News from 1920: Athenic rescues Munamar's passengers

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Mark Baber

MAB Note: The rescue described here took place on 3 May. The term
"n*****s" as originally rendered is no longer acceptable in polite society
and would not pass certain screening software. Curiously, this board's
bad word filter will allow the "word" "n*****s" but not the phrase "poor
*******", which is why the second incidence of that word in this note
and the following article is as it is.

The Poverty Bay Herald, Gisborne, New Zealand, 16 June 1920
Retrieved from the National Library of New Zealand web site

On her last passage from New Zealand to England the Athenic picked up the
passengers of the American steamer Munamar (3477 tons), which had run ashore
on Watling Island (the island in the West Indies on which Columbus first
landed on October 12, 1492, and to which he gave the name of San Salvador).
A Christchurch resident has received from his sister (who was a passenger in
the Athenic) the following account of the rescue: "On Sunday night, about 9
o'clock, the engines stopped dead, and we all wondered what had happened. We
soon learned, however, there was a ship ashore on the island of San
Salvador. It was too dark then to look for the shipwrecked people, but it
was a beautiful calm evening, and they had all been safely taken into
lifeboats, and would be all right till morning. We therefore stood by until
morning, or rather, we went slowly round and round in circles till daybreak,
and we then picked up the unfortunates. The ship Munamar was on its way from
Cuba to New York, with 83 passengers. It went too near the island, and
struck a coral reef, and it was fast filling with water. We took all the
passengers, mails, and baggage on board, and the captain and crew remained
behind in the boat to see what they could do. They were quite near the
island, and would be quite all right until the salvage people came along to
see if the boat could be saved. These new passengers are all 'Yankees,' and
there are about 30 'n*****s.' They have made a great many complaints about
the poor ******* being accommodated along with white people - but what else
could be done under the circumstances? - and, anyway, they will all be
landed at Newport News to-morrow.["]


Mark Baber

The Poverty Bay Herald, Gisborne New Zealand, 21 September 1920
Retrieved from the National Library of New Zealand web site,

The rescue of passengers from a stranded steamer was effected by the Athenic
on her last voyage from Wellington to London. On May 3 the Athenic picked up
the S.O.S. signal from the American steamer Munamar, which was on Gardiner
Reef, San Salvador. The Munamar was in a very dangerous position, and had 87
passengers on board. Captain Crossland decided to go down to the stranded
ship and take off the passengers. The Athenic had a full passenger list and
had not a single berth available, but the purser had beds made up in the
various public rooms. On arriving at daybreak, the chief officer, Lieut.
Commander P. R. Vaughan, D.S.C., R.N.R., left the Athenic in charge of boats
for the rescue work. All passengers were safely transferred with their
baggage in two hours, and the Athenic proceeded to Norfolk to disembark
them, arriving there three days later. The passengers were unanimous in
their praise of Captain Crossland and his officers for the great comfort
they all received on board the Athenic after their trying experiences. The
Munamar belonged to the Munson Line, of New York, and was bound from Cuba to
New York.


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