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Author Topic: Missing Sailor  (Read 1396 times)

Ric Gillespie

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Missing Sailor
« on: August 30, 2018, 12:47:28 PM »

TIGHAR researcher Kenton Spading is trying to track down possible alternative identities for the castaway whose remains Gallagher found in 1940.
Apparently, after reading that a U.S. Navy search pilot had spoken with a white man at Hull Island, a Mrs. Albert Culas contacted the WPHC in Suva and asked if that person could have been her husband who had been reported missing from the French ship SS Eider in 1934.  (He, of course, wasn't.)  The question is whether the missing Albert Culas could have been the castaway of Gardner Island.
No SS Eider was reported lost in 1934 and there is a French-registered Eider in the 1937 Berne's List of Ship Stations, so we're not talking about a sinking.  Albert must have either fallen overboard or maybe he just jumped-ship at some port.  I have no idea where SS Eider was in 1934 but Mrs. Culas obviously thought there was a chance her husband could have ended up on Hull.  I wonder if her query was reported in Pacific Islands Monthly, the archives of which are now on line. Albert is a loose end it would be nice to tidy up.
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Missing Sailor
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2018, 03:10:53 PM »

Jeff Christmas is a Forum reader but not a TIGHAR member (gotta fix that). He sent me this email:

"I was intrigued by the line of inquiry into a missing French sailor who may have disappeared near Hull.

 I came across some information this morning that a French ship named “Eider” disappeared in 1934.  I didn’t see anything as to its whereabouts when it disappeared, and I have yet to search for additional documentation or related newspaper articles.  I thought I’d send you this link while it was fresh in my mind lest I forget about it.

The part of the database with the following page had 10 ships names Eider.  This is the most likely candidate.

http://www.plimsollshipdata.org/pdffile.php?name=34a0676.pdf

http://www.plimsollshipdata.org/ship.php?ship_id=926&name=Eider

I hope this helps Mr Spading in his inquiries.

Sincerely,

Jeffrey Christmas"

So there WAS a French-registered Eider lost in 1934. She was wooden, 3 masted, 109.8 feet long, 232 tons - possibly a yacht.  If a yacht went missing anywhere in the south pacific chances are it was mentioned in Pacific Islands Monthly.  Now we have a specific date - January 1934.
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Christophe Blondel

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Re: Missing Sailor
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2018, 03:20:30 PM »

The story of the ship Eider was reported by the French newspapers of year 1934, many of which are available on line, on the website https://gallica.bnf.fr of our "Bibliothèque nationale" (National Library). Have a look for instance at L’Ouest-Eclair for year 1934 at https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/cb32830550k/date1934 and you will read
- on Jan. 30: that ship Eider left for Iceland on January 29 with a crew of 22
- on March 27: a first-page article entitled "No news of "Eider" for 57 days", with details on the ship, including the crew list with actually an Albert Culas
- on March 28: another articled telling that the shipowner has come back from Reykjavik with no news of his three-masted ship
- on April 4: "Still no news of Eider"
- on August 4: that the "Société de secours aux marins français naufragés" sends 14100 francs from Paris, to be shared between the families of the sailors lost with the three-masted ship.
So there was actually a French three-master called Eider, which was not a yacht but a "terre-neuvas", i.e. one of those ships that left for months to go fishing on the banks of Newfoundland or (like in that case) along the coasts of Iceland. Eider was unfortunately not the only one that disappeared without a trace. The remarkable thing about Culas is that his widow apparently believed he could have been stranded in the Pacific! A possible explanation may be that having only heard the name "Hull", she believed that was one of the places bearing the same name in the Atlantic, for there are several of them, first of all the English city of that name on the Humber estuary.
Sorry if that does not demonstrate with a 100% probability that Culas could not be our castaway. I am sure those who do not want AE to have been the one on Niku will better imagine extraordinary ways, for an unfortunate sailor, to make a raft and drift around America (the one or the other way) unnoticed, to the Phoenix islands ...
With best regards
Christophe
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Bruce Thomas

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Re: Missing Sailor
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2018, 07:44:36 PM »

I am sure those who do not want AE to have been the one on Niku will better imagine extraordinary ways, for an unfortunate sailor, to make a raft and drift around America (the one or the other way) unnoticed, to the Phoenix islands ...

Cher M. Blondel, vous avez un sens de l'humour merveilleusement drôle!
LTM,

Bruce
TIGHAR #3123R
 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Missing Sailor
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2018, 07:37:46 AM »

Sorry if that does not demonstrate with a 100% probability that Culas could not be our castaway.

Oh.. I'd say that's as close to 100% as you can get.  Great work Christophe and welcome to TIGHAR and the TIGHAR Forum.
Welcome also to new member Jeff Christmas who independently made the same discovery but was a nose late in getting to the Forum.

Both Christophe and Jeff are shining examples of the strength of the TIGHAR Forum both in producing first-class historical research and generating new members for TIGHAR.   
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