Thursday, February 04, 2016

Today -100: February 4, 1916: I recognize no Collector


The Canadian Parliament Building in Ottawa is on fire. Naturally everyone thinks it was caused by a bomb. A German bomb. It wasn’t. The chief Liberal whip Frederick Forsyth Pardee is missing (he’s fine), several MPs were burned, and some of the building’s workers are dead.

Newport News, Virginia: All of the SS Appam’s crew and passengers have now left the ship, despite objections by their German captors and by the British ship’s owners, who would have preferred their employees to maintain a presence on the ship to support their claim that it doesn’t belong to the Germans because they brought it to a neutral port. My favorite moment: Lt Berg, in command of the German prize crew, asks the British vice consul, who wants to board, by whose authority he comes. “By that of the United States Collector of Customs.” “I recognize no Collector.”

Some of the British sailors aboard the Appam were from other ships attacked by the Möwe. One of them, First Engineer Gow of the Dromonby, has now survived three close encounters with the Germans, having previously been on two ships that were sunk. “I’ve had almost enough of this business of trying to make a living on the seas.”

Also on board the Appam: someone’s pet leopard, which he’s trying to get returned to him.


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