Eileen Bethke Kohan

I am the granddaughter of the Chief Officer on the City of Cardiff when it ran aground at Lands End. The two year old boy rescued was my father. I have been doing a bit of research on my grandfather's life and was curious if you have any additional information on the wreck. Posted on forum 29 January 2014.


There were 27 Officers and Crew aboard the City of Cardiff when she grounded in Nanjizel Bay, Lands End on 12th March 1912. All were rescued by the Sennen Brigade, who had followed events closely along the cliffs. The rescue was especially notable as it was the the first time that women had been rescued by breeches buoy; Mrs Storey, the Master's wife and Mrs Bethke, the Chief Officer's wife, together with the Bethke's 2 year old son were all safely landed. Captain Storey was the last to be taken off. Posted on forum 7 August 2010.

By 1914, Julius Bethke, the 1st Mate of the City of Cardiff, had been promoted to master, and was in command of Cornish City (1), when it was attacked and sunk by the German Battle-Cruiser Karlsruhe, in mid-Atlantic, on 21st September 1914. Along with the rest of the officers and crew, he was put aboard a German cargo ship and landed in Tenerife, and from there, he arrived back in the UK in early November. However, for reasons of expediency and his own welfare, Smiths arranged for him to leave the UK and embark upon a new life in the USA. Julius, of course, was married to Elizabeth Reardon Smith, the daughter of Captain John Henry Reardon Smith, the brother of the company founder, William Reardon Smith. Sadly, Elizabeth had died in childbirth in July 1914. His two young children followed him to the US in 1915, accompanied by his sister, Gussie.

We shall never know whether he ever subsequently met up with his brother-in-law, Captain Harry Reardon Smith, Master of the Botavon , who survived her sinking in Murmansk in May 1942, only to loose his life the following year when in command of the ill-fated Fort Mumford.

January 2014.