Capt James BROWN

Kindly forwarded by Angus Johnson, Shetland Archivist

Liverpool mariners, Shetland section. In this case Capt. Brown actually seems to have met his end on the barque Harold, torpedoed on July 17, 1917, when he was 47 years old. According to the Shetland Roll of Honour, he lived at 42 Tiverton Street, Wavertree, Liverpool, was married to Andrina Brown, and was the son of Gilbert Brown, Kingland, Ollaberry, Northmavine, Shetland. I even have an earlier reference to him being second mate on board the Crown of Scotland in 1900 -- quite possibly another Liverpool ship -- on which a murder took place! And I have a reference for a near death event earlier in 1917.

The San Francisco Call, Friday, December 14, 1900

Murder, suicide and accidental death marks the voyage—ended here yesterday—of the British ship Crown of Scotland as one of the most sensational made by a wind jammer in many a year.

The Crown of Scotland left Penarth (Cardiff) 138 days ago, and soon after clearing the British Channel there was some heavy weather encountered. In the Bay of Biscay Salvatores Servis fell from the fore yard in a fit an was killed. For [some] time the ship had hard luck, but after that all went well until latitude 14 deg- rees 19 minutes north, longitude 121 de- grees 30 minutes west, was reached. That was on November 24 at 10.30 a.m., and then occurred a tragedy that has kept the crew talking ever since. One sailor stabbed his shipmate to death and then jumped overboard. Every attempt was made to save the murderer, but he de- liberately drowned himself in full view of the boat’s crew that was going to his rescue.

P.A. Haglund and John Warrington were bosom friends in Liverpool, and when men were wanted for the Crown of Scotland both of them shipped and were sent to her at Penarth. Once aboard, they got themselves in the good graces of the mate and both were put in the starboard watch. During the first part of the voyage the two men were like broth- ers, but off Cape Horn they began to quarrel. Off Valparaiso they came to blows, and when the coast of Central Am- Erica was reached they were deadly ene- mies.

The starboard watch went off duty at 8 a.m. Saturday, November 24, and as soon as they reached the forecastle War- rington and Haglund began quarrelling. They separated in a few minutes, and Haglund went to his bunk and fell asleep. Some time had passed when War- rington crept up to his sleeping friend and plunged his sheathknife into his breast. He then rushed on deck and jumped overboard. Haglund jumped out of his bunk, plucked the knife from his breast and fell fainting on the deck. Everything possible was done for him by Captain Jenkins, but he died a few hours later.

A boat was lowered and went in search of Warrington, but he deliberately kept his head under water and drowned before the boat could reach him.

The part of Captain Jenkins’ log report- ing the tragedy is as follows:

Novemner 24, 10 a.m. Port watch being on deck went aloft to make fast. Watch in rig- ging returning to deck when cry of man over- board was raised. Helm at once put down and life buoy thrown to man in water. All hands on deck to clear away boat, which was very soon launched and second mate and three hands pulling in direction where man was last seen.

In the midst of the P.C. Haglund, A.B. was met by the mate as he came to forecastle door to call out the watch below, pressing his hands to breast, from which blood was flow- ing. On being asked what was the matter, said: “Jack stabbed me, sir, and then jumped overboard.” I assisted him a little way along deck, when he fainted.

Haglund was carried into cabin and ban- daged and said he felt better at first, but be- fore long he took a change and complained of cold feet and pains in the legs. Became un- conscious and died at 2 a.m.

In the meantime ship way had been stopped and boat searching, but returned at 13.33 p.m., having seen no trace of the missing man, who was named J. Warrington. Haglund was bured on August25 at 8 a.m., latitude 16 degrees 44 minutes north, longitute 122 degrees 58 min- utes west. All hands present.

It case quite a gloom over the ship for some days, as Haglund was very popular. A Swede by birth, age 28, a thorough sailor and of a quiet disposition.

On board the Crown of Scotland the men were very adverse to discussing the tragedy. “She’s a hoodoo, anyhow,” said one burly Jack Tar,” and every night we can see Jack with his knife crawling up and stabbing Pete in the breast. One thing’s sure, I’ll never sail in this craft again. They can keep my pay. I’m going to desert as soon as the sails are clewed up.”

“It’s the veriest kind of rubbish,” said Captain Jenkins, “but still the men think they see something. Sailormen are, I think, the most superstitious mortals on earth, and some of them may honestly believe they see something. Outside of the death in the Bay of Biscay and the trag- edy of the coast it was one of the finest trips I have every made to the coast.”

The British Consul will hold an inves- tigation into the tragedy on the Crown of Scotland, and will send a report thereon to England.

Shetland Times, July 06, 1917




The barque Killarney, of Liverpool (Captain James Brown), left Brunswick, on the 6th April, with a consignment of --------- for Britain.

All went well until the 28th April, when east- erly winds were encountered. Knowing that it would not be advisable to try beating through the danger zone, Captain Brown decided to dodge on and off until they were favoured with a fair wind.

At 4.15 a.m., on Tuesday, 8th May, the chief officer in charge of the deck, saw what appeared to be a steamer a long way off and going across the Killarney’s stern. Whilst looking at her he saw a flash, heard a shot, and a shell came whizzing across the stern. He sent for the Captain, and all hand were called. The vessel was hove to and the boats swung out. Whilst the port boat was put over, a shell struck the ship, carrying away the mizzen topmast stay and starboard main lower topsail sheet.

The crew took to the boats, thirteen going in one boat and nine in the other. The submarine approached the chief officer’s boat and her Com- mander asked for the ship’s papers. Being told they were in the other boat he ordered her alongside, the Captain was called on board the submarine and her papers examined. He was then told that land was from 120 to 150 miles east true, and was allowed to return to his boat. The submarine then shelled the Killarney, and after an hour she went down stern first, capsizing to starboard.

Having seen the last of their old ship, the two boats’s crews started to row toward land, but owing to a heavy sea, were able to make but little headway. At 6 p.m. both boats lay to for the night, having rowed just as far as they thought they would drift during the night, and sea anchors were put out. Rockets were sent up and blue lights burned, in the hope that some passing ship might see and pick them up, but none came their way.

Next morning, the weather conditions were about the same, and little progress could be made, but the boats crews kept rowing all day until 6 p.m., when they again lay up for the night, leaving one man in each boat to watch.

At 4 o’clock the next morning, the weather being fine, another start to row landwards was made. The wind being still from the same quarter it was of no use to try sail. At 2 p.m. that day, the hopes of all were raised by sight- ing a tramp steamer, but these hopes of rescue remained unrealised, for the steamer did not see the boats. In spite of this disappointment the crews kept cheery and pulled for land until 8 p.m., when once again they lay to for the night.

At 4.30 a.m., fine weather still favouring them, fresh efforts were made to reach land, and still no ship was sighted until about 3 p.m. when a vessel was seen in the distance. This proved to be a United States destroyer, which picked them up about 3.30 p.m.

Everyone on board the destroyer did his very best for the comfort of the shipwrecked men, and so much kindness was shown them that it was with regret the officers and crew of the Killarney parted with their American friends upon arrival at ------- on Sunday 13th May.

It is of interest to state that Captain Brown is a native of Ollaberry, and the second officer is Mr J.W. Ramsay, a native of Collafirth, Northmavine.


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