DRAMATIC STORY OF THE DISASTER
Few could describe the confusion that ensued. Many of the survivors, unable to swim, clutched desperately at pass- ing objects. Some were fortunate in securing hold on solid pieces of floating timber, while others appeared too dazed to help themselves. It was pitiful to see tiny children struggling in the churning waters. It was this sight that prompted the ready action of one of the Tahiti's firemen. Flinging off his coat, Frederick Corby dived over the side and swam to the rescue of two children, both of whom, it is stated, he was able to save. Fears were afterwards enter- tained on the Tahiti for his safety, but it was learned later that he had been picked up by one of the many boats which had rushed to the scene, and had been put ashore at the quay.
Some of those in the water retained their presence of mind, and went to the rescue of the less fortunate, helping them to secure a grasp of floating wreckage until help arrived. Some were far gone in exhaustion before they were brought to safety, and later had to be revived by artificial respiration. Un- fortunately, help came too late for many, and the utmost efforts of the rescuers were futile to bring them back to life.
In the scene of general confusion, it was single incidents of stark reality that remained in the memory of the Tahiti's passengers. One man most vividly re- membered seeing the body of a girl sucked under by the whirling propeller of the Tahiti. He looked for her to rise again, but she did not reappear. Another recalled seeing a distracted wo- man standing on a piece of floating tim- ber screaming as though she would never stop. A third shuddered when he spoke of a youth who was dragged under by the wreckage, turned starting eyes to those above, and, sinking, clutch- ed vainly at a fragment of timber before he finally disappeared.
KILLED, INJURED & MISSING
List of the Dead
The victims, so far as ascertained,
James Powell, Tradgold, aged 81 years,
retired accountant, of Hardcliffe, The Crescent, Vaucluse.
William Renton, aged 44 years, chief
shipwright H.M.A.S. Penguin, of Rob- ert Street, Rose Bay.
Henry Thomas Thompson, aged 48
years, employed at Garden Island tor- pedo workshop, of Old South Head Road, Vaucluse.
Marjorie Ellen Girand, aged 13 years,
of Hopetoun Avenue, Vaucluse.
Mllicent Maude Bryant, aged 49 years,
widow, of Coolong Road, Vaucluse. W. G. Terry.
Elsie Ramsay, of 153 Hopetown Avenue,
Mrs. Jane Terry, resident of Victoria,
recently staying with her brother- in-law, Onslow Street, Vaucluse, aged 65 years, widow.
Mabel Carroll, aged 54 years, married,
of Kinross, Fitzwilliam Road, Vau-
Mrs. Williams, aged 53 years, address
Mrs. Purnell, of Watson's Bay. Five women not identified.
Surgeon Lieutenant-Commander W. E.
J. Paradice, R.A.N., of The Crescent,
Dr. C. W. Reid, Chief Quarantine Officer,
of Watson's Bay.
Dr. R. Lee Brown, of Greystanes, Vau-
R. E. J. Wright, Science Master at Syd-
ney High School, of Vaucluse.
Alfred E. Barker, aged 50 years, archi-
tect, of Fitzwilliam Road, Vaucluse.
Charles Garrett, employed at Garden
C. Woolfe, of 5 Fitzwilliam Road, Vau-
C. Bloom, an employee, of Garden Is-
land, of Vaucluse.
Mrs. John Corby and her six years old
Twelve naval ratings, names unknown. Captain E. T. Williams, of Vaucluse.
Schoolgirl named Wright, address un-
John Bagg, of Vaucluse.
Admitted to Sydney Hospital: Claude Jones, aged 31 years, bootmaker, of 2 Wellesley Street, Summer Hill.
James Smith, aged 44, of Cambridge
Benjamin Jones, aged 28 years, of Holt
James Carruthers, aged 13 years, of 79 Wentworth Road, Vaucluse. Jack Barrett.
John Carr, aged 14 years, schoolboy, Vaucluse, head injuries.
Con Good, naval rating, of Liverpool.
James Barrowcliff, aged 16 years, schoolboy, of 16 Fitzwilliam Street, Vau-
Jack Campbell, aged 18 years, of 10 Northcote Street Rose Bay, immersion.
Ronald Ewing, aged 16 years, of 20 Russell Street, Vaucluse, broken collar-
Mrs. J. Rees, of 257 Nelson Street,
Mrs. Molly Jones, aged 31 years, of
Shiela O'Brien, of 164 Hopetown Avenue, Vaucluse.
Thelma Sanders, of Davis Place, Vau-
Daisy Typel, aged 24 years, of 28 Pais- ley Road, Vaucluse.
