Teuton

"Agulhas light was just in sight when Teuton struck at 7 p.m., 30th August.  Her head was then put Westward and course of ship altered.  At eight o'clock boats were ordered to be in readiness for lowering.  At 10.30 first boat was lowered, and three boats filled with passengers.  Ship foundered at eleven o'clock.  Boatmen lay on their oars all night.  Carpenter reports that only another boat with his was visible at daylight.  One boat with fifteen women and children, alongside when she foundered.  The boatswain fears she was lost.  Captain Manning was on the bridge at the last moment.  Boatswain and carpenter went down with the ship, but were picked up by boats."

One of the first messages received was from our townsman, Mr. Bernard Kromm, who notified his safety the moment he landed.  In reply to a telegram from this office, congratulating him on his narrow escape, and asking for particulars of the occurrence, Mr. Kromm favoured us with the following message:-

"The Teuton struck on a sandy point westward of Agulhas.  She then stood to sea.  Finding her fore compartment filling, Captain got boats out and provisioned them.  Strict orders were issued against passengers going to the boats, which was unfortunately kept in force too long, for when the order was given to lower the boats, the vessel was so low down by the bows that no sooner was one boatload of women and children got ready than the ship took a dive down, bows first, and the first boat was swamped, all lives being lost.  None of the men had, up till this time, left the ship, and consequently the rest went down with her.  I am present in bed, but will be down tomorrow.  All hands were lost except 27, one-third being passengers and the remaining crew."

The Teuton, which had for some time ceased to run as an ocean mail-steamer, was otiginally engaged on the China trade, and was then known as the Glenartney. About four years ago she was lengthened, and a poop deck put on her.  She was of 2,313 tonnage, and 1,800 horse power.  She had been commanded by Captain Manning for several years.  

She left Plymouth on the 6th August, and arrived here early on Monday morning last, after a fair and unexciting voyage of 23 days.  From England, the Teuton shipped 236 passengers, of whom 83 were landed here.  For the Knysna, 44 were booked; for Algoa Bay 35; for East London, 29; for Natal, 45.  This left 153 passengers to take on; four from this port increased the number to 157, besides which the officers and crew amounted to about 60, so that the total number of persons on board was about 220.  

The officers of the ill-fated vessel were Captain Edward Manning, commander, E. Wardroper, chief officer; C. Forder, second officer; W.O. Diver, third officer; A. Turner, fourth officer; Dr. Rose-Innes (transferred from the Danube), surgeon; T. Jackson, chief engineer; W.R. Purkus, chief steward; Philip Cowen, supercargo.   

Captain Manning had a reputation of being one of the most careful and capable commanders in the Company's service, and Mr. Wardroper, in whose watch the disaster presumably occureed, formerly sailed the Lady Selborne, a well known vessel engaged in the Cape trade.   Mr. Diver was a nephew of Captain Diver, who commanded the Teuton when she first became the property of the Union Steamship Company, and died on board her some eight years ago while on the voyage home.  The surgeon had been for some time on the Danube and had transferred to the Teuton in Cape Town.

The ill-fated vessel proceeded on her voyage at about ten o'clock on Tuesday morning, was signalled as having passed Cape Point at 2.12 in the afternoon, and five hours steaming, at the rate of 11 1/2 knots, would have brought her to the precise spot where she is supposed to have come to grief, viz., Dyer's Island, for the look-out man is said to have shouted, just as the vessel struck, "The Celt wreck ahead" the hull and masts of that vessel being just discernible in the dim moonlight.   

Our Simon's Town correspondent gives the fullest particulars, taken from the mouths of the survivors, and it is only necessary here to add that this is the first occasion that the Union Company have ever lost the lives of a passenger by any of their ships.  

Being their own insurers all but about one-sixth of the value of the ship will fall to the Company.  The cargo is nearly all insured in English houses.


SIMON'S TOWN, Wednesday

About half-past one o'clock today, Captain Bynon, the port-officer, was informed that two open boats were making for the Town Wharf, and was soon down to the beach with a number of men who assisted in getting the boats to the little pier.  This was not a light task, as a furious south-easter was blowing.  It was speedily found that the voyagers were the rescued from the wreck of the Union Steamship Company's Teuton, and they were received by Mr. Runciman, the Simon's Town agent of the owners, who at once undertook to do what was necessary.  

