News from 1933 Capt Musgrave returns to Australia

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Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
MAB notes: Until I found one of these articles a few weeks back, I had never encountered Capt. Musgrave before and know nothing about him except what's in these articles. 2. To the extent that the Herald article seems to say that Musgrave was Southland's commander when she was sunk, that appears to be wrong; contemporary reports say that James B. Kelk was in command at the time.

The Advertiser, Adelaide, 9 October 1933
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,

Sea Captain Has First Trip As Passenger
After having been continuously at sea for 32 years, Captain T. E. Musgrave
is making his first trip as a passenger. He is travelling by the Ceramic,
which he at one time commanded, and which arrived at the Outer Harbor on
Saturday. He was on the Australian run for 15 years before he retired from
the sea in 1930. Among the vessels which he commanded while visiting
Australia were the Runic, Suevic, Bardic and Ceramic, on which he made his
last visit to South Australia in August, 1929.

Captain Musgrave is going to the Solomon Island, where his brother, who was
also formerly a sea captain, is a planter and trader. They have not met for
25 year, but Captain Musgrave intends to spend at least a year with his

The Argus, Melbourne, 10 October 1933
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,

Formerly the master of the Ceramic Captain T. E. Musgrave returned to
Melbourne yesterday as a passenger on that vessel. Captain Musgrave has been
at sea more than 50 years. His first command in the White Star Line was the
Cufic, in 1912. Later he was appointed captain of the Suevic, the Celtic,
the Ceramic, and other passenger liners in the Australian and the North
Atlantic services. Captain Musgrave is going to the Solomon Islands to meet
his brother whom he has not seen for 20 years.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 October 1933
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,

Passenger in His Own Ship

Captain T. E. Musgrave, who reached Sydney yesterday by the Ceramic, en
route to the Solomon Islands to visit his brother, commanded that ship for
two and a half years. After 50 years at sea he is making his first voyage as
a passenger, and he hopes it will be the last. Every time the ship's bell
sounded at night he sprang out of bed and groped about for his cap.

From the Ceramic Captain Musgrave passed into the White Star Line's Atlantic
service, as commander of the Laurentic, and later the Arabic. He retired
three and a half years ago. During the war he commanded troopships, and was
master of the steamer Haverford, carrying Australian troops to Gallipoli
when another transport, the Southland, was torpedoed. The late
Brigadier-General Elliott was commanding officer, and committed a breach of
army regulations in allowing Captain Musgrave to stop his ship and rescue
the survivors. By a coincidence Captain Musgrave was later placed in command
of the Southland, which had been beached and salvaged. He received orders
to proceed to New York in 1917 to transport United States troops to France,
but the Southland never reached her destination. A submarine fired three
torpedoes at her, recording three direct hits, and this time the Southland
sank. The crew took to the boats and were subsequently rescued.

Captain Musgrave's brother is a copra planter, but apparently has the true
sailor spirit. Recently he was travelling by launch when his fuel ran out. A
gale carried the small craft miles out to sea, where it drifted for nine
days. The planter and his companion, a native, were practically without food
and water throughout that period. Eventually they rigged a sea anchor and
abandoned the launch to its fate, setting out in the dinghy for home. They
rowed 45 miles before they reached another planter's property. Later, in a
friend's launch, he went to the scene of his mishap and salvaged the
drifting launch.

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