mobile banner

THE S.S. FLORIZEL

INQUIRY

<<The S.S. Florizel •Back• The Marine Disaster Fund>>

Inquiry

On March 5, 1918, a Marine Court of Inquiry was convened to determine the cause of the wreck of the S.S. Florizel at Cappahayden roughly a week earlier on February 25, 1918. James P. Blackwood chaired the inquiry with assistance from Commander Anthony MacDermott, Captain Edward English and Mr. Brian Dunfield. Mr. A.H. Winter and W.R. Warren represented the owners of the Florizel, Bowring Brother's Company. Mr. Michael Gibbs, a member of the Newfoundland Legislative Council, represented Captain William Martin and the other officers of the Florizel.

Over the course of the next few weeks, thirty-eight survivors from the Florizel which included all of the survivng crewmembers and sixteen other witnesses, gave testimony based on their experience or their expertise. Captain William Martin testified four times himself.

When the findings of the Court were announced, Captain Martin was made responsible for the loss of life and property in the Florizel disaster. The Court found the following things to be true:

Captain Martin was blamed for the Florizel disaster and his Master's Certificate was suspended for twenty-one months. Martin however, was allowed to keep a Chief Mate's Interim Certificate for the time of suspension based on his good record and general care and attention to duty.

The Marine Court of Inquiry determined that wind and weather, the sea, and the reversal of the Polar Current were also contributing factors to the destruction of the S.S Florizel. The final function of the Court of Inquiry was to submit recommendations to the Newfoundland government for another Court of Inquiry to be established to determine the need for improved navigational equipment on the Northeast coast. For more information see the "Commission of Inquiry" file.

Inquiry Reports Daily News: March 6th, 1918 (Page 5)

Daily News: March 8th, 1918 (Page 2)
"Florizel Enquiry Resumes"

Captain William Martin (cont.) Daily News: March 9th, 1918 (Page 2)
"Florizel Enquiry Continues"

Captain Martin cont.

  • Florizel equipped with 2 compasses. Standard and steering in wheel house and Bridge
  • Sounding at 10,11,12, 4:30 by mistake
  • He and Chief Officer on deck when she went ashore, looking at what they thought was ice
  • Gover and Dooley ordered to put out log, possibly going 9-10 knots
  • Running W by S
  • Cargo adrift 3:30 am No. 2. Hold. Unknown contents, very heavy rain and sleet after 2 am
  • Out of sish ice 3 am, small strings afterwards
  • Second Officer King reported a light at 3am, Martin said couldn't be the case
  • Lookout gunner man reported the same
  • Steamer hit 3 times
  • Couldn't see shore
  • In morning, could see ships head not 100 yards off the beach
  • Went in on reef twice the length of herself (610 feet)
  • Struck under foremast.
  • Seas came over ship as soon as she struck
  • Water came from over her port quarter, made clean breach fore and aft
  • Fore topmast wrecked first 5-10 minutes after struck
  • No steel or iron cargo to affect compass
  • Gun too far off to affect compass (considered new machinery)
  • Compasses worked fine
  • After struck, put telegraph full ahead
  • No answer from engine room 2 minutes after wreck
  • Ordered life boats out, then realized that was futile
  • Ordered men to get life belts
  • Five or six minutes after wreck Starboard life boats smashed to pieces
  • Steel boat swept, wedged between second mates room door, starboard rail blocking passageway from aft on the lee side to the bridge
  • Ladders from social hall to boat deck swept away
  • Many passengers and crew behind lee side boats
  • More people in chart room and wheelhouse, took Kean with broken leg there
  • Wave carried forward part of wheelhouse on port side, smashed people through door
  • At dawn noticed Munn and passengers on smoking house deck
  • Martin attempt to get aft, swept by huge wave. Grabbed Marconi House railing
  • All passengers on smoking deck gone
  • Squeezed into Marconi house, believes they were only survivors
  • Went to Fiddley, found First officer, second cook and others
  • Returned to Marconi House proposed lifeline to shore. Second Engineer said it was mad
  • Dooley offers to go too
  • Smoking room and bridge both gone, ship broken off aft
  • Got forward and found carpenter, Ledingham, others. No lines. Ledingham convinces Martin to stay aboard
  • Found grape nuts and whiskey
  • Kept running out on deck for landsmen to see survivors
  • Rescue boats picked up survivors in two's and three's
  • All wreckage drifted to shore
  • Wind stayed S.E. until daylight Sunday. Changed to W or NW

Daily News: March 11th, 1918 (Page 2)
Florizel Enquiry : Three Witnesses

Witness John Davis, Oiler
  • On watch when Florizel left port. Off watch at 8pm (Left before 8)
  • Back on watch at 4am, slept in between shifts
  • 3rd engineer on watch when Davis came back on. Relieved by 2nd engineer thereafter
  • Couple of firemen were asleep in engine room. 3 firemen and 1 coal passer every watch often other firemen slept in the room
  • Doesn’t know how many revolutions engine was doing
  • All bearings OK
  • No trouble with engines
  • Full pressure 175
  • Engines did not stop when she struck
  • Engineer near telegraph when she struck
  • Engines reversed a few seconds after signal received
  • Engines kept reversed
  • Davis left engine room after a few minutes
  • Water came in 3 or 4 minutes after she struck
  • Heard water rushing on starboard side of engine room, coming from bottom
  • Left 2nd engineer to wake other engineers
  • Went to boat deck , passed crowd of passengers in passageway
  • Went to starboard side of smoke room
  • Passengers, chef, 3rd and 4th engineers all there. Three passengers were children, 2 women
  • Sea coming over from aft. Davis remained 10 minutes. Headed for Marconi room
  • 2 or 3 others in Marconi room. Oiler Timmons was there
  • Does not know if anyone was refused admission. Knew few people there
  • 2 women (Cantwell and Denief), 3 engineers, 2 gunners, 2 operators, bosun, Seaman Dooley, Joe Maloney, Mr. Parmiter, and the captain were all there
  • Operator had a flashlight for signalling
  • No food, people sang and stamped their feet to keep alive
  • Door torn off by seas