The men were wet and exhausted from exposure, and they were therefore at once taken to the British Hotel, where their creature comforts were looked after and dry clothes found for them.  Most of the passengers, being of course less used than the sailors to night exposure and want of rest, went to bed early in the afternoon.  One sailor was cut and bruised to some extent, but not seriously; otherwise the survivors of both crew and passengers were unhurt except for the general shock to their systems.  

The hotel was filled all afternoon with callers, whose first impulse was of course, to "treat" the poor fellows who had had so narrow an escape; but measures were very properly taken to keep them sober, as they are all to be brought into Cape Town early this morning.  Only one lady was amongst the saved, and she was not allowed to go with the other passengers, but specially cared for by Mr. and Mrs. Runciman, who received her at their house and showed the young lady all that considerate hospitality which her terrible situation called for.  She was hoping her father, mother and little sister might have been saved, and forlorn as that hope seems, there is the bare possibility that one boat got away unseen by the others; and that her relatives are aboard.  No such hope was expressed by other passengers.  It was heartrending to hear how one had gone down with his wife and four children, and had been picked up alone; and another had gone down with a wife and three children, and had only found himself taken into a boat a few minutes afterwards.  

The final catastrophe was so sudden and really unexpected, notwithstanding all that had happened to the vessel, that there was, as all accounts agree, no leave-taking, none of the scenes which might be expected at such an awful time.  Everyone agrees in saying that the passengers were perfectly quiet, believing that they would be put into the boats, until the instant that the vessel foundered; then there was one awful shriek and the vessel was gone, leaving only a few struggling swimmers and floating wreckage - hen coops, luggage, and other articles.  For such details as are remembered, the accounts given by the survivors themselves will best answer.

Miss Rose, came out with her parents and young sister from Glasgow.  It was her father's intention to settle in Cape Town, but upon landing here, he said that "he did not like the place," and would sail on to Port Elizabeth, and see what was to be done there.  It should be said that this young lady has shown remarkable courage and self possession throughout the disaster.  She was able to swim a little, and although encumbered with heavy clothing, saved herself when the ship went down by holding to spars and other wreckage until she could be picked up.  Although, of course, overwhelmed with anxiety as to the fate of her parents, she gives an exceedingly clear account of what happened amongst the passengers.

It was just at the close of, or after dinner, she says, that a shock was felt throughout the vessel.  As far as she could learn, the passengers felt some passing alarm, especially the ladies, but most of the male passengers said that they supposed it was only some ordinary accident, and that the ship's people would be able to deal with it.  There was a blow or two, as it were, and a trembling motion over the ship.  All the passengers whether frightened or not, kept very quiet.  They all went up on the deck, but had not been up there long - the time now being somewhere between eight and nine - when one of the engine-room, and a fireman came up to where Miss Rose and her friends were standing, and said that they had found that it was something so serious that the ship was in danger.  

Then the chief officer told them all definately that they would have to be ready to go into the boats.  Even then the passengers, although much excited and alarmed generally, were not in any immediate fears for their safety.  They thought they would all be put in the boats and reach the shore, as the vessel was not very far from land.  

The doctor, who was perfectly cool and collected, came to the passengers and assembled them all on the poop, telling them that nothing could be done if they did not all keep their seats exactly where they were, so that the ladies and children might be put into the boats first.  He called out, "If any man stands up, I will knock him down."  One man, unable to resist the impulse when his wife, who was sitting in another place, recognised him and called to him by name, did attempt to rush over to her, but the doctor instantly pushed him into his seat again, and said they would be ..........................if there was the slightest disorder, but if they would all be perfectly quiet, they would all reach the boats .................


The Cape Argus, Friday, September 2nd, 1881.

THE LOSS OF THE "TEUTON"

ANOTHER BOAT TURNED UP

FURTHER PARTICULARS OF THE WRECK

The fear that the twenty-seven persons landed at Simon's Town on Wednesday would prove the only survivors of the ill-fated vessel, the Teuton, have been realised almost to their fullest extent, for only one further boat has since turned up, and that containing no more than nine souls.  This boat arrived in Table Bay, and ran alongside the Danube at an early hour yesterday morning, its occupants being Messrs. Forder, Diver and Turner, respectively 1st, 2nd, and 3rd officers of the Teuton, and six members of the crew, these being Hawkins, A.B., Howes, A.B., Haynes, fireman, Potter, fireman and a coolie.  

