[SS "Koombana": list of crew as per copy of Articles at shipping office, Fremantle, Adelaide Steamship Company, April 1912. provided to the author by Jean Northover, City Beach, Western Australia]

THE CREW AGE BIRTHPLACE

Thomas M. Allen, Master 51 Adelaide

...

["Mr. T. M. Allen, Master of the Koombana", The Western Mail (Perth, WA), Saturday 06 April 1912, page 24]

[photograph]

["Story of the Koombana", The Sunday Times (Perth, WA), Sunday 31 March 1912, page 12]

...

CAPTAIN TOM ALLEN

A Sketch of His Career

Captain Tom Allen, the skipper of the S.S. Koombana, about whose fate so much misgiving is felt, is undoubtedly one of the most popular seafaring men on our coast. He is in his 53rd year, and a bachelor. His immediate relatives are his mother, who is 83, and Mr. Sea Born Allen of George Wills and Co., his sole surviving brother, both of whom reside at the Semaphore, South Australia. Captain Allen's father, a Cork Irishman, was a shipmaster and owner in the 50's, 60's and 70's, and frequently visited Albany and Fremantle. His son Marmion was born in Marmion's Hotel, Fremantle, in 1867, hence the name. The late Hon. W. E. Marmion and his sister were the child's godparents.

Captain Allen was a sailor from his childhood, sailing with his parents around the Australian coast, and subsequently to New Caledonia. In 1873 he sailed from Port Darwin in the barque Contest, commanded by his father, for Rockingham, to load jarrah. They arrived after calling at Cossack; but in a north-westerly gale the Contest was blown from her anchors at Rockingham and wrecked. As his father then gave up the sea, Captain Allen shipped in one of the Glasgow "Citys," and went to foreign lands, returning to Australia in the Northern Monarch.

He then joined the Orient line as quartermaster of the Cuzco, and was aboard of her when she broke down and sailed from 1000 miles south of the Leeuwin to Portland, in Victoria, he being one of the men lowered over the quarter in a heavy sea to secure the propeller. He next became bo'sun of the Pacific liner Sorata, and after passing his examinations, came to Australia as mate of the Meeinderry,

The old Verulam was his first command, and after commanding various other sailing ships he passed for extra master. He then took charge of various tugs and coastal steamers, and was stevedore in Ports Pirie and Germein. Tried alluvial gold digging at Teetulpa, South Australia, and after commanding various vessels in the early 90's he took charge of the Tekapo, owned by the Union Company of New Zealand, but chartered to the Adelaide Steamship Company for the West Australian trade.

Subsequently he took command of the Marloo in the same trade, and in 1897 had a verdict of manslaughter returned against him by a Fremantle jury, because a man fell down the hold of the Marloo. The Attorney-General ignored the verdict. In 1897 he resigned from the Marloo, and joined the Port Adelaide pilot service, in which he remained 10 years, and left because, a law being altered, the pilots became civil servants at a salary, with undefined responsibility. During the 10 years he was pilot he handled hundreds of vessels of all descriptions satisfactorily, the Royal yacht Ophir being one of them. The present sailor King of England complimented him on his skill, and gave him a scarf-pin bearing the White Rose of York as a souvenir.

During the Crimean War coffee was scarce and dear, and Captain Allen chartered his schooner to a wealthy Chinaman and sailed into various then out-of-the-way places in search of trade. One of Captain Tom Allen's brothers is buried in Singapore, another (Marmion) in Melbourne, a third and a sister in Adelaide, and now it is only too probable that "The sea, the blue, lone sea" covers Tom Allen awaiting the time when "the sea shall give up its dead."

Captain Allen's only surviving brother, Mr Sea Born Allen, was born on board the Sehab Jehan off Cape Northumberland during an awful gale. As Captain Allen could not leave the deck, Mrs. Allen was left to the care of Nature and the steward, with satisfactory results. The elements welcomed the little stranger with a gorgeous display of Saint-Elmo's fire on the mastheads and yards, and fifty years later, on his brother's birthday, off the same place (Cape Northumberland), Captain Allen, then commanding the Grantala, was treated by nature to a similar electric illumination, the corposants outlining the steamer's masts and funnel.