Gertrude Wilmott, aged 19, of Vic- toria Avenue, Vaucluse.
May Tressider, of Kensington.
Alex. Inglis, aged 22 years, medical student, of Coolong Street, Vaucluse, head injuries.
David Tressider, of Eden Avenue, Kensington.
Eric Harley, aged 29, of Cambridge Street, Vaucluse.
Maria Aria, of Cambridge Street,
Florence Thompson, aged 24 years, of Carrara Convent Home, Vaucluse.
Phyllis Jones, aged 14 years, of Horn- by Light House, South Head, immersion
Mrs. Williams, of Onslow Street, Rose Bay, fractured skull and contusions;
Mercia Towner, aged 19 years, of Bankstown, contusions to spine, shock, and fracture to leg.
Joyce Steel, aged 11 years, of 65 Fitz- william Road, Vaucluse, fractured left
Treated at Sydney Hospital for im- mersion and minor injuries:—Alec Law- son, aged 15, Cambridge Street, Vau- cluse; John Corby, aged 32 years, fet- tler, Binigue Railway Siding; George Hilliard, aged 33 years, salesman, Wat- son's Bay; F. C. Jones, fireman, Rose Street, Punchbowl; Norman Dean, aged 37 years, fireman, Robertson's Place, Watson's Bay; Pride Parker, aged 36 years, gas inspector, Pilgrim's Avenue, Strathfield; Eric Harley, aged 12 years, schoolboy, 21 Cambridge Street, Vau- cluse; E. V. Turner, aged 40 years, packer, Gould Street, Campsie; Ken. Hatler, aged 13 years, Vaucluse; Her- bert Fairwether, aged 15 years, Jes- mond Avenue, Vaucluse; Kenneth Berliner, aged 14 years, 162 Hopetoun Avenue, Vaucluse; Leslie Brook, aged 15 years, of 13 Robertson Place, Wat- son's Bay; Matthew King, aged 48 years, Northcote Street, Rose Bay; Robert Stewart, aged 48 years, Victoria Street, Rose Bay; Nancy Lewis, aged 13 years, of 9 Olola Avenue, Vaucluse; Doris Garrett, aged 14 years, Cambridge Avenue, Vaucluse; Dora Hill, aged 15 years, of 154 Hopetown Avenue, Vau-
SCENE OF DESOLATION PATHETIC FLOATING OBJECTS.
There was a scene of unutterable de- solation in the neighbourhood of the accident. Steamers and smaller craft that had been rushed to the spot im- mediately it became known what had happened were still gathered nearby. Some of them were leaving at full speed for the quay, conveying injured and other survivors on the deck. On one could be seen a group of men prac- tising artificial respiration on one of the passengers of the stricken vessel. Others were standing about in groups discussing their dreadful experience. Just off Bradley's Head the harbour was littered with broken timber, and all manner of flotsam and jetsam. Here was a child's gaily-coloured hat, there a man's walking-stick. A child's doll floating face downwards in the water was pathetic evidence of its owner's fate. In one place a huge mass of splintered timber and wreckage, appar- ently the top deck of the steamer, form- ed a raft on which seats rested incon- gruously. Lifebelts, which the passen- gers had had no time to don, hung to- gether in broken racks among the wreckage.
HUNT FOR BODIES.
Rowing boats and launches still hunt- ed for bodies occasionally, rewarded by the discovery of a handbag, or some other intimate article that could identify the owner. A water police launch, nos- ing busily among the floating rubble, contained the body of a man, a silent reminder of the disaster, hastily cover- ed with a tarpaulin. Other boats manned by rowers who had witnessed the disaster from a bathing beach near- by hunted among the debris, their oc- cupants conscientiously set on fearfully turning each floating plank for what it might reveal. It was evident that the roofing of the top deck had, apparently, been lifted en masse, and upon this a
ventilator cowl, riding steadily on the tide, created the illusion that the ves- sel was but partially submerged. A
closer view, however, disclosed the top hamper floating free from the remainder of the steamer.
Within the short space of half a hour the wreckage was scattered for hundreds of yards between Bradley's Head and the southern shores of the harbour. The forward wheelhouse, ap- parently less easily dislodged, floated close to the scene of the collision, at- tracting to it miscellaneous flotsam from the wreckage, so that it had the ap- pearance of a huge raft. The aft-house, splintered almost beyond recognition, had drifted into the middle of the har- bour, turning forlornly in the current.