The experiences of these later arrivals seem to have been much more trying than those which the occupants of the other two boats went through.  According to the accounts we have been enabled to glean from various sources, the vessel was in charge of the third officer at the time when she struck.  Captain Manning had been on the bridge only a short time before, and is said to have altered the course half a point to the westward.  According to the rules of the service, the officer of the watch should have been the second in command; but Mr. Wardroper was in the habit of dining in the saloon, and so was not at his post.  Some of the sailors state that the fourth officer was placed in charge; but Mr. Diver, doubting the seamanship of that gentleman, took it upon himself to take the management of the vessel into his own hands.  Mr. Diver has lost his wife in the catastrophe, and with reference to the presence of this unfortunate lady on board the ship, it is necessary that something should be said.  It is very confidently stated that she was there without the knowledge and consent of the General Manager here, and wholly against the rules of the company's service.  It is not even suggested that Mr. Diver was negligent in the performance of his duty in consequence of having his wife on board, but rather the contrary, and it ought to be said that the men who arrived here yesterday morning speak of his coolness and resource in terms of the highest praise.  It is, nevertheless, indicative of a certain amount of laxity, presumably on the part of Captain Manning, that the ship's officers should be allowed to disregard any rules whatsoever.

The officers are naturally and very properly reticent as to all the facts directly bearing on the cause of the disaster, but the seaman, or at least some of them, are more communicative, and we have it on the word of one of them, who was engaged in a game of cards at the moment when the ship struck, that he saw breakers ahead, and a long sandy beach in the near distance when he arrived on deck.  The order preserved, at the moment when the vessel struck, as through all the period in which she was afterwards kept bafloat, is said to have been most excellent, on the part of both passengers and crew, many of the former, however, believing that the extent of the disaster was not nearly so considerable as afterwards proved.  This conviction seems to have been grounded on the efforts made by Captain Manning to reach Simon's Town, efforts which led directly to the fearful loss of life which eventually took place.  If the vessel had been brought to an anchor, it is believed that she might have kept afloat for much longer, if not an indefinite time.  It stands to reason that the pressure of the bulkheads of the compartment by which the damage was sustained would be infinately greater when the vessel was being driven against the current than when she was not in motion.  Captain Manning seems, however, to have blindly risked everything on the bare chance of being able to reach Simon's Bay, and it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that this unfortunate course of conduct was dictated by the knowledge that the Company were their own insurers, and the loss, if any should be sustained, would fall mainly on them.  If Captain Manning were here to answer for himself, he would doubtless be put upon his trial, first for reckless navigation, and then for the most inconceivable neglect in respect of the measures taken for securing the safety of the passengers.  So near the shore, with wind and sea being what they were, and four hours having elapsed between the striking of the vessel and her foundering, not a soul on board ought to have been lost; instead of which the few who do survive have entirely to thank their luck for their narrow escape.

We write thus plainly with the utmost regret, for Captain Manning has paid with his life the penalty due to his errors, but it is treason to the public to blink the truth in matters like these, and it is high time that negligence and misconduct were visited with far more seious consequences than they have been i the past.  A salutary fear of disaster is not likely to prevail so long as losing a ship is considered the best qualification for a berth ashore, and officers can rely upon a tender regard being had for their memories if things should come to the worst.  The Union Company do not appear to have been at all to blame in this matter, and it is clear that if the spirit of their standing instructions had been respected, the catastrophe could never have occurred.  Under those instructions, captains are strictly forbidden to leave here for Eastern ports at any time after noon, in order that the dangerous part of the coast may be passed, or at all events fairly sighted, in light of day.  The opinion of the survivors appears to be that the vessel was swept out of her course by the strength of the current setting into the eastward, but as the existence of this current is no new thing, the default of the ill-fated commander appears in even more glaring colours.

Returning for a moment to the survivors who arrived here yesterday morning, it ought to be mentioned that they were saved as it were by a miracle.  When the ship took her sudden and final plunge, three of the men were in a boat which was made fast amidships waiting to receive women and children.  They managed to cut the painter with an axe, but the boat was drawn in as the vessel went down and turned right over in the vortex.  When the men found themselves struggling in the water, two of them having been injured by floating spars, they observed another boat, also bottom uppermost, and with men clinging to it, floating about in their immediate neighbourhood.  After being unable to do anything for more than an hour, they ultimately succeeded in righting one of the boats, but as they had not the means of baling the water out, it was some time before they could take their places in her.  