Witness Edward Timmons, Oiler
  • Worked on Florizel 4 years
  • On watch from 8-12, relieved Davis. Hennebury relieved him at 12
  • Engines turning usual speed, he believed. Ship full speed
  • Engine raced a little before 2am, not racing before that
  • Went to bed 1am
  • Thought the first strike was ice, realized they were ashore the second time it struck
  • Dressed, headed to main deck under bridge. Lights went out at that time
  • Water coming over rail into saloon on port side
  • Went into saloon, heard women crying there
  • People blocked the saloon doorway
  • Went to the smoke room, recognized 2nd and 4th engineers
  • Remained in smoke room for 5 minutes, then went to fiddley
  • Found 3 or 4 Spanish firemen there
  • Remained in fiddley for 1 ½ hours, then went to Marconi room
  • Seas began to come over ship more heavily at that point
  • Saw Carter, 2 women, Davis, Molloy, H. Snow, 3rd Mate (Jackman) and the captain there
  • Saw Carter signal with flashlight on Sunday night
  • Carter signalled with Prospero
  • Saw one boat leave from the land, saw it capsize
  • On Sunday he counted between 30 and 32 people in the Marconi room

Witness Jose Fernandez, Fireman
*(translated at Enquiry)
  • Native of Corruna (Corruns), Spain
  • Went on watch at 4am. 3 Firemen a watch
  • When she struck, he headed for the boat deck, took shelter behind boat No. 1 on starboard side. Remained there 5 minutes
  • Went to Fiddley for a few moments, saw several firemen there
  • Went to the Marconi room, remained for 3 or 4 hours
  • Left Marconi room for fiddley, there till rescued. One officer and 4 or 5 crew members there
  • All Spanish firemen gone when he returned to fiddley

Daily News: March 12th, 1918 (Page 5)
Florizel Enquiry: Captain Martin recalled
  • Florizel could go 12 knots, weather depending
  • The run from St. John’s to Halifax between 44-52 hours long
  • The run from Cape Spear to Cape Race between 5-6 hours long
  • Expected to make Cape Race at 3am
  • Making 8 knots due to swell during first watch
  • No formal orders to engine room to report speed
  • Telegraph standing at full speed from the Narrows until the wreck
  • No orders given to reduce speed or to conserve coal
  • Engine was turning full speed as far as Martin knew
  • Might have been making more than 8 knots
  • Motion Head 8 miles abaft between 9:45 and 10:00
  • Cape Sear bore NW at departure
  • Nothing else to take bearings on that night
  • Unable to account for going ashore except possibly an unknown current
  • Claims 3rd officer does not have authority to alter course, although Jackman did and was right to do so in Martin’s view
  • Course altered for about 15 minutes, cause of sagging into Petty Harbour unknown
  • Course change may not have been entered in log book
  • Officer on duty must log all occurrences, Martin generally saw to this. Occasionally logged himself
  • Ship had no “old fashioned hand log”
  • Martin was here given a list of passengers and crew and asked to recount who he saw and what he/she wore during the wreck
  • Saw James Miller shortly after she struck. Fully dressed with life belt. Offered his sympathies to the Captain
  • Saw Joe Kean, helped him to the bridge after he was injured
  • Saw J.S. Munn on top of smoke house at dawn, was wearing a dressing gown
  • Saw Joseph Maloney in Marconi room, with neither coat nor life belt

Daily News: March 15th, 1918 (Pages 6-7)
Florizel Enquiry

William James, 1st Officer
  • Master mariner since 1911
  • Came to Newfoundland from Grennock Scotland in 1900. 35 yrs old
  • Joined Florizel in 1911 as 3rd Officer
  • 1st watch on the 23rd was 4pm to 8pm
  • Came back on at 4am
  • 8pm mild weather and a SW wind
  • Departed at 7:30, made the Narrows at 8pm
  • Could see Cape Spear light clearly from Narrows, 3-3 ½ miles off
  • Reported to Captain at 8:30pm
  • Wind was SSW, ship on usual course, ice less than an inch thick
  • After 8:30 he visited the engineers, they did not discuss speed of the ship
  • Remained till 9pm, saw the Captain ask if everything was well
  • Reader, Kean and himself had a social chat in the Mess room
  • Turned in at 10:30pm, quarters on port side of ship
  • Swell on port bow at 10:30
  • Believed boat to be moving at 9 knots after leaving the Narrows and throughout the night
  • Could see ¾ miles when he came back on at 4am
  • Ordered to put out log at 4:30am, misunderstood and put out lead
  • Log went out at 4:43
  • Dooley and Gover were the quartermasters on deck at the time of the wreck, Molloy was at the wheel
  • Captain came on bridge at 4:10 from the chart room
  • Course altered at 4:40am, struck at 4:50am
  • Saw something white in the water, mistook it for ice
  • Tried to get starboard lifeboats ready, sea swept many passengers and sailors away
  • Tried to get boat No. 2 ready, but it was destroyed by seas. Caused Kean’s injury
  • Went to fiddley, observed roughly 30 passengers on top of the smoke room, saw them swept away gradually
  • Smoke house was destroyed 1 ½ hours after the wreck
  • Saw Kean, King, Jackman, James Miller, Charles Snow, and Molloy in the wheel house
  • Was in fiddley by 7am with Charles Bailey, who was swept away shortly thereafter
  • Some Spaniards were there, Dauphinee in ventilator
  • 4 or 5pm he noticed a dory from the land attempting to reach the ship, but it capsized
  • Spaniards died one by one in the fiddley
  • Sullivan arrived at 8am, left for the Marconi house at 11pm
  • Dragged Ralph Burnham into fiddley around 8am
  • Kept Fernandez under a sail, kept him warm

Noah Dauphinee, 1st class passenger
  • Stayed in room (29?) with Captain O.P. Belleveau
  • Asleep when ship struck. A waiter was in the room bailing out water. Belleveau came and told him she was ashore, got dressed
  • Only woke once before that evening, when Belleveau noticed the room was awash
  • Boat rocked heavily in the night
  • Once he was dressed, he left his room and headed upstairs through a hallway and to the smoke room. Lights went out at that time
  • Went to the top of the Smoke room. Saw Belleveau and Munn there, remained himself for 30-45 minutes
  • Moved to boat deck ladder with Charles Snow for 15 minutes
  • Moved to fiddley and entered vent with help from William James
  • Nightfall he moved to Marconi room, 37 people were there