Heart-rending scenes were witnessed when the ferry steamer Kamulla put into Mosman wharf at Circular Quay with a number of survivors, all of whom were unconscious or semi-conscious. Lying about the main deck of the vessel were the limp forms of a number of school girls, several women, and some men. Most of them had evidently been injured at the time of the collision, as the wounds upon their faces and their bodies indicated. Their clothes were reduced to shreds, and the expressions of terror upon their ashen faces told the story of the terrible trial through which they had passed. Willing help- ers were working feverishly to restore animation, as no doctors were available. Several bystanders rendered first aid, including three members of a life-saving club.
Piteous scenes were witnessed as the injured were brought ashore. One young woman shivering with the cold was crying piteously, and inquiring anxiously for her mother, who was also a passenger on the Greycliffe. Another woman wrapped in a naval overcoat was brought to Man o' War steps lying
across the bows of a naval launch. She appeared to be dead.
SCHOOL CHILDREN SAVED.
From another launch a number of people were landed, including several schoolboys and girls. These children had all been picked up out of the water, but the hardiness of youth triumphed, and they treated their experience
The 4.10 p.m. steamer, they said, al-
ways carried a large number of school- children from the city, and on the fatal trip the majority of the boys and girls were sitting on the outside of the steam- er when the collision occurred. Some of the survivors were almost covered with blood, and most of them were suf- fering from exposure. One young wo- man who was in great pain had her clothing torn to shreds, and her stock- ings had been almost ripped off her legs. She was helped off the naval launch by a bluejacket, but was unable to walk. The bluejacket, without any hesitation, took her in his arms and carried her to the waiting ambulance waggon. The men among the survivors showed great fortitude, and on landing, those who had received only an immer- sion turned to and helped the more un- fortunate passengers. Several of the men were without coats, and their shirt sleeves were saturated with blood, but they were particularly helpful in assist- ing the women and children to the wait- ing ambulance waggons.
DRAMATIC STORY SURVIVOR'S EXPERIENCE.
A dramatic story of the disaster was related by Mr. J. Corby, one of the sur- vivors who was picked up by the Ku- mulla. Trembling violently, and with bleeding face, the first words Mr. Corby uttered were: "Oh, God! My poor wife and child. They have gone. I was taking my wife and daughter, aged six, to Watson's Bay to spend the afternoon, and as we were sitting and talking on the top deck of the ferry we heard some women scream. On looking round I saw a big steamer almost on top of us. I sprang for some lifebelts, and shouted to my wife, who rushed down the gang- way, when there was a deafening crash. Our boat seemed to have been complete- ly splintered by the impact. I was im- mediately thrown into the water, and went down with the anguishing screams, of women and children still ringing in my ears. My next recollection was that I felt myself coming toward the surface. I thought I would never reach there, so long was it before my head appeared above the water. I was sur- rounded by a mass of floating debris, and, catching hold of something, I look- ed round for my wife and child. Every- where around me were struggling wo- men and girls, some with their faces horribly mutilated. What happened after that I do not know, for the next I remember was when I came round on the ferry steamer."
Mr. Corby collapsed after the inter- view, and was taken to hospital.
TAHITI PASSENGER'S VERSION.
Passengers on board the R.M.S. Tahiti were stunned by the suddenness of the happening. Actually very few of the passengers knew anything about the happening until it was practically over. They had heard the shrill burst from the Tahiti's siren that immediately preceded the impact, and they felt little more than a slight bump as the giant mail steamer crashed through the frail timbers of the ferry. It was not until the anguished screaming of stricken women and children had mingled in a ghastly chorus that they realised that something serious indeed had occurred. Then there was a rush for the upper deck. Those already there could offer little explanation, nor were they in a condition to appreciate the full signific- ance of what had occurred. To use one passenger's words: "It was all over be- fore we knew anything about it. We heard the siren, and when the ship trembled slightly I remarked to a friend 'They are putting the brakes on.' That was the last time I laughed. Looking over the side I could see the ferry slowly turn over, and then, to my horror, she split in halves. One piece swept by on the side on which I was standing. It was terrible to hear the women and children screaming. I could not look any longer, and in a minute or two we had left the wreckage and its struggling occupants behind."
There were several instances of heroic efforts to rescue passengers from the ill-fated steamer. Mr. H. Hay, of Clif- ton, who was a passenger on the Kumulla, one of the first of the Syd- ney ferry boats to reach the scene, said: "We had just left the Taronga Park wharf when someone called attention to the positions of the ferry steamer Greycliffe and the Tahiti, and then we saw the collision. The ferry steamer appeared to be cut almost in halves, and in about two minutes it disappear- ed, leaving a mass of wreckage and struggling people. We changed our course, and drawing up to the spot we noticed a member of the crew jump from the deck of the Tahiti to the assistance of the survivors. The skip- per of the boat also dived in, and sup- ported the women, or assisted them to the wreckage, which was floating about like rafts. We must have picked up about two dozen who were crying for help, and other boats came along and helped in the work of rescue. The wreckage surrounding us seemed to in- dicate that the ferry steamer had been smashed to matchwood."