Oars and a sail were found at the bottom of one of the boats, and shortly after daylight some prospect of safety began to appear.  They set sail for Simon's Bay, but were unable to enter there, and ran before the wind in the direction of Table Bay, the sea running very heavy.  Towards the close of the afternoon, wind and sea both subsided, when the oars were put out and the Bay was reached, as already observed, shortly after midnight.  They passed within sight of the Kinfauns Castle, but could not attract the attention of those on board of that vessel, which has since arrived at Mossel Bay without having fallen in with any traces of the wreck.  The Danube which was promptly sent out by Mr. Fuller when it appeared possible that more lives might be saved, returned yesterday afternoon after a vain cruise in the neighbourhood of the disaster.  Nothing has been heard of the movements of the Dido.  

Flags were half-masted yesterday, here and at Port Elizabeth, in token of regret for the disaster.  The feeling evoked by the disaster has been profound throughout the entire country, telegrams inquiring for the fullest particulars having been received from every quarter of the colony.  The colonial insurance companies have risks on cargo to a certain amount, but the exact sum is not known, as the invoices are not yet to hand.

This concludes the story of the loss of the "Teuton" as told by the 'Cape Argus'.  Within twenty-four hours Captain Manning has changed from being one of the most capable and careful of master's, into a lax captain who, with reckless abandon, deliberately took over two hundred people to their graves.  The 'Cape Argus' would appear to have saved the authorities the trouble of a trial, they have tried and condemned the villain with a truly spectacular 'hatchet job'!

Captain Manning was, so the findings of the inquiry held, dangerously reckless in his approach to land.   This finding sits uncomfortably with the only two verbatim quotes of the captain.   To the third officer he asked, "How did this happen?"  Captain Manning then made a point of asking the second officer if he had correctly written up his log.  Are these the questions one who had knowingly 'taken a chance' would ask?  Or are they the questions a man who knows he will face an inquiry, asks to make certain the evidence that will clear his name is preserved.

The problem the court had was that, by whatever the reason, the "Teuton" had struck a rock on a known reef, was it through negligence or miscalculation.

The second officer states that the vessel's position had been fixed during his watch with four point bearings, the standard method of establishing a ship's distance off a point when abeam.   There is one, or should it be two, major problems here, it assumes that the navigator knows both speed and course being made good.  Neither of which can any navigator say with any accuracy!  A ship's speed can be quoted in two ways, the speed through the water, and the speed over the land.   

When 'casting the log', as the quartermaster did every two hours, he was recording the speed through the water, not over the land.  Hence, if steaming against a current, which the "Teuton" almost certainly was, the recorded speed of twelve knots was that of the ship plus the current.  To illustrate this, say the ship had a speed in still water of five knots, and was steaming against a current of five knots, the log would record a speed of five knots, whilst over the ground it is nil, the ship is stationary.   This speed is crucial because, if they applied too fast a speed when establishing the distance off the land, it would give them a false distance off, they would think the ship to be steering a safe course.

Does one possibly see behind this second article the hand of Mr. Fuller?  Notice the casual mention of the Union Company's complete innocence in the affair.  Later, in the inquiry conducted by a very experienced resident magistrate, Mr. Campbell, Mr. Fuller expands upon the Company's insistence of the ships boats being able to take all on board.  Oddly at the inquiry, nobody asked why, and for how long, had the collapsible boat been damaged.  Could this be that this 'collapsible boat' was, in practice, useless?  The second officer testified that in all his time on board the "Teuton", he had never seen it rigged!  (Thirty years later another ship would sink, with the same catastrophic consequences, its name was the "Titanic")  For the simple fact was that the remaining seven boats, one of which was just a dinghy, did not have the capacity to take all  on board.  

The method of measuring a boat for the capacity was a simple one, find the total cubic measurement and divide by ten.  To see the absurdity of this go to Norman Lloyd, the lifeboat in the photograph is filled using just this measurement.  So there were actually six boats, only four of which were lifeboats.  Later at the inquiry, the second officer would testify, could hold 30 persons 'easily'.  Let us increase this to 35, and further, include the other two boats in this calculation, the boat capacity of the "Teuton" was only, at the most 210 persons, later at the inquiry we learn that the "Teuton" did not have a total of 200 people on board as stated by the 'Argus', but 255!  Thus there would be 45 'unlucky' people.  This must surely have weighed heavily in the mind of Captain Manning.

Was he justified in thinking there to be a good possibility of reaching Simon's Town?  Just ten years before, after a remarkably similar mishap, the "Saxon" , successfully reached Table Bay.  Only a couple of years later, in 1873, the "Roman", under Captain George Vyvyan, had an even closer brush with disaster, and managed to get back to Table Bay.

