NEW ZEALAND DISASTERS AND TRAGEDIES
SINKING OF THE COASTAL STEAMER TAINUI OFF GORE BAY, NEAR CHEVIOT, SOUTH ISLAND
TUESDAY 16 SEPTEMBER 1919
Hawera and Normanby Star, Volume LXXIV, 16 September 1919, Page 7
TERRIBLE DISASTER. STEAMER TAINUI CATCHES FIRE. ONLY ONE MAN SAVED.
(BY TELEGRAPH PRESS ASSOCIATION.) CHRISTCHURCH, Sep. 16. News received from Cheviot states that the coastal steamer Tainui (128 tons) which, loaded a cargo of benzine yesterday at Lyttelton for Wanganui, was beached at 2 o'clock this morning at Gore Bay; off the Waiau river, on fire. The vessel is owned by the New Zealand Refrigerating Company, and carried a crew of nine. The master is J. C. Cowan, of Wanganui. The telegram received states that the body of a man has been washed tip on the Gore Bay beach. A later message states that the Tainui is a complete wreck. Eight lives were lost, only one member of the crew being saved. The names of the crew are as follows:
Master - James Cairns COWAN, of Wanganui
Mate - William Hardie STEVENS, 57 years of Wanganui
Engineer - Ephraim GREENWOOD, 67 years of Wellington
Firemen - Alexander FULLON [FULLER], 42 years
Fireman - William TOWNSEND, 49 years of Wellington
Sailor - Charles WILLIAMS, 38 years
Sailor - Donald McLEAN, 38 years
Sailor - John Henry Leslie HOWARD, 35 years of Lyttelton
William Henry FARRAND, the ship's cook was the only member of the Tainui's crew saved.
Bay of Plenty Times, Volume XVIII, Issue 7221, 17 September 1919, Page 5
Lifeboat Capsizes when Launched Wellington, Sept. 17
The Tainui went ashore about four miles North of Gore Bay, the spot being marked by clouds of black smoke. The fire is still raging, although the ship looks a mere skeleton of iron. The only survivor (the cook, William H. Farrand) states that an explosion occurred at 3 a.m., which blew off part of the forward hatch cover. Immediately afterwards an attempt was made to launch the ship's lifeboat, but it was swamped and capsized immediately it reached the water. All the members of the crew were thrown into the water, and with the exception of the cook were drowned. He was saved by hanging on to the lifeboat until it was washed up on the beach about four miles from the scene of the explosion. He was much exhausted when he reached the beach, Farrand added that after the life boat capsized some of the men clung to it, but gradually they dropped off. Captain Cowan was almost into the breakers before he became exhausted and let go.
The Tainui is lying broadside on to the beach. She was devoured all day by the flames, while overhead dense smoke blackened the sky. The explosion must have been terrific, for heavy timber and wreckage, splintered and twisted, were washed ashore.
Five bodies have been washed ashore, and three have been identified as Greenwood, Townsend and Fuller. There were no marks on the bodies to indicate that they had been injured by the explosion. Captain Cowan's body has not yet been recovered.
Seaman with Notable Record Perishes. Wellington, Sept. 17
Seaman Charles Williams, D.S.M., lost in the Tainui disaster, was a native of Christchurch. He joined the merchant service at the age of sixteen in 1897, and served later in the naval reserve aboard the warship Tauranga. While serving in this ship he proved recklessly courageous, rendering aid to a stricken crew during a terrific gale. Williams also served in two Antarctic expeditions under Captains Scott and Evans. He volunteered for service as a stoker with the North Sea fleet when war broke out, and later was on his old Commander Evans' ship the Broke, when she and the Swift put up a great fight against the Germans in the Straits of Dover. It was for bravery in this engagement that he was awarded the D.S.M. He also participated in the Zeebrugge raid, being one of the volunteers from the Broke who landed on the mole.
Evening Post, Volume XCVIII, Issue 69, 19 September 1919, Page 6
The late Mr. Ephraim Greenwood, who lost his life in the s.s. Tainui on the 16th inst., was the survivor of several previous wrecks, including the Samson, Hauraki, Kiwi, and Moa. He was, until his death, one of the three surviving foundation members of the Marine Engineers Institute, and probably its oldest active member. He is survived by four daughters: Mrs. F. N. Martin (Kilbirnie), Mrs. Ian Brock (Matata), Mrs. R. F. Grace (Palmerston North), and Miss Greenwood (of Wellington), by one son, Mr. R. E. Greenwood (Loburn, Rangiora), and by six grandchildren. His wife, one of Wellington's best known vocalists, predeceased him last May. Mr. Greenwood was part owner with Captain Harvey of the Hauraki, when she foundered in 1887 off Farewell.
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