Junior Third Officer Bestic


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Inger Sheil

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Thanks largely to Eric Sauder, supplemented by a bit of my own research and the prompting of Bestic's fellow Dubliner Senan Molony, I've long been interested in Junior Third Officer Albert Bestic, and lamented the loss of the MSS of his Lusitania memoirs.

I finally had a chance to read his account of his first voyage in the Denbigh Castle, published as 'Kicking Canvas', and can highly recommend the book both for its engaging style and excellent overview of what it was like to be an apprentice in sail during the transitional sail to steam years. Bestic was born in 1890 and was apprenticed on Liverpool Welshman Robert Thomas & Co's ships in 1908. His first voyage, on the Denbigh Castle - even allowing for the standard 'yarning' element in a seaman's memoirs - is a remarkable one, highlighting both the drudgery of much of the life at sea alternated with moments of intense fear. He also tends to name names, a less common trait in this particular genre, although I'd be interested in comparing the names he gives to the actual crew agreements for this voyage.

He also had a career that rivals those of men like Lightoller, Boxhall and Lowe for colourful interest.

After the Denbigh Castle voyage - a record breaker for length thanks to a nightmare attempt to round the Horn. After four years in sail he ran away in Newcastle, NSW to join a steamer as 3rd officer, and after falling foul of the crew was attacked. After narrowly escaping with his life, he finished the voyage home with a revolver at his hip.

His experiences on the Lusitania are relatively well known. After passing his Master's certificate he joined the RN and served in a mine-sweeping flotilla. Following the war, he and five other officers pooled their gratuities and purchased a trading schooner that they crewed themselves. She sank after eighteen months off Famborough Head.

Captain Bestic then joined the Steamer Service of the Commissioners of Irish Lights. He was in command of the Irish Lights steamer Isolda early in WWII when she was bombed and sunk by German aircraft. He rejoined the RN and remained there until after D-Day, when he was invalided out of the service. He returned the Irish Lights until his retirement in 1949.

I'd be interested in learning more about Bestic outside of his Lusitania experiences - and in particular in seeing his MSS if anyone out there knows its whereabouts!
 

Senan Molony

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Bestic in 1962.

And below, with fellow officers in Queenstown, 1915:

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Inger Sheil

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Great Bestic photos, Sen - and those of Lewis and Jones. Is the top image a still from an interview?
 
Aug 2, 2008
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I understand that Albert Bestic passed away in 1969.
I enjoy the story of his visit with the ailing Captain William Turner, which could be found in chapter 27 of the book Seven Days to Disaster the Sinking of the Lusitania by Des Hickey and
gus Smith. Capt.Turner never addressed him as Bestic; but as Bisset, which was how he remembered his former junior 3rd officer.
 

Mike Poirier

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Dec 12, 1999
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Hi Patrick.

Actually he passed away Dec 20, 1962. I recently wrote an article about him. However, read the ET research article- Lest We Forget part 2 and there is more to the Bestic-Turner interview.

Mike
 
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