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Author Topic: Could AE and FN have known it was named "Norwich City"?  (Read 109781 times)

Bruce Thomas

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Re: Could AE and FN have known it was named "Norwich City"?
« Reply #30 on: March 21, 2011, 07:17:06 PM »

Every vessel I've ever seen had the name of the ship cut out of plate steel letters and welded to the stern of the ship.
Sort of like the name on the wide beamed ship squeezing through the Panama Canal in the picture below.  (Click on the picture to enlarge it.)
LTM,

Bruce
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Dan Swift

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Re: Could AE and FN have known it was named "Norwich City"?
« Reply #31 on: March 21, 2011, 07:40:14 PM »

After reading Bevington's journal, he seems to had covered a lot but not all of the island.  But, mostly it doesn't seem likely, to me, that anyone could not have been aware of their presence (noise, digging, etc).....if they were still alive.   If they were there, and I am a believer that they were, seems to me they were gone or dead by October. 
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Walter Runck

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Re: Could AE and FN have known it was named "Norwich City"?
« Reply #32 on: March 21, 2011, 09:19:47 PM »

Military ships will sometimes outline names and/or hull numbers with a bead of weld to facilitate a quick repainting of the identification.  If NC had done something similar, the bead would be decipherable long after the paint was gone, or at least faded to the point were it wouldn't show up in a photo.  Lighting and contrast can lead to lots of things playing hide and seek.

If they actually didn't know where they were (I've posted my doubts on this in another thread, they would be highly motivated to ID the ship.  Burnt or not, I find it hard to believe that there was nothing on the wreck or the shore that would tell them the name of the ship, especially if you accept the theory that they could only transmit during windows around low tide, thus forcing lots of off-air time on them.

Life rings, jackets and other survival gear are often marked as well as boats and rafts.  Also ship's equipment that was pilferable (sextants, anyone?), etc..

Grave markers from the crew who were buried there?

Whether or not someone could do something in 1944 doesn't tell us anything about whether someone did do it in 1937.

What do we know about the lifeboat equipment?  Without a mast and sails, FN would have been just meat in a frying pan hoping to get lucky and that's not much of a plan.  Given the water question, it's hard to imagine a rational man taking those odds.  Then again, maybe some Antarctic cruise ship will spot something in a thawing glacier and we'll end up with the 4th boat, misssing sextant, Zippo lighter and the navigator to boot.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2011, 05:34:48 AM by Walter Runck »
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Thom Boughton

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Re: Could AE and FN have known it was named "Norwich City"?
« Reply #33 on: March 22, 2011, 01:25:25 AM »

I can’t look at the pictures of Norwich City taken before its stormy, fiery midnight encounter with Gardner Island without John Masefield’s small poem “Cargoes” echoing in my brain.  “Dirty British coaster …” wrote Britain’s Poet Laureate, and this is what I’m reminded of looking at those photos.

Interesting you should say that.  I have a similar reaction.  Only, in my case, it (not surprisingly) has more of a Canadian influence: 'Steel Boats, Iron Men...32 Dead on the Robert MacKenzie'





.....Fred Noonan is a highly experienced mariner. He has a nautical sextant, almanacs and charts.  If he has recovered sufficiently from any injury he may have sustained in the landing and if there is a seaworthy boat available it would seem to be the most logical thing in the world for him to take whatever water and provisions he could assemble and set off to get help. It wouldn't make sense for both of them to go. It would double the amount of water and provisions needed. (Here Amelia, you keep the box for carrying stuff and the lens from the inverting eyepiece for starting fires.  I won't need them.)  .......


I've wondered about this as well.  But something troubles me about the idea.  I own a sextant and have used a few others in addition to my own.  I think the last thing I would consider doing would be to set sail in an open boat with such an instrument as my only means of navigation and yet voluntarily opting to leave its case behind.  They're just too delicate an instrument to leave laying about on open gunwales or bilgeboards without protection from the elements or unintended kicks and etc.  I suppose one could wrap it in a shirt or the like... but how much greater protection would that really afford?

The eyepiece isn't a terrible loss, I shouldn't think...and certainly of greater use to AE.  But the case doesn't make sense.  Yes, one could say it was a sacrifice to help AE....but how much help would it really be?  A box of that size would hold little more than if one merely held their shirttail out and collected seashells in it.  Yet, onboard an open launch, it could deliver the difference between life and death/failure or success.  Seems the greater utility would be to take it onboard for its given purpose.

But, as Ric says, it's all untestable conjecture at best.  Might as well argue with a cat about the weather.




