Week 9 of #AnniesDiary100 – Voyage on the RMS Olympic, homewards to Wales

Annie’s Diary Excerpts – 22-29 March 1924

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Saturday March 22nd 1924 – Farewell to New York – with an ‘Olympic’ Collision

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“Got up early & had breakfast – had telephone message from Rev Vicar of St John the Divine, saying a Miss Portia Willis had tried to get me on the phone all the previous day wanting me to speak to them at a meeting the last Thursday in April, had heard me speak at the Biltmore Dinner, much impressed with my sincerity etc. He took a load off my mind, I had feared I had made a fool of myself on the Thursday night – he re-assured me.

Had a phone message from Mrs McCulloch. She was all unified with ‘La Grippe’. Her husband phoned for her – got our things ready – cabled to Peter re Megane’s wedding & our sailing. & got down to the boat by 10.a.m. – saw Mr Bird White Star Line Agent, who had heard me on the radio on Thursday night – Mr. Fairman, Mr & Mrs Allison came to see us off.

Incident of Elined running off with Miss Parry Jones’s luggage & coat. Got our cabin D-58 & went on deck to see American sky line as we drifted down the river. Had a splendid view of the Statue of Liberty – Had lunch & dinner in dining room. Not too appetising – went to bed – but could not sleep.

Annie records here an astonishing and historic incident: “As the Olympic was turning to make her way down river – the Fort St George a boat making for Bermuda with 300 passengers onboard came across the Olympic & was badly damaged. The Olympic only having her propellor deranged – we were wholly unconscious of the accident until we were out at sea. “

The RMS Olympic, sister ship to the ‘Titanic’ (which had famously sunk 12 years earlier on the transatlantic voyage to New York), on which Annie and her companions returned to the UK from their Peace Tour of America.
Contemporary postcard of the ‘Fort St George’ which collided in the Hudson River with the RMS Olympic, on which Annie was returning to Wales.

Great Ocean Liners‘ profiles the Olympic as “Launched (in 1911) as the world’s largest moving object, at the time, the RMS Olympic set the records for size and opulence. Launched after the Lusitania and Mauretania, the Olympic class ships were designed for size, comfort, and amenities instead of impressive speed. Cruising at a modest 21 knots, the RMS Olympic could sail between Europe and America on a 6 day schedule.  Surviving several crashes throughout her career (of which Annie’s was the third colission), the Olympic had been nicknamed “Old Reliable” by the time she was retired. Of the three Olympic class ships, the RMS Olympic proved to be the longest lasting and most successful .”

The Olympic / Fort St George collision is recorded on ‘Ships Nostalgia’ thus: “On 22 March 1924, the OLYMPIC was involved in a collision with the small liner FORT St GEORGE as she was reversing from her berth. The FORT St GEORGE had crossed her path in the River Hudson and she sustained extensive damage. At first it appeared that the OLYMPIC had only sustained minor damage, but it was later revealed that her sternpost had been fractured, necessitating the replacement of her entire stern frame. She was sent to her builder’s at Harland & Wolff Shipyard in Belfast for the repairs to be undertaken.”

White Star History also records the incident: “While departing New York on 22nd March 1924, Olympic collided with Fort St. George, of the Furness Bermuda Line, by accidentally backing into the smaller ship. Fort St George sustained considerable damage which meant her sailing had to be cancelled, Olympic was initially thought to only have minor damage and was able to continue, although, later it was discovered that Olympic’s stern frame was so badly damaged that it had to be replaced. It was found that the collision was the fault of Fort St. George.”

The Transatlantic Voyages taken by Annie and her colleagues conveying the Women’s Peace Petition from Wales to America in 1924, from Liverpool to New York on the RMS Cedric, and returning from NYC to Southampton on the RMS Olympic – on this day 100 yeasrs ago!

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Crossing the Atlantic

From their New York departure, their 6 day Transatlantic Crossing homewards towards Southhampton inspired somewhat shorter entries for the remainder of Annies Diary – it sounds like a pretty rough crossing! Annie recorded the daily mileage as ‘ship’s run’ with a fairly consistent 510 – 515 miles per day.

Sunday March 23rd  1924

“Got up & dressed but did not feel well. Stayed in bed all day – could eat nothing –  had lemon water and orange twice to drink. Mr Jones Chief Steward, a native of Llandudno, now of Liverpool, very kind & attentive – He and Mr Elliot the Purser called to see me in the Cabin– very anxious to do all to please and make us comfortable. Rather a rough day in ship’s run..

Monday March 24th 1924

I spent the day in bed – no ‘hwyl’ for anything bad throat. Wanted no food. Read Receynaw’s Steps. Ship’s run 511 rules.

(Tuesday) Sunday March 25th

Got up & on deck by 11:30am. Had lunch & dinner on deck. Mr Jones Chief Steward most kind and attentive. Lazed, slept & read. Bright & sunny day. Ship’s run 511 rules.

Wednesday March 26th 1924

Got up about 9:30 & have been on deck all day. Bright and sunny day. Had nice lunch of lamb cutlets, met Mr John Davies, the ship’s butcher, a member of Webster Rd Chapel, Liverpool, a native of Ruthin. Felt better & better, spent the whole day on deck. Ship’s run 513 rules. Boat going very steadily – with so little movement.

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Thursday March 27th 1924

Went on deck early & had lunch and dinner up there. Ship going very steadily. Read John Galsworthy’s. Mr John Davies very attentive. Sat up until nearly 10pm had better night. Ship’s run 511 rules. A little rusty & wet at night.

“Diolch mawr au hwey – Rhyfeddol niordda niae dior wedi bod I ni heb au hap naa ddauwwain Diolch lddo!”

Last entry in Annie’s Diary, with approximate translation

Friday March 28th 1924

Have sat indoors writing letters most of afternoon. This a.m Mr Jones took us round the ship. The kitchens, store rooms, first class accommodation etc. Getting nearer & nearer home a diolch mawr au hwey – Rhyfeddol niordda niae dior wedi bod I ni heb au hap naa ddauwwain Diolch lddo!

Copied out article for S.W.D news – not very good.

*image of memorial cover*

The End?

And this, our friends and followers, sadly is the end of Annie’s Diary from 1924! We will however be producing one last blog post on their arrival back to Southamptoin, exploring the legacy of the Peace Petition trip to America, and what came next. Thankyou for following, and we hope Annie’s words will inspire you and othewrs to get involved in transcribing the petition, and bringing their story further to life!

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