J.P. Kiely, 1st class Passenger
  • In smoking room with Kean and someone else when ship struck
  • Headed for quarters to get his coat
  • Met stewardess at the bottom of the stairs, she remained with him
  • They went to his room. Room No. 2
  • 5 or 6 minutes to get there. Lights went out upon arrival
  • Met many people along the way, including purser Snow, inquiring about what was going on
  • James Moore also went to Kiely’s room, remained until 9am
  • 2 ½ feet of water in the room
  • Stewardess Keough died at daylight from heart trouble or exposure. She was in the upper berth
  • Kiely in closet. Used a cord and tassel tied around door knob to quickly close door if water were rushing, thus preventing it from being flooded
  • In room till 3am Monday when rescued through skylight
  • Went to Marconi room where 30-35 others were

Daily News: March 16th, 1918 (Page 2)
Florizel Enquiry

Major Michael Sullivan, Passenger
  • Left the smoking room at 10 or 10:30pm
  • Walked about deck with Thomas McNeil thereafter
  • Went to bed around 11:15pm
  • 12:00am got up and returned to smoking room. J.P. Kiely and Joe Kean were there
  • 2am went to social hall with blanket to sleep, saw a man and woman there
  • 4:30am awoke due to heavy rolling
  • Stewards entered, turned on lights
  • Went to Munn’s room shortly thereafter. Munn awake but in bed
  • Purser Snow came by and asked if they wanted anything, brought oranges
  • Very heavy rolling commented on by Munn
  • In passageway when she struck at 4:50. immediately returned to Munn’s room
  • Munn got dressed and headed for starboard side
  • Sullivan went to his room to get flashlight, then headed for smoking room
  • Few people there, decided to go to captain’s room
  • Seas coming over aft
  • Heard Kean inquire about lifeboats
  • Made it to wheel house, heard Captain say they were near Cape Race
  • Captain gave Sullivan a life belt
  • Remained in wheelhouse 10 minutes until sea destroyed part of it
  • Went outside, stood between rail and wheelhouse for 15minutes
  • Went down and held a rail near the captains house for several hours
  • Wheelhouse went a 20 minutes after he arrived at rail
  • Cleared wheelhouse wreckage off of Green
  • Saw men die one by one while holding railing
  • Saw Jack Connonly and a Mr. Snow die
  • Went to fiddley at 12pm
  • Dwyer, Cleary, Burnham and a fireman were there
  • Entered Marconi room at 2pm
  • Remained till 2:30am, gave operator flashlight
  • Saw “Daddy” King die on deck
  • Martin rigged lifeline from Marconi room to davits

Daily News: March 19th, 1918 (Page 2)
Florizel Enquiry

Major Sullivan, passenger, cross examined
  • Lights were out when he arrived on the bridge

Thomas Lumsden, 2nd Engineer
  • Ship engines had been inspected in New York, steam pressure was 175 pounds
  • Winter propeller was 75 revolutions a minute, summer was 90 revolutions a minute
  • Nominal Horse Power 430, indicated horse power 2500
  • Left engine room at 9pm, pressure was 170, 60-65 revolutions
  • Revolutions noted in official log
  • Ship blowing ashes after they left Narrows. Continued until 9:30pm
  • Returned to engine room 3:45am, 63 revolutions, engineer on duty said everything was alright
  • Indicator gives revolutions over 4 hours, divided by 340
  • Engines were running as usual between 4 and 4:50
  • Put her in full reverse when she struck
  • Expected orders from bridge, received none
  • Remained in engine room till water started coming in
  • Put dynamo at full pressure, it was run from a separate engine
  • Stopped regular engine and left
  • Loss of pressure is generally not reported to the bridge
  • Inferior coal could not reduce speed even by 2 knots
  • No engine racing as far as he knew
  • Speed was reduced 30- 35% when blowing ashes
  • Went to bed at 10:30 that night
  • 2 dynamos on ship
  • Engineer has a device to prevent racing

Herbert Taylor, 4th engineer
  • 7:25 pm went to the engine room
  • In charge from 9:00pm till 12:05am, ship had 170- 175 pressure, 69 revolutions
  • Got “full away” from bridge at 7:59
  • Turned in at 12:15
  • Temperature in engine room 34 between 9-12
  • Did not know ship was ashore till he was called
  • Impossible to access engine room during wreck, decided to go to smoking room
  • 30-40 people there
  • Met miss Barrett there, she asked him to save her
  • She took a hold of his hand, but was carried away by the sea

Eric Collier, 3rd engineer (listed here as second)
  • On watch from 12- 4am
  • Pressure may have dropped to 165, 63.7 revolutions
  • Some racing during his watch, but not a great deal
  • Temperature at 3:30 was 34
  • Worst racing was at 2:15am

Florizel Enquiry

Bernard John Murphy, assistant operator
  • 24 yrs old
  • On watch as of 2am
  • Received a transmission from Mount Pearl at 4am. A press report
  • Noticed they were ashore when he felt the bump
  • Someone told him the Captain had ordered an SOS, decided to call Cecil
  • Started generator, which takes 1 ½ minutes. It was running when Cecil arrived
  • Tried to get ship position by telephone with no results
  • Went in search of Captain, found him in state room putting on a life belt
  • Captain said near Cape Race
  • Returned to Marconi house and delivered message. Lights out by then

Michael Power, bosun
  • Went below between 8:30 and 9:00 pm after reporting to deck officer
  • Called at 4:40 with Dooley to get a hold of cargo in No. 2
  • Struck just after he got dressed
  • Headed forward to port side, washed starboard by water
  • Made it to boats, cut loose boat No. 1 but was washed away from it
  • Ordered to get life belts, but the belts were washed away. Heard Purser Snow ordered to help passengers
  • Seas coming over port quarter
  • Saw Kean and Martin in Wheelhouse
  • Went off bridge on lee side, saw the wheelhouse carried away over head. Seaman Gover was with it
  • Tried to get aft but steel Boat 2 blocked passage way. Climbed over it
  • Got to fiddley, remained for 20 minutes, then went to Marconi room
  • He and captain were last to leave ship
  • Between 2 and 4 pm on Sunday the water was extremely calm, but no ships were there
  • Maloney could have been saved if boats had arrived earlier
  • Lights went out while he was at boats
  • 11am or 12pm Sunday the captain and Dooley proposed life line plan

Thomas Green, quartermaster
  • On watch from 12-4 am
  • Went to Wheelhouse 4 bells 2. Relieved Bailey
  • SSW with nothing to the Westward while he was at wheel. Kept Southerly
  • Wind was SE, not heavy
  • Never swung more than 4 degrees off course
  • Altered course at 4 to WSW
  • Heard King say he saw a light, thought it might be Bear Cove Head
  • Went to saloon deck when ship struck, saw steel port boat jammed between officers room and rail
  • Saw sea sweep wheelhouse and binnacle and was tangled in wreck but was saved by Sullivan
  • Jammed under a boat on way to smoke stack
  • Made it to fiddley, then to Marconi House


George Finley, Master of the Canadian ship Iocolite testifies on conditions that day. Fred Foote, Master from Canada, discusses his experiences eith the reversed Polar Current.

