I think it's a fine artical and a good primer on a tragedy that has never had the attention it deserves. History caught up with the matter in a big way. A nice little distraction called World War One grabbed everybody's attention for some reason. In all the confusion, this unlucky ship got lost in the sauce so to speak. Hopefully, people will read this artical and look into this a little deeper.
You wouldn't happen to have "The Forgotten Empress" by chance? It's a book David Zeni wrote on the disaster, and a very good one!
If you can find a copy, grab it. It's an excellent read, and I learned a lot about the sinking I didn't know (because I am by no means an "Empress" expert!). The choice of photos is excellent, and the reproduction is superb. There is even a color section which includes a number of artifacts raised from the wreck. Geoff Whitfield also contributed what is no doubt the most accurate passenger list ever compiled.
Thanx for your kind comments. You (and others) may be interested to know that the pic of the ship entering port is from a glass plate neg a friend of mine owns. Other than on the Nepean Museum website, this is the first time it has been published.
Thanx for this. About 10 years ago, you could still pick up artifacts from the Empress at a small shop just the otherside of Father Point. CPR plates were going for $100 CDN....65 bucks US. God knows the price now and I see where both Mark Reynolds (also a lawyer) and Philippe Beaudry, two divers who have recovered many artifacts, are now anti-salvage.
BTW, I don't know if it sank in a heavy fog as the cutline to your wonderful post card says. I think it was a clear night and rolling fog drifted in briefly.....but long enough for the two ships to lose sight of each other.
Thanks for the correction, I've changed the site. On the "Great Lost Liners" program I heard that the divers of the Empress were having second thoughts about salvaging all that stuff. There are also still bones and skulls down on the wrecksite.
Are you familiar with Canadian Steamship Lines? I'm trying to find out something on this mysterious Kamloops steamer, lost off Isle Royale in 1927. The wreck of it was finally discovered, at long last, in 1979. Apparently, there are stories that some of the crew made it ashore to the island, and died from exposure --gnawed bones were found, and a lifeboat. One of the ones who made it to shore was a women. Frankly, I've picked up pieces of the story here and there --I don't really know if any of it's true. I heard directly from a diver, however, that one of the crewman's bodies is still within the wreck's engine room.
I'm also curious about the Marquette & Bessemer No. 2, a car ferry that sank in a December 1909 storm near the Canadian shore off Lake Erie. So far, efforts to locate this wreck have not been successful. The "M&B2" was the subject of the famous "Knives In The Lifeboat" story related by Dwight Boyer in one of his books. Six members of the ships crew were found frozen in a lifeboat. One of them had apparently brought a bunch of knives with him. The body of the ship's captain washed ashore --it was reported that the body had knife-type wounds on it.
Are you familiar with any of these, Gavin? There's a picture of M&B2 at the above site.
Yes you are right. Those divers were Reynolds and Beaudry.
I am quite familiar with Canada Steamship Lines (CSL). I spent the summer of 1959 in Tadoussac where the CSL ships Tadoussac, St. Lawrence and Richeleau (sp?) would stop in every couple of days. As for their ships that met disaster, I am only familiar with the Noronic and, I believe, the Quebec. The company still exists, but is now mostly lakers and ocean-going lakers. It is owned by Paul Martin, our Finance Minister, but of course is being held in a blind trust while he is in Parliament.
There was a rather massive book on the history of CSL written by Edgar Andrew Collard, former editor of the Montreal Gazette, a few years ago. I am sure it will provide details on the Kamloops disaster--something I know nothing about.
Ditto for the M&B2. But I am surprised there would have been car ferries back then. Was it a reconverted railcar ferry?
Thanks for the information. A couple of more points about your very interesting research article. I was quite surprised to read of the connection that Captain Kendall had with the capture of murderer Harvey Hawley Crippen. Crippen, I had heard of before, but I never knew that Kendall was involved in his apprehension. By bringing this up, I take it you see a nature's vengence type of linkage between Kendall's apprehension of Crippen, and Kendall's subsequent involvement in the collision and sinking. Very interesting.
Regarding Kendall's actions before the disaster, some source had indicated to me that Kendall actually was at fault. Your article seems to be fair, perhaps sympathetic, to Kendall's actions prior to the collision. I imagine that there's a diversity of views on who was at fault, the Storstad or the Empress.
Finally, in addition to Empress and Lusitania, another ship disaster during that period was the steamer Eastland, on July 24, 1915 -- 844 people were killed in a matter of minutes just 20 feet from shore. Eastland, of course, wasn't an ocean liner --but a Great Lakes passenger steamer. But my point is, it was a disaster like Lusitania and Empress that happened quickly, and resulted in great loss of life.
In addition to reasons you stated in your article, the Titanic disaster gets more attention because of its duration. Actually, Titanic is quite an unusual disaster in terms of its specific time frame. There were two hours after the collision to prepare, lower lifeboats, etc. In Lusitania, Eastland, and Empress, the disaster happens in a matter of minutes. With Andrea Doria, it was drawn out over 15 hours. As Walter Lord was probably the first to realize, those two hours were exactly right for a story--and he memorialized them in "A Night To Remember."
Once again, Gavin, your Empress article was very thought provoking, and enjoyable. I look forward to seeing more of your research.
Thanx for this. Yes, Kendall was quite impressed with himself for his role in the Crippen arrest in his later years. A year before he died in 1965, he not only put it down to his keen eye and the latest newspapers on board the Montrose, he said he could sense a "heat" (meaning love) between the two fugitives.
As for fault, there are obviously two views. The "official" inquiry, the BofT Mersey hearing, cleared him. The Norwegian one, not surprisingly, didn't. That fact should be presented and the reader can draw his or her conclusions.
Yes, I am aware of the Eastland. Didn't it sink in Chicago? But the three disasters I mention have many similarities that the Eastland doesn't. They were all British flagged vessels, all had the home port of Liverpool, all were essentially immigrant ships in the North Atlantic trade, and all were lost with a great loss of life. After each disaster, Lord Mersey examined into the matter and, interestingly enough, Butler Aspinall, the shrewd English barrister, appeared before Mersey in all inquiries. This is not to belittle the Eastland disaster at all, quite the contrary. But it does not fit into this "BOX" as it were.
Talking about ships sinking in minutes: Did you know that HMS Hood, the UK battleship sunk by the German battleship Bismarck 60 years ago this month, went down in only 3, yes, 3, minutes with the loss of over 1,400 men. Only 4 men (I belive off the top of my head) survived.
Finally, thank you for your kind comments on my efforts. I do have another one in the works. Like you, I am a lawyer and while I do much legal writing, especially in UK (see www.dur.ac.uk/Law/deli/publications), I have never managed to link legal writing to T writing......until now. I am hoping to do an article on the USA/UK/CANADA/FRANCE international agree't to protect the T wreck site. Conveniently for me, a colleague down the hall with DoJ is working on it for the Cdn. gov't. Stay tuned, etc.
Had a chance to look over your Empress article. I found it covered the very basics of the Empress story. But my question is- did you turn up anything new ( like survivor accounts or new collision theories ) in your research of the ship? Do you plan on updating your articlew with anything new that you have found?
Actually CP is reticent to share their knowledge of the disaster with others. I do know people there, so an update is possible. But my T priority right now is to do a paper on the international agreement to protect the wreck.