News from 1924/1941: Retirement/Death of Commodore Hayes

Not open for further replies.

Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
[MAB Notes: 1. Although many postwar news stories, like this one, say that Olympic sank two U-boats, she in fact sank only one. 2. The original name of Majestic was Bismarck, not Fuerst Bismarck.]

The News York Times, 16 December 1924

Sir Bertram Now to Quit Sea After 25 Years in Command of White Star
Knighted for Sinking Two U-Boats That Imperiled Olympic and 3,500 U. S.
Sir Bertram Hayes, D. S. O., Commodore in the British Royal Naval
Reserve and master of the White Star liner Majestic, brought his ship in
yesterday on his final voyage, as he retires from active sea service
when he arrives in Southampton, England, on Tuesday, Dec. 23.

Knighthood and the Distinguished Service Order were conferred on Sir
Bertram by King George because the officer, while in command of the
Olympic, sank two German submarines off the Isle of Wight on May 12,
1918, and was thereby able to land 3,500 American soldiers then on their
way to France. It was not known until two months later, when the Olympic
was dry docked, that one of the submarines had fired a torpedo which
struck the liner amidships on the starboard side, but fortunately did
not explode.

During the war the Olympic carried 300,000 soldiers and sailors safely
across the Atlantic. Sir Bertram said yesterday that he never had had an
accident during his twenty-five years in command of White Star liners.

"One of the happiest thoughts I have as I go into retirement," he added,
"is that I have had the confidence of those who employed me, of the men
who sailed with me and under me and of the traveling public."

He has been in sea service forty-five years. His most disagreeable task,
he said, was taking the Fuerst Bismarck from Hamburg to Southampton.
where the big liner was renamed Majestic.

The captain is overwhelmed with the manifestations of affection shown to
him by his crew and the presentations to be made to him. "I feel that it
is I who ought to make the presentations to them," he said, "but I
cannot do that for more than a thousand officers and men." He will bid
them good-bye at the Palace Theatre in Southampton.

The captain is 60 years old and a bachelor. He is very popular here. He
will make his home at Fairfield, near Liverpool. Captain George R.
Metcalfe, R. N. R., will succeed him. The new master came over as a
passenger on this voyage to get a few hints in the handling of the


Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
[MAB Note: This is a bit late. Sorry.]

The New York Times, 18 December 1924

Sir Bertram Receives Gift From Pilots in the Majestic's Wheelhouse
Senior Master of the White Star Line Tells What He Has Put in a Book
Sir Bertram Hayes, D. S. O., Commodore in the Royal Naval Reserve, and
retiring senior master of the White Star line, stood on the bridge of
the Majestic yesterday forenoon in command of the ship for the last time
leaving New York harbor. For two hours previously he had been receiving
officials of the International Mercantile Marine Company, beginning with
the President, P. A. S. Franklin, and Vice President Frederick Topping.

Three gray-haired members of the New York and New Jersey Pilots'
Association presented to him in the wheelhouse a handsome silver-headed
ebony cane as a token of their appreciation of his courtesy during his
quarter of a century in command of White Star steamships in the New York
trade. The Commodore's table was heaped with telegrams and letters from
friends and old travelers from all parts of the country, wishing him
good luck and long years to enjoy his well-earned rest.

The officers of the Majestic presented a traveling trunk of the latest
style to him to take on his future trip around the world.

Sir Bertram was visibly affected as he shook hands with the long line of
friends and members of the staff in the alleyway outside the door of his
suite just aft the bridge.

"I am leaving the sea," he said, "but you will see me again as I am
going to remain with the White Star Line in an advisory capacity.
Visiting various ports and investigating trade conditions for new routes
will be a part of my new duties, so that while I may be retiring I'm
still to be heard from."

The veteran shipmaster said that navigation was much simpler and much
safer than when he first entered the North Atlantic trade. Then the
navigator had to steer by dead reckoning in thick weather and use his
lead to get soundings after which he had to beat about in the fog until
he could hear a bell or a fog horn. Today the master of a steamship gets
a cross-bearing by radio which gives the position of his vessel and
enables him to creep alone safely and get one station after another
until he makes the entrance to New York harbor.

Sir Bertram said that in his book, which is to be published early in
1925, he had dwelt on the superiority of the radio service given to ship
masters along the coast of North America, compared with that from the
stations in Great Britain, and had also criticized the transport methods
of the British Navy during the recent World War.

