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The Rex

 

Monday, June 29, 1925

Fifteen Perished When Liner Rammed
Local Halibut Craft
Sch. Rex Sent to Bottom Yesterday Morning During Fog on Quero

Rammed by one of the Cunard liners during a dense fog on the southeast part of Quero yesterday morning, Captain Thomas O. Downie and 13 members of the crew of the fishing Sch. Rex, and a 10-year-old boy, the son of the cook, met their deaths in a watery grave, after being trapped like rats in their bunks with not even a fighting chance to escape with their lives.

According to the wireless report, the accident occurred in latitude 44.24, longitude 57.15, which would place the Rex will to the eastward of Sable Island, and on a direct line out of Halifax.  It is believed the Tuscania was off her course, evidently due to the thick weather.  Yesterday morning, while a blanket of fog wrapped the fishing banks of Quero, the Rex lay swaying gently at anchor.  Nine of her crew were on deck, and the rest, including the youngster, enjoying his school vacation, were below.

A sharp watch was being maintained, and the horn was being blown at frequent intervals.  But through the silence no sounds of a steamer's whistle came to the ears of those on deck.  Unmindful of any danger, the men were conversing, debating on the weather, and speculating as to the chances of getting to their gear today.   Below, some in their bunks, others sitting around the lockers, the remainder of the men were discussing various subjects, as is always the case on board of a fisherman when there is no fishing going on.

Little Charles Firth, enjoying his first trip on the water, was enthused with the prospects of coming back home and telling his playmates how big fish were caught, and what a wonderful time he had with his dad out on the fishing banks.  Suddenly, to the startled crew on deck, came the groaning sound of a siren, a rushing of water as heavy screws of the Tuscania churned up a nasty whirlpool of water, and then came confusion.  Straight out the the fog came a deep black hull, headed right at the schooner amidships, her sharp knifelike prow ploughing through the wooden hull of the Rex. sending her under water with the force of the impact.

Not a warning could be shouted to those below.  It was a case of look out for yourself, with no time to be spared.  In fact, it is doubtful if any of those trapped below could have escaped had a warning been shouted, so quickly did the Cunarder come out of the fog and bear down upon the little halibuter.  The nine men on deck leaped wildly in all directions into the water below them.  Fortunately the sea was calm, and there was not wind. otherwise the loss of life would have been much greater.

Following the crash, the bells on Tuscania jingled and she came to a stop.  Life boats were immediately lowered over the side and a rescue of the men begun.  The Rex had disappeared from sight, only small pieces of wood and her shattered dories spread themselves over the water where just a few moments before lay one of the best schooners out of this port.

The survivors were: Albert Roberts, engineer; Ralph Clayton; Edward Surrette: James O'Brien; Thomas Flannigan; Daniel Grady; Edgar Muese; Edward Fralick; and Alfred Hubbard.

The Rex was built in Essex in 1908, was equipped with auxiliary power, and was valued with outfits at about $25,000.  The schooner measured 134 tons gross, 75 tons net, 102.6 feet long, 34.4 feet breadth and 12 feet in depth.  The craft was insured for $17,000 through the agency of John A. Johnson.

Of those who have gone to their rest in the deep, all of them were natives of the provinces, but adopted sons of Gloucester, where they had lived for some years.   Four of the crew had been shipwrecked previously and had a very narrow escape with their lives, when as members of the fishing schooner Republic, they were run down and the craft sunk off of Newfoundland on February 15th of this year. Lost on the Rex were:

Capt. Thomas O. Downie
Austin Firth, 
cook
Charles Austin Firth, 10-year-old son of the cook
George Johnson
Joseph Dalton
Angus D. McDonald
Angus Smith
Clyde Larkin
Samuel Tibbetts
Charles Goodick
William Roach
William Turner
Archie Hill
Oscar Williams
Charles Wieball

 

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