Clinch, Frederick W. B. (Fred)

[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 [saloon]


Clinch, F.W.B. Messrs. Elder Shenton & company's representative.

Widow and 6 children at 27 Wellington Street,



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

Fremantle-Derby Clinch F.W.B. Elder Shenton & Coy's representative.

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




Mr. F. W. B. Clinch.


["Mr. F. W. B. Clinch", The Western Mail (Perth, WA), Saturday 06 April 1912, page 24]


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



Now that it 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.


Mr. F. W. B. Clinch, of Messrs. Elder, Shenton and Co., was on his way to Derby to supervise the mustering of cattle for shipment by the Bullarra.


["Fate of the Koombana", The Northern Times (Carnarvon, WA), Saturday 06 April 1912, page 2]


Mr. Clinch was a married man with a large family. He was a cattle buyer.


["The Koombana Inquiry" (Letter to the Editor), The West Australian, Tuesday 04 June 1912, page 5]


To the Editor.

Sir,--I read in your issue of Saturday, 11th inst., the finding of the Court of Marine Inquiry held to (if possible) ascertain the cause of the loss of the s.s. Koombana. The finding of the Court, I am afraid, will afford scant consolation to the surviving sufferers of the disaster.

The conclusion arrived at "that her fate passes beyond human knowledge and remains a mystery of the sea, is, to my mind. open to dispute; it is one that, with all due respect to the Court, I cannot agree with. I trust, Sir, you will permit me to make a few remarks on this painful subject.


A very dear old friend of mine, Mr. Fred. W. B. Clinch, who leaves a wife and six young children, and who was lost in this vessel, told his brother Alfred, in Fremantle, prior to the sailing of the Koombana, that he did not like the vessel; he thought there was too much top hamper, too much resistance in the event of meeting a willy-willy. Poor fellow, it is very sad that he, and so many others, should be taken thus suddenly from their friends and relations. It is evident poor Fred Clinch's fears have been justified.


Guildford, May 18. P. A. GUGERI.

[Clinch, Henrietta Bertha, daughter of Koombana passenger Fred Clinch, Koombana Fatality (unpublished), A scrapbook combiled by ?-year-old Henrietta after the loss of her father, 1912, held by family member Gerard Nelson, Melville, Western Australia]

Mr Gerard Nelson

[address & telephone number withheld]

Has in his possession the Koombana scrapbook compiled by Clinch's daughter, Henrietta Bertha Clinch.


Bethwyn Brandis advises that Gerald is dead now, but that his wife Betty Nelson still lives at this address.

On the museum's copy of the scrapbook there is a note:

"NB. Eileen Mary Clinch Donor of Camden Harbour watercolours."

Two letters written by Fred on his last Koombana voyage have survived; the first is in the possession of Bethwyn Brandis, the second is with her sisters.

[Fred Clinch, letter to his brother Alfred, Saturday 16 March 1912, written aboard Koombana and posted at Carnarvon, original held by Bethwyn Brandis, granddaughter of Fred Clinch]

The Adelaide Steamship Co Limited


16th March 12

Dear Alfred

We have tonight reached

Carnarvon after a nice smooth run which

seems as though it were going to continue.

My object in writing is more particularly

to thank you for the interest you have

taken in trying to secure Eileen a situation

& whether successful or not my thanks are

just as heartily offered for the trouble you

have gone to. I feel sure she will give

satisfaction in whatever position she took

up as she is both diligent & willing & would

in time work her way up. I hope you will

this year have a good season to make amends

for last, it is hardly likely there will such a

thing as two bad seasons following. It would

indeed be a very sad thing for many a poor

struggler on the land who is trying to

get on his legs.

I will now say good bye with kindest

regards to yourself and Annie


Your affect brother

F. Clinch

[Fred Clinch, letter to his wife Eliza, Sunday 17 March 1912, written aboard Koombana and posted at Onslow, original retained by family]


17th March 1912

Dear Eliza

This St. Pats "seventeenth

of Old Ireland" we are nearing Onslow

after a nice smooth run. There are a

good number of passengers a good few

who are Derby people whom I know.

I canít get over poor Eileen breaking

up so at my departure, she said "Donít

go away Papa" as though she had some

instinctive presentiment of ill fore-

boding, no doubt she feels a bit

lonely going into a situation.

