Shooting incident on SPONDILUS

Bill Forster
20th April 2008, 20:03
After nine years at sea on the "San ships" of Eagle Oil the only job my 29 year old father could get after the Wall Street Crash and the onset of the Depression was on a 250 ton Antarctic whaler.
(Cloud)
He must have been quite relieved on his return in April 1930 to get a job as 4th Engineer on MV SPONDILUS, an Anglo Saxon Petroleum Co tanker.

I am researching his 40 years at sea as a marine engineer and was startled to find this report in the Lloyds Weekly Casualty Reports for the 26 April 1931:

Miscellaneous, Crew trouble on British vessel.
Jarrow, April 26: A serious disturbance among the Chinese members of the crew of the motor vessel SPONDILUS, owned by Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Company, Ltd., occurred at Hebburn-on-Tyne on Saturday night (April 25). Revolvers were used and Ah Ling Kee, fireman, was wounded in the head. The officers eventually succeeded in establishing order. Lloyds List Correspondent.

Can anybody provide further information about this 'incident'?

Was it reported in the local papers?

Would there have been a formal investigation?

My father left the ship the following day and was unemployed for twelve months but only the Master had a gun (in case of mutiny) and I think it unlikely that as 4th Engineer he would have been directly involved.

I have heard of the Captain's gun being used to shoot flying fish!

But this is the first time I have read of guns being used on a Britiah ship in home waters to control the crew. Does anybody know of other instances?

Bill Forster

Hugh MacLean
20th April 2008, 20:32
Hello Bill,

Tanker SPONDILUS official number 149880 built in 1927

The records for 1931 are held at the Maritime History Archive in Canada. There is a crew agreement present for this year but unfortunately no official log and that would be where the incident would be recorded. Given the nature of the incident it is quite possible that there was an investigation but I have come up with nothing yet.

Regards

Bill Forster
20th April 2008, 22:39
Thanks, Hugh. It's an expensive option!

I shall wait & see if anybody knows of the incident and then, perhaps, make a trip to the Newspaper Library at Colindale, north London, and see if the local papers carried a report.

I would have thought the police would have been involved.

Bill

Bill Forster
21st April 2008, 18:04
I have been in touch with Jack Williams, First Mate on MV SPONDIUS from 1957 until 59 when it went to the ship breakers for scrapping and this is what he said:-

"Thank you for the email on my old vessel the Spondilus. I had the pleasure to serve my time with Anglo Saxon and sailed onboard the final eighteen months of her life before handing her over in Singapore for break up in Hong Kong. I am sorry I am unable to throw any light on the shooting incident you seek information. As for the pistol it was usualy a Smith & Wesson six chamber, always kept in the Master's safe, we were instructed to use the pistol as a threat and to avoid firing of the pistol. It was more for the threat of piracy as prevalent then as it is now in the eastern waters we sailed in. I can assure you the the weapon was never used to shoot at flying fish, onboard a tanker loaded or otherwise."

But I have contacted the South Shields Gazette and hope to obtain a report on the shooting from them.

Bill

Bill Forster
24th April 2008, 10:47
Who did it? And what happened when the case came to court?

The mystery is SOLVED! I contacted Janis Blower, a feature writer on the SOUTH SHIELDS GAZETTE and she looked up the details in the newspaper's archives and will be writing about it in her column, "Cookson Country", in tomorrows issue.

If you are not living on Tyneside you will be able to read her account on the web at: www.shieldsgazette.com

Bill Forster

Hugh MacLean
24th April 2008, 18:39
Good result, Bill.
Regards

Bill Forster
24th April 2008, 22:06
Thanks, Hugh. It's quite fun chasing these things up.

And the local press are always keen for "news" to fill their pages.

It wasn't a mutiny - but a dispute between two Chinese crewmen over a gambling debt!

-------- snip from e-mail

When the case eventually reached court, the accused was described as the ship’s quartermaster and the victim as the bo’sun. It seems there had been a row over a gambling debt of 20 17s which the bo’sun had demanded payment of. There were all kinds of counter accusations that he himself had been cheating and that it was he who had bought the gun in Hamburg. He actually survived the shooting and at Hebburn police court a few weeks later, the charge against the quartermaster was reduced to unlawful wounding. He was sentenced to six months hard labour and ordered to be deported. The only other person to give evidence was the second mate, Harold Gosling, from Kent.
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The nice thing is they plan to include details & a photograph of my father so, perhaps, I might hear from readers who knew him as he was a local 'boy' at the time.

Bill

Bill Forster
26th April 2008, 18:02
I have just added the article in yesterday's South Shields Gazette giving the full story of the "EXPLOSIVE ARGUMENT ABOARD SPONDILUS" to the GALLERY - they have made an interesting story & included a couple of photographs!

Bill Forster
4th May 2008, 11:53
To "read all about it" (gunfight on SPONDILUS) look at: http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=115731

Bill

Hugh MacLean
4th May 2008, 13:29
Hello Bill,

An interesting article and goes to show what you can find out there if you are prepared to look deep enough. Glad you got a result and should give others inspiration in there own quests.

Regards (Thumb)