1914 Cruise to New Zealand

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Passengers by the Turakina, which arrived direct from London last evening had a melancholy passage.

 She came straight out from London without calling at the Cape in itself a monotonous experience.

There were no less than five deaths on the voyage, including that of the ship's doctor.

Above: The Turakina.

The first to go was a young steward named Frederick Winkworth, who belonged to Bath, and who died of pneumonia after a short illness.

Four days later a trimmer named Lewis, believed to be a Russian, aged twenty three, jumped overboard. According to a member of the crew, he had been brooding on the war and talking a great deal about the German atrocities in Belgium. No other reason than worry over the war was known for his taking his life. Lewis was seen by officers, and members of the crew at about 4 in the morning to deliberately jump from the ship into the Sea.

The attempt to rescue him was an exciting event.

The steamer was in Latitude 25 degrees N. and Longitude S. degrees 40 minutes W., and the sea was choppy at the time:

The alarm was given immediately, and the ship was .put astern.

Two boats were quickly manned and lowered, but the attempted rescue was most difficult; as the. night was pitch dark.

The Turakina was stopped, lifebuoys were thrown, and a boat was lowered. After cruising around the spot where the man was supposed to have fallen in, allowing for the way of the ship, the search was given up.

Next was Dr. D. Llewellyn Thomas, the ship's surgeon, he died on 12th October from pneumonia, the result of a chill. He had endeared himself to all on board, and particularly to the women and children, He was forty-one years of age, and a native of Staffordshire and unmarried.

He had been a special favourite with the women and children, and his death was deeply regretted.

Needless to say by this time, the passengers' nerves were in a state of prostration at the sad events coming so close on top of each other, and a gloom settled over the ship, which, social functions, musical concerts, and games absolutely failed to clear away.

The steamer did not make the customary call at Capetown, and this added to the monotony and depression.

On October 20 another death occurred, and the passengers began to think that the ship was possessed of an evil influence.

A third-class passenger named Denis Walsh, one of the cheeriest passengers on board, a motor car driver, and who had worked hard to brighten up the passage, died of double pneumonia. He was bound for Hokitika, and was accompanied by Mrs. Walsh.

He was an Irishman, being born at Brosna, in County Kerry, and was only 29 years of age.

The next death, took place shortly afterwards, when Mr. Lawrence Maudsley, a farmer aged sixty, was taken. He was returning to New Zealand after having visited Rishton, Lancashire, his native town. He had been suffering from appendicitis, and died of peritonitis.

He was well known in the South Canterbury district. He held a farm near Waimate for four years, and was much respected.

In addition to these five deaths a lady passenger made an unsuccessful attempt to take her life,

There were thus four burials at sea within a very short space of time.

Naturally, the passengers were delighted when the voyage came to an end in Wellington Harbour, which fortunately at the moment of arrival looked its best in the rosy glow of a still evening, whereas it has been troubled for days past with most irritating north-westerly winds.

The Turakina lasted until 1940, when it was sunk by a German boat in the Tasman Sea during the 2nd World War.


Evening Post, Volume LXXXVIII, Issue 120, 17 November 1914, Page 2.

Grey River Argus , 17 November 1914, Page 5.