the command of Captain Charles Johnstone.  The Victoria had an enormous hole made in her side, through which the water poured in torrents. 

The immense hull of the Victoria at once began to settle, and before those on board of her could cast loose their small boats she went to the bottom, carrying down with her nearly all on board.  Some of the officers and crew managed to get out of the suction caused by the sinking vessel and were rescued.  Among those lost is Vice Admiral Tryon. 


The first reports of the disaster stated that about 200 men had been drowned, but later dispatches show that the loss of life was far greater, not less than 400 of the officers and crew of the Victoria having gone down with the ship. 

Rear Admiral Albert H. Markham of the Trafalgar, the flagship of the rear admiral in the Mediterranean, has telegraphed to the admiralty from Tripoli, Syria, under the date of today, as follows:

"I regret to report that while maneuvering off Tripoli this afternoon the Victoria and Camperdown collided.  The Victoria sank in fifteen minutes in eighteen fathoms of water.  She lies bottom uppermost.  The Camperdown's ram struck the Victoria forward of the turret on the starboard side.  Twenty-one officers were drowned. Two hundred and fifty-five men were saved.  The injury to the Camperdown has not yet been fully ascertained, but it is serious and will necessitate her going on dock for repairs.  I propose to send the survivours to Malta."


The scene of the calamity was near Tripoli, a seaport town on the eastern Mediterranean, fifty miles northeast of Beyroot, Syria (Beirut, Lebanon - JT), and a comparatively short distance from the Island of Cyprus.  

The eastern Mediterranean has proved a most unfortunate cruising ground for the Victoria, for it was in this part of the sea that she met with her serious accident in January, 1892. 


According to the navy list the principal officers of the Victoria were: Vice Admiral Sir George Tryon; captain, Maurice A. Bourke; commander, -- Fellicome; chaplain, Rev. Samuel S. Morris; fleet surgeon, Thomas Bolster; fleet paymaster, Valentine D. J. Rickcord; fleet engineer, Felix Foreman.

The complement of officers and crew of the Victoria comprised 600 men.

The list of officers drowned include, besides Vice Admiral Tryon, Chaplain Morris, Lieut. Munro, Fleet Paymaster Rickcord, Fleet Engineer Foreman, Engineer Harding, Assistant Engineers Deadman, Hatherly and Seaton, Gunner Hommel, Boatswain Barnard, Carpenter Beall, Midshipmen Ingliss, Grieve, Fawkes, Lanyon, Henley, Gambier and Scarlett, Cadet Stooks and Clerks Allen and Savage. 

A change had recently been made in the commander attached to the Victoria, Charles L. Ottley having been detached and succeeded by Commander Fellicome, who was saved, as were also Capt. Maurice A. Bourke and fifteen other officers. 


In January of last year the Victoria ran aground off the Greek coast near Platta and she was only floated off after an immense amount of labor and large expense.  It was said that the accident was due to carelessness. 

A boat's crew from the Victoria was sent to mark with a buoy a shoal, the existence of which was known to the Victoria's officers.  The shoal is a narrow one and extends out from the Greek shore.  The boat's crew was instructed to proceed along the shoal from the shore until ten fathoms of water was reached and then to mark the spot with a buoy. 

When within a hundred yards of the end the boat got off the shoal, and as the next soundings showed ten fathoms of water the buoy was anchored.  The Victoria then came along at a good rate of speed at right angles to the shoal to take a position for torpedo practice, and, passing well outside the buoy, struck the shoal and remained fast.  Mr. Maurice Bourke, captain of the Victoria and a son of the late Earl of Mayo, who is the youngest post captain in the British navy, was held responsible for the accident and was severely reprimanded by a court martial. 


The Victoria was a twin screw battle ship of 10,470 tons and 14,000 horse power.  She mounted fifteen guns.

The Camperdown is also a first-class twin screw battle ship.  She is of 10,600 tons and 11,500 horse power and carries ten guns.

Admiral Sir George Tryon was commander-in-chief of the Mediterranean station.  He was made a vice admiral August 20, 1891.


As soon as the officers of the Victoria saw that there was danger of their ship foundering orders were given to close the collision bulkheads in order to keep the water in the compartment into which the Camperdown had shoved her ram.  The sailors tried to obey the order, but the ship was making water too fast to allow of closing the bulkheads, and while the men were still trying to shut them the vessel, with her immense guns and heavy top hamper, turned over and carried them down. 


