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The Loss OF THE SAPPHO. By H. A. LE F. H., .
THE Ulidia was a typioal Murman Coast and in the “three-island” tramp steamer White Soa," whioh I read in -3081 tons grosa ; 330' x 42 April 1919. x 21', built by Redhead's at It was not one of those "all. Shields in 1903: so muoh was recording files" of which it is to be gathered from Lloyd's said, Register.
“Every question man can raise, For thirteen years she had Every phrase of every phase plodded round the world at Of that question is on record in the eight or nine knots on her lawful occasions, carrying her Indeed, the “details” which it five thousand tons or so of professed to give were meagre cargo- & good honest ship for enough. her owners, and a comfortable From the telegrams and ship for her officers and crew. reports, however, it appeared It is to be supposed that in that the Ulidia in September those thirteen years she had 1916, while loading timber at had ber share of the trials and Soroka, on the south-western vicissitudes common to all shores of the White Sea, had ships ; but for me her history parted her cables in bad began in September 1916 with weather, and had gone ashore a sheaf of telegrams in a dusty on a patoh of rooks in the file at the Salvage Section of middle of Soroka Bay. Atthe Admiralty-a file entitled tempts to lighten her by dis“ Details of wrecks on the charging the cargo already
VOL, CCVIII.- NO. MCCLVII.
loaded into barges succeeded seemed very anxious to buy only in putting her in a worse her as she lay-thongh, with reposition, since those responsible markable unanimity, the prices omitted to lay out anohors to they offered never rose above prevent her driving further about eight thousand pounds. ap on the rooks as she was At the time I knew nothing lightened.
of Russiang — an ignorance The Russian ice-breaker ser. which I was not long to vice from Arohangel then took enjoy; but it needed no a hand, and, doubtless with great discernment to see that the best intentions, made fast any one prepared to pay two powerful ice-breakers to eight thousand pounds for a the stern-post and endeavoured ship in such a position and to tow off the vessel, now such a place must have some damaged and partly filled with reasonable hope of refloating water.
her, and if she could be reBeyond oarrying away the floated, her value, at current stern - post and rudder they prices, was nearer to eighty achieved nothing, and returned thousand pounds than eight. to Archangel. This was the The Admiralty Salvage Seoextent of the salvage opera- tion had themselves done the tions, and there the ship still majority of the possible sallay. Two winters in the ice, vage cases in home waters with the water rising and daring the war; but North falling with the tide in the Russia bad necessarily been engine - room and stokehold beyond their beat, although and all four holds, two years' casualties on those unfriendly exposure to the winter gales and often unlighted and badly in the White Sea, two years' charted coasts were only too straining and pounding upon frequent, even before the Gerthe rooks, to say nothing of man submarines came round & passing Bolshevik oooupa- the North Cape into the Arotio tion of Soroka, could hardly Ocean and thenoe down to the be expected to have improved White Sea. Information as her condition.
to the actual position and Yet, from the first time I condition of ships wreoked up read her name, I felt a pre- there was diffioult to obtain ; monitory interest in her, for cables were delayed and though I did not realise that mutilated, while the Naval for the next six months she and Transport Staffs at Arohwas to be a constant preocou- angel and Murmansk were pation, an obsession, and often sufficiently occupied during & nightmare to me.
1918—when Admiral Kemp For one thing, various and General Ironside were Russians in Archangel, whose holding on to hundreds of names were afterwards fa- miles of the most desolate miliar enough, but then were country in the world with & only & jumble of consonants few hundred "category" men at the end of a telegram, -Marines, Serbians, French,
om met marine salve hussian Borneo
disloyal Finns, and dejected 46th Battalion Royal Fusiliers, Russians,—without concerning the vanguard of the North themselves with so much of a Russian Relief Force, whose “side show” as Salvage. adventures readers of 'Maga'
Moreover, ships do not, as have followed during the past a rule, choose the most acces- few months. sible places to go ashore, even At Murmansk-& village of on the British coasts. But on wooden huts built in mud and the British coasts it is only a inhabited by mosquitoes — I question of a few miles from mot a representative from the the nearest town in & car, or Admiralty Salvage Seotion, & few miles from the nearest together with a Russian sal. port in & tug-boat.
vage expert, Captain G., with In Russia distances are thirty years' experience in the measured by days. That the Baltio. After an evening's information in the file was disoussion, we came to the not exhaustive was therefore conclusion that the Olidia disappointing but not surpris- was the first ship to inspeot. ing, and we soon came to the The next evening (June conclusion that the best course 14tb), we took the train from was to go and see on the spot Murmansk for Soroka, vid what salvage work there was Kandalaksha and Kem. to be done.
The railway had only recently The Admiralty and the been finished, and, but for the Ministry of Shipping were war, it is doubtful whether it ready to enoourage British would ever have been finished enterprise, for they had a at all, in view of the appalling nataral disinolination to dis- death-rate from fever of the pose of what might still be labourers employed apon its valuable property for a few construotion. Chinese bad thousand pounds to Rassians been tried, but these died who were, so far, the only faster even than the native prospective buyers, and would Russians; and it was not not discuss salvage except on until praotioally unlimited the basis that all their ex- supplies of German and ponses should be paid, what Austrian prisoners were availover the results. It was able, who, as they died, could therefore with every kind be buried alongside, or incorof official pass, and with the porated in the permanent official list of wreeks in my way, that any real progrees pooket (on which the Ulidia was made. was marked with blue pencil It was six months since the as one of the “possibles ''), armistice, but some of the surthat I left Tilbury on May vivors of these prisoners were 31st, 1919, in the Pretorian, still about; whether because which, in addition to Cæsar they had no means of returnand his prospeotive fortunes, ing home, or from some inoarried General Sadleir-Jaokson comprehensible preference for and his brigade staff, and the Marmansk, I did not discover.
vage and working o
results paid, what supplies Practically" was note