Was Edward Manning correct in thinking that he had time to embark his passengers in an orderly fashion, avoiding a mass panic?  Only one year previously, faced with a very similar situation, Captain McLean Wait, with absolute calmness and assurance, lowered the boats, provisioned them, even establishing the "American"s position, before she sank.

At the inquiry, it was said that they would never be able to say what was going through Captain Manning's mind, they did not appear to have tried very hard!   Captain Manning would have been very well aware of these incidents.  

Returning to the hand of Mr. Fuller, his one and only concern was to look after the good name of the Union Line.  Any suggestion of negligence on the part of the company, such as a lack of lifebelts, with non at all in the cabins, must be played down.  A scapegoat had to be found, it would be difficult to blame any of the three surviving deck officers, they could answer back, they didn't want to cast a shadow over the Union Line, but the public, stirred up by the press demanded a culprit.  Well, there was one conveniently buried in Simon's Town graveyard, to quote his epitaph in the 'Cape Times', "Poor Captain Manning".  Ever since, every book written about the disaster, has placed the blame fair and square, on Edward Manning.

TEUTON was built in 1869 by Wm. Denny & Bros. at Dumbarton, Glasgow with a tonnage of 1741grt, a length of 331ft 2in, a beam of 34ft 4in and a service speed of 13 knots. Costing £45,500 she was launched as the Glenartney for R. Jardine (Matheson & Co)., of Hong Kong for their Hong Kong to Calcutta route. Because of the threat from pirates she was armed with two 12 pound guns.

In 1873 she was acquired by the Union Steam Ship Co., renamed Teuton and equipped with passenger accommodation for 250 passengers in three classes.

Two years later, in 1875, she was lengthened to 350ft.

On 30th August 1881 at 10.00hrs she sailed from Cape Town bound for Port Elizabeth (Algoa Bay) and at 19.00 hrs, in a calm sea, struck a known and charted rock four miles from Quoin Point, Cape Colony. Teuton was a mile off course.

After surveying the damage the master, Captain Manning, decided that she could reach Simonstown unaided. As a safety precaution the boats were readied in case the ship had to be abandoned and the passengers went aft while the crew and volunteers manned the pumps. The pumps could not cope with the incoming sea and at 22.00hrs the ship lost way because the propeller came out of the water as the bow settled down. As the ship was obviously sinking the master gave the order to abandon ship. The first boat moved away in a carnival like atmosphere with much laughing and cheering but as the second boat was being prepared for lowering the second and then the third bulkheads gave way and the ship sank like a stone. Within seconds she was vertical in the water and quickly sank beneath the surface. 236 persons, including Captain Manning, perished and only the 36 in the first lifeboat survived.

Master

From

To

A Clary

4/1878


A W Brooke-Smith


1881

E Manning

7/1881

8/1881

Killed

The Loss of Teuton - 1881

Mail Service

Teuton


23 July


Master

E Manning

Chief Officer

E Wardroper

Second Officer

C Forder

Third Officer

W O Diver

Fourth Officer

J W Turner

Chief Engineer

L Jackson

Second Engineer

A Walker

Third Engineer

R Blenkinsop

Fourth Engineer

G B Jack

Fifth Engineer


Surgeon

J L Barrington

Chief Steward

W R Purkis

 AN AWFUL SHIPWRECK.

TOTAL LOSS of the TEUTON

NEARLY 200 LIVES LOST

ACCOUNT OF THE SURVIVORS


 The Cape Argus, Thursday, September 1st, 1881

Shortly before two o'clock yesterday afternoon, the whole town was electrified by the startling intelligence that the Union Company's steamship Teuton had struck a rock while in sight of L'Agulhas light, and foundered a short time afterwards, with about 200 souls on board.

The news, which was first received by Messrs. Thomson, Watson & Co., went like lightening from hand to hand, and large numbers of people assembled in front of the steamship and newspaper offices, large numbers being attracted to the Argus office by the sound of the steam whistle which Messrs. Saul Soloman & Co., kindly consented to blow for the occasion.   

Mr. Fuller and his staff, although the blow was naturally felt much more keenly by them than the general public, were quick to relieve the prevailing anxiety and give what information they had at hand with reference to the ill-fated vessel, and those who sailed with her from this port only a single day before.

The following was the first detailed telegram received at the Union Company's office, and it was at once placed at the disposal of the press:-

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