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Voyage of the s.s. ‘England’


 On the 30th November 1909 the s.s. ‘England’, captained by William Reath Bennett, signed on a new crew at Rotterdam and set sail for Swansea to load coal and patent fuel for Porto Velho, Brazil. On the 16th of December at Swansea, Henry Major Tomlinson and the ship’s surgeon joined the crew. Tomlinson was signed on at a shilling a month and given the status of purser.  The chief officer signed off at Swansea and a new chief office joined the vessel. The 3rd deck officer failed to join, and when she finished loading at Swansea she set sail for Porto Velho, Brazil without a 3rd deck officer. 

  The s.s. ‘England’ steamed up-river to Porto Velho after calling at Belém to pick up cattle as deck cargo, but the actual date of her arrival there is not recorded. However, the ship's articles show that, on the 25th February, an American from Texas was signed on at Porto Velho as a fireman at a shilling a month, possibly to work his passage back to the USA. Having discharged all her cargo she made her way to Barbados, calling at Pará on the 3rd March to sign off the doctor by mutual consent. There the captain signed on seven seamen who had been left stranded - 4 sailors, 2 firemen and an assistant steward - all signed on at one shilling per month. The s.s. ‘England’ arrived at Barbados on the 9th March, where one of the fireman and the assistant steward were signed off.

 At Barbados she received new orders to proceed to Tampa Florida to load a cargo of phosphate for Hamburg. We don’t know if she loaded any cargo at Barbados - perhaps she just picked up bunkers. She arrived at Tampa on the 17th March where the remaining five crew members who had been picked up at Para were signed off, and where the American fireman who had signed on at Porto Velho deserted. Henry Tomlinson also signed off at Tampa by mutual consent to make his own way home by train to New York and then by passenger liner to Portsmouth.

 On completion of loading at Tampa she made her way to Pensacola, arriving on the 22nd March, after which she set sail for Hamburg, arriving there on the 24th April 1910. On arrival at Hamburg two of the firemen were hospitalised with malaria. With the exception of Tomlinson and the ship’s surgeon, all members of the original crew completed the voyage.

 All the above dates are taken from the ship’s articles, and some of the dates in Tomlinson’s book don’t exactly match with these, as shown below:-

          Tomlinson’s date for leaving Porto Velho is the 10th March, but the ship’s articles show that the s.s. ‘England’ arrived at Barbados on the 9th March, so she must have left Porto Velho prior to that date.

            Tomlinson states that the doctor signed off at Pará on the 16th of March, whereas the ship’s articles show that this occurred on the 3rd March.



Further investigations into the activities of Captain Bennett reveal that he had completed a similar voyage in the s.s. 'England' the previous year, leaving Rotterdam on the 22nd November 1908 to call at Swansea before sailing to Pará, and then Porto Velho. On this voyage the s.s. 'England' was the very first ocean-going vessel to navigate the Amazon and Madeira rivers to Porto Velho, followed some time later by the s.s. 'Holland'. From Porto Velho, the s.s. 'England' sailed to Mobile, Alabama, and returned to Hamburg on the 22nd April 1909


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