Daily News: March 21st, 1918 (Page 5)
Florizel Enquiry

Thomas Green, Quartermaster (cont.)
  • Weather was thick when he was relieved at 12:00am
  • Steered SSW with nothing to the westward while he was at the wheel
  • The ship didn’t race while he was at wheel

Alex Ledingham, passenger
  • 31 years old, marine engineer
  • Turned in at 9:30, woke due to rolling at 4am
  • Awoke again when she struck, Mr. Wright, his roommate, said it was ice
  • Got up and dressed, did not believe it was ice
  • Handed out life belts to steerage passengers moments after she struck
  • Went to the smoke room where he saw the 2nd engineer, then headed for the bridge
  • Remained in the wheelhouse until a sea broke the side of it
  • Saw J.Connolly, J. Parsons, and J. Miller in the wheelhouse
  • Observed the destruction of the wheelhouse from near the captain’s room
  • Saw Pinsent, James and Miller there
  • Saw Carpenter Pinsent make it to forecastle safely. Saw Miller and James
  • After some difficulty, Ledingham made it to forecastle. 8am
  • Captain and Dooley arrived at 12pm
  • Helped get Kean up a ladder with James and Martin after he had been injured
  • Saw Purser Snow by Captain’s house just before the wheelhouse went
  • Had in been in chief engineer’s room at 9pm on Sat
  • Captain came, Reader said everything was fine, Captain left again after 10 minutes
  • Weather moderated Sunday afternoon, but no rescue ships were there
  • Didn’t see land until daylight

William Molloy, quartermaster
  • 22 years old, worked on the Cape Broyle, acted as replacement crew
  • First shift 8-12, second shift 4-8
  • Had the wheel from 8-10. At 830pm Cape Spear was 1 ½ miles off
  • 8:40 course changed to SW ¼ S, captain’s orders
  • This course was held by 10pm when he passed the wheel to Gover
  • Saw Captain on bridge three times during watch. Jackman was in charge
  • Came back at 4am. Course change to WSW, remained at wheel till she struck
  • Course changed forty minutes later to W by S
  • Struck 15 minutes later
  • After wreck went to boat NO. 1 as ordered with Dooley, Bosun, and Carpenter
  • Boats were hopeless
  • Went to the bridge, saved from wreckage by Dooley, then proceeded to Marconi room
  • Also thought the breakers were ice
  • Two soundings taken during first watch, 160 and 170 fathoms
  • Didn’t see land till daylight

Joseph Burry, Lamp Trimmer
  • 35 Years old
  • Off duty at 8pm, turned in a slept till she struck
  • Went on deck with Green and Lambert after the wreck. Went to Lamp Room
  • Washed out of there several times before 9:30am, decided to go to Oiler’s room remained there till rescued

Daily News: March 22th, 1918 (Page 6)
Florizel Enquiry

David Griffiths, 2nd Class Passenger
  • Slept from 8pm until after the wreck
  • Doesn’t know how he got to smoking room
  • Washed off smoking house to lee side of deck
  • Came to on a staircase
  • Washed away again to forward, grabbed a rope there. Met a bleeding man
  • Brought to Marconi room by someone
  • Saw Munn get washed over by the second of three major seas that struck the Smoking room
  • Also saw dark haired woman, about 30yrs old. Does not know what happened to her

Alexander Fleet, Waiter
  • In room 29 bailing out water when the ship struck
  • This was Dauphinee’s and Belleveau’s room, the latter was not there
  • Went through social hall to boat deck when she struck
  • Ordered by Pinsent to get an axe to release boat, returned with one two minutes later, boat was gone
  • Returned to his quarters to get a coat, roommate had locked door
  • Went to lee side of smoking house with Gordon Ivany, remained there awhile
  • Went to fiddley, but it was full
  • Went to Marconi house with Hennebury, Hennebury washed away before they reached it

John Johnston, Pantry Waiter
  • Off duty at 8pm
  • Got up at 4:30am to secure stores rolling about
  • Was in pantry when she struck
  • Met Stanley Squires who said they merely struck some ice
  • Met Dwyer shortly thereafter, he said they were ashore
  • Next ran into William Moore and Miss Denief
  • Went to lee side of smoker with Denief, remained for about an hour
  • Ran forward with Miss Denief between seas
  • Sea swept them during this attempt forward, held skylight with one hand and Denief with the other
  • Not many in Marconi room when they arrived. Timmons held door as it was warped
  • Made it to Marconi room at 6:06am
  • Denief had been lightly clad and asked him to save her
  • Blanket given to her and Cantwell in the Marconi room
  • Gardner also in Marconi room, told him the time when he arrived

James Dwyer
  • 26 yrs old
  • Got up at 4:15am due to leak in the room
  • Went to see how Mr. Munn was doing, saw Sullivan with him
  • In alley when ship struck
  • Told passengers to put on life belts
  • Went down to get a coat, then went to smoke room. Saw 3rd engineer and Johnston
  • Went to Marconi room sometime later, squeezed in
  • Went to fiddley at 12pm on Sunday. Remained there till rescued
  • Betty Munn’s room was No. 18
  • It was daylight when he arrived at smoke room
  • Called Munn, Stevenson, Smythe, Ledingham, Wright, Daley, Laracy, Froude, Miller, McNeil, McCourbey, Moore, Earle, O’Drisscoll, Parsons, Bearteau, F. Snow, and Chown when the ship struck

