Monday, January 14, 2013

Wreck of the Fascadale Part 2

Who was the Fascadale's First Mate?

A street in the Natal coastal resort of Southbroom commemorates Captain Alfred Julius Smith, said to have been the person commanding the Fascadale at the time of the wreck. However, there's confusion about this in various sources. The Times report quoted above merely refers to 'the captain', who was washed off the poop and rescued by Frank Whitehead. This would not have been the Fascadale's Captain Gillespie, so presumably it was the First Mate.  gives the following:

'When the Fascadale foundered ... in 1895, her captain was laid up in hospital after having met with an accident whilst unloading cargo in Durban. First Mate, Alfred Julius, was in fact at the helm but it is the registered ship's captain who is the namesake of Captain Smith's Drive'.

According to Malcolm Turner's Shipwrecks & Salvage in South Africa, where he quotes as one of his sources Lloyds Register of Shipping 1894-95, Captain B J Gillespie was the registered captain of the Fascadale. So, was the Fascadale's First Mate 'Alfred Julius' - or Alfred Julius Smith - acting captain at the time of the wreck?

There are also conflicting reports about the Fascadale - her size (but that often occurred, for various reasons, in ship descriptions), where she was bound and from where she had sailed. Turner states that the vessel was on a voyage from Java to Liverpool, The Times gives from Java to Lisbon, and other versions of the story mention she was travelling from Mauritius to Lisbon.

Details concerning Captain Gillespie are similarly varied: he was left behind in Java because he was ill; he had been injured in Durban and taken to Addington Hospital, so the Fascadale had continued her voyage without him. 

Paxie Kelsey's great grandfather was a Captain Alfred Julius Smith, who would have been 23 in 1895; he was in the BSAP by October 1895, and discharged in January 1896. Later in that year he was in the Kimberley Cadet Corps and he went on to be commended for bravery in WWI. Could Paxie's ancestor have been acting captain of the Fascadale - or is the name merely a strange coincidence?

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