As soon as the news of the disaster became known in London the Duke of Edinburgh, who was lately promoted to the position of admiral of the fleet, visited the admiralty and conferred with the officials there.

A meeting of the admiralty board was held and a telegram of instructions was sent to Rear Admiral Markham.

The news of the calamity has caused the most intense excitement, not only among those who had friends on board the ill-fated ship, but among all classes of the population. The admiralty office in Whitehall is besieged by relatives and friends of the officers and crew, reporters seeking further details of the disaster and throngs of people attracted by curiosity. So dense was the throng in the vicinity that the admiralty officials were compelled to summon the police to restrain the crowd. No information has been received at the admiralty since the receipt of Admiral Markham's first official telegram, which is above repeated.

The Victoria was a single-turret ship carrying two 110-ton guns mounted in a forward turret coated with eighteen inches of compound armor, one 10-inch 29-ton gun firing aft, and a broadside auxiliary armament of twelve 6-inch 5-ton guns. Of artillery of smaller nature she carried twenty-one quick-firing and eight machine guns. Her maximum speed was 16.17 knots. She could stow 1,200 tons of coal in her bunkers, and her radius of action at ten knots' speed with her full complement of coal was estimated at 7,000 knots. Her armor in the belt and bulkheads consisted of compound armor from sixteen to eighteen inches in thickness. She was built at Elswick.


All official telegrams in regard to the loss of the ship will be sent at once to the queen at Windsor Castle. As soon as her majesty received Rear Admiral Markham's dispatch, which was immediately forwarded to her, she gave orders for the postponement of the state ball, that was to have taken place at Buckingham Palace tonight.

Mr. Gladstone was greatly shocked when he was informed of the sinking of the Victoria and the great loss of life that had attended the foundering of the vessel.

The prime minister informed the house of commons of the accident and paid a most glowing tribute to the worth of Vice Admiral Tryon, who, he said, was one of the ablest and most esteemed offices in the service of her majesty.

Mr. Gladstone said that there were 611 officers, seamen and boys and 107 marines on board the ship. It was feared that the total of 718 souls 430 had been lost. He was sure that the deepest sympathy of the house would be felt for the brave men who found an early grave in the service of their country, and that it would be extended to their relatives and friends.

The Right Hon. Lord George Hamilton, formerly first lord of the admiralty, indorsed everything that Mr. Gladstone had said and expressed the deepest regret for the calamity that had befallen the country in the loss of so many brave officers and men.

In the house of lords Earl Spencer, first lord of the admiralty, referred to the disaster in terms similar to those employed by Mr. Gladstone in the house of commons.

Among those saved is the Right Honorable Lord Richard Gillford, Vice Admiral Tryon's flag lieutenant and eldest son and heir of the Earl of Clanwilliam.

Details of the accident are meager, and are received in a straggling manner, owing to the remoteness of Tripoli.


The news of the sinking of her royal majesty's ship Victoria has caused a profound sensation at the Navy Department here. No marine disaster, accompanied by such heavy loss of life, has been known in this country for many years, the nearest i kind probably being the loss of the United States steamship Huron off Nag's Head about fifteen years ago. Such great disasters are fortunately rare in naval history, although the British navy has known of them, as in the case of the sinking of the Vanguard by the Iron Duke off the Irish coast and the Germans have had a bitter experience in the case of the Grosser Kurfurst, a magnificent ironclad, which was in collision and sank when attempting to enter Spithead. People who saw the beautiful and stately Blake, flagship of the British squadron at the naval review, thought that she was a great ship, but she was of secondary importance when compared with the ill-fated Victoria, which has just gone down, for while the Blake was a large armored cruiser the Victoria was a full-fledged battle ship nearly 1,600 tons larger than the Blake. She bore about the same relation to the Blake that our new battle ships Indiana and Oregon do to the armored cruiser New York. Indeed the Victoria was of about the same dimensions as the Indiana, but being of newer design is a more formidable craft than the English ship, which had her sister in the Sanspareil.


The Victoria was built by Sir William Armstrong at the celebrated Elswick works, and in appearance she was a typical fighting machine, as unlike the ordinary conception of a ship as possible. She was rather low in the water, having eleven feet freeboard, and the forward deck being to give sweep to the great turret guns, she had something of the appearance of a monitor forward. After of her turret she carried a plain superstructure, heavily protected by the compound armor, in which was placed the secondary battery, and on the top and rear of this superstructure was the ten-inch gun in its barbette.

