22 August 2011

The RMS Niagara

The ship Noel was departing on, the RMS Niagara, was an ocean liner that while being built bore the nickname the "Titanic of the Pacific". It launched a few months after the Titanic sank in 1912 with the new nickname the "Queen of the Pacific".

With Noel and the family being strapped for cash due to the depression, Noel was traveling third class. (Think Leonardo DiCaprio's character in the movie TITANIC, not Kate Winslet's character.)

Noel's route to North America
on the RMS Niagara
(click to enlarge):
(A) Sydney, Australia
(B) Auckland, New Zealand (C) Suva, Fiji
(D) Honolulu, Hawaii (E) Victoria, Canada
Wikipedia says the RMS Niagara could hold almost 700 first-, second- and third-class passengers, but a comment in an upcoming letter indicates it sailed with only a fraction of that -- 26 in the third class sailing out of Auckland, New Zealand. A copy of the ship's manifest found through Ancestry.com indicates only 18 in third class out of Auckland through to Canada.

The ship departed Sydney on 25 June, with stops in Auckland, departing 30 June; Suva, Figi Islands, departing 3 July; Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands, departing 10 July; and Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, arriving 16 July, and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, arriving 17 July.

In the letters, George is full of very detailed advice about shipboard life. He would know. He crossed the Pacific twice and the Atlantic twice on his way to and from Europe during World War I. At least one of those Pacific crossings was on the RMS Niagara.

Jumping ahead in time, the RMS Niagara did come to a dramatic end in 1940 when it struck a German mine outside New Zealand and sank. The ship was carrying gold bars intended to pay British debt to the U.S. government in relation to World War II, so an effort was launched to salvage the gold with most of it being recovered.

See related post: No. 3 -- 18 June 1931