Henry Dodd, Mess room Stweard
  • 21 yrs old
  • Went to kitchen about 5 minutes before she struck
  • Woke due to heavy rolling, along with Lynch
  • Saw chief engineer call 3rd and 4th engineers in alleyway
  • Showed Mr. And Mrs. Butler to the deck as he knew the Butlers
  • Butler gave him a bag to hold onto, lost it within ten minutes
  • Went to smoke room but was washed away from the Butlers
  • Went to Marconi room after about 20 minutes
  • Butlers had no lifebelts, Mrs. Butler had on a fur coat

Jacob Pinsent, Carpenter
  • 32 Yrs old
  • Off duty at 8:30 pm
  • Called 4:40am to secure cargo in hold No.2. By the time he had dressed, the ship had struck
  • Went to the saloon deck, washed from port to starboard, saw Botswain there
  • Heard captain order the boats out, happened to be by Boat No.1
  • Boat washed away before released
  • Went to Marconi room, then to the bridge
  • Finally went to Oiler’s room and remained till rescued

Albert Fagan, Passenger
  • In bed when ship struck. Believed it was ice, as did his roommate R.J. Fowler
  • Got ready when lights started to go
  • When he got out of his room lights were gone out, 5 inches of water in alley
  • Walked through the water to the smoke room, remained for 15 minutes
  • Saw a man and wife washed away while there
  • Went to fiddley but it was full. Went to Marconi room, found only 9 or 10 people there
  • Overheard someone being refused admission

Alfred Thomas Hatchford (spelled Hatchard in all other sources), Gunner
  • One of two gunners, stationed at the gun during the day, at the bridge at night
  • Acted as lookout from 1-2am and 3-4am
  • Saw what might have been a light between 3 and 4am
  • Hesitated in telling the captain as he only saw it once

Daily News: March 23th, 1918 (Page 2)
Florizel Enquiry

Kitty Cantwell, 1st Class Passenger

  • Was in Room No. 19 with Annie Dalton
  • Heard Snow call all hands on deck
  • Miss Keough had shown her where the lifebelts were earlier that evening
  • Left room just as lights went out
  • A big girl fell into her room as they left
  • Can’t remember how they got to deck or to Smoking room
  • Saw several washed away on Smoke Room roof
  • Kitty left for Marconi room at daylight, Annie said she couldn’t come
  • Asked a young man to help Annie, he refused
  • When she left only Annie remained on Smoke room
  • When she arrived at Marconi room she was told it was full, but was admitted by someone else
  • Saw Mr. Murphy and Miss Denief there
  • Molloy and Green arrived later
  • First to be rescued
  • Had dinner in saloon before she sailed

Miss Minnie Denief, 2nd Class Passenger
  • Felt ship strike, she was awake at the time
  • Was not told anything by staff when they struck
  • Water began to rush into her room quickly
  • Separated from Pelley early on
  • Didn’t see anyone, lost her glasses
  • Lights went out when she got to the saloon, followed voices
  • Met Johnston, who stayed with her
  • Brought her to smoking room lee side, remained for an hour
  • Went to Marconi room

Alfred Hatchford, Gunner re-examined
.
  • Came on watch at 12am, relieved Bailey at 1am
  • Thought he saw reflection of light
  • Eventually believed it was a rising sea
  • Saw 2 people die outside fiddley

William Parmiter, 1st Class Passenger
  • In his room when she struck
  • Sat up, heard some one order people to get up
  • Opened cabin door and was knocked down by sea
  • Got to the deck, recognized Captain Kean
  • Wreckage broke Kean’s leg
  • Got to the captain’s room, remained with John Connolly for 20 minutes
  • Moved onto the bridge
  • Saw a man hung by the neck to a part of the rigging
  • Connolly died of exposure
  • Washed to rail by sea, lost sight of Kean
  • Eventually went to Marconi room

Joseph Stockley, 2nd Class Passenger
  • 21 yrs old
  • Stayed in room 51
  • Felt ship strike, go fully dressed, found water in passage
  • Bartlett was with him
  • Lights were out before they got to the deck
  • Saw no one till they arrived at the smoking deck
  • Outside smoking room with Bartlett and Maloney family
  • Went for Marconi room at daybreak
  • Last saw Bartlett at smoker about 30 minutes after she struck
  • Made it to Marconi room and heard Bartlett there. Responded to him 10 minutes after Stockley arrived there
  • An hour later he asked for him again, was told that Bartlett had gone out

Daily News: March 26th, 1918 (Page 5)
Florizel Enquiry

George H. Curtis, Gunner
  • 36 yrs old
  • On watch from 8-12, on again at 4am
  • First watch good. Visibility good until 9:45 when snow came
  • Was at the after end of the boat deck when she struck
  • Jumped down No. 3 hatch when she struck to warn mates she was ashore
  • Got to lee side of smoker after boats washed away
  • Saw Reader, Denief, and Timmons there
  • Went to the outside of Marconi room after that
  • 4 or 5 others there, including Lynch
  • Lynch headed for bridge
  • After 20 minutes went in Marconi room

Archibald Gardner, 1st class Passenger
  • 27 yrs. Old
  • Went to bed 8:45pm
  • Shared room with George Parmiter
  • Awoke at 4:50 due to shouting
  • Got to main entrance on port side, struck by sea, lost Parmiter
  • Made it to lee side of smoker
  • Advised by Curtis to get forward
  • Saw man and wife, tried to make it forward with them
  • Sea came and took them, he held onto skylight
  • Made it to fiddley then Marconi room

Charles Reelis
  • Up at 4am to clean water in social hall, still at it when ship struck
  • Was in charge of rooms 10-19 on starboard side
  • Water came in trough forward end of social hall
  • Went to Marconi room for life belt after after shouting all hands on deck
  • Went to starboard side of smoke room, saw Smythe and McNeil there, lights were out
  • Remained for 5 minutes, returned to Marconi room
  • Told Ms. Keough to look after Ms. Munn when she struck the second time
  • Went to call ladies in room 14

Harry Snow, 2nd Steward (spelled Henry Snow in other sources)
  • Called at 3:45am to clean water coming in through ports
  • In alleyway when ship struck
  • Ordered to tell passengers to get their lifebelts
  • Passed instructions to other waiters
  • In alleyway when lights went out
  • Proceeded to boat deck, saw passengers, including Ms. Barrett, heading for smoker
  • On deck till daylight, saw passengers get swept overboard
  • Saloon passengers on top of smoker
  • Miss Barrett died on deck but was not injured by wreckage
  • Went to Marconi room