["The Missing Koombana", The Murchison Times and Day Dawn Gazette (Cue, WA), Tuesday 02 April 1912, page 3]

CAPTAIN ALLEN.

Captain Tom Allen, of the Koombana, is a native of South Australia, and is about 48 years of age. He is a single man, and in his moments of holiday lives with his mother in the Port Adelaide district. His father is a well known South Australian pilot, and has made many trips to the State in the days gone by. An elder brother of Tom's was born about 40 years ago on the site of the present Orient Hotel in Fremantle (then known as the Emerald Isle). Captain Allen has been about a quarter of a century in the employ of the Adelaide Steamship Company, but in 1894, he left to join the Port Adelaide pilot service. Perhaps the call of the deep came once again to him, for in 1905 or 1906 he rejoined the company. He was at once entrusted with the important mission of bringing out to Australia the new steamer Echunga, and some months afterwards he again set out for London for the purpose of bringing the Junee to her trading areas. Captain was then employed as master in several traders, and in August of last year he succeeded J. Rees as master of the now overdue Koombana.

["Captain Allen", The Murchison Times and Day Dawn Gazette (Cue, WA), Tuesday 20 April 1912, page 3]

Captain Tom Allen, of the Koombana, is a native of South Australia, and is about 48 years of age. He is a single man, and in his moments of holiday lives with his mother in the Port Adelaide district. His father is a well known South Australian pilot, and has made many trips to the State in the days gone by. An elder brother of Tom's was born about 40 years ago on the site of the present Orient Hotel in Fremantle (then known as the Emerald Isle). Captain Allen has been about a quarter of a century in the employ of the Adelaide Steamship Company, but in 1894, he left to join the Port Adelaide pilot service. Perhaps the call of the deep came once again to him, for in 1905 or 1906 he rejoined the company. He was at once entrusted with the important mission of bringing out to Australia the new steamer Echunga, and some months afterwards he again set out for London for the purpose of bringing the Junee to her trading areas. Captain was then employed as master in several traders, and in August of last year he succeeded J. Rees as master of the now overdue Koombana.

["The Latest in Cargo Steamers", The Shipping World, 16 October 1907]

[copy found at Noel Butlin Archives Centre N46/1127]

...

The trial trips passed off most successfully, the vessel attaining an average speed of [?12 ] knots, after which she returned to the Tees, whence she was to sail to Cardiff and London to load for Australia under the command of Captain Thomas H. Allen.

...

[Wreck of the KOOMBANA - letters re men's estates, Correspondence between the office of the Chief Harbourmaster, Fremantle, and the families of lost crewmembers, Harbour and Lights Department, 1912. State Records Office of Western Australia, AN16/5 Cons 1056 Item 062]

[img 468]

Letter from the Fremantle office of the ASS Coy, 19th April, 1912.

Capt. T. W. Smith,

Shipping Master,

Representative of the Board of Trade,

Fremantle.

Dear Sir,

Referring to our letter of 17th. inst.,

under cover of which we sent you a cheque for 461-4-0 for

ss "KOOMBANA" (missing) wages to 31st. March 1912, please note

that we wish to page wages of the following officers, viz;-

T. M. Allen, Master 29-12 -0

N. C. Jamieson, Chief Officer 15 -4 -0

W. R. A. Kinley Second Officer 12 -16 -0

P. S. Peacock Third Officer 10 -8 -0

A. Wassell Second Engineer 12 -13 -4

J. G. Arrow Fifth Engineer 9 -12 -0

Please refund this amount to us out of the moneys held in trust

by you on our account in this matter.

Yours faithfully,

[signature illegible, but probably Moxon]

Manager for W. A.

[Wreck of the KOOMBANA - letters re men's estates, Correspondence between the office of the Chief Harbourmaster, Fremantle, and the families of lost crewmembers, Harbour and Lights Department, 1912. State Records Office of Western Australia, AN16/5 Cons 1056 Item 062]

[img 849]

Captain Smith

Shipping Master

Fremantle W.A.

