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RMS MONGOLIA in the Gale, July 9 1904

Date: 1904
Dimensions:
Overall (framed): 875 x 1220 x 65 mm
Sight: 620 x 960 mm
Medium: Acrylic on board
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Art
Object Name: Painting
Object No: 00047712
Related Place:Sydney Heads, Sydney,

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    Description
    W Dallimore's painting 'RMS MONGOLIA in the Gale, July 9 1904' depicts the P&O passenger liner passing North Head during a violent storm that swept through Sydney on 8-9 July 1904.
    SignificanceThe painting is of historic interest as it depicts the record-breaking - and ultimately ill-fated - RMS MONGOLIA passing through Sydney Heads during a violent storm on 8-9 July 1904. MONGOLIA operated on the England to Australia passenger run in the early years of the 20th century, and served as the flagship for the Anniversary Regatta on 26 January 1907, before being mined and sunk off Bombay during World War I.
    HistoryRMS MONGOLIA was built by Caird & Co for P&O in 1903, and accommodated 348 first and 166 second class passengers.

    MONGOLIA had an eventful career - suffering damage during a severe storm on the return leg of its maiden voyage to Bombay on 20 November 1903; surviving an encounter with Russian battleships in the Red Sea during its first voyage to Sydney in the midst of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904; colliding with and sinking a Customs tug boat in Fremantle Harbour in 1908; and finally striking a mine laid by the German raider SS WOLF and sinking off Bombay in June 1917. Twenty three lives were lost - 17 crew members, three engineer officers and three passengers.

    W Dallimore's painting depicts MONGOLIA in raging seas off Sydney Heads on 9 July 1904 - caught in a furious storm that will long "be remembered by those who were unfortunate enough to be at sea, for even the stout hearts of mariners quailed with fear at the sight of the angry elements" (The Sydney Morning Herald, 11 July 1904, 8). Although Dallimore's style is rather wooden, the painting captures the detail of the ship and the dramatic mountainous seas.

    Under the headlines 'A great storm - Violent southerly gales - Torrential rains - Terrific seas running - Shipping paralysed - A wreck at Newcastle - Many disasters feared - Rivers in flood,' The Sydney Morning Herald carried extensive coverage of the storm and its effect on shipping:

    "Shipping was paralysed. Vessels of from 4000 to 7000 tons attempted to leave the port in accordance with their timetables, but were compelled to return. The RMS MONGOLIA, of 10,000 tons, alone ventured to proceed, and she passed through the Heads in the teeth of a living gale. The officials who witnessed the departure of this magnificent vessel from South Head describe the scene as one that will not be readily forgotten. Huge seas, running like a succession of mountain ranges, broke over her, and she plunged and rose desperately. So thick was the weather along the coast that the steamer was soon lost to view."

    MONGOLIA had taken up the running of RMS AUSTRALIA, which had been lost at the entrance to Port Phillip a week earlier, and was scheduled to depart Sydney for London at noon on 9 July 1904. With torrential rains delaying the transfer of passengers from the P&O wharf at Neutral Bay, MONGOLIA eventually departed at 1.30pm under the command of Captain C F Preston and passed through the Heads shortly after 2pm.

    The Sydney Morning Herald reported that "MONGOLIA, which had just left Sydney Heads, supplied an object lesson as to the size and strength of the seas, the leviathan liner being thrown about on the water as if she were a cork" (13 July 1904, 10). MONGOLIA only managed to cover 116 miles in the 24 hours following its departure from Sydney, arriving in Melbourne 12 hours late. However MONGOLIA was lucky to survive the storm - unlike the Huddart, Parker & Co steam collier SS NEMESIS, bound from Newcastle for Melbourne, which foundered off Port Hacking late on the evening of 9 July. All 32 crew members perished.

    In 1907 MONGOLIA was the flagship of the 70th Anniversary Regatta (later the Australia Day Regatta), commemorating the founding of New South Wales. Ten years later, it became the only Regatta flagship to be lost by enemy action.
    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: RMS MONGOLIA in the Gale, July 9 1904

    Web title: RMS MONGOLIA in the Gale, July 9 1904

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