Crotty, Thomas Charles

[Personal communication, Peter Samuels, Monday 09 December 2013]

George Robert Crotty with children Evelyn and Thomas, Kimberley, c1910.

2013-12-09: Peter Samuels writes:

My grandmother’s cousin, Thomas Charles Crotty, born 20 Feb 1906, was lost on the “Koombana” with his grandmother, Mrs Sack.

I attach the only known photograph of Thomas, taken in the Kimberley shortly before he died. Thomas is on the right in the photograph. It may be of interest. His father, George, died young in 1913 and is buried in an unmarked grave in the Broome Cemetery near his sister, Clara Jane Russ (nee Crotty), died 1908.

[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.


Sack, Mrs. D.C. Wife of publican at Derby.

Crotty, Master Thomas Grandson of Mrs. Sack.


[Ronan, Tom, 1964, Packhorse and Pearling Boat, Cassell Australia, Melbourne, Chapter 2]


When the smoke from the ship’s funnels was visible with the eye, Tom Crotty harnessed up the old grey mare and swept out his tramcar. This tram, running on a narrow gauge pair of rails, was Derby’s only public conveyance, and it was definitely one-horse power, or rather one-mare. Tom would take the car to the top end of town, ringing a deep-throated bullock bell. At the terminus, somewhere up about the hospital, he unhooked the mare and hitched her into the rear end of his car. As he made his return journey most of Derby would be waiting for him; if not, Tom wanted to know the reason.


AB notes:

Thomas jnr. was probably son of Tom Crotty, the Derby tramdriver.

[Barker, Malcolm, 2001, The Truth Is So Precious, Success Print, Perth, Western Australia, page53]


Running through the passenger list Captain Allen saw that Mrs D.C. Sack who had come down with the Koombana from Derby on the last trip was going back home after less than 5 days in Perth. This was not an uncommon length of stay because it enabled the passenger to complete business or perhaps attend a family occasion or function. Mrs Sack who was the wife of the publican at Derby, and was accompanied by her 6 year old grandson Thomas Crotty, and Florence Price who was working for her as a domestic.


["Boy Finally Listed Missing", The Sunday Times (Perth, WA), September 30, 1984]

"Her sisters, Mrs Marion Davis of Beckenham, and Mrs Eva Stokes, of Wembley, confirmed Thomas was on board with his grandmother, Mrs D C Stack [sic], of Derby. They gave Registrar General, Mr Don Stockins, evidence the boy was a passenger and he agreed to add the name to the official death toll."

[Personal communication, Bethwyn Brandis, granddaughter of Koombana passenger Fred Clinch, 25 May 2005]

A family contact included:


Beryl Hall (nee Sack)

[address & telephone number withheld]

Grandmother Louise Sack & her grandson Thomas Geoffrey Crotty. Identity in the North."

2005-06-05 16:45 I called Beryl Hall in Donnybrook; she was about to go out and could not talk long; I have agreed to call her tomorrow around 10:30am.

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



For Derby.

Mrs. Sack and grandchild


["Boy finally listed missing", The Sunday Times (Perth, WA), September 30, 1984]

"Although dead more than 72 years,a six-year-old boy's name has only just been added to the official death toll of one of Australia's most baffling sea disasters. Thomas Charles Crotty was a passenger on the ill-fated steamship Koombana, which disappeared after a cyclone struck Port Hedland on Wednesday, March 20, 1912. None of the 156 passengers and crew survived.

Much research has been done on the sinking and several passenger lists compiled, but Thomas Crotty was not on any of them. Mr Malcolm Barker, of the Maritime Historical Association, first noticed the error and contacted relatives. Her sisters, Mrs Marion Davis, of Beckenham, and Mrs Eva Stokes, of Wembley, confirmed Thomas was on board with his grandmother, Mrs D C Stack, of Derby. They gave Registrar General, Mr Don Stockins, evidence the boy was a passenger and he agreed to add the name to the official death toll.