Her dimensions and features were as follows: Armored ship Victoria. 10,470 tons, 14,000 horse power, 340 feet long, 70 feet beam, built at Newcastle, completed in 1890; hull cost 612,522 pounds; machinery 112,335 pounds; turret and barbette, compound armor; two 111-ton guns in forward turret and one 10-inch mounted in a barbette aft; the turret and barbette had 18 inches of compound armor. Her listed speed was 16.75 knots. She had one lofty military mast of steel carrying gun platforms.


Sir George Tryon, the vice admiral, who went down in this flagship, is one of the best known British naval officers. Commander Chadwick, now in charge of the naval intelligence office here, was well acquainted with him during his residence in London as United States naval attache, and he speaks in terms of high praise of the admiral's character and ability as a naval officer. He was a man of vast experience, his service beginning in the days before steam was a prominent feature in various phases of development that were marked by the substitution of steam for sail power; of iron for wooden hulls; of steel for iron; of turrets for broadsides, and of armor for thin sheathing. He was a man who had earned the highest honors within the gift of the British nation. His name first appears in the naval list away back in the days of the Crimean war, where he served in the naval brigade before Sebastopol, during the winter of 1853-54 in the trenches, where he was wounded. He was present at all of the operations before Sebastopol and at the capture of Kinburn. He received medals for distinction and was specially mentioned in dispatches for services as director of transports during the Abyssinian war in 1868. He was private secretary to the first lord of the admiralty from 1871-74, received various orders of knighthood and received the approval of the government for the manner in which he discharged his duties on the coast of Tunis and in the (can't read - JT) commission of inquiry in 1881. He became acting permanent secretary of the admiralty in 1882 and permanent secretary the following year. In 1884 he became commander-in-chief on the Australian station and after a brief attempt at a parliamentary career was made admiral superintendent of naval reserves in 1888. He commanded one of the opposing fleets in the naval maneuvers in 1888-89-91 and was made commander-in-chief of the Mediterranean forces August 20, 1891.


In the absence of details of the catastrophe naval officers are loath to express opinions as where the fault lies. The Victoria, in her construction, embodied every safeguard known up to the recent date of her completion for the protection of the life of her officers and crew. She was a compartment ship and was supposed to be unsinkable in any ordinary collision. Probably that would have been the case had the blow been straight on the bow or stern, for the result then would have been the filling of not more than one compartment. But a blow on the side, and probably a diagonal blow at that, would doubtless rip open several of the compartments and those remaining intact would not have sufficient buoyancy to float the ship. The Camperdown, which dealt this fatal blow, was about the same size as the Victoria and the ship has never been built that would withstand the impact of ten thousand tons of shell moving at any ordinary speed. The Camperdown herself resembles the U.S.S. Charleston in general appearance, though she is twice as large. She has a central superstructure, but her decks, fore and aft, are entirely clear save two barbettes carrying heavy guns, and her sides are clad in impenetrable armor. Naval officers here feel that one result of this catastrophe will be to emphasize in a striking manner the terrible efficiency of the ram as a weapon of naval offense, for although there was no intention of using it offensively in this case, when it is presumed the ships were engaged in simple maneuvers, its availability in time of war has been amply demonstrated.


A STAR reporter called at the British Legation this morning to learn any particulars in regard to the victims of the disaster or the vessel that went down. He was informed by an attendant that Sir Julian Pauncefote and all the members of the legation were now in Newport, where a residence has been arranged for the season. A communication by mail and messenger is maintained between this city and the summer legation, so that all business is carried on as usual.


What May Have Caused the Disaster and the Lesson to be Learned.

The terrible accident off Tripoli was almost the sole topic of conversation among naval officers today. News of it reached the Navy Department early in the day, and was quickly spread to all its offices. There are several officers now on duty here who are acquainted with the officers of the British ship Victoria, and they are naturally distressed at their awful misfortune.

According to the information at hand the officers at the department, who discussed the matter with a STAR reporter, were of opinion that the accident resulted from attempting dangerous evolutions at close quarters.


"There may have been some mistake on the part of the helmsman," said one high officer who seemed to be regarded as an authority by his brother officers, "or else an accident occurred to the steering gear.

"All steering gear," he continued, "is liable to give out at the most inopportune moment. It is therefor more than probable that this occurred from an accident to that apparatus."

