Lewis, William (Bill)

[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 Geraldton (All Steerage Passengers)

Lewis, William Shearer. Wife and family reside at Geraldton.


Scougall, R. Shearer, refer Mayor of Cue.

Shields, A. Shearer, refer Mayor of Cue.

Clarke, James W. Shearer, refer Mayor of Cue.


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

Geraldton-Derby Lewis Wm. [blank]

["Murchison Passengers", The Murchison Times and Day Dawn Gazette (Cue, WA), Thursday 11 April 1912, page 3]




On Saturday we telegraphed to the representative of the Adelaide Steamship Company at Port Hedland as follows:--

"Were Messrs Clarke, Spencer, Shields, Scugall and Lewis, who booked at Geraldton for Derby, on board the s.s. Koombana when she left Hedland."

The Mayor (Mr. Hardwicke) telegraphed to the Adelaide Steamship Co. at Fremantle on Saturday, asking if Clarke, Spencer, Scugall and Shields had broken their voyage. In the evening he received this reply:--

"Four passengers mentioned booked for Derby and presumably were drowned, in the absence of any information to the contrary."

There still remained a hope while the answer to our telegram was to come. On Tuesday morning, however, the faint hope flickered out and died. The answer to our message came in the following terms:--

"The passengers you mentioned did not land at Hedland, and we are therefore unaware of their identity. We can only presume they are on board. (Signed) Adelaide Steamship Company, Port Hedland."

[Barker, Malcolm, 2001, The Truth Is So Precious, Success Print, Perth, Western Australia, page 53]


When the Koombana reached Geraldton four shearers boarded for Derby. The first, William Lewis lived in Geraldton with his wife and children. The other three Mr James Clarke, Mr A Shields and Mr R Scougall had made an overland trip by train from the gold mining centre at Cue to catch the vessel.


[Mrs C. Robinson, letter to the Adelaide Steamship Company, 07 September 1978, seeking information on her grandfather, Koombana passenger William Lewis, found in Records, 1875-1994, Adelaide Steamship Company. Noel Butlin Archives Centre, Australian National University, 0186/N46/595]

William Lewis was grandfather of

Mrs C. Robinson

[address withheld]

who wrote to ASC 7 September 1978 for any information

["The Passengers", Geraldton Guardian (WA), Thursday 04 April 1912, page 3]


Two at least of the Koombana's passengers, Messrs. William Lewis and George Harper, were well known in Geraldton. The former's wife (nee Mrs. Wright) is one of the oldest residents of the town, and with her grown-up family, is much respected. Much sympathy is felt for them and Mr. Lewis's eight-year-old daughter in their trouble. Mr George Harper, of Harper Bros., pearlers, Broome, was up till about 12 months ago, secretary of the Geraldton Rowing Club, and spent his Christmas holidays in Geraldton. The irony of fate is strikingly exemplified in his case. He delayed his departure for Broome two months in order to travel by the Koombana on her ill-fated trip, and almost missed her at Geraldton, through looking up several friends.

["The Death Roll", Geraldton Express (WA), Wednesday 03 April 1912, page 3]




The six passengers who boarded the vessel here were Messrs Wm. Lewis, S. Spencer, R. Scougall, J. W. Clarke, A. Shields and Benjamin Smith.

Of these it is understood that Messrs. Lewis, Scougall, Clarke and Shields left here to go to Derby where they intended to engage in shearing work.

William Lewis was formerly a champion shearer and was well known in Geraldton and district, where he has several relatives.


["The Sons of Martha - A Column For The Workers", The Sunday Times (Perth, WA), Sunday 21 April 1912, page 24]


Mr. L. T. Brown, secretary of the WA. Branch of the Australian Workers' Union, is gradually learning the names of the shearers who were on board the ill-fated Koombana. In addition to the names we have already published, he has since received definite information that Andy Shiels, --- Spence, Bill Lewis, R. Scougall, and --- Clark (all shearers) were amongst the passengers who left Geraldton on the Koombana. Bill Lewis had two friends with him, but it is not known definitely who they were.

From. the same source Mr. Brown has learnt that Syd. Sack, son of the publican at Derby, also joined the boat at Geraldton. This fact has not been previously notified, though the name of Mrs. Sack (Syd. Sack's mother) was published amongst the list of missing.


[Research file "s.s. Koombana", 1973-. Department of Maritime Archeology, Western Australian Museum, 189/73/4]

Jack Soreson - The Shearers' Bard of W.A. (1907-1949)

The Gun of Glindavor[?] and other Ballads - Perth 1932

Soreson dedicated "The Lost Shearing Team" to the shearers who sailed from Port Hedland on the Koombana in 1912. He tells of the team setting off from Port Hedland for Derby from where they would set off overland for Liveringa Station.

["Action by Australian Workers's Union", The West Australian, Thursday 30 May 1912, page 8]


Among those who lost their lives on the Koombana were a number of men--about 20 in all, so far as can be officially ascertained--who were proceeding to the shearing sheds in the North-West. These men were members of the Australian Workers' Union, and their mates on the Upper Liveringa Station have subscribed and forwarded to the head office of the Union in Perth the sum of 50 15s. 6d. to be distributed among the widows and orphans of their late comrades. The secretary of the union (Mr. T. L. Brown) has obtained authority from the headquarters of the Union in the Eastern States to forward subscription lists throughout the shearing sheds in this State in order to augment the amount already donated.

[Personal communication, Rae Wainwright, descendant of Mrs Wright of Geraldton, husband of William Lewis, December 2013]

Rae's mother Mary was the daughter of William Lewis's wife, [? ] Wright.