News from 1923 Retirement of Capt A H Summers

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Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The West Australian, Perth, 7 November 1923
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,

Popular Australian Skipper
His Retirement Announced

It has become almost a tradition that when a deep-sea sailor reaches the age
when he thinks himself no longer capable of commanding the destinies of a
vessel laden with valuable cargo, and still more valuable human freight, he
should retire to a farm, preferably within sight and sound of the sea, to
spend the remaining days of his life. Captain A. H. Summers, the master of
the s.s. Ceramic, which passed through Fremantle yesterday, is making his
last trip as commander. He intends to retire when the vessel arrives in

If Captain Summers were of the type of seafarer who "spins yarns as
a self -satisfying amusement," he could tell many a stirring tale of his
personal experiences. His whole life has been devoted to the callings of the
deep sea. His earlier experiences were gained on the Black Star clipper
Letterewe, which traded to Australia when the only passage was around the
Cape. In those days the life of an apprentice was far more arduous than that
of the present-day cadet, whose shipboard activities are confined mainly to
duties undertaken under the supervision and with the help of "teacher
officers." In the Letterewe Captain Summers saw the greater portion of the
Southern Hemisphere, and., with the idea of widening his maritime knowledge,
he transferred to vessels of the Dower, Dixon, and Glasgow Shire Line as
soon as the opportunity offered. The advent of the steamer found Captain
Summers studying "steam," and he joined up with lines operating steam-driven
vessels. His early knowledge of the steamer was gained in vessels of the
Shell Line, and, after five years' service with that company, he took up a
position in the Elder, Dempster Line, whose vessels traded to Africa
and along the coast. The adventures that attended Captain Summers's service
along the South African coast were many and varied, but the most notable of
them was the blowing up of the steamer Matadi in the Congo River in 1896.
The changes of the captain from line to line were taken with the intention
of advancement, and in 1896 he had scaled the ladder until he had passed the
preliminary examinations for an officer. On the outbreak of the South
African war, several members of the Elder, Dempster fleet were requisitioned
to carry troops to South Africa, and Captain Summers was second officer on
the s.s. Nomadic in that service. In 1910 he re-entered the Australian trade
as master of the s.s. Persic, and in that vessel he saw considerable service
transporting troops during the last war. In 1916, when Captain Summers was
on the s.s. Georgic, the vessel was captured by the German raider Moewe, and
he was made a prisoner of war. He was not released for two years. After two
month' spell in England, he joined up with the White Star Line's
Mediterranean and Canadian service, and subsequently had command of the s.s.
Ionic, on the New Zealand run. Two years ago Captain Summers was placed in
command of the s.s. Ceramic, and is the senior commander in the colonial
service of the White Star Line.

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