Brav­ery of Mary who per­ished sav­ing oth­ers af­ter ships col­lided

The Oban Times - - Community News -

In 1914, a mar­itime dis­as­ter oc­curred in the Puget Sound, Alaska, that greatly sad­dened the vil­lage of Cor­pach near Fort Wil­liam.

Mary Camp­bell, born on 4th Fe­bru­ary 1879, was the sec­ond daugh­ter and third child of John Camp­bell, a well-known lo­cal boat builder, and An­nie Camp­bell, nee Kennedy to whom the late Charles Kennedy MP was re­lated.

Mary. pic­tured right, left the fam­ily home at Rose Cot­tage, Cor­pach, to train as a nurse in Glas­gow.

Af­ter qual­i­fy­ing in 1901, she trav­elled to Amer­ica and set­tled in Seat­tle in Washington State, close to the Cana­dian Bor­der at Van­cou­ver. She worked for 18 months as head nurse at the Kenny, a nurs­ing and re­tire­ment home be­fore tak­ing up another po­si­tion at the Sol Duc Hot Springs Ho­tel.

In 1914, Mary left Seat­tle and signed on as a stew­ardess on the ‘ Ad­mi­ral Sam­son’, a small 2,262 ton, steel and me­tal steamship car­ry­ing pas­sen­gers and freight be­tween San Fran­cisco and the north­ern Alaskan ports.

On the 26th Au­gust 1914, the ‘Ad­mi­ral Samp­son’ sailed from Seat­tle for Juneau in Alaska with 160 pas­sen­gers and crew.

This was Mary Camp­bell’s first voy­age and she hoped to meet up with two of her broth­ers in Alaska.

Con­di­tions were very foggy and the steamship crept along the Puget Sound at three knots sound­ing the ship’s whis­tle.

At the same time, another ship, the ‘ SS Princess Vic­to­ria’, trav­el­ling from Van­cou­ver to Seat­tle was also mak­ing its way along the Puget Sound tak­ing sim­i­lar pre­cau­tions.

Notwith­stand­ing their slow speeds, the ‘Princess Vic­to­ria’ rammed the ‘Ad­mi­ral Samp­son’ broad­side at 6.05 a.m.

The cap­tain of the ‘Princess Vic­to­ria’ con­tin­ued to run her en­gines ahead to keep his ship locked into the gap­ing hole caused by

The ‘Ad­mi­ral Samp­son’ broke in two and sank

the col­li­sion to al­low the pas­sen­gers and crew of the ‘Ad­mi­ral Samp­son’ to es­cape across onto her.

How­ever, the ‘ Ad­mi­ral Samp­son’s’ fuel tanks had been rup­tured on im­pact and soon her wooden su­per­struc­ture caught fire forc­ing the cap­tain of the ‘Princess Vic­to­ria’ to put his ves­sel astern.

Min­utes later, the ‘Ad­mi­ral Samp­son’ broke in two and sank.

The ma­jor­ity of the 160 per­sons on board were res­cued by the ‘Princess Vic­to­ria’, but eight crew and eight pas­sen­gers were lost, in­clud­ing Mary Camp­bell. The ship sank in very deep wa­ter and no bod­ies were re­cov­ered.

At the sub­se­quent en­quiry, is was re­ported that Mary Camp­bell had been on duty most of the night look­ing af­ter the pas­sen­gers and help­ing to set­tle them down be­fore re­tir­ing her­self. She was seen af­ter the col­li­sion try­ing to save pas­sen­gers min­utes be­fore the ship sank and, in so do­ing, un­selfishly sac­ri­ficed her own life.

Mary is re­mem­bered to­day by her grand­nieces, Sa­rina J Beard­s­ley, Ha­vant, Hamp­shire, and Ma­rina T MacDon­nel, Nethy Bridge, In­ver­ness-shire.

The Ad­mi­ral Samp­son

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