A Cunard Commodore

New York Times

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HOME FROM THE SEA. By Arthur H. Rostron. Illustrated. 259 pp. New York: The Macmillan Company. $3.50.
Sir Arthur was commodore of the Cunard fleet when recently he retired from active service. For four years and more he commanded the Berengaria, and before that for an even longer time he was captain of the Mauretania. His seagoing career began away back in the ‘80s of the last century, when he sailed from England a mere lad, as an apprentice on a full-rigged clipper ship, Cedric the Saxon, bound for San Francisco. It was a rigorous and awful initiation, for long before they reached the Horn they ran into a storm that lasted for three months, "a spell," he says, “of sheer horror," during which the Cedric staggered through incessant gales and blizzards and storms that it seemed impossible any ship could survive. After his apprenticeship was over he had varied, experiences on sailing ships, being quite determined he would never, never "go into steam." But after a little he did, and before long he was in command of his first Cunarder, the Umbria. Since then he has trod the bridge of several Cunarders, steadily advancing until he had reached the highest service and the highest honor to be there attained. Now he has brought his last ship into the home port and has used his first leisure to write these reminiscences of his long and varied life at sea and make now and then shrewd comments on his memories.

It is a lively story that he tells, interesting always and often entertaining, for he has a vivacious temperament; but, it is sometimes hard-bitten and stern and, being a tale of the sea, it has its times of tragedy. Sir Arthur was in command of the Carpathia when she raced over the cold Atlantic, outdoing the best speed she had ever made before, to the aid of the Titanic, and he tells in full a story of what they did and how they did it. His account of how he organized his ship as he rushed it toward the doomed Titanic to have it in readiness for every service shows his possession of executive ability of high order. During the war Sir Arthur carried troops to Gallipoli---he has his own opinion, not complimentary, about how the operations there were conducted. He also went back and forth in a camouflaged ship across the Atlantic, and he carried 35,000 American troops overseas. The Mauretania and the Berengaria have brought to and from America under his command hundreds of famous men and women, and of some of them he has an occasional anecdote or bit of description. But he is discreet, always, about his passengers. Much more exciting is the account of the sea serpent which he once saw off Galley Head, approaching Queenstown, from the bridge of the Campania. (He made some drawings of it to prove its reality.) There is a chapter about Americans that is written so earnestly and in so fine a spirit that it deserves the attention of readers in this country as well as that of the English for whom it was written.

Sir Arthur has given fine and important service to his times, and his book about it is a book of realities, written with dignity and good taste, interesting both because of his adventurous, capable, significant life and because of the sincerity, the warm-heartedness, the zest of memory with which it is written. His last look is toward the future and that mighty Cunarder that is being built on the Clyde and his last thought the confident one that she will bring back to the Cunard Company from the German liner that has taken it the blue ribbon of the Atlantic.

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Encyclopedia Titanica (2004) A Cunard Commodore (New York Times, Sunday 8th November 1931, ref: #3474, published 18 August 2004, generated 4th August 2021 05:18:03 AM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/a-cunard-commodore.html