Fred Roberts
  • Was in bed when she struck
  • Grabbed pants when he heard waiters yelling
  • Ran into Nicholle. Went to smoking room, ran into Whitten
  • Went to Marconi room, kept alive by people there

Joseph Moore, 2nd Cook
  • In bed when she struck
  • Headed for smoking room deck, washed off his feet by seas
  • Found Kiely, visited him several times
  • Got through skylight 8 or 9am. Had to jump for it
  • Made it to Marconi room, but was refused admission
  • Went to fiddley, kept going between both places
  • Found man and boy below, asked them to stay in room 19. They died there
  • A Woman might have been in the social hall

Daily News: March 27th, 1918 (Page 5)
Florizel Enquiry

John G. Stone
  • Read report describing the sending of assistance for the Florizel
  • Doesn’t believe the Home was ready to leave at 8am
  • All was done to get ships out
  • Home left 12:45pm, arrived at dusk (5:58pm)
  • Wind WNW when they arrived
  • 6:40pm Home sent out first boat 100 yards off wreck
  • Slob ice impeded progress of Home a little
  • Dr. Knowlton on Terra Nova
  • 20 tons of coal had to be removed form the Hawke

Ernest Perry, Captain of the Gordon C.
  • Coasting Master, no ticket
  • Gordon C. owned by P.H. Cowan and Co.
  • Instructed to go to wreck by Mr. Cowan and Mr. Tessier at Franklin’s wharf
  • Ordered at 10:00am to get ready
  • Left at 11:30am, could have been 9:30am
  • Wind SW when they left the Narrows, changed to W
  • Slob ice reduced speed from 10 ½ knots to 5
  • Reached Florizel at 5:30pm
  • Got within 100 yards of ship
  • Approximately 6:30pm left for Fermueuse to send messages to St. John’s
  • Left Fermeuse 11:30pm, arrived back at the wreck 3:30am
  • Perry and Chief engineer Pierson got in dory at 4am to go to wreck
  • Got a lifeline aboard on 3rd attempt
  • Rescued Kitty and Minnie
  • Took the ladies to Gordon C. Pierson had to change clothes, replaced with John Budden
  • 4 more trips taking men from wreck to large lifeboat
  • Noticed the Polar Current reversed from SW to NE before
  • Gordon C 150 tons nett, 280 tons gross

  • Marcus Simonsen, Captain of Hawk
    • Hawk owned by the Newfoundland Shipbuilding Co.
    • Abram Kean put in command
    • Steamed up at 6am
    • Went to Bowring’s wharf at 9:30am
    • 11:30am received word from Cyril Tessier that Florizel was submerged
    • Cancelled reservists, asked for them again at 1pm
    • 2:30pm got reservists
    • Left port 4pm, could have left at 8am
    • Hawk anchored ½ miles from wreck, sent out a life boat twice, both attempts failed
    • 3rd attempt got within cable length, heard there were 40 aboard at 4am
    • Rescued 33 people, capsized on 5th attempt

    Daily News: March 28th, 1918 (Page 6)
    Florizel Enquiry

    Alex Campbell
    • Identified the bodies of the Florizel victims
    • Only two bodies at Bay Bulls that he did not personally identify
    • Submitted a list of 6 unrecovered bodies. 4 Men, 2 Boys (one was Billy Guzzwell, recovered a year later)
    • Body buried in Argentia mistaken for Michael Power
    • Now believed to be a Spanish fireman. (Francisco Fornas???)
    • Record kept of every survivor, remainder are assumed dead
    • Leaving unidentified body in Argentia until other bodies are recovered (this never happened)

    Marcus Simonsen re-examined
    • Abram Kean and son boarded Hawke at 9am
    • If there had been no counter orders, they could have left by 9am

    William Carter, Ship Master
    • Submitted a list of Florizel’s crew

    David McFarlane
    • Surveyors of machines for Lloyd’s registry
    • Inspected Florizel before
    • At 63 revolutions she would make approximately 11 knots

    Daily News: March 30th, 1918 (Page 2)
    Florizel Enquiry

    Luke Holmes
    • Captain of the Lingan
    • Experienced the reversal of the Polar Current before
    • Doesn’t believe a missing blade on Florizel would go unnoticed
    • Would have made all of the same calls as Martin

    Daily News: April 02nd, 1918 (Page 5)
    Florizel Enquiry

    Honourable John C. Crosbie
    • Phone rang between 5 and 5:15am on Sunday
    • MacDermott informed him of Florizel SOS
    • Asked MacDermott to stay in touch with vessel
    • Called Eric Bowring with little success at first
    • Discussed what ships to send out, possibly Terra Nova
    • Called Tasker Cook and H.D Reid
    • Discussed sending the Home
    • Cook arrived at Crosbie’s home at 6:30am
    • They decided to send out steamers
    • Went to Bowrings, began receiving conflicting and upsetting reports. All hands lost, etc
    • Called Reid about a special train, it would take 2- 2 ½ hours to get ready
    • Next went to Bowrings’ offices, met with Captain Kennedy and McGettigan and others, decided to get reservists
    • Tried to acquire a rocket for getting a line from shore
    • Acquired alcohol from the Briton to go on the train for the survivors
    • Told that Gordon C and Hawke ready to leave if he wanted
    • Asked Bowring if they should go, he said yes. This was 11am
    • Train left 11:55am
    • Asked Kean to captain the Hawke
    • He agreed. They headed to Bowring’s again
    • Found Simonsen and Tessier there
    • Returned to Kean’s and Bowrings’ wharf again
    • Unloaded coal from Hawke at 12:30pm
    • Kean decided not to go after message that his son was dead
    • Operator at Mount Pearl kept Crosbie informed throughout the night how things were going
    • No mistakes made as far as he was concerned
    • Did not counter demand reservists

    Daily News: April 03rd, 1918 (Page 2)
    Florizel Enquiry

    Fredrick Cornick, Chief Clerk of Harvey & Co. Shipping Office
    • Supplied a passenger list

