News from 1929 Retirement of Capt Parker


Mark Baber

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The New York Times, 17 December 1929

OLYMPIC'S SKIPPER WILL RETIRE DEC. 27
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Capt. Walter N. Parker, R. N., Started His Career in Sailing Ship Days
of 1883
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Captain Walter H. Parker, R. N. R., master of the White Star liner
Olympic, will make his last entry into New York Harbor in the company's
service when he arrives tomorrow morning. He retires when the liner
arrives at Southampton on Dec. 27, having reached the age of sixty
years.

He started his sea career as a cadet in sailing ships in 1882 and has
since traded to the principal ports of the world, finishing with ten
years in the North Atlantic passenger service.

At the age of 18 when an apprentice in the bark Loweswater in the North
Atlantic, he jumped off the poop to rescue a fellow apprentice into a
sea infested with sharks two degrees north of the equator. For this he
received the medal of the Royal Humane Society.

A year later Captain Parker was in the same vessel off Cape Horn in a
hurricane when two able seamen were swept over the side by a big sea.
With four volunteers he launched the jollyboat and went to the rescue.
Their small craft was soon swamped and swept away to leeward in the
darkness. For eleven hours the five men clung to the boat drifting on
its beam ends until the Loweswater rescued them.

He was promoted to the captaincy of the Homeric in December, 1927, and
took command of the Olympic in September, 1928.

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Mark Baber

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The New York Times, 19 December 1929

OLYMPIC LATE DUE TO FOG
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Passengers Present Purse to Captain Parker, Who Will Retire
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The White Star liner Olympic docked here at 3 P. M. yesterday,
twenty-four hours late as a result of the fog. The voyage from Cherbourg
was as smooth as a passage in June, according to W. H. Parker, the
master of the ship. The Olympic had 1,000 passengers and nearly 16,000
sacks of mail.

The passengers presented $285 to Captain Parker, who retires after he
takes the Olympic back to Southampton, with a request that he purchase a
silver table service for himself and Mrs. Parker. He said that he
intends to start work on shore immediately and has been appointed
superintendent of the motorboat bus service to be started on the River
Thames early in the new year.

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Mark Baber

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The New York Times, 22 December 1929

OLYMPIC'S CAPTAIN ON FAREWELL TRIP
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Capt. Parker, Retiring After 47 Years at Sea, Regrets Leaving "Noblest
Ship of Them All"
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CONVOYED LINERS IN WAR
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Most Thrilling Work of His Career, He Says---He Will Direct Boat Service
on Thames
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Captain Walter H. Parker of the White Star liner Olympic has crossed the
seas score [sic] of times and has had the responsibility of thousands of
lives in his hands, but he maintains that the greatest work he has
accomplished in his forty-seven years at sea was the convoying of 261
ships between American and European ports in the eighteen months of
American participation in the World War when German submarines were the
great danger of the seas.

Captain Parker took the Olympic out of port Friday night on his last
trip east as a master in the North Atlantic service. He has been retired
by his line and will be succeeded on the Olympic by Captain Eustace
White. On his recent stay in port Captain Parker talked of things that
he had seen in his years at sea. Outstanding in his memories were the
days and night [sic] of wartime.

He was sent to the United States as Commodore of the North Atlantic
convoys out of Newport News, Hampton Roads and Halifax after having
commanded the Medusa on North Sea patrol from 1915-17. In his crossings,
with an average of sixteen or more ships monthly in his safekeeping, he
and the ships in his convoys were attacked time and again with only one
mishap. The single ship that was torpedoed in that period got safely
to port. He was mentioned often in the news dispatches and his skill in
getting through the German blockades elicited favorable comment.

Captain Parker will not return to sea as he knows it, but he will remain
in the field of water transportation. A boat service will be organized
on the Thames and Captain Parker will direct the operation of the
forty-five-foot boats operating between Woolwich and Barnes. This
service, he said, will help ease the traffic in London and its suburbs
and will provide speedy transportation. Each boat will carry forty
passengers, with a "licensed waterman" as skipper.

Although tired by an all-night vigil on the bridge on his last trip to
New York, Captain Parker spoke his farewell to the United States the
morning of his ship's arrival by means of the talking movies.

He took his enforced retirement with a mixture of regret and
complaisance. The Olympic meant a lot to him, be said, but then "a man
must be a glutton if he is not satisfied with forty-seven years of the
sea." The "noblest steamship of them all," he termed the Olympic.

"Somehow, she seemed to feel what you wanted," he said. "Given the
slightest signal, she did just as she should do. A great ship, the
Olympic."

Captain Parker's first command was the Oroya in the Australian trade of
the Royal Mail Line. He took charge in 1905, four years after he had
received the China Medal for service in the Boxer uprising. He was
transferred to the Pardo of the same line until the war, and in 1920 he
returned to the merchant service, commanding the Parana, Narina,
Chignecto, Araguaya, Orbito and Ohio in succession.

When the Royal Mail acquired the White Star Line the Ohio became the
Albertic and Captain Parker remained in command. He was promoted to
command the Homeric in 1927 and took command of the Olympic in
September, 1928.

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