Captain George R. Metcalfe, R. N. R., who will take over command of the
Majestic in Southampton, stood on the bridge with the retiring Commodore
as the ship moved out into the river. Sir Betram [sic] was 60 years old
last April.

The Majestic is due to reach Cherbourg early on Dec. 23 and Southampton
in the afternoon so that her passengers will be in ample time to spend
their Christmas ashore.


Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
[MAB Note: This item concludes this series of articles.]

The New York Times, 28 December 1924

Sidelights on Interesting People
By L. H. R.
Sir Bertram Hayes has retired from the sea, ending his maritime career
with the home-bound voyage of the White Star liner Majestic last week.
He has never married. "A man," says he, "should not ask a woman to
share the uncertainties that go with the life of a sailor." Ah, well,
Sir Bertram is a young man yet---scarcely 60---and no end handsome. Now
that he has settled down to the certainties of life ashore, who knows
what may happen?



Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The New York Times, 16 May 1941

Former Commodore of the White Star Line Dies in His Home in Liverpool at
Rammed U-Boat, Sinking It and Sunk Another by Gunfire---Aided Titanic
LONDON, May 15---Sir Bertram Fox Hayes, former commodore of the White
Star Line, died today in his home, Crosby, Liverpool, at the age of 77.
He joined the White Star Line in 1889 and in ten years rose to be a
commander. Sir Bertram commanded the Olympic and during the last war
while in charge of the ship sank a U-boat. For this action he received
the Distinguished Service Order.

He was retired In 1924. In 1931 he was appointed deputy lieutenant of
Lancashire. During his career he received many honors, including
decorations for rescues at sea and was the first active member of the
mercantile marine to be knighted.
Well Known In New York

Sir Bertram was born April 26, 1864, at Birkenhead, England. As a young
man he signed on a sailing ship and, after nine years on such
windjammers as Laomene, Falls of Afton, Loch Cree and Falls of Dee, he
received his certificate. He entered the employ of the White Star Line
in 1889. His first service was on the Australian run, then two years
later he went into the Atlantic service. Except for two years during the
World War, when he commanded the Olympic under a Royal Naval Reserve
Commission, he remained with the company until his retirement in 1924.

His first White Star command was the Britannic. Other ships he served on
were the Coptic, Teutonic, Germanic, Suevic, the Arabic, which was later
torpedoed, the Laurentic, in which he inaugurated the company's
Canadian service, the Adriatic, and later the Majestic, which was the
former German ship Bismarck.

During the Boer War his ship, Britannic, was a troop ship and carried
37,000 troops to Africa in three years. King Edward VII decorated
Captain Hayes with the Transport Medal.

As commander of the Carpathia in April, 1912, Sir Bertram saved hundreds
of survivors of the Titanic, which sank after hitting an iceberg.

Carried 300,000 Troops

His World War record on the Olympic was impressive. His steamship
carried 300,000 troops, most of them Americans, without an accident. He
sank one submarine by gunfire and another by ramming it. The Olympic
was loaded with American soldiers at the time. For this exploit he
received the Distinguished Service Order.

The French Government presented to him the Medaille de Sauvetage in 1918
for his rescue of a French crew that had been torpedoed by a submarine.

One of the best liked skippers of the International Mercantile Marine,
after his retirement he was promoted to the rank of Commodore on the
retired list of the Royal Naval Reserve, the first time that honor was
ever granted to any mercantile officer.

Sir Bertram was a bachelor and made his shore home with his mother until
her death in 1921 at the age of 91. Then he lived with his sisters in
Liverpool, where he wrote his autobiography: "Hull Down: Reminiscences
of Windjammers, Troops and Travelers," a frank account of his life at
sea, replete with mildly caustic portraits of some of the famous persons
who had traveled on his boat.

Sir Bertram commanded the Majestic on her first trip from Southampton in
the Spring of 1922 and for thirty-nine other trips. After his retirement
he became a White Star Line director.



The New York Times, 17 May 1941

A Correction
In the obituary of Sir Bertram Fox Hayes, former commodore of the White
Star Line, which appeared in yesterday's NEW YORK TIMES, it was stated
erroneously that he was captain of the Carpathia, which saved passengers
of the Titanic when that ship sank in April, 1912. The Carpathia of the
Cunard Line was under the command of Captain Arthur Henry Rostron, who
later was knighted for his work at that time.

Not open for further replies.

Similar threads

Similar threads