Baltic and Schooner Northern Light

Mark Baber

The New York Times, 27 June 1930

Men of Baltic Who Went to Aid of Sinking Schooner Dec. 6 Praised at
The lifeboat crew of the White Star liner Baltic who.went to the aid of
the sinking schooner Northern Light Dec. 6 in a storm off St. John's,
N. F., and rescued five of the crew, received medals and gifts of $100
each at a luncheon yesterday aboard the ship. P. A. S. Franklin,
president of the International Mercantile Marine Company, American
agents of the line, who was a passenger on the Baltic when the rescue
was made, attended the ceremony and shook hands with the men,
repeating the congratulations he had extended seven months ago.

Captain Evan Davies, master of the ship, received a gold medal and
J. H. Walker, third officer, who was in command of the lifeboat,
received a gold medal and $100. Bronze medals medals [sic] and $100 in
gold were presented to the five members of the crew who were present and
similar awards will be made to four others who have been transferred to
other ships since the rescue.

Henry K. Satterlee, president of the Life Saving Benevolent Association,
donor of the awards, congratulated the men and said their work was "in
keeping with the splendid traditions of the sea." Presenting the medal
and gold to Walker, he said, "I understand this is your second brave
rescue. I am glad you have the habit. Keep it up."

In his brief address, Mr. Satterlee said, "Many a vessel has been
wrecked and left to her fate, but only because she had not been
sighted. The Baltic not only sighted the Northern Light, but by skillful
manoeuvring in the hands of her captain lowered the boat in a violent
sea and succeeded in accomplishing a gallant rescue.["]


Mark Baber


Mark, I have an extra photocopy of the above article ... If you would like the photocopies just let me know and I will gladly send them.
Thanks greatly, Jo. I'll be in touch privately. Much appreciated.

Reading that article demonstrates vividly the risk those ten guys took in trying to rescue five. A great account.


That was the ageing Ionic.
Ack! One of the New Zealand ships that are almost impossible to research from here in the NYC area. There's nothing in the NY Times, it seems, but I'll keep my eyes open for anything elsewhere.​
Wow! Just came back to this for the first time in an incredibly long time and I realise that I never sent you that article Mark. I do still have it if you would still like it.

Mark Baber

Sure, Jo...I'll contact you by email.

And...after re-reading this thread, I searched The Times' archives and found a story about the rescue Remco asked about. Although it looks like he hasn't been here in a couple of years, I'll post that article shortly.
My grandfather and great grandfather were among those rescued from The Gander Deal. Their last name is spelled incorrectly in the write-up though. They were Herbert and Louis Burry (not Berry).

A story was written up about the rescue in a book called Beautiful Ladies of the Atlantic, by author Otto Kelland. This book unfortunately is no longer in publication so I haven't been able to get my hands on a copy. I do however have a couple of photos that were scanned and sent to me by a museum here in Newfoundland which I can email to a private email address as they are too large to upload here.

Jo, I deeply appreciate the efforts put forth by your Great Grandfather Captain James Kearney and the rest of the crew of the Baltic for if not for them who knows what would have happened. I may not be here today.
Hi Tammy, Although Mark and I both had reports/documents that said that my Great Grandfather was the captain of Baltic during this rescue we both, later, discovered reports and photos that confirmed that Captain Davies was the captain on this particular journey.

Mark Baber

And, in any event, as the second article in this thread reports, it was the United States Lines' Republic, not White Star's Baltic, which rescued the Gander Deal crew.
Mark / Jo

To say that I was excited when my brother stumbled upon this site, was an understatement. I work here in Newfoundland at the Marine Institute. The Northern Light belonged to my grandfather, Tom Parsons from Bloomfield, Bonavista Bay, Newfoundland. Rex Parsons who drowned was my Uncle.
This is an exciting story and I have done some local research about six years ago and have copies of some pictures of the rescue and of the Baltic Official Log book pages as well as local newspaper clippings. There is a book by a local gentlemen who wrote a story of the nine schooners that left St. John's at the same time, many of which were lost.
I was not aware of many of this information that happened from the UK aspect of this story. It is excellent to know that these men received medals etc for their brave work.

This site has now rekindled my passion to search for more information.

It does have another twist to the story. On board the Baltic at the time was a young Cambridge University student who took a motion picture of the event.
He sold this in New York at that time, and the proceeds of $125.00 were given to my Grandfather.

