Out of The Box - Unique Photo Travels Thousands of Kilometres

Monday, September 21, 2015
R.M.S. Niagara. Gifted by Frank Wadsworth Jnr, New Zealand Maritime Museum
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Out of the Box, Edmiston Gallery, September – October 2015

How did this photograph, which belonged to an Australian soldier arrive in New Zealand?

In May 2014, the New Zealand Maritime Museum was gifted a photograph of R.M.S. NIAGARA that had been presented to 2nd Lieutenant A.B. Wadsworth in recognition of his service on the voyage from  Sydney to Vancouver, March- May 1919. The photograph is signed by a number passengers on the voyage. The photograph has travelled thousands of kilometres to arrive in NZ.

Arnold Brinton Wadsworth enlisted for service at the age of 28 in the Australian Imperial Force 4th Battalion, A Company during World War I. Private Wadsworth along with hundreds of other young men embarked of HMAT EURIPIDES on the 20th October 1914 bound for England. When they arrived in Egypt they disembarked for training. The 4th Battalion fought at Gallipoli and in the trenches of the Western Front.  Records show that Wadsworth returned to Australia, as in October 1916, 2nd Lieutenant Wadsworth volunteered again as part of the 7th reinforcements for the 57th Infantry Battalion.  The reinforcements embarked from Sydney, NSW on SS AFRIC, 3rd November 1916. After the war Wadsworth moved to Benoni, South Africa, where he died in 1958.

R.M.S. NIAGARA the largest, fastest passenger liner built for a southern hemisphere company, the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand in 1913.  NIAGARA was destined for the fast growing trans-Pacific service - Auckland-Sydney-Vancouver, providing her passengers with a high standard of accommodation. She was the first ship to print an on-board daily newspaper and when it was launched was called the TITANIC of the South Pacific.

When sunk by a mine in June 1940, at 134 metres, NIAGARA was at a depth where salvage had never before been attempted.

When she struck the mine she was carrying 590 gold bars that belonged to the Bank of England. The gold had been destined for the United States to purchase war materials.

NIAGARA was so loved by many that the Company offices were flooded with telegrams and phone calls expressing regret at the “passing of an old friend”.

Sources:

Glamour ships of the Union Steam Ship Company NZ Ltd / Jack Churchouse. Millwood Press, 1981.

Niagara’s gold / Jeff Maynard. Kangaroo Press, 1996.

Personal correspondence Wadsworth Family.

Marleene Boyd

Librarian