["Boy finally listed missing", The Sunday Times (Perth, WA), Sunday 30 September 1984, page 11]

[not yet transcribed]

[Personal communication, Beryl Hall, descendant of Koombana passenger Louise Sack, Monday 06 June 2005]

Telephone conversation with Beryl Hall, , 10:40am

file \Koombana\Correspondence\Telephone\Conversation_BerylHall_20050605.txt


Why was Mrs Sack on Koombana? Louise had travelled to Perth to visit her daughter Evelyn McGovern and her granddaughters, the twins Ruby and Pearl. When Louise needed to return to Derby there was no saloon cabin available, but another prospective passenger offered to give up his place. With one bunk only, there was still no space for Thomas, but Louise had accepted the offer and had said to the captain "We'll make do".


I called back to ask how Thomas was related to Louise. Almost certainly he was son of Eva Crotty nee Sack, who married two or three times. Tom Crotty senior was one husband; another was 'killed by the blacks'.

It seems that Daniel and Louise Sack had about nine children. They include (not in order) Percy, William, Evelyn, Eva, Ethel, Maud, Frank and Charlie.

Beryl mentioned that Thomas may not have travelled down to Fremantle with his grandmother; she may have just offered to bring him back.

[Excerpt from a letter from Malcolm Barker to Mr J.B. Read, MLA and Member for Mandurah, 30th August 1985]

26th September 1984:

After further research I visited Registrar General's Office in company with Mrs Eva Keenan (nee Crotty) and Mrs Marion Davis (nee Crotty) to have the name of their brother Thomas Crotty included in the Passenger List of those known to have been aboard the Koombana when it sailed from Port Hedland on 20th March 1912. A photocopy of the letter they tendered is attached as Appendix G.

[Letter dated 30 August 1985, from Mrs Eva Keenan (nee Crotty) and Mrs Marion Davis (nee Crotty) to the Registrar General of Western Australia, confirming that their brother Thomas Crotty had been lost with Koombana.]

[copy found as an attachment to a letter from Malcolm Barker to Mr J.B. Read, MLA and Member for Mandurah, 30th August 1985]

The Registrar General

1st Floor

Oakleigh House

22 Saint George's Terrace


Dear Sir

We wish to inform you that Thomas Charles Crotty, our brother,

disappeared with the SS Koombana on or about 20th March 1912.

Thomas Crotty, who was born in Derby on 20th February 1906, was

returning to Derby with our Grandmother, Mrs D C Sack, who is

listed among those lost on the Koombana.

Yours sincerely

[not signed]

Mrs Eva Clara KEENAN (nee CROTTY)

[not signed]

Mrs Marion DAVIS (nee CROTTY)

["Social Notes", The West Australian, Thursday 5 January 1911, page 8]



The town of Derby was en fete on Monday, December 12, the occasion being the celebration of the marriage between Miss Evelyn Gilfred Sack, youngest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. D. C., Sack, of Derby Hotel, and Mr. Reginald McGovern, eldest son of Mrs. McGovern, of Derby. The ceremony was performed by Mr. Knight (clerk of courts) at the Court House, and was witnessed by a lage number of well-wishers and friends. The bride, who was given away by her father, looked very well in a lovely frock of ivory crepe de chine over glace, daintily trimmed with silk applique, with a wide swathed belt and a long satin train. She also wore the customary wreath of orange blossom and tulle veil, and carried a lovely shower bouquet. She was attended by two sweet little train-bearers, her niece and nephew, Evelyn and Tom Crotty. The little maid wore a dainty frock of cream silk and lace, and a quaint lace bonnet, finished with pale blue rosettes. She also carried a basket of flowers. The little page wore a pretty costume of cream serge, and a large felt hat, caught back at the left side with a buckle...

AB notes:

extraordinary number of Koombana victims in this 1911 wedding party:

best man alfred piper, little tom crotty, mrs sack, milne, ?davey, buttle. ronans were there too