Aberdeen White Star Line Themistocles and Gothic

Maria Hayes

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Nov 12, 2006
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I have a query; my grandfather (whom we are not able to find anywhere except his military records) states he was born at sea on Themistocles 16 Jan, 1920, coming to Australia. But in my research on the Themistocles, I can not find that ship coming into Australia at that time as a passenger ship. He also states in his military records that he is a British subject. But I thought if you were born at sea, you were registered under the nationality of that ship? Help would be very much appreciated.
Thanks very much Maria Hayes
 
Aug 5, 2005
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Hello everyone. I am interested in the early history of the Cunard (White Star) Line. Could anyone tell me if the founders of White Star or Aberdeen White Star had any connections with the Isle of Lewis in the Western Isles? Thank you
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Drummond, sorry to piggyback on your question, but your revival of this thread reminds me of a question of my own re the Aberdeen White Star connection.

I've come across 1913 references in Australian newspapers to the Gothic being part of the "Aberdeen Line", and a reference to it as an "Aberdeen liner". This occured during what I understood was the 1911 - 1913 break between services as the Red Star Line's Gothland, when for those short years she sailed as the White Star Line's Gothic. One individual I'm researching refers to the excellent service of the Aberdeen Line in accommodating his special requirements, and the Gothic also appears in the shipping news as an "Aberdeen liner".

Was "Aberdeen Line" being used as an abbreviation for "Aberdeen White Star"? And would such interchangeable use be accurate for the Gothic in this period?
 
R

Robert Helms

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Hello all: I came across this board while doing a search on the Themistocles. I believe this is the ship that my Grandfather came to America on in roughly 1916-1918. In reading the posts, I see no mention of the ship sailing between Athens and New York. Does anyone know if the ship ever made that Voyage? My Grandfathers name was George D. Georgeantonis and he may have come over as a crew member. Is it possible there was another ship of the same name sailing in this time period? Thanks to those that can help. Rob
 

Sam Brannigan

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Feb 24, 2007
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Hi Robert,

I picked this up from a site called www.lighthorse.org.au:

[Moderator;s Note: Content of the sixth message at http://www.lighthorse.org.au/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=3288, deleted. MAB]

There is no record (online at least) of her movements as a troop ship, so there is a possibility that she sailed from Athens to New York. Whether your grandfather sailed with her depends on whether he was a soldier or crewman, it would seem. Sailing as a passenger to emigrate would have been impossible.

I can find no other record of a ship with the same name from the same era.

Hope this helps a bit!
 

Saverio Bono

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Dec 12, 2007
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Hi Rob,
As I just learned, my grandmother, my father [as an infant] and his sisters came over on the SS Themistocles in 1912, sailing from Palermo February 28th, 1912 [on its way from Athens, starting date February 24th, 1912] to New York [arrival date March 18, 1912]. I am posting a .jpg of the passenger list, obtained by a friend who's a member of www.genealogy.com/ [paid subscription site]:

http://tinyurl.com/2nqevd

I also found this board when searching for info on the SS Themistocles.

Hope this info helps,
Sal
 

Mark Baber

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Dec 29, 2000
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These are two different ships being discussed here. The ship which arrived in New York on 18 March 1912 was a Greek ship named Themistocles, not the Aberdeen Line ship of the same name. This liner, a 6,045 ton product of J. Priestman & Co., was originally owned by the Hellenic Transatlantic Line and, named Moraitis, made her maiden voyage, Piraeus-New York, on 1 July 1907. She was renamed Themistocles in 1908 when the line went bankrupt and its ships were taken over by the Hellenic Transatlantic Steam Navigation Co., commonly called the Greek Line. That line, too, went bankrupt (in 1914) and this Themistocles was then acquired by the National Steam Navigation Co., Ltd., of Greece, known as the National Greek Line. She served that line, still named Themistocles, until 1927 and was scrapped in 1933.

Sources: Morton Allan Directory; Bonsor's North Atlantic Seaway.
 

Mark Baber

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Jumping back to the two messages from late August, which I must have missed somehow:

With respect to the question asked by Drummond, who apparently has not visited the board since posting his message, the Ismays had no connection with the Isle of Lewis that I'm aware of; as to Aberdeen White Star, I don't know.

Inger, your question raises an interesting possibility. As you know, the vast majority of my material is North Atlantic oriented; I have very little on White Star's Australian and New Zealand services. What I have, however, says that Gothic served on the White Star/Shaw Savill joint service from 1893 to 1907. She then served Red Star as Gothland from 1908 to 1911, but was, as you mentioned, returned to (I thought) White Star for about two years' service to Australia and New Zealand, 1911-13. Note, though, the title on the following postcard, which I believe dates from this period, and which I had simply written off as a mistake until reading your message:

123038.jpg


As noted earlier in this thread, White Star effectively controlled Shaw Savill, and together they controlled Aberdeen White Star. Moreover, although it's kind of tough to tell from this image, the funnel color and flags shown on this card don't look much like White Star's. It may well be, then, that when she returned to the White Star family in 1911, Gothic was operated by Aberdeen White Star rather than by White Star or Shaw Savill and that the caption on the card is not simply an error.

