News from 1920 Retirement of Capt Finch

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Mark Baber

New York Tribune, 26 June 1920
Retrieved from the Library of Congress's Chronicling America web site

Heroic Skipper of Ill-Fated Arabic Is Retired With Honor
Capt. William Finch, O. B. E., Starts on Last Trip on the Baltic To-day;
Piloted First U. S. Troops Across

When Captain William Finch, O. B. E., takes the White Star liner Baltic out
of this port to-day for Liverpool it will be his last trip as commander of
an ocean liner. He has been retired by the company at the age of sixty,
which is five years below the retirement age of pre-war days.

Throughout his forty-six years on the sea the retiring skipper has been in
every important port in the world and never in his career as a master has he
had a mishap or lost a ship.

This record, however, excludes the torpedoing of the White Star liner Arabic
off the Irish coast, an unavoidable catastrophe. The occurrence brought
honors rather than blame to the skipper, who went down with his ship as she
plunged under the sea, eight minutes after she was hit. On this occasion
Captain Finch swam about for forty minutes and rescued a woman and her
infant, assisting them to a life raft.

After disposing of the woman and her child the skipper swam away and saved
two firemen and one of the Arabic's passengers. For these acts he was
commanded to appear at Buckingham Palace by King George, who bestowed upon
him the Order of the British Empire.

Captain Finch was later transferred to the Baltic and piloted her safely
through the submarine war zone. It was he who took General Pershing and his
staff to Liverpool in 1917. On the same trip he had consigned to his care
the 5th Pittsburgh Engineers, the first armed American troops to be landed
in England.

During his service under the White Star flag on the Pacific, Captain Finch
carried as passengers Admiral (then Commodore) Dewey and Captain Gridley,
both of whom became his friends. He has seen many years of service in the
Far East and in the Australian trade and has rescued several crews at sea,
for which he received medals and decorations from various governments.


Mark Baber

MAB Note: This is excerpted from a larger article with a headline having
nothing to do with the subject at hand.

New York Tribune, 27 June 1920

Baltic Gayly Dressed
The White Star liner Baltic, which left port yesterday for Liverpool, was
dressed in all the bright bunting her crew could find in her flag chest, the
display being a tribute to Captain William Finch, the vessel's master who
will retire from the sea when he takes his vessel into Liverpool. Captain
J. B. Ranson, master of the Adriatic, which lay on the north side of the
pier from which the Baltic departed, had his vessel in gala array in honor
of Captain Finch.

Among the Baltic's passengers were William Ellis Corey, Captain Robert
Dollar, The Right Rev. William Lawrence, Protestant Episcopal Bishop of
Massachusetts, Lord Dunmore, and Thomas Estell, commissioner of the
Salvation Army.

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