Sir/

The Adelaide Steamship Co Ld have requested me, as sole

Trustee and Legatee for my brother the late Capt T M Allen of ss "Koombana",

to apply to you for a balance fo wages, ? 29:12:0, due him when lost, and now

lodged with you; Would you please let me know what is necessary to be done

to collect same.

Herewith I enclose a letter received by me, addressed to my brother

from the wife of one of the crew of the "Koombana" which I thought should

be sent you.

Yours faithfully

S. R. C. Allen

Hall Street

Semaphore

26th July 1912

[The Finding of the Court of Marine Inquiry, June 1912]

In conclusion, the Court simply finds, without indulging in useless speculation, that the stability and seaworthiness of the s.s. Koombana were unassailable, and the competency and carefulness of her master, Capt. Allen, beyond question, and that after being lost sight of at sea on the 20th March, 1912, her fate passes beyond human knowledge and remains a mystery of the sea.

["Court Cases", The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA), Wednesday 4 September 1912, page 4]

COURT CASES.

KOOMBANA WRECK RECALLED.

APPLICATIONS FOR PROBATE.

At the Full Court on Tuesday two applications for probate were heard which recalled the sad fate of the steamer Koombana.

Mr. S. H. Skipper made application on behalf of Seaborne Robert Cottrell Allen (executor) that probate be granted in the estate of the late Thomas Maurice Allen, master of the steamer Koombana, which was lost some months ago off the north-west coast of Western Australia. Mr. Skipper asked for leave to swear that the death of the testator had occurred between Port Hedland and Broome, North-West Australia, on or since March 20 last. The motion was supported by affidavit by Peter Donaldson Haggart (secretary of the Adelaide Steamship Company), Walter Vernon Ray, Robert A. Smith, and Stoddart A. Poole. It was mentioned by Mr. Skipper that the Koombana left Port Hedland on March 20 and on the next morning she should have arrived at Broome, 204 miles distant. A few hours after the vessel's departure there was a terrific cyclone and the vessel had not been heard of since. Althought steamers had been sent out in search of the nesting vessel nothing had since been heard of it, and he believed that no wreckage had been found. Insurance had been paid on the vessel as a total loss.

The court granted the application.

...

[Personal communication, Liz Goode, descendant of Captain Tom Allen, March 2012]

Hi Annie,

it was wonderful to hear from you.

Firstly I am related to Tom via the Galways , his Mother and My Great x 2 Grandmother were sisters. I have been gradually working through my family history and deriving enormous pleasure in all that I am discovering. It would seem that I am part of a family with much maritime experience and this has only come to light following the death of my parents and reading letters that create more intrigue than answers!

I have come to Tom Allen only in the last year or so and to realise the commemoration of 100 years since the demise of the Koombana occurred last week caused me to spare a special thought for Tom and the others onboard last Tuesday. Goodness knows what it must have been like for them.The Koombana sounds to have been a very luxurious vessel even though it sat a little too high in the water and the passengers must have enjoyed a comfortable passage to their destinations.

We have several family members who worked for P & O in the 1880's, one as a director and a more recent member who was a Torres Strait Island pilot for his entire working life. Many family members were yachties or in the navy - the smell of the sea is a strong one!

P & O are celebrating 175 years this year so I hope to go to Greenwich to explore thier archives!

I had my very first trip tp WA last September and the maritime history of the south west only wet my appetite to head north.

Standing at both Capes and walking through the ports of Albany and Freemantle helped me appreciate where Tom Allen had been.

You are so kind to offer me information regarding Tom, I feel touched and I would love to read it and learn more about him. I wish I could offer you something in return. From the little that I have researched his role took him in so many directions. I certainly can send you a photo of the tie pin once I unearth it from a box still unpacked. I have just moved and things are not yet finalised.

Sadly I don;t have a photo of Tom to offer you - I will be intouch wtht other family just in case they do.

I would love to chat per phone and below are my details:

Liz Goode

[contact details withheld]