There's nothing more I can add based on the New York-oriented materials I have immediately available to me, but the next time I take a peek at The Times, I'll see what its shipping columns might have to say about this.
 

Mark Baber

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P.S. Savill and Haws' Merchant Fleets, Vol. 17, Aberdeen and Aberdeen & Commonwealth Lines, which I mentioned at the top of this thread but had completely forgotten about, says that Aberdeen chartered Gothic from White Star in 1913 while Militades and Marathon were withdrawn for lengthening. It does't give exact dates for Gothic's Aberdeen service, and at another point says the two "M" ships were lengthened in 1912. (One of the frustrating characteristics of the whole Merchant Fleet series is its inconsistency; this is just one example.)

More to come.
 
Mar 22, 2008
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GOTHIC was indeed chartered by the A.W.S.L for 4 voyages to stand-in for MARATHON and MILTIADES while they were lengthened. The first charter voyage ex-London commenced 20:10:1911 and the last 20:12:1912. (Source: SS&A Voyage papers - NMM)In the photograph, she appears to be in A.W.S.L. livery, at least the funnel, and she appears to be flying the A.W.S.L. house flag at the fore.

MARATHON entered her builder's, Alex Stephens, Linthouse, dry-dock for lengthening 03:07:1912, emerging lengthened 12:09:1912; MILTIADES entered the same dry dock 14:09:1912. (Source: "Shipbuilder" Dec. 1912.)

So far as I know, neither principal of the A.W.S.L., Geo Thompson Jnr nor William Henderson had any connection with the Isle of Lewis. Both were NE men.

Plymouth was the usual final UK port of call for immigrant ships on the Australian and NZ services.
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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MAB - I don't know how I missed your responses! A belated thank you to you, and also to Peter. I don't have the date to hand for the voyage I'm thinking of - I'll check it tomorrow.
 

Jacana Fox

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Apr 4, 2008
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Thanks a lot for this background on the AWSL. Some of my family came to Australia on SS Aberdeen in 1883. I too was wondering about the White Star connection.

We've got a transcript of their ticket:
216 The Aberdeen Line
Third Cabin
Passengers’ Contract Ticket

Steam Ship ‘Aberdeen’, of 2,371 Tons Register, to take in Passengers at the Port of London for Melbourne, 5 October 1883

Susan Elizabeth Holbrook, 40
Annette Jennings (ditto), 16
Ada Holbrook, 12
Stanley Holbrook, 9
James Holbrook, 7
Jessica Christabella Holbrook, 5
Seymour Holbrook, 2

Deposit £30/0/0
Balance £70/0/0
Total £100 Stg

Received balance 23 September 1883
Passengers to be on Board for Medical Inspection on 5 October at East India Dock London
 

Colin Hunt

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Nov 10, 2008
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Hello Peter & Mark my name is colin Hunt.
I have read your postings regarding the ships called the Gothic / Gothaland & RN Marathon My Grandfather Arthur Henry Hunt worked on these ships as a Stoker during the periods of 1900 - 1912/3 I have traced that he is registered as Died at Sea 1912/3. So far have been unable to trace his death details. I would dearly love to have any photo's & details of these ships, So is it possible there a way i can get copies from this site perhaps thankyou Colin Hunt.
 

Mark Baber

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Almost three years ago I wrote:
And that, in fact, appears to be what happened, just as Peter King said earlier in this thread.

Gothic returned to Australia for the first time in early December 1911 as an immigrant carrier, "chartered for the Victorian Government through the agency of Messrs. Geo. Thompson & Co., of the Aberdeen Line." (The Times, London, 23 October 1911.) Although when she arrived in Australia some of the news reports described her as a White Star liner still, the advertising for her return trip to England was placed by the Aberdeen Line, not by White Star. The Sydney Morning Herald of 5 December 1911, for example, contains an Aberdeen Line ad announcing that "The Aberdeen Line Twin-screw Steamer GOTHIC, 7650 tons, WILL LEAVE SYDNEY ON OR ABOUT 12TH DECR."

Similarly, the Australia ads for Gothic's later sailings were by the Aberdeen Line, not White Star. See, e.g., The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 April 1912 (advertising Gothic's 29 April departure), 21 September 1912 (30 September departure) and 2 February 1913 (12 February departure).

The February sailing seems to have been Gothic's last Aberdeen Line trip; by May she was back in New York, once again Red Star's Gothland. (The Times, London, 6 May 1913.)

P.S. Much of the information presented here is from the National Library of Australia's Australian Newspaper web site, a remarkable and invaluable source.​