My grandfather's insurance on the schooner expired during his ordeal as he expected the voyage to be only a short trip. He lost all and spent his later years working on local coastal vessels sometimes under the command of his son, Peter, who survived the ordeal and with his other son, Tom, my father.

My quest to maybe find this footage is now on again as I will start with the New York times who have a number of archived articles on this event.

Thank-you to all for this information and any other that might help.

Mark Baber

Hello, Craig---

Glad that you and yours found the stuff posted here interesting and helpful. That's one of the rewards of regurgitating articles like this.


In case you're not aware, there are two photos in the 23 December 1929 edition of The Times (London), one showing Northern Light herself and the other, the Baltic boat crew and the survivors rescued by them.

Finally, although what I've posted so far is all from New York, The Times carried two other articles besides the one Jo transcribed. One reported on the New York medals mentioned earlier, but the other details a Liverpool award ceremony not previously mentioned here. I'll transcribe and post that later tonight or tomorrow.
This is why I love the internet! What would be the chances of us all connecting and telling the various parts of this story without it?
I posted my original question over 6 years ago and here we are today still adding to the story.
Craig, did your granddad talk about the shipwreck much?
Mark, a picture of the medal ceremony in Liverpool is in the article I was supposed to send to you. I actually had the stuff out and was prepping to mail it to you a couple weeks ago but I was missing one page. -My papers, like my life are chaotic!- I have a couple more boxes to look through so hopefully I'll find the missing page.

Mark Baber

MAB Note: This article appears to describe a different Liverpool ceremony than the one mentioned in the 6 March NYT article which appears above.

The Times, 20 January 1930


In the Liverpool Town Hall on Friday Captain Evan Davies, third officer
J. H. Walker, and five members of the crew of the White Star liner
Baltic were presented with awards for gallantry at sea by the Lord
Mayor, Councillor L. D. Holt, on behalf of the Liverpool Shipwreck and
Humane Society. The Baltic, under the command of Captain Davies, rescued
on December 6 last five members of the crew of the schooner Northern
Light, a freighter, bound from St. John's, Newfoundland, to Bonavista
Bay with a general cargo. The schooner had drifted into great danger in
the heavy seas, and flew the distress signal "Wish abandon." Captain
Davies skilfully manoeuvred the Baltic to a position windward of the
Northern Light, and a lifeboat was lowered and manned by a volunteer
crew in the charge of Mr. Walker. The boat went to the distressed
vessel, which was about 300 yards away, and brought to safety five of
the crew. Rex Parsons, the captain's son, lost his life.

The Lord Mayor presented Captain Davies with an illuminated address and
a silver medal. An address and clasp were handed to Mr. Walker, who
received also a combined clock and barometer; and silver medals and
addresses were presented also to Chief Petty Officer J. Boylan, Bosun's
Mate J. Fitzgerald, Storekeeper J. Whelan, Quartermasters P. Codd and W.
Williams, and Able Seaman A. Cole.

[The balance of this article, describing another award, has not been

I have been reading your articles with interest, as my grandad was Peter Codd. He received several medals but unfortunately I am not in possession of them. My grandad passed away twenty five years ago and I was too young to know the story behind the medals he had received. It has been fascinating to learn about the rescue.

Mark Baber

As I said a few messages up, Lydia, hearing things like this is one of the great rewards of what we do here. Glad you found this stuff helpful.
I am trying to find out more about John Whelan, one of the Northern Light rescuers on 6 December 1929. I have a nice scanned photo of him - if anyone would like a copy I’ll be happy to email it.

It was good to read the newspaper reports. Aside from the medals it was nice to see they all got $100 which I imagine was a tidy sum back then. I would be very interested to see the newspaper pictures, as this would add a lot to my research. Also, does anyone know if there is a website for the Life Saving Benevolent Society of New York?

Mark Baber

if anyone would like a copy I’ll be happy to email it.

Sure. My email address is in my profile.

I would be very interested to see the newspaper pictures

I don't remember if any of the NYT articles had photos; I'll check tonight.

a website for the Life Saving Benevolent Society of New York?

I've never found one, but there is now a page on the Seamen's Church Institute web site to the effect that the Institute had taken over administration of the Association.