Loss of the Regulus, The
DESCRIPTION: "While I'll explain ... How the Regalus she got lost in Petty Harbour bay." Regulus leaves Belle Isle [sic] and is disabled in a heavy breeze near Cape Race. The tug John Green attempts the rescue but the tow line parts. Captain Taylor and his crew drown.
AUTHOR: probaby Johnny Burke
EARLIEST DATE: 1958 (Peacock)
KEYWORDS: drowning ship sea storm wreck
Oct 23, 1910 - Wreck of the Regulus
FOUND IN: Canada(Newf)
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Peacock, pp. 956-957, "The Loss of the Regalis" (1 text, 1 tune)
Leach-Labrador 74, "Wreck of the Regulus" (1 text, 1 tune)
ADDITIONAL: Johnny Burke (William J. Kirwin, editor), _John White's Collection of Johnny Burke Songs_, Harry Cuff Publications, St. John's, 1981, #25, pp. 42-43, "Loss of the S.S. Regulus" (1 text)
Everett Bennett, "The Loss of the Regalis" (on PeacockCDROM) [one verse only]
NOTES [540 words]: [The] Regulus, en route to Sydney Nova Scotia from Wabana [Bell Island, not Belle Isle], [was] wrecked October 23, 1910, when the tow parted from the John Green (Northern Shipwrecks Database). - BS
According to Frank Galgay and Michael McCarthy, Shipwrecks of Newfoundland and Labrador, Volume II, Creative Publishers, 1990, p. 54, the Regulus was a cargo ship launched in 1878. The Newfoundland shipping firm Harvey's purchased her in 1897 for use in the coal trade. Until 1907, she seems to have been completely ordinary.
Starting in 1907, she seemed to be under a curse. She ran aground on Sandy Hook in that year, although she suffered no real damage.
Her first problems in Petty Harbour took place in 1908 (Galgay/McCarthy, p. 55). Carrying coal from Philadelphia to St. John's, she ran aground. The tug John Green (which we will hear of again) was sent, but the Regulus had to offload much of her coal before the tug could get her off. She was taken to St. John's and repaired, then went back into service, only to collide with a Norwegian ship, the Ocland, and her owners were forced to pay damages although many blamed the Norwegians. In 1909, she was damaged in a collision with an iceberg (Galgay/McCarthy, p. 56). She barely made it back to St. John's with all pumps running and the men bailing water as well. Then she collided with the Karema. At this point, her owners sold her to pay off the damages, but somehow Harvey & Co. ended up back in possession of her in 1910 (Galgay/McCarthy, p. 57).
On October 20, 1910, she was supposed to pick up a load of iron ore at Bell Island on Conception Bay, but the mining company said she wasn't big enough and sent her back. Serving under an experienced captain named Taylor, she set out in ballast on October 23, 1910. As she steamed south along the Avalon Peninsula, her propeller shaft broke. Captain Taylor dropped anchor and (apparently having no radio -- hardly a surprise for a small ship in 1910) asked a schooner to go into port and ask that a tug be sent. For the second time, the John Green went to her rescue; so did another tug, the Ingraham (Galgal/McCarthy, p. 57). It was foggy enough that the Ingraham, unable to find the Regulus, gave up and went back to port. But the John Green found the Regulus late in the evening. It took until after midnight to get the hawser attached and to raise the Regulus's anchor (Galgay/McCarthy, p. 58). For two hours, the John Green towed the Regulus, but at around 2:30, the hawser broke. They fund the wreck the next morning on a reef near Shoal Bay. There had been nineteen men aboard. All were gone; no bodies were ever recovered, although divers explored the wreck (Galgay/McCarthy, pp. 59-60). One source I read said it was the worst sailing disaster in Newfoundland in a decade.
The song is quite accurate in its details, at least in the Burke original; the Regulus was leaving Bell Island (called "Belle Isle" in the text), she was lost near Cape Race, she broke her propeller, the John Green came to her rescue, the Regulus's lights appeared to go out when the tow-line parted, her captain was named Taylor, and she was lost near Shoal Bay, not far from the better-known Petty Harbour. - RBW
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