Buchanness (2)

We have had a few stories from our members about their first trip to sea, and I am grateful to our member Mr. Albert Williams from Radyr, Cardiff, who is now 88 years old and tells his story when he joined the Reardon Smith Line in 1927, it was salt beef in those days. His hand writing was very good.

I finished my apprenticeship in 1929 so please excuse my shaky hand writing as I am now 88 years old.
As I was longing to go to sea I went along to Merthyr House in James Street, Cardiff to see Mr. W. G. Liley the son-in-law of Sir William Reardon Smith, having married his daughter Lilian.
I was very pleased with the visit as he told me I could join the S.S."Buchanness" (2) in Salford Manchester as an Assistant Engineer.
My first voyage was down the Manchester Canal on our way to Immingham to load coal for Melbourne Australia, as there was a miners strike there, they had no coal for the gasworks.

Just before we left Melbourne a sister ship "Norwich City" had sailed on the same voyage as
us to Vancouver via Honolulu. Sad to say, owing to very rough seas, she became stranded on Gardner Island in the Pacific Ocean. Their lifeboat capsized and 11 officers and crew were drowned. The rest of the survivors reached the island but had no food for days, only what was washed ashore from the lifeboat. They were rescued by the British steamer "Trongate", another sad story, one of many
suffered by the Reardon Smith Line.

The "Buchanness" (2) under the command of Captain H. Isaac safely reached Honolulu and Vancouver. This was my first voyage and the worst part of it was when I saw the cook open a barrel of SALT BEEF, the sight and smell of it nearly made me seasick. Remember there was no fridges in
those days.
"No fridge freezer" on the voyage to Melbourne with a 24 hour stop at Durban for bunkers
and fresh water and remember we were only doing eight and half knots. When we arrived at Seattle
the yanks decided that the "Buchanness" (2) had to be fumigated. While this was going on nobody
was allowed onboard for 24 hours so we were sent to some hotel for that time. It was great, lovely
fresh food and then back onboard we were told to keep our portholes open the first night we slept in
our cabins.
After doing most of the Pacific Coast calls we arrived at San Francisco and what a place it was
then. The Golden Gate Bridge was unfinished and one of the inmates at Alcatraz Prison was Al
Capone. The Chinese Quarter there was like being in Shanghai. Remember this was the end of 1929,
and prohibition was all over the U.S.A. . After that we went to Los Angles and then for oil bunkers in
San Diego where the American fleet were showing off their new aircraft carriers the U.S.S. "Lexington" and the "Saratoga".                                                                                             Unquote

Note:- Caption Isaac was lost on the "Cornish City"(3) with 38 crew members when she was
sunk by German submarine U177 in the Indian Ocean .

Reardon Smith Line had two ships called "Buchanness”. "Buchanness" (1)" was built
in 1909 and Reardon Smith line acquired her in 1920, she was wrecked in 1924. "Buchanness" (2) was
built for R.S.L in 1924, her name was changed in 1931 to the "Imperial Valley". She served the
Reardon Smith Line from 1924 to 1948 and then sold to new owners for further trading until 1959
when she was scrapped. This article appeared in Shipmates Issue 13 on December 1999.

Buchanness. Page [1] [2]
Memories from RSL staff. Page [1]