October 12, 2013
Spanish naval officers in St. John’s will be observing ‘Hispanic Day’ on Saturday, October 12 with a memorial service at Mount Carmel Cemetery. The members of the Spanish navy will be remembering 15 Spanish sailors who died in the sinking of the Florizel of Cappahayden, NL in 1918.
October 12 in Spain is known as Día de la Raza or National Day of Spain. This day unites all Spanish speaking nations and cultures in celebration with memorials, parades, dances and food. October 12, 1492, is also the day that Christopher Columbus stepped foot on the new world marking the moment of the first encounter between Europeans and America.
The memorial service for the 15 Spanish victims of the Florizel will be the second at the memorial grave site by Spanish government officials. Approximately 20 Spanish naval officers and friends will parade to the grave site and raise the national flag of Spain to remember their countrymen.
The Florizel left St. John’s on 23 February 1918, for Halifax and then on to New York, . among the passengers were many prominent St. John’s businessmen. Shortly after the vessel left port the weather turned nasty and after nine hours of steaming southward the Florizel crashed full speed into the rocks off Cappahayden on the Southern Shore. Ninety-three (93) crew and passengers perished, while 44 were miraculously rescued after 27 hours spent braving punishing seas and bitter cold. One of the passengers on this ship was a three year old little girl named Betty Munn who was sailing with her father; she was torn from his arms in this disaster. In memory of her death there is a statue of Peter Pan (the fairy tale she loved most) in BowringPark.
MOUNT CARMEL CEMETERY MEMORIAL
Most of the Spanish sailors working on the Florizel worked as firemen. The Spaniard’s were the men responsible for keeping the coal feed to the engine furnace of the Florizel. ‘Stoker’ and ‘fireman’ are two different titles for the same job, but the term ‘fireman’ is almost exclusively used on ships.
Given their place on the Florizel at the time of impact they would have been among the first to die. They were:
RAMON REZ- Messroom Stewart,Spain.
JOSE FERNANDEZ- Fireman,Spain
JOSE MENDEZ- Fireman,Spain
TOMAS GARCIA- Fireman,Spain
MANUEL TAVER- Fireman,Spain.
MANUEL RODRIQUEZ- Fireman.Spain
ALEZANDRO GARNCERO- Fireman,Spain
FRANCISCO NARTIN- FiremanSpain
GERADO RODIQUEZ- Fireman,Spain
JOSE VILA- Fireman,Spain.
F. BEQUIRA- Fireman,Spain
E. RODRIQUES- Fireman,Spain.
FRANCISCO FORNAS, fireman,Spain. (Body not recovered)
The service will begin at 11:00 a.m. at Mount Carmel Cemetery located at Kennas Hill and Logy Bay Road. All are welcome.
(Please forward this notice to friends and family who may have some connection to the Florizel Disaster. The full list of the passengers and crew of the ill-fated Florizel are: http://www.newfoundlandshipwrecks.com/Florizel/Documents/list_lost_and_saved_crew.htm
Recommended Archival Collection: GN 123: Take some time to come to visit the Provincial Archives at The Rooms and explore the seven volumes of typed transcripts, passenger lists, a list of the crew and passengers lost, manifests and customs clearance, the Florizel crew agreements and the report of the Minister of Marine and Fisheries regarding the wreck of the Florizel.
Recommended Reading: A Winter’s Tale: The Wreck of the Florizel By Cassie Brown, Flanker Press, 1997.