Most eye-witnesses agreed that scarcely three minutes elapsed before the ferry boat sank.
Continued on Next Page
TERRIBLE DISASTER IN
SYDNEY HARBOUR Continued from Page 9
SEARCH CONTINUED AT NIGHT.
Captain Carter, chief officer of the Harbour Trust Fire Brigade, who pro- ceeded to the scene with a staff of men on the Pluvius, said that the superstruc- ture of the Greycliffe was smashed to pieces. A rigid search was made for people in the water until after 8 o'clock to-night by the aid of searchlights, but no further traces were discovered. The men of the Pluvius gathered up the wreckage, he said, as it was a menace lo navigation in the fairway. There were numerous lifebolts in the water, indicating that the passengers had little or no time to put them on.
Captain Carter said that every effort was made to find bodies, by means of the searchlight, and all the wreckage was carefully examined. He was of the opinion that when the Greycliffe sank only the hull, boiler, and engines remained. The depth of water at the scene of the disaster was between 40 and 50 feet.
Some time after the collision the Ta- hiti was taken to an anchorage near Shark Island. A radio message was sent to Mr. C. H. Hughes, general man- ager of the Union S.S. Co. at Sydney, informing him of the collision, and the Marine Superintendent (Captain Wal- ton) immediately proceeded to the Ta- hiti. An examination of the liner showed that she was in a seaworthy condition, and it was decided to resume the voyage. The Tahiti cleared the Heads at 8.8 p.m.
HELPING THE INJURED AMBULANCES KEPT BUSY.
The open space in front of the naval offices at Man-o'-War steps was turn- ed into a temporary casualty station when the Greycliff'e's passengers were landed. The first of them were landed there about 5 o'clock, and for nearly an hour ambulance waggons were going to and from the hospitals. A naval launch brought several people, includ- ing a woman who was unconscious, and a boy about 9 years of age, whose face was a deathly pale colour. Immediately afterwards a large private launch brought a number of other passengers from the sunken ferry steamer, and many of them appeared to be bad cases. Realising that the cases of apparently drowned needed immediate attention, the ambulance men set to work to en- deavour to restore animation in a number of instances, while those pas- sengers who had been cut and otherwise injured were hurried away to hospital. Bodies were lying on the pathway near Man-o'-War steps, and in several cases
animation was restored after hard work on the part of the band of volunteers, and the resuscitated were then convey- ed to hospital for further attention.
PASSENGERS IMPRISONED IN
SCENES OF HORROR.
Another passenger vividly described the scene on the ferry boat immediately after the collision. He was idly watch- ing the waves break ofter the bow, when he suddenly became aware of the sec- ond vessel immediately ahead. He knew that nothing but a miracle could avert the disaster, but he was not prepared for the full horror of what was to fol- low. The actual impact was slight, and for several moments the ferry was carried through the water, turning slowly over until the keel plates were plainly visible. Then like a huge knife the bow of the Tahiti cut through the middle of the Greycliffe, sheering through steel work and wooden super- structure as though it were so much matchboard.
A piercing shriek arose from the sink- ing ferry boat, and in a moment one side had disappeared from view, and the other immediately became alive with scrambling, terrified people, some cling- ing frantically to stanchions, to railings, to anything that would afford support. They clambered hopelessly upward on the slowly submerging side of the wreck, terror written on their livid faces. It was those who occupied the lower compartments who were in truly desperate straits, realising that unless they could fight free through windows or gangway openings before the vessel became submerged they must inevitably perish. They struggled madly to es- cape, and some achieved their object, even after the ferry had sunk, but it is feared that many were trapped. Merci- fully some must have been fatally in- jured when the crash came.
EXPLOSION OF ENGINE.
The section of the Greycliffe's that passed on the other side of the Tahiti apparently contained the engine and boiler. Passengers on that side say that they heard a muffled explosion, after that half of the ferry-boat sank. They described a similar spectacle of terrified people struggling to escape, and how just after the Tahiti had passed the water, closing over the stricken vessel, boiled, and cast up into the air a great cloud of steam, intermingled with flying pieces of timber. In this swirling vor- tex suddenly appeared the heads of men, women, and children, who fought for life against the suction created by the sinking ship.