Search for details of WWI Newcastle maritime mystery

TRACING THE PAST: Crew of the Steam Yacht Aurora, pictured in 1912. The yacht disappeared after leaving Newcastle in June 1917. Picture: Australian Antarctic Division.

TRACING THE PAST: Crew of the Steam Yacht Aurora, pictured in 1912. The yacht disappeared after leaving Newcastle in June 1917. Picture: Australian Antarctic Division.

ONE hundred years ago on June 20, the Steam Yacht Aurora sailed from Nobbys and disappeared with the loss of all hands, including two crew members who signed on in Newcastle.

The mystery was never solved, although it is thought the Aurora may have hit a mine laid by a German merchant raider, SMS Wolf.

The Aurora had been part of the Mawson and Shackleton expeditions to Antarctica, and the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions Club is looking for early photographs of the vessel, and for information about the two crew who signed on in Newcastle.

Antarctic club secretary David Dodd said the two crew who signed on in Newcastle were the third mate, C. Blattman, and an able-bodied seaman, H.S. Clark.

Mr Dodd said the Aurora tied up in Newcastle on April 11, 1917. The vessel was opened for inspection and extraordinary £4000 was raised in coin donations for the war effort. Mr Dodd said the club hoped to unveil a plaque honouring the Aurora on Tuesday, June 20, the centenary of its departure from Newcastle.

The Newcastle Herald recently helped the club trace a former Antarctic workboat, the Macpherson Robertson, to Valentine.

  • Contact: daviddodd@optusnet.com.au 
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