"Have there ever been any accidents of this kind in our navy?" asked the reporter.


"None that I know of. You know we never have any naval maneuvers at sea on a large scale. The recent naval review was probably the largest aggregation of naval vessels we have ever had in this country, and there were no special maneuvers on that occasion to endanger the ships. Squadron maneuvers, you know, are just like the maneuvers of of a regiment or a brigade. We have to change the formation and direction of the ships composing the squadron, and to insure their safety from collision it is imperatively necessary to accurately regulate the speed and direction of each ship, as they sometimes, of course, get into close quarters. Why, sometimes they maneuver only 600 feet apart, and to keep these heavy bodies safe under such circumstances necessitates very careful handling. There are several elements to be carefully observed. The three most important are speed, distance and the action of the helm. The helm must be certain and prompt. If it fails in its action there is danger at all times to ships cruising in company, whether maneuvering or simply making a passage in column."


"Such accidents as the present are extremely rare," said another officer. "Supposing speed, the action of the helm and other matters of this sort to be all they should be, the safety of the ship depends simply on the skill and judgement of her commander. An incompetent officer is, of course, and element of great danger, and even the judgement of the most skillful may fail at times, unless it is supported by constant practice in fleet evolutions. It is for this reason that it has become the practice among nations with large fleets to keep up constant squadron exercises. This is the case particularly with the great squadrons of England and France in the Mediterranean. They usually consist of about twenty ships, which are handled with marvelous ability and precision. The risk of accidents sometimes must be taken in order to educate the captains in handling their ships in battle.


"It is no surprise that the Victoria sank. Nothing could resist the destructive effects of a ram like the Camperdown, which undoubtedly tore through a number of compartments. Any one compartment of the Victoria could have filled without sinking the ship, but with several damaged, as was probably the case, she could not remain afloat. It is easy to believe that several were penetrated when you consider the impact of a mass of 11,000 tons, like the Camperdown, moving at the velocity of eight or ten knots, which is the usual maneuvering speed. Striking an object fairly it becomes almost irresistible, and no vessel could possibly survive the force of such a blow.


There is one lesson to be drawn from this most deplorable accident. That is the necessity for the constant training and the keeping in a state of high efficiency of all officers liable to have command of ships. The responsibility of an officer so placed cannot be exaggerated."


Commander Chadwick of the United States navy was personally well acquainted with Admiral Tryon, who was lost with the British flagship Victoria. He said to a STAR reporter that there was no finer officer in the British navy than Admiral Tryon. He was a man of skill and experience, with a remarkably fine record. He was a very fine-looking man, measuring about six feet three inches and weighing about 300 pounds. He was no the sort of man to lose a ship through want of skill or promptness of action, but possessed rare courage and ability.

Commander Chadwick said that the fact that the Victoria was sent to bottom so quickly by the collision did not argue any defect in the theory of the construction of heavy war vessels of the modern type. It was not, he said, supposed for a moment that two vessels of such weight could come together in direct collision without one of them going down. These vessels cannot stand ramming, but in actual battle it would be next to impossible for one of those vessels to ram another. Ordinarily they could keep out of each other's way, and, besides; the vessel attempting to run the other down would be subjected to such a fire from heavy guns as to make the attempt almost a certain failure. He was of the opinion that the Victoria must have lost her headway by some accident or that there was something the matter with the steam steering gear.


The most serious accidents of this kind on record are the cases of the British warship Vanguard and the German warship Grosser Kurfurst. The Vanguard was an armor-clad ship of 3,700 tones. She was sunk in the British channel, off the cost of Ireland, September 11, 1875, with great loss of life. She was cruising in company with the armor-clad cruiser Iron Duke of the British navy. A heavy fog arose and vessels changed their speed. The Vanguard, which was in front, slowed down and the Iron Duke, in the read, increased her speed. There was some mistake in the signals or they could not be seen in the fog. The result was a collision and the loss of the Vanguard, with over 200 lives.

The German warship was sunk off Spithead, England, May 31, 1878, in a collision with her companion ship Konig Wilhelm, and over 800 persons were drowned. The vessels were heavy ironclads and were maneuvering at the time. The Konig Wilhelm had a tonnage of 9,700 and the lost ship was about 2,000 tons lighter. The accident was due to the improper execution of an order for a change in squadron formation.

Washington Star, 23-June-1893