When Eileen takes up studies

in the continuation classes it would

perhaps as well for her to take up

the subjects which are required in

the civil service examinations. English

of course she will have to learn, then

their is arithmetic which she particularly

needs, and other subjects necessary, then

at some future time after passing she

might get the offer of a good situation

in the civil service which would perhaps

be better than the private one she may be holding.

You will not forget to remind Mr.

Hawkings to pay my salary in on

the 15th May, it is more than likely

to slip his memory as it did last year.

I shall not be back at Derby after

leaving there untill about the 25th May.

There is nothing else I can

think of needs attention so shall say

good bye with love to yourself & children.

I remain

Your affectionate husband


Note: Fred Clinch had a £500 life insurance policy with the AMP Society.

The above letter was apparently presented by Eliza as evidence that Fred

had indeed been aboard Koombana and was rightly considered lost at sea.

In the margin of the letter is the following endorsement:

"C" This is the letter marked "C"

in the annexed affidavit

of Eliza Ellen Clinch sworn before

me this 31st day of July 1912

[signature] Charles [unclear]

A/g Commissioner [unclear]

[Personal communication, Bethwyn Brandis, granddaughter of Koombana passenger Fred Clinch, 09-10 July 2005]

Fred Clinch's wife Eliza was born in 1862 and died in 1954, aged 92.

Fred and Eliza had six children, roughly two years apart:

Eileen b. 1895

Vickie b. 1897

Bertha b. 1899

Laura b. 1901

Connie b. 1903

Edith b. 1905

Laura was with her grandma when the boat disappeared.

After the loss, Vickie (Bethwyn's mother) was taken in by the nuns of Loreto Convent.

She was trained as a teacher.

Bethwyn tells me that her mother Vickie had long remembered with regret having gone

to her mother with a newspaper proclaiming "Koombana Overdue", and seeing her mother

kneel or collapse in tears and prayers when confronted with the possibility of the disaster.

Eliza could not cope with the prospect of raising her six girls alone.

[Photo reproduced with permission of Bethwyn Brandis]

<<>> Fred Clinch, perhaps around 1900

<<>> Fred and Eliza, Adelaide Terrace house 1905-10?

<<>> Eliza Clinch, with her six daughters, c. 1913.

loose ends with bethwyn

the little photo of fred

when/where fred born

when married

fern hill?



17. Eliza Ellen Smith (Bernard , John ) was born on 20 Feb 1862 in Perth, W.A.. She died on 9 Jan 1954 in (aged 91 years), Subiaco, W.A.. She was buried in Karrakatta Cem., R.C. LA 100, Perth, W.A..

Eliza married Frederick William Benedict Clinch son of James L. Clinch and Catherine ("Kate") O'Connell on 27 Aug 1894 in Perth, W.A.. Frederick was born on 15 Feb 1861 in Victoria Plains, W.A.. He was christened on 28 Feb 1861. He died on 20 Mar 1912 in at sea, loss of"Koombana", off Derby coast, W.A..


Frederick and Eliza had the following children:

69 F i Eileen Mary Clinch was born in 1895 in Perth, W.A.. She died on 23 Aug 1991 in (aged 96 years), Cottesloe, W.A.. She was buried in Karrakatta Cem., R.C. LA 100, Perth, W.A..

+ 70 F ii Victoria Imelda Mary Clinch

71 F iii Bertha Henrietta Mary Clinch was born in 1899 in Swan, W.A.. She died on 8 Sep 1990 in (aged 91 years), Nedlands, W.A.. She was buried in Karrakatta Cem., R.C. LA 100, Perth, W.A..

+ 72 F iv Laura Mary Bernadette Clinch

73 F v Constance Josephine Clinch was born in 1903 in Swan, W.A.. She died on 3 Jul 1988 in (aged 85 years), Nedlands, W.A.. She was buried in Karrakatta Cem., Niche Wall L2.W2.170, Perth, W.A..

Constance married Keith Jeffrey Ross son of Peter Lowe Ross and Ettie Humphries in 1930 in , Perth, W.A.. Keith was born in 1905 in Wagin, W.A.. He died on 29 Oct 1969 in Nedlands, W.A.. He was buried in Karrakatta Cem., Niche Wall L2.W2.170, Perth, W.A..

+ 74 F vi Edith Marguerite Clinch