....TB
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« Last Edit: March 22, 2011, 06:36:23 AM by moleski »
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Monty Fowler

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Re: Could AE and FN have known it was named "Norwich City"?
« Reply #34 on: March 22, 2011, 05:10:15 AM »

Quite some time ago I did some research (corresponding) with a shipbuilding historian in the area where the Normanby was built, who said it was the "common practice" at that time, in those shipyards, to put the ship's name as steel letters affixed to both sides of the bows and across the stern. They would have been welded on. As such, he doubted, (but we have no documented proof, of course) that the new owners removed the Normanby name, or that they went to the expense of having new steel letters welded on spelling Norwich City; more likely, but again, there is no documented proof, the new name was simply painted on. There's nothing like the heat of a fire and a few years of salt water corrosion to take at least some surface paint off. However, as other sources have noted, both ship's names were on other items scattered throughout the ship.
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Could AE and FN have known it was named "Norwich City"?
« Reply #35 on: March 22, 2011, 05:38:48 AM »

After reading Bevington's journal, he seems to had covered a lot but not all of the island.  But, mostly it doesn't seem likely, to me, that anyone could not have been aware of their presence (noise, digging, etc).....if they were still alive.   If they were there, and I am a believer that they were, seems to me they were gone or dead by October. 

If AE and FN were at the Seven Site, the only time Bevington had an opportunity to discover them is when he walked around the outer shore of the island on the first day.  Having spent way too much time there I can tell you that, due to wave and wind noise and the effect of dense screening vegetation, a brass band could be giving a concert at the Seven Site and someone walking along the beach wouldn't hear them.
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Chris Johnson

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Re: Could AE and FN have known it was named "Norwich City"?
« Reply #36 on: March 22, 2011, 07:50:22 AM »

Every vessel I've ever seen had the name of the ship cut out of plate steel letters and welded to the stern of the ship.

Beg to differ but the MS Oldenburg Launched and registered Bremen 1958 and re registered Bideford 1985 has its name and port painted on the stern as opposed to raised metal (my words) letters painted.

Extract of reply to my email to the ships superintendent to ask about ships lettering as I know that this ship has been re registered.

"Hi Chris,
That’s an interesting one, and I had to go and check myself to be sure.
The names are simply painted on and not raised metal letters. They would look better if they were done properly though.
I hope that helps.
 
Jack Bater
Ship's Superintendent - MS Oldenburg"

OK thats just one vessel but I'm sure i've seen many more 'painted name and port' cargo vessels in my time growing up on the coast.
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Ricker H Jones

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Re: Could AE and FN have known it was named "Norwich City"?
« Reply #37 on: March 22, 2011, 09:23:27 AM »

Here are some of my notes from the research of the NC which corroborate comments on the forum:

Notes on Norwich City
Question:  Could the Norwich City have been identified by a castaway in July of 1937?

Answer from Hartlepool  Library Reference and Information Service. (NC  Construction Archives)

Dear Mr Jones,
    Thank you for your enquiry. I have spoken to our shipping specialist and he informs me that it is possible that the name of the ship would have been put on in steel and painted. The practice of this was down to many factors such as cost and the frequent name changes of ships. The lifeboat would he believes have had the name of the ship it belongs to painted on the side of it.
Hope this information proves useful,
yours sincerely
Sandra McKay
Reference Library Manager
 
Reference & Information Service             
Central Library
124 York Road
Hartlepool
TS26 9DE
Telephone: 01429 263778


Dispatches from Lincoln Elsworth’s Master, Captain Tichendorf, were written up in the Argus, Monday 16 December 1929.  "WRECK OF THE NORWICH CITY, HEAVY SURF AND SHARKS, Graphic Story of Rescue”  The dispatches give a very vivid picture of the Norwich City at the time of their arrival Tuesday following the stranding.  In part:

“I have never seen such a complete wreck.  The fire was still burning when I arrived.  The deckhouses had been gutted, the bridge had collapsed, and the deck amidship and forward of the bridge had fallen in.”