    Cyril W.G. Tessier
    • Told Mr. Foley of Bowring Brothers that Hawke was ready to leave at 8:30am
    • Simonsen told to sail at 9am
    • Went to Bowring’s to acquire rescue supplies for the Hawke
    • Met Kean and Crosbie at 10:30am
    • Coal emptied and rescue supplies placed on Hawke by 12:30pm
    • Simonsen said discharging of coal unnecessary
    • 12:30pm Crosbie ordered work on Hawke to halt
    • 1:45pm received word that people still alive on wreck
    • Crosbie asked him to wait for Kean
    • Hawke finally left at 3:45pm
    • Could have been left by 1pm at earliest, according to Tessier

    John W. Costello, Ferryland light keeper
    • Slob ice moving East or Northeast on the 23rd, not SW as usual
    • Wind on the 23rd Sunset- SSW 11pm- SE 2am- SSE

    Martin Dalton
    • Describes his experiences with a reversed Polar Current

    William Dooley, Seaman
    • On duty from 8-12 and 4-8
    • 3 soundings taken between 8-12
    • 4:45 Dooley and Gover cast log
    • Taking it in when they struck
    • Went forward for Captain’s orders
    • Given knife by quartermaster yo get cover off boat No.1
    • Sea took boat away. Gover, Molloy, Pinsent, and M. Power were there
    • Went to wheelhouse, remained till it was destroyed
    • Went to main deck. Saw Molloy and Bartlett and others
    • Went to fiddley, then to Marconi house, about 30 there
    • Decided to get line ashore with Martin. Abandoned idea, went to Oiler’s room

    Daily News: April 06rd, 1918 (Page 2)
    Florizel Enquiry

    Phillip Jackman, 3rd Officer
    • 32 years old
    • Has his second mate certificate
    • Was on duty from 7:30pm to 12:00am (Saturday)
    • Took charge of the bridge at 8:46pm when Cape Spear was abeam
    • 11:55pm 170 fathoms went out from the lead
    • Awake when ship struck
    • Went to bridge and heard captain order boats out
    • Came across a lot of passengers near the smoker room
    • Told John Munn it looked like they were at Horn Head
    • Went back to the bridge but had to climb over a wrecked steel rescue boat on the port side
    • Sea came and washed the bridge and many passengers and crew away
    • Awoke on the leeside
    • Went to the Marconi room
    • Went to the fiddly around 4:00pm on Sunday
    • Did not change course, told the wheelman not to let it go westward
    • Only though they were sagging into Petty Harbour
    • In retrospect believes the ship should have been going 12 or 11 knots, he thought it was funny the ship was going 8 knots

    Captain William Martin
    • Estimated speed without calculating reverse currant
    • Allowed her 6 knots, though he thought it was travelling 7 knots
    • Engineer said everything was fine

    Daily News: April 09rd, 1918 (Page 2)
    Florizel Enquiry: Address of Mr. Dunfield

    • Summary of evidence and Court’s Theory
    • Florizel entirely sea worthy
    • Left at 8pm under no pressure from Mr. Munn
    • Usual course 1 ½ miles off of Cape Spear
    • Changed course to SW (magnetic directions) varied toward southward parallel
    • 9:45pm weather became thick and snow began to fall. Land visible at Motion Head
    • Not possible to take bearing at Motion Head, 2- 2 ½ points abaft the beam
    • 10:20pm sight of land lost, Bay Bulls light 3 points on Starboard bow
    • This was the last definite position
    • 12:00am Martin believed Cape Broyle bore W ¾ S, course change to SSW
    • SSW course made to pass Bantams, this course run till 4am
    • Most distance lost between 10pm and 4am
    • Course change at 4am WSW
    • Ran this course till 4:35, course change to West by South
    • Ran aground 4:50am
    • 3 Possible positions at 4am
    • Point C is Martin’s believed position travelling at 6 knots
    • Point B is Martin’s believed position travelling at 5 knots
    • Point A is the approximate actual position (considerably short of Point B and closer to land)
    • Ship left Narrows at 8:30, travelled four miles so Cape Spear bore SE ½ S
    • Ship turned SW until Cape Spear bore NE at 8:44pm
    • Speed until 9:45pm about 6.25 knots
    • Master assumed speed of 7 or 8 knots

    Wind Velocities and Direction according to the Meteorological Station on Monkstown Road, St. John’s

    8pm 26miles per hour
    9pm 26 miles per hour
    10pm 22 mile per hour
    11pm 25 miles per hour
    12am 33 miles per hour
    1am 36 miles per hour
    2am 30 miles per hour
    3am 28 miles per hour
    4am 32 miles per hour
    5am 28(?) miles per hour

    • Wind would have affected ship speed after 12:00am
    • Slob ice between 1 and 3 inches thick
    • Believes sish density steadily increased
    • Wind pushed ice ashore, causing it to bunch up, become thicker
    • Martin did not sufficiently allow for this, ice caused leeway
    • ¼ allowance did not increase but sish ice density did
    • Sagged due to wind and ice on port bow
    • When Martin assumed 3-4 miles NE of Cape Broyle, he was actually 2 miles inshore and 8 miles northward of that point
    • Minimum speed and maximum leeway was between 12 and 1am. Approximately 4 knots speed
    • 1-2am 4 ½ knots, 2-3am 4 ½ knots
    • Carried three mile leeward in this time
    • If this is correct, Ferryland light 3-4 miles on starboard quarter at 3am
    • That’s when King and Hatchard saw the light
    • Ship out of ice at 3am, wind decreased, seas heavier. (port leaks around 4am evidence of this)
    • Heavy seas compensate for absence of ice, speed continues at a low 4 knots
    • Chart itself states that polar current reverses from time to time
    • Simonsen on the Hawk said the boat moved by NE current
    • Light House reported ice moved northward by 24th
    • Ice travelling against wind
    • Estimated speeds of ship too low to be unnoticed
    • Current reducing speed by 1 knot, carrying ice with it, causes an illusion of speed
    • 4 knots not unreasonable, as the illusion would create a speed of 5 knots, which is possible as Martin stated that he could not tell the difference of 1 knot. Believed they were going 6, appeared to be going 5, actually going 4
    • Presence of current impossible to detect without a fixed point

    The ship would have travelled over the water at these speeds

    9:45-11pm 7 knots
    11pm-12am 6 ½ knots
    12-1am 5 ½ knots
    1-2am 5 knots
    2-3am 5 ½ knots
    3-4am 5 ½ knots

