April 7, 1914
No Tidings of the Southern Cross
On April 7, 1914, the St. John’s daily newspaper the Evening telegram reported:
“Much anxiety and grave concern is being felt for the Southern Cross. Her non arrival is causing universal alarm but there is no reason why hope should be abandoned.
Exactly a week ago (April 2, 1914) this forenoon Captain T. Connors of the Coastal S.S. Portia passed the Southern Cross five miles W.S.W. of Cape Pine. That same afternoon the fatal blizzard came in and it is believed the Southern Cross was driven off to sea a couple of hundred miles and since then has not been able to reach the land.
Ever since it was reported by Captain Connors relatives and friends of loved ones on board have been besieging the telegraph offices in the city and outports and the eager information “Have you any news of the Southern Cross” is sought for but unfortunately the reply is always in the negative.
However the Southern Cross is only a week overdue and this is not considered long by nautical men as the records will show. The crew of the Southern Cross whose names have already been published belong to St. John’s, Conception Harbour, Brigus, Clarke’s Beach, Bay Roberts, Harbour Grace , Spaniards bay and St. Vincent’s.
On April 6 the absence of the Southern Cross was discussed by the Executive Government (Cabinet) and it was decided to send the revenue cruiser Flona to assist the Kyle and the U.S. Scout ship Seneca in searching for the overdue vessel. The unanimous hope is that the “Cross” will turn up all right.”
The whole of the country of Newfoundland was mourning. All were aware of the 78 sealers who had died on the S.S. Newfoundland. The bodies of many of these men had been placed on special trains to be sent home. Those that were not along the train route were being sent home by coastal vessels.
Among those that were on their way home to be buried was the body of Patrick Corbett, age 22, lost on the S.S. Newfoundland. Joseph Corbett the head of the household was now waiting for news on his 18 year old son Joseph Jr. a sealer on the S.S. Southern Cross.
The Parish Priest in Clarke’s Beach, Reverend Whelan observed that it was a difficult time on the family “Joseph the father is subject to heart trouble, he depends on the assistance of these two young men for the support of his now helpless family. I greatly fear that he will not last much longer …”
It would be thirteen more days before the S.S. Southern Cross was declared lost with her whole crew.
Recommended Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives see GN 121 this collection consists of the evidence taken before the Commission of Enquiry regarding the S.S. Newfoundland. The collection includes the Sealers Crew Agreement and the evidence given by the surviving members of the crew. Evidence entered concerning the loss of the SS Southern Cross is also included on this collection.
Crew List: In the days and months following the loss of the S.S. Southern Cross and the tragedy of the loss of the men of the S.S. Newfoundland there was much confusion about the names and the number of men that did die. You will find the definitive list of all those that did die as well as the survivors at http://www.homefromthesea.ca/