Buttle, Corporal Frank Taylor

[Passenger list, "KOOMBANA" 37, compiled 04 June 1912, Adelaide Steamship Company. Broome Historical Society]

List of passengers known to have been bound for Derby.

From Fremantle to Broome or Derby.


Buttle, Corporal F. T. Police Officer. Wife at 23 Vincent Street, Perth.


[Passenger list, "KOOMBANA" 37, compiled 02 April 1912, Adelaide Steamship Company. Noel Butlin Archives Centre, Australian National University, 0186/N46/634]

Fremantle-Derby Buttle F. Had Adelaide S.S. return half. Corporal of Police?

["The Koombana", The West Australian, Saturday 30 March 1912, page 11]




Other corrections in the list published in yesterday's issue are:--W. Hereford, to read W. Hurford; F. Rustle, to read Corporal Buttle;...

["No News of the Koombana", The Sunday Times (Perth, WA), Sunday 31 March 1912, page 1]


The following are amendments to Koombana's passenger list, published in another column:- W. Hereford to read W. Hurford; F. Rustle to read Corporal Buttle; H. S. Taylor to read A. S. Taylor, these being passengers for Derby; Mrs. and Miss Gilliam for Broome, to read Mrs. and Miss Gilliam, who were booked on behalf of the Gaol Department; and Rev. Maine to read Mr. R. W. Main.

["The Passengers", The West Australian, Wednesday 03 April 1912, page 7]




Mr. F. Rustle.


Corporal Buttle.


["Koombana's Passenger List", Broome Chronicle (WA), Saturday 30 March 1912]



For Derby.


Corporal Buttle


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



Now that is appears more than probable that the Koombana no longer exists, the personality of the passengers who most likely have shared her untimely fate will be of interest. Amongst them are several well-known people, and it is quite possible that some of them may have left the ship at an intermediate port.


Corporal Buttle has been in charge of the Derby police for about three years. He came to Perth recently for a holiday, and was on his way back. His relatives reside at Highgate Hill.


["Water Provision at West Kimberley", The Western Mail (Perth, WA), Saturday 06 January 1912, page 35]



The splendid work carried out by the Public Works Department during the past two years in the West Kimberley district in putting down a series of deep bores to tap the artesian basin mapped out by the Geological Survey Department was recently fully acknowledged by a thoroughly representative gathering at Derby to bid farewell to Mr. William Milne, who has arrived in Perth by the s.s. Koombana. The gathering was a large one and it is seldom such expressions ot satisfaction at a Government undertaking are heard.


Messrs. McGovern and Thurkle also spoke in very appreciative terms of the work done by the Civil Service generally in the district, and the satisfaction it was to have deal with officers who could understand the requirements of the district, and Corporal Buttle, of the Police Department, who was also leaving on a holiday, was specially singled out for the tact he had used in the district.


[Wreck of S.S. "KOOMBANA". Information re., Gaols Department, Western Australia, 1912. State Records Office of Western Australia, Series 3054 Cons. 968, Item 1912/2217, Correspondence regarding Koombana passengers Corporal Frank Buttle, and the wife and daughter of gaol warder George Gilham]

25th. April, 1912.

Acting Under Secretary.

I beg to acknowledge the

receipt of your Circular, 1839/1912, dated 24th.

instant, with regard to the wreck of the S.S."Koombana"

I regret having to inform

you that FRANK TAYLOR BUTTLE, the Police Gaoler at

Derby, was proceeding to that place to resume his

duties when the catastrophe occurred. He had been

in the department for two years and one month, and

was in receipt of an allowance of £10.0.0 per an-

num, - £5.0.0 of which was paid by the Police De-

partment. His late private address was

23 Vincent Street,


I may also mention that Warder

George Gilham, of Broome Gaol, had, unfortunately,

his wife and daughter on the boat, who were pro-

ceeding to Broome with the object of joining him.

Mr. Gilham has been nine years and seven months

with the Department: present salary, £150.0.0 and

District Allowance £45.0.0. per annum and his pri-

vate address is in Broome.

Deputy Comptroller General.


Frank Buttle's pay looks like a monthly rate rather than 'per annum'.

[List of Government Officials who lost their lives on S S 'Koombana' required, Police Department, Western Australia, 1912. State Records Office of Western Australia, Series 76, Consignment 430, Item 1912/2250]

Acting Under Secretary.

Circular 1839/12.

The only officer of this Department who was

on the Koombana at the time she was wrecked was Corporal

Frank Buttle No. 105., 23 Vincent Street, Perth.

Length of service from date of joining the Police Force,

20 March, 1893 to date on which the Koombana left Pt.

Hedland, 20th. March, 1912 - 19 years and 1 day continuous

service. Rate of salary - 10s. 6d. per day with free

quarters and District Allowance of £40 per annum, also

free uniform.

Corporal Buttle was proceeding to his Station

at Derby at the time the vessel was lost.

[copy unsigned]

25th. April, 1912. Acting Commissioner of Police.

["Announcements", The Western Mail (Perth, WA), Saturday 20 April 1912, page 23]



BUTTLE.--In March, 1912, lost by wreck s.s.