    • These speeds were reduced by one knot due to the Polar current. Neither log nor observation would tell captain this
    • Misjudged speed by 1- 1 ½ knots
    • Seems accurate, as he estimated his speed from 8:30 – 9:45pm at 8 knots, when it was actually 6 ½
    • This brings ship 1 mile off Renews Rock at 4:30am, thus explaining the 45 fathoms

    Daily News: April 10th, 1918 (Page 2)
    Florizel Enquiry: Address of Mr. Dunfield

    • Submits a chart with proposed Florizel course
    • 4:00am – 4:50am heavy rolling would be caused by nearness to Bullhead and Renews Bantams
    • Slow speed means that weather was more severe than all sea-fearing witnesses supposed
    • Other theories contradict some evidence

    The Blame
    • Speed over estimated between 8:30pm and 9:45pm by Martin and Jackman
    • Blame-worthy judgement in two instances

      • Should have considered the polar current
      • It is on the chart in all sailing directions and is recognized by many sailors
      • A captain should estimate for all possible influences
      • Considering heavy weather, impossibility of using log, the captain was unaccustomed to using propeller revolutions to judge distances, there were no land marks to judge by and it was fool hardy to estimate Point C
      • If he had cast lead a 4:00am he would have gotten 60-80 fathoms
      • If on Point C course, he would have gotten 104-111 fathoms
      • Should have proceeded at reduced speed at 4:00am and sounded frequently
      • 4:00am course change may have been dangerous, but reasonable as Martin must not be over cautious and waste coal and delay arrival
      • Frequent soundings is very reasonable

    Point C Course Soundings Point A Course Soundings
    4:00 am 104-111 Fathoms 4:00 am 60-80 Fathoms
    4:30 am 90-100 Fathoms 4:30 am 40-45 Fathoms
    5:00 am 80-85 Fathoms 5:00 am 50 fathoms
    5:30 am 75-80 Fathoms 5:30 am 25-30 Fathoms

    • Soundings every half hour from 12:00am until 5:00am and reduced speed at 4:00am would have prevented the accident
    • Martin should also be able to judge speed and distance by propeller revolution
    • Very accurate estimation

    Attorney General’s Questions
    1. Was the Florizel in working order when she left?
    2. Were her navigating and life-saving instruments in working order?
    3. Were safe courses steered after departure?
    4. Was due allowance given as to the affects of wind on ships speed or course?
    5. Was due allowance given as to the affects of ice on ships speed or course?
    6. Was due allowance given as to the affects of sea and swell on ships speed and course?
    7. Was due allowance given as to the affects of currents on ships speed and course?
    8. Were the boilers and engines working properly?
    9. Were engines revolving at usual speed and if not, why?
    10. Were distances correctly estimated, was every effort made to verify position?
    11. Was the lead and the log used accurately between 8:00pm and 12:00am?
    12. Was the lead and the log used accurately between 12:00am and 4:00am?
    13. Should the lead have been used more frequently after 4:00am, and should reliance be placed in the 4:30am sounding?
    14. Was Martian justified in considering his position at 4:00am with out log use?
    15. Was Martian justified in distance estimation without use of instruments?
    16. Should Martian have known how to use propeller to judge speed and distance?
    17. Should Martian have changed course before daylight?
    18. Should Martian have gone full speed after 4:00am course change?
    19. Was the current reversed?
    20. Was a light seen at 3:00am?
    21. Was every effort made by crew to help passengers after wreck?
    22. Was effort made from shore to aid Florizel?
    23. What effort did other vessels make, how successful were they? Who is to be commended?
    24. Did Martian make every effort to get Florizel off the rocks?
    25. Who is to blame?

    Daily News: April 12th, 1918 (Page 2)
    Florizel Enquiry: Address of Mr. Dunfield

    • Dunfield attempting to ascertain the condition of the propeller, diver unavailable at the time

    John Edward Tucker, 1st Officer left ashore
    • Slowest he had seen Florizel go was 3 ½ knots
    • This was due to wind and sea
    • Says the propeller, if damaged, would not have gone unnoticed
    • Says ice would have little affect on the ship in his experience
    • Wind would not affect the ice, it would blow over it. Only would roll up due to heavy tides
    • Ship needed little allowance for leeway
    • If he’d been aboard, he would have enquired as to why the ship was moving so slow

    William Martin recalled
    • Early speeds not considered enough to merit an enquiry to the engine room. Never had before
    • Boat was often slow when leaving the Narrows
    • Clear out of ice at 3am
    • Wasn’t sure if he was totally free of ice, hesitated using the log, did not want to lose it

    Daily News: April 18th, 1918 (Page 6) Florizel Enquiry: Mr. Gibbs Address

    • All men were at their posts at the appropriate time
    • Proper courses were laid out
    • Statements made by Captain about speed and distance are not supported by evidence
    • Captain Martin’s early soundings extra cautious
    • Slow speeds unique in this instance and cannot be accounted for by weather conditions
    • Crown’s account of reduction of speed:
      1. A lower speed power in the ship herself
      2. Effects of wind and sea
      3. Effects of Ice
      4. Reversed Current
      5. Overestimations of speed by Captain and Crew
    • Engines working at at least 69 revolutions until 12:00am
    • So many witnesses claim ice would have no affect on the speed, the court should agree
    • Night of the 23rd not uncommonly stormy, no reason for it to have a had a greater affect than usual
    • Overestimations of speed unlikely, King, Tucker, and Martin believed the ship should be going 6 knots
    • Gibbs believes it was almost entirely due to the current, which he believes hindered the Florizel by 2- 2 ½ knots
    • This explains leeway and eliminates weather and speed errors
    • If traveling 4 knots the ship would have gone ashore well before reaching Cappahayden
    • Low speeds at the beginning of the night accounted for by blowing of ashes until at least 9:30pm
    • Wind could not press ice between 8pm and 12am, it was blowing in the wrong direction
      • A great deal of theorizing of possible currents is done
    • Claims that the current did not merely reverse but also increased in power
    • Captain cannot be held accountable for this current (cross current)
    • First ship carrying nails to Newfoundland wrecked along the tragic coast
    • Concluded that the Captain should be exonerated

    <<The S.S. Florizel •Back• The Marine Disaster Fund>>
    facebook top