Medic at War


Inger Sheil

Member
Dec 3, 2000
5,342
35
308
Came across some interesting references to the Medic's role in both the Boer War and WWI carrying Australian troops. She was used to transport some Aussies to South Africa during the voyages that Murdoch and Lightoller were aboard her - MAB might be able to confirm the date (I don't have the sources in front of me) but I seem to recall that the first instance of this occured during the voyage when Lightoller pulled his Fort Denison stunt.

She was used again during WWI, and among those she transported from Oz was the great ANZAC hero John Simpson Kirkpatrick of 'Simpson and his donkey' fame. English-born Simpson had a possum with him on board which would go astray, leaving his owner to wander the decks calling in his Geordie accent 'Where's my bliddy possum?'

As an aside, Fort Denison has recently been in the news again in Sydney thanks to restoration work done on her light atop the Martello tower.

http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/04/07/1081326796961.html?from=storyrhs
 

Jo Rodriguez

Member
Apr 24, 2006
36
0
86
Inger if you come across any references to Runic's WW1 service would you please post here or e-mail me. My Great Grandfather captained Runic from 1912 - 1919. There are a couple of very interesting entries in the Lloyd's Captains Register. Including an entry for May 6 1918 "Ashore in Hampton Roads" and May 9 1918 "Refloated Unassisted" Presumably this was a troop run as Hampton Roads is the location of Norfolk Naval Station the biggest staging base for US troops in WW1. Then on 31 12 1918 he signed on for a voyage which reads "Aust-UK via Pan." Would that be the Panama canal? And if so why the change in route?
I saw your posts from 2000 about the Australia run. From 1909 - 1921 my G.Granfather captained the Bovic, Runic and Persic on the Australia run and the dates of his voyages fit with a 3-4 month trip for the most part.
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Dec 3, 2000
5,342
35
308
G'day Jo -

I'll see what I can hunt up for you on the Runic's WW1 service. Kearney is certainly a name familiar to WSL researchers dealing with documents from that era! I'll reply to your email as well with some ideas for researching your great-grandfather...I suspect, though, that you may have already pursued the angles I'd suggest.
 

Jo Rodriguez

Member
Apr 24, 2006
36
0
86
Thankyou Inger,
That would be great. I do have some ideas of where to look for more details just don't have too many opportunities to do it. (I have 3 kids 2 of them born in the last 3 years.)I'm not too terribly far from Hampton Roads so maybe one of these days I might make it to the library down there. Maybe a White Star ship visiting the area made the local papers. The Mariners Museum in Newport News is also down in that area.
As far as James himself is concerned I have copies of his Lloyd's Captains register records (from Guildhall Library)and also his Masters and Mates certs from NMM. So I can see his career progression from start to finish. It's pretty fascinating . He went to sea at 15 as a ships boy on a square rigged sailing ship and retired as a senior Captain of the WSL captaining some of the most famous and luxurious ships at that time. He was with WSL for over 30 years, and held commands for 22 of those years. I can only imagine the stories he had to tell.
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Dec 3, 2000
5,342
35
308
No worries, Jo - I'm a bit behind in personal emails for reasons I'll explain when I respond to your message. I thought you might have followed up on the NMM and Guildhall material from what you were saying! I imagine you've also gone through the possible newspaper references documenting various points in his life and career as well. Crew agreements and official logs are another possibility for shedding light on some of his voyages, although they may not shed too much light on him from a personal angle. I'll check my database when I fire up 'old faithful' (the archaic laptop) to see if I've noted any of these at the PRO or elsewhere - the bulk of there are in Newfoundland. Have you had a dig around there? And has his CR10 turned up? A record of RNR service?

Are there any family traditions regarding his personality? You're right - he must have had some amazing stories to tell! A career that spanned sail and steam, merchant and war time service. I wonder if he belonged to the Cape Horn Association - he might have run into Boxhall there more than once.
 

