[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

...

J. Kearns, donkeyman 29 Dublin

...

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

"J. Kearns, donkeyman"

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

The following is the complete crew which left with the vessel, according to the records in the Adelaide Co.'s office:--

...

J. Kearns, donkeyman.

...

["The Koombana", The West Australian, Friday 12 April 1912, page 7]

OFFICIAL LIST OF CREW

The following official list of the names of the crew who signed on the s.s. Koombana's articles and who were supposed to have gone in the vessel is supplied by the Shipping Master of Fremantle (Captain T. W. Smith). The age, birthplace, and capacity of each member is given:--

...

J. Kearns, 29, Dublin, donkeyman;

...

[Agreement and Account of Crew, s.s. Koombana, August 1911 - March 1912, Harbour and Lights Department, Western Australia. State Records Office of Western Australia, Consignment 1056 Item 301]

John Kearns was one of the sixteen firemen brought in from Melbourne to break the Koombana Firemen's Strike of 1911.

There is a note here to the effect that Kearns would take the role of Donkeyman on Koombana's February 1912 trip.

[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]

my image 506

The Manager

Adelaide Steam Ship Company

Fremantle

Western Australia

Dear Sir,

I am sorry to have to write to you on behalf of

Mrs Kearns whose Husband John Kearns, was lost on 20th March

when the ship R.M.S. Koombana, belonging to your Company

was wrecked of Bedout Island. John Kearns was one of the Crew

and worked as Donkeyman. I may inform you that Mrs. Kearns

is in a very poor state of health and unable to work for her-

self and two children, and the news of the sad end of her husband

has completely upset her. She would be very thankful to you

if her husband had any wages due him by your Company that

you would forward them to her, or if something could be done

to help her in these sad circumstances. The writer can assure

you that this poor woman is in want at the present time and

as I stated unable to work. Mrs Kearns encloses you her Marriage

Certificate for reference I hope that something will be done to help this woman

and alleviate her sufferings in this sad camality. I am

merely writing this letter for Mrs Kearns you can communicate

with her at the address below.

Yours faithfully

William Roon?ey

for Mrs Kearns

[The poor focus of my image makes this next difficult to read.]

Mrs Kearns

36 ?????? Street

Springfield ??

Belfast

Ireland

[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]

my img 839

Letter from Accountant General, Board of Trade, London,

to Secretary, Marine Board, Port Adelaide.

BOARD OF TRADE,

(Finance Department),

7, Whitehall Gardens,

LONDON, S.W.

21st May 1912.

Sir,

I am directed by the Board of Trade to acquaint you

that they have received claims from Harry Hughes, 21 Cecil

Street, Manselton, Swansea (father) - Thomas Taylor, 2,

Easons Angle, Dundee (father) and Catherine Kearns, 36,

Malcolmson Street, Belfast (Widow) for the wages respect-

ively due to the seamen Harry Hughes, Thomas Taylor and

John Kearns who appear to have been serving on the

"Koombanna" Official Number 122725 of Port Adelaide at the

time of her loss in March last.

If any balances of wages are due to the above named

or to any other seamen of the "Koombanna" who are known to

have left relatives in the United Kingdom the Board will be

obliged by your remitting the amounts to this Department

in order that the claims of the legal heirs may be

satisfied.

I am,

Sir,

Your obedient Servant,

(signed) Geo. Fry,

Accountant General.

The Secretary,

Marine Board,

Port Adelaide,

SOUTH AUSTRALIA.

[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]

my img 839

Letter from Accountant General, Board of Trade, London,

to Secretary, Marine Board, Port Adelaide.

BOARD OF TRADE,

(Finance Department),

7, Whitehall Gardens,

LONDON, S.W.

27th July 1912.

Sir,

With reference to your letter of the 22nd ultimo,

remitting the sum of Eight pounds, sixteen shillings, as

the wages due to the deceased seaman, J. Kearns, late of

the Koombana, I am directed by the Board of Traded to en-

close a copy of a letter sent on teh 21?st May last to the

Secretary, Marine Board, Port Adelaide, giving particulars

of claims received from relatives of seamen said to have

been serving on this vessel at the time of her loss, and

to add that a claim has recently been received from

Joseph Jackson of Gilnahert, Belfast, for the amount due

to his son John Jackson.

The Board will still be obliged by an early remittance

of any wages in these cases to enable them to deal with

the claims of the relatives.

I am,

Sir,

Your obedient Servant,

[signed] Geo. Fry,

Accountant General.

The Shipping Master,

Fremantle,

West Australia.

An interesting bulletin board posting on the role of donkeyman...

[http://www.mercantilemarine.org/showthread.php?t=840]

Hello again Peter;

Done a little research on the Donkyman and the duties he was called upon to perform when at sea. It seems that the duties a Donkeyman would perform was different on just about evey ship.

One piece of information gives the following, "The "Donkeyman" is the crew member whose job is to deal with the operation and maintenance of any and all assorted machinery other than the ship's main engines." while other information says his duties would include assisting with the main engines.

While at sea donkey engines could be used to operate the anchor windlass and bilge pumps. He could also be called on to perform the duties of Fireman or Greaser. And from what I can find, it was not unusual for the Donkeyman to do watch duties, as you suggested. A "jack of all trades" as one might say. On some ships the "Donkey engine/boiler" could be used to supply emergency propulsion. Running steam engines was a dangerous job and that is where his real knowledge and skills was of great importance, even though there was down time while at sea.

Hope this gives some insight into the daily life of a Donkeyman.

Brig

[Wreck of the "Koombana" - photocopy of material relating to, Harbour and Lights Department, Western Australia, 1912, State Records Office of Western Australia. Series 1618, Cons. 5055, Item 001, see Koombana Relief Fund correspondence]

EXTRACT FROM LETTER RECEIVED FROM THE SECRETARY OF THE

"KOOMBANA" RELIEF COMMITTEE, PERTH

Dated 31st July, 1912.

--------------

"I give you hereunder a list of persons in Great Britain

to whom the Perth Committee has allotted amounts, and shall be

glad if you will communicate with the Agent-General, requesting

him to pay the sum mentioned in each case, out of the amount he

has in hand, and forward the receipts to me at the earliest

possible opportunity:-

Miss Wardlaw, 36 Bank Street, Hillhead, Glasgow, 47.

Mrs. W. C. Dick, 4 James Park, Burntisland, N.B., 47.

Mrs. W. Clarke, Chestnut Grove, off Marsh Lane, Boudel

Liverpool, England, 65.

Mrs. Levins, 87 Strand Street, Cloyerhead, Drogheda,

Ireland, 11.

Mrs. M. Dwyer, King Street, Abbyside, County Waterford,

Ireland, 11.

Mrs. W. Carton, Droghed, County Louth, Ireland, 11.

Mrs. J. Kearne, 36 Malcolmson Street, Springfield Road,

Belfast, Ireland, $11.

Mrs. Rea, 21 Conderton Road, Loughboro Junction, Camberwell,

London, S.E. 11.

----------------------------------

Further names since received:-

A. Dellar (? English address)

- Clinton ( " Local Committee making enquiries

- Offord ( " " " decline applica-

tion for assistance.

W. Burkin ( " Nothing done so far.

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