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Cadet 1 Diary
Cadet 2 Diary
The Unclaimed Letter
The København, the largest sailing ship built in a British yard, a five master, arrived at Port Germein on New Year's Day, 1924 and stayed until January 15th, 1924. It is pictured below, loading wheat at Port Germein, in a photo provided by Robyn Holthouse. The photo belonged to Millicent Spencer, Robyn's Aunt and a long time resident of Port Germein.
Its figurehead, beautifully carved, was Absalon, the first Christian Bishop of Copenhagen, depicted with an axe. On the end
of the bowsprite was affixed a shark's tail to bring fair winds. The ship was 393 feet in length and carried 55,000 bags of wheat.
She carried 100 sails, including spares and when fully rigged she had 40 aloft on the five masts. In addition to the sails a 640 hp
diesel engine was installed.
A "Visitor" to Port Germein briefly mentioned the arrival of the ship, in a long, flowery
article about New Year's Day at Port Germein, in 'The Recorder' of January 4th, 1924:
Here is a list of the crew on the ship at Port Germein in January, 1924, with thanks to Thorbjørn Thaarup of the Danish Maritime Museum. Many of the cadets were from wealthy or even noble families, as learning about the sea on a sailing ship was compulsory for a ship's officer in the merchant marine. When the ship was in Port Germein, a ball was held aboard, which is mentioned in the diaries below.
There were cadets on board as it was a training ship. The townspeople entertained them, and I remember my parents telling the story of having two of the cadets on the farm for the day. Unfortunately, the shipand all aboard were lost.
The ship was on a journey from Buenos Aires to Australia, leaving on December 14, 1928, headed for Melbourne and Adelaide.
When it disappeared the Australian interstate steamer,'Junee,' not much bigger than a Manly ferry, was fitted with
auxiliary sails and sent on a prolonged search for 'København.' No trace was found and 'Junee' was lucky to survive. Without the sails she would have been in serious trouble.
The Danish tanker, 'Mexico,' searched, funded largely by relatives of the missing men.
'SS Deucalion,' tanker 'Panama' and 'SS Beltana' also participated in the hunt.
If you click on this underwriting link you will see a copy of a survey note from 'København.' The document was found in the old harbour master's office at Pt Germein and donated to the Port Pirie Museum where it was supposed to be framed and exhibited. Sadly that didn't happen and it was lost for many years before being found in this badly degraded condition. Noel Smith was able to get a copy. The steel vessel, owned by the East Asiatic Co. Ltd and under the Danish flag had arrived from Sydney on the first of January, 1924. It was surveyed while afloat on January 3rd, 1924
Australian News about the København.
On our recent visit (July 2015) to the new Ship Museum in Helsingør, I was disappointed to see so little on display
about the København, because I know they have a lot of very interesting material.
The place, built inside an old shipyard and next to the castle, looks fabulous and is probably one of the coolest places I have ever been in my life.
The displays were sensational and interactive and I am sure would appeal to all,
especially the young, but I couldn't help feeling that functionality has been sacrificed for appearance. It seems amazing that you would build a new place specifically for
displaying ship history and then have to store many of your artefacts like model ships elsewhere. With so much room, couldn't storage have been made on site as well?
I know that displays will be changed at regular intervals and that they probably ran out of money, but how you look is not the only thing that matters. I was, however, lucky to find
one good film about the ship in a series of 3 films about shipping disasters.
I really felt the need to revisit all the information about the
København on our return to Australia, and so I went back to TROVE and corrected and compiled the news stories in text form. I note that several other people
are editing the stories too and probably feel the same fascination. There is so much information, not all of it accurately spelt or even correct and much of it repeated,
but it does build up to a compelling story.
Australian News about the København in regular text.
False Bay Monday 31st December 1923
False Bay Tuesday 1 January 1924
Sct Germein Wednesday, 2 January
Sct Germein Thursday 3 January
Sct Germein Friday 4 January
Sct Germein Saturday 5 January
Sct Germein Sunday 6 January
Sct. Germein Monday 7 January
Port Germein Tuesday 8 January
Port Germein Wednesday 9 January
Port Germein Thursday 10 January
Port Germein Friday 11 January
Port Germein Saturday 12 January
Port Germein Sunday 13 January
Port Germein Monday 14 January
Port Germein Tuesday 15 January
Germain Bay Wednesday 2 January
Germain Thursday 3 January
Germain Friday 4 January
Germain Saturday 5 January
Germain Sunday 6 January
Germain Monday 7 January
Germain Tuesday 8 January
Germain Wednesday 9 January
Germain Thursday 10 January
Germain Friday 11 January
Germain Saturday 12 January
Germain Sunday 13 January
Germein Monday 14 January
Germein Tuesday 15 January
Wednesday 16 January
Thursday 17 January
Port Victoria Friday 18 January
The diaries are written in cursive and quite difficult to translate in places because of handwriting style, shipping terms, abbreviations and some errors in punctuation. Obviously a school type exercise, the diaries have been marked and corrected but in some places the cadets have corrected themselves, not crossing out but using brackets or writing in the margin. We have tried to translate them as faithfully as possible, including obvious errors like the spelling of Port Germein which is confused with Saint Germain. It seems they were not encouraged to see much of the local area but were kept on board polishing and scrubbing. While the diaries give an idea of their daily routine, there is no personal comment.
We were kindly given photocopies at the Danish Maritime Museum at Kronberg Castle, Helsingør, Denmark. A wealth of material available there is still being catalogued and studied.Photo Above: Captain Hans Ferdinand Andersen, master on the last fateful voyage of the 'København'
VOYAGES OF THE KØBENHAVN
Here is a Christmas letter about day to day life, written to one of the sailors aboard "København" for Christmas, 1928, and delivered to Australia in anticipation of the arrival of the ship, which never came. The mail was eventually returned to Denmark. The letter bears a 1928 julemaerke, the decorative stamp sold at Christmas to aid charity.
Diary page created 30-1-2011; Updated 25-7-2015. Links checked 3-8-2019.