Jo Rodriguez

Member
Apr 24, 2006
36
0
86
Inger, As always you are not only very knowledgeable but also willing to share your knowledge.
I did look at newspapers back at the very beginning of my research before I knew the importance of taking good notes , making copies of everything etc. Something I have regretted many times since then. I will hopefully get to rectify that very shortly. We're going to England in 10 days (quiet whoop) and, although time will be too tight to do much, the one thing I do plan to do is hit the William Brown Library in Liverpool and this time I WILL take notes and probably burn out their photocopier. I think I mentioned to you once that they had a collection of White Star Line magazines and I will pay close attention to them this time.If I see anything of interest I will keep you posted.
What is a CR10? Is that to do with the RNR service? That is an area of his career that I have not even peeked at yet. The only thing I know is that he was a Lieut. Commander.
Unfortunately family hasn't been a great source of information. James' wife died in 1917, and my grandmother and her brothers were then brought up mostly by a maiden aunt. James himself died in 1933 only a few weeks after my grandma was married so my dad and his siblings never knew him and my Grandma died long before I became interested in any of this. James niece is still living and is a treasure trove of information and every once in a while she throws out some gem (like the one about her Mum and my G Grandmother visiting the Titanic ... but that's another story).
Well this is starting to get a little lengthy but thankyou again for the suggestions. There are lots of avenues to go down still and hopefully I'll find some interesting information.
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Dec 3, 2000
5,342
35
308
Hallo Jo -

Envy you the trip to England! At this stage, my next planned trip is April 05 (although there's a chance I may get back beforehand). Will you be in London? The PRO and Newspaper Library might be worth a visit...I'm already compiling a list of look-ups for my next visit there (I'm hoping to build in a decent research component into the trip...will have to coordinate with local cronies and some of our overseas friends, but fortunately they're mostly of a similar mind and interests).

The CR10s were records of merchant mariners compiled at the end of WWI (c. 1918-1920), and consist of a photograph, some personal data and a few ships' official numbers for that period. I suspect that they wouldn't have too much to add to what you've already compiled on James Kearney, but it's worth a look. They originals are held in Southampton, copies are on microfiche at the PRO (now renamed the National Archives, but I can't shake the use of PRO). The RNR record would be easy to trace in broad detail (the Navy Lists record the dates the promotions of RNR officers were gazetted and confirmed, and these can be found in several locations, among them the shelves of the PRO). RNR records pre WWI are sketchy, but some do exist. Most of the information has now been successfully tranferred from the Ministry of Defence out to the PRO.

It sounds like you've got some tantalising information there! A visit to the Titanic, eh? I'll try and call up any references I have to offical logs/crew agreements that are connected with Kearney before you head overseas just in case you have an opportunity to look them up in the UK. If not, I'll see what I can do when I'm next in the UK.
 

Jo Rodriguez

Member
Apr 24, 2006
36
0
86
Yep I'm excited about the trip. I haven't been home in 2 years! Unfortunately if I get to London on this trip it will be to play tour guide to some friends who will be visiting the UK for the first time. (Believe me the thought of dumping them in central London with a map and a guide book has occured to me more than once.)

The story of the visit to the Titanic is a good one, I think. I was chatting to James niece on the phone and it must have been one of those long buried memories that was dredged up when we started talking about James and WSL etc. Out of nowhere she suddenly said "Oh and you know they were onboard the Titanic, James and Lucinda (James wife) and My Mum " (I about fell off my chair!) According to her, Titanic was visiting Liverpool (It must have been Southampton)and WSL invited their employees and their families to visit the ship. James took Lucinda and her sister Mary down to see the ship and they had afternoon tea onboard. Whilst they were having tea, James brought the Purser (they were apparently good friends) over and introduced him to Lucinda and Mary. On hearing that Mary was a music teacher the Purser informed her that the band was about to play and was there something that she would like to hear. Mary requested the Merry Widows Waltz and they played it for her.
I haven't really looked into the accuracy of this but it doesn't seem totally implausible. I can certainly imagine James and Hugh McElroy being friends. For one they were both catholic and from Liverpool. They were close in age and they had both worked their way up to senior positions.
 

Similar threads