Koombana, Frank Taylor, beloved husband of Minnie Buttle, 23 Vincent-street, Perth, and third son of Major Clement Francis Buttle, late R.E., Norwood, England.

Till the sea gives up its dead.


["In Memoriam", The West Australian, Thursday 20 March 1913, page 1]


BUTTLE.-In loving memory of Frank Taylor Buttle, who was lost at sea (Koombana disaster), March, 1912




WAGIN CONSTABLES : Wagin Historical Society is looking for descendants of

the town's first police ? Const. William NICHOLS (1894) and Const. Frank

Taylor BUTTLE (1898). An honour board is being dedicated to all police

who have served in the town over the past 100 years. Const. BUTTLE died in

1912 on board the Royal Mail Steamer, Koombana. It is known he left two

children, Clement Francis and Marion Louise. Contact: Glenys Ball, Post

Office Box 27, Wagin 6315. Tel: 98611360. mailto:glenysb7@bigpond.com


["Cyclone brings sad memories", The West Australian, Saturday 17 March 2012,]


Cyclone brings sad memories

Alex Massey, The West Australian

Updated March 17, 2012, 3:45 am

The irony that a severe cyclone is expected to hit the Pilbara coast today does not escape Graham Moss.

It is, after all, nearly 100 years to the day since the WA football legend's great-grandfather, Cpl Frank Taylor Buttle, boarded the SS Koombana at Port Hedland amid similar anxiety that a cyclone loomed off the coast.

Despite the advice of those in port, the ship sailed and Cpl Buttle, a policeman, along with 156 other Koombana passengers and crew, was never seen again.

"I know my great-grandmother and Frank's son, my grandfather, had a hard time with it," Mr Moss said.

A weekend of events commemorating the loss had to be cancelled by the Port Hedland Historical Society yesterday as tropical cyclone Lua bore down on the Pilbara.

Mr Moss said it was an eerie reminder of what transpired on the same coast a century ago, but there was a bonus in that now the ceremony had been rescheduled, he might be able to attend.

"I had to be in Melbourne this weekend," he said. "I would love to go and pay my respects."

["Corporal Buttle", The Western Mail (Perth, WA), Saturday 06 April 1912, page 24]


["Corporal Frank T. Buttle", The Western Mail (Perth, WA), Saturday 13 April 1912, page 29]


AB notes:

side-by-side photographs of Buttle and Green carry the caption:



[Personal communication, Kim Akerman, co-translator of Mjoberg's Bland vilda djur och folk I Australien, November 2013]

From: Kim Akerman

Subject: Koombana

Date: Wed, 4 Dec 2013 13:51:02 +1100

To: koombana@gmail.com

Dear Annie

Bruno Jordanoff passed on your email relating to the publication of your book on the Koombana. Congratulations - I look forward to seeing it.

I do not know if you have seen Margareta Luotsinen and my translation of Eric Mjobergs book Bland vilda djur och folk I Australien. (Amongst wild animals and people in Australia) on the Swedish Expedition of 1910-11 to the Kimberley (Hesperian Press 2012). This has a chapter on the Koombana which the expedition travelled on. Strangely enough a year later Mjoberg had fallen out with a policeman from Derby over the skeletons of Aboriginals which Mjoberg had stolen. Mjoberg duped the policeman saying he had diplomatic immunity and left the Kimberley. Corporal Frank Buttle and his family were later to go down with the Koombana when it sank.

all the best


Date: Wed, 04 Dec 2013 12:00:47 +0800

To: Kim Akerman

From: Annie Boyd

Subject: Re: Koombana

Hello Kim,

Thanks for contacting me. I have seen the Swedish original (Bruno showed it to me) but it did not occur to me that it had been translated. That's fantastic. I will buy a copy.

I am not sure if you are in WA. Is there any chance that you - and Bruno - would be able to attend the Koombana Days book launch at the Fremantle Maritime Museum on Sunday morning. If so, I will get invitations out to you quickly.



From: Kim Akerman

Subject: Re: Koombana

Date: Wed, 4 Dec 2013 17:23:16 +1100

To: Annie Boyd

Hi Annie

Thank you for the invitation but I live in Tasmania - I will be in Perth in May to give a talk to the Kimberley society on the Swedish Expedition - where I will mention the irony of Corporal Buttle’s death.

Bruno lives in Perth and he may be able to attend. He collects widely and I am sure would be interested.

All the best for Sunday

my regards


Date: Wed, 04 Dec 2013 14:34:04 +0800

To: Kim Akerman

From: Annie Boyd

Subject: Re: Koombana

Thanks Kim

I will flick an invitation through to Bruno.

I am looking forward to reading the translation.

By the way, in an appendix to my book, I made reference to the Swedish expedition travelling by Koombana. But there is no reference in the text. I am pretty sure that when I have read your book, I will recognise that I have omitted something that should have been included. The Buttle connection only reinforces that. Ah well...that is the nature of historical research.



From: Kim Akerman

Subject: Re: Koombana

Date: Thu, 5 Dec 2013 09:42:59 +1100

To: Annie Boyd

Thanks Annie

I know the feeling - if I had had an inkling you were doing the Koombana story I would have flicked the information to you a lot earlier - anyway keep it for the second edition. Mjoberg really waxes lyrical about the boat and captain.

Have a successful opening