Daily Event for October 11, 2010

While en route to New York on October 11, 1905 the Cunard liner Campania encountered the leading edge of a tropical storm. The storm had moved up from the Caribbean, crossed over Bermuda and was now approaching the Grand Banks. The sea was rough and the wind was blowing between 40 and 70 MPH according to the crew. The French liner LaSavoie reported that the barometric pressure had dropped to 27.92 and surely on the Campania they had noticed this as well. The waves around the ship were reported to be "mountainous" and one, said to be almost as high as the funnels crashed amidships on the port side. At once there was chaos on the popular liner as water filled the decks when the powerful wave broke on the ship.

About 100 steerage passengers were on deck observing the seas and when the wave hit it carried 5 of them away, over two dozen others were injured. The worst of the injured was Agnes Karlsson (or Carlsen). Who was found by a couple of stewards, she could not walk so she was carried by the men to a place of safety. Dr. Francis Verdon, the ship's doctor, learned that both of her thighs were broken and the injuries to her legs were far to severe to be able to save them and they were amputated to save her life. One would not want to contemplate the horror of an operation like this on a ship in heavy seas in 1905. There were so many injured people several other doctors, who were on passage, offered their services to Dr. Verdon and were able to provide aid the passengers.

When the water began to subside Campania had rolled to a reported 40° and passengers were being tossed all over the ship, several small children who had been playing just a few moments before were now only seconds away from death. The inrush of water which had washed them down the deck was now pulling them back toward a door which had been opened by the wave. Only the quick action of a stewardess, Miss Cotes and a steward saved their lives, they got between the children and the door, risking being drawn out themselves, and grabbed the little ones pulling them to safety.

It was not until two days later that the terrible event was reported by wireless and by the time Campania docked in New York on the 14th there were many people quayside who were in a state of near panic. There had been rumors of as many as 50 people who were killed and loved ones waited in anguish for their beloved to disembark from the ship. The injured were taken to local hospitals for further treatment, the women who lost her legs was reported to have died before reaching port. A newspaper report also stated that an unidentified crewman had also died on the ship. In the over 60 year history of the Cunard Line this was the first time a passenger had died from an accident to one of their ships.
© 2010 Michael W. Pocock

Roll of Remembrance
In memory of those who lost their lives in
SS Campania
"As long as we embrace them in our memory, their spirit will always be with us"

Andersdotter, Elizabeth
Cleary, Margaret
Cosgrove, Mary
Ekberg, Neils
Graham, John
Milwaukee, Wisc.
Karlssen, Agnes
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