News from 1933 Retirement of Purser Shepherd and Chief Steward White

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Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The New York Times, 21 December 1933

Purser and Chief Steward on Liner Olympic End Service With Present Voyage
Both Have Served in Two Wars and Had Many Adventures in All Parts of World
The departure of the White Star liner Olympic tomorrow for Cherbourg and Southampton will mark the beginning of the end of the sea careers of two veterans of the ship's staff. Joseph Arthur Shepherd, the purser, and Thomas D. White, her chief steward, will be retired on completion of this trip under the company's ruling which fixes the age limit of sea employes [sic] at 60. The retirements were announced with the arrival of the Olympic yesterday at Pier 59.

Mr. Shepherd has been a purser on White Star ships nearly thirty-two years, filling that post on the Olympic for the last eleven years. Mr. Smith's maritime career began forty-nine years ago when he left home for the China Sea. Both men have a wide acquaintance among transatlantic passengers, Mr. Shepherd numbering scores of men of the woolen trade who for years have crossed with him from Scotland on business trips. Both men participated in the Boer and World Wars.

Mr. Shepherd went to sea in 1893 as an assistant purser of the old Cunard ship Aurania, left her at the outbreak of the Boer War to join the Johnson liner Northmore and was engaged in the transportation of troops to South Africa. He joined the White Star Line as a purser in 1902 and was assigned to the Afric in the Liverpool-Australian service. After two years he was transferred to the Republic, operating in the New York-Boston-Mediterranean trade and later served on the Canopic, sister ship of the Republic.

Promotion to the more important ships of the line followed, Mr. Shepherd serving on the Cymric, the first Majestic and the first Arabic, and in 1906 being appointed to the Teutonic for five years. He became chief purser of the Oceanic in 1911, and remained aboard her when she was commandeered by the British Government at the outbreak of the war. The ship was wrecked off Scotland an Sept. 8, 1914, the first vessel lost in the World War. Mr. Shepherd saw four years of active naval service during the war, being aboard the naval sloop Renaldo when she bombarded the Belgian coast in 1914 prior to the German occupation of Antwerp.

Mr. Shepherd was assigned to the Belgic at the close of the war and in 1921 joined the Adriatic staff when she reopened the White Star Line express service to commercial passenger traffic between Southampton, Cherbourg and New York. He was appointed first purser of the new 35,000-ton ship Homeric in 1922, the ship operating with the Adriatic and Olympic. When the Majestic replaced the Adriatic in this service later in the year Mr. Shepherd was transferred to the Olympic where he remained.

Mr. Smith was a steward on the Dominion liner Scotsman in 18971 and two years later was appointed head of her victualling department. When the Dominion Line was absorbed by the White Star Line he served in the latter's Australian service, operating out of England, and for more than ten years served in the Liverpool-Canada trade. He was chief steward of the Ceramic, Athenic and the Old Dominion and was transferred to the Finland of the Panama Pacific Line when she opened the company's intercoastal service.

Mr. Smith was in charge of the stewards' department of the army transport Englishman of the Dominion Line during the Boer War and was on several ships in transatlantic crossings in the World War. He was on the Red Star liner Southland when she was torpedoed and sank with loss of life 300 miles off the coast of Ireland. His post-war service has included the Cedric, Celtic, Baltic and Adriatic in the New York-Queenstown-Liverpool run and made several trips to the Mediterranean on the Adriatic.

Mr. Smith was appointed to the Olympic in February, 1929. He plans to spend his retirement in Liverpool, indulging his hobby of gardening. The White Star Line announced last night that R. E. B. Robertson of the Britannic would succeed him. Mr. Robertson was aboard the Olympic as observer when she arrived yesterday.


Inger Sheil

Feb 9, 1999
Familiar names there, MAB - particularly Shepherd! I've come across him quite a few times. Many thanks for that interesting article - these retirement and obits pieces are goldmines.
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