Rick J
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Brad Beeching

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Re: Could AE and FN have known it was named "Norwich City"?
« Reply #38 on: March 22, 2011, 11:54:42 AM »

Well, thats one ship not done that way, BUT
Quote
"They would look better if they were done properly though."
sort of proves my point in that raised or welded letters are more properly done this way. Now was the Norwich City renamed in such a manner? I have no idea, BUT if AE/FN had indeed landed next to the wreck, how far out into the surf would they have had to walk in order to read it? If the bow was illedgible and they had to swim to read the name off the stern, would they? Or would they just climb on board and hunt around till they found something with the name on it?  Isn't the name of a vessel ingraved on the ships bell? Does anyone know if they replace the ships bell when they rename a vessel? If the decks had fallen through due to the fire, maybe the bell landed where it was visible to anyone climbing aboard through the ships side...
Brad

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Chris Johnson

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Re: Could AE and FN have known it was named "Norwich City"?
« Reply #39 on: March 23, 2011, 03:04:55 AM »

Something that popped into my mind on the way to work was they would have been in the Electra broadcasting when the tide was low and on land when the tide was high.  Not saying that they may or may not have gone to the Norwich City while one person transmitted but we could be overestimating the actual wrecks role in this and not something found on land instead.
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Ted G Campbell

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Re: Could AE and FN have known it was named "Norwich City"?
« Reply #40 on: March 28, 2011, 06:36:39 PM »

Let's go back to the basics regarding the words "N.Y., N.Y., N.Y. in Betty's notebook.  "If" those were the words spoken by AE and jotted down by Betty then the name of the ship was visiable to AE.  Reasoning:  Betty wouldn't have known that there was a ship named "Norwich City" grounded on Gardner and the words Norwich City, when verbalized, would easily be interperted by Betty as N.Y.(New York) City a city she would have been familiar with.

I say that AE knew the name of ship on Gardner, either by exterior name or some other identification she found on or near the vessel.

Ted Campbell
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Dan Swift

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Re: Could AE and FN have known it was named "Norwich City"?
« Reply #41 on: March 28, 2011, 08:01:56 PM »

Exactly, remembering Betty wrote "New York City....or something that sounds like that"...
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Could AE and FN have known it was named "Norwich City"?
« Reply #42 on: March 29, 2011, 05:50:14 AM »

To be precise, Betty never wrote "New York City."  On four separate occasions - three fairly early in the transmission and once at the very end - Betty wrote "N.Y. N.Y."  Beside the final "N.Y. N.Y." she later wrote "or something that sounded like New York."  Betty explained to me that, to her, a 15 year old girl in Florida, New York and New York City were synonymous. "N.Y. N.Y." was a quick way of writing New York City - but she said that AFTER she understood the possible significance.  In considering Betty's Notebook we have to make a clear distinction between the written contemporaneous document and her later anecdotal recollections.  That she wrote "N.Y. N.Y." and that she wasn't sure she had it quite right are facts supported by hard evidence.  It is also a fact that the words "Norwich City" sound a lot like "New York City."  That Betty heard something that sounded like New York City is conjecture supported by anecdotal recollection.   
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Ted G Campbell

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Re: Could AE and FN have known it was named "Norwich City"?
« Reply #43 on: March 29, 2011, 05:43:37 PM »

Ric,
Wouldn't you turn your last sentence around to read:  That Betty heard something that sounded like New York City is anecdotal recollection supported by conjecture .
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Could AE and FN have known it was named "Norwich City"?
« Reply #44 on: March 30, 2011, 07:19:32 AM »

Wouldn't you turn your last sentence around to read:  That Betty heard something that sounded like New York City is anecdotal recollection supported by conjecture .

Excellent question, and it brings up an important point about evaluating what is often termed "oral history."  If you review the video of my interview with Betty in 2000 (available on DVD) you'll see that the conjecture that she might have heard "New York City" came as a suggestion from me, not from Betty.  She had already talked about writing "N.Y., N.Y." without saying anything about it standing for New York City. I knew I was "leading the witness" and I was careful to tell her that it was okay for her to disagree, but I wondered if it was possible that she meant "N.Y., N.Y." to mean New York City.  The more she thought about it, the more she became convinced it was possible.  She did not, at that time, realize the significance of hearing New York City.

So it would not be accurate to say,"Betty heard something that sounded like New York City is anecdotal recollection supported by conjecture."
To be perfectly accurate (and it's important to be perfectly accurate), my statement, "Betty heard something that sounded like New York City is conjecture supported by anecdotal recollection" is not quite right either.   Betty did not have an anecdotal recollection of hearing "New York City" and writing "N.Y., N.Y."  That's pure conjecture from me that Betty, upon reflection, agreed with. We don't know, and we'll never know, whether Betty heard something that sounded like "New York City" rather than "New York, New York".

I'm making kind of a big deal about this because it illustrates an important point.  An investigation this large and this complex tends to develop its own folklore. We have to constantly check back against the primary source material to make sure we're not getting ahead of ourselves.
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