Dedicated to all the brave men and women who sailed the vessels from the Leith Shipyards.
EXTRACT FROM 'THE SOUTH COAST TIMES' THURSDAY FEBRUARY 24th 1949
Ship Capsizes Off Wollongong
Two survivors came ashore at Bulli on Wednesday morning after being ten hours in the water.
The two survivors are:
Michael Fitzsimmons (48) fireman, of Napier street, North Sydney, and Thorvald Thomson (57) also a fireman.
The body of another member of the crew was washed ashore north of Corrimal and Mr. A. Barnett, in his trawler Pacific Gull, recovered a second body believed to be that of the captain. Fitzsimmons was little the worse for his experience, but Thomson was suffering badly from exposure and was taken to Bulli Hospital for treatment.
The Bombo, a steel vessel of 640 tons was built in 1930 especially for carrying blue metal from Kiama to Sydney. On Tuesday she left Kiama shortly before noon for Sydney, a trip which usually takes about eight hours. She was carrying about 600 tons of metal, slightly less than a full load. A graphic story of the trip was told by Fitzsimmons; who claimed that the cause of the sinking was the shifting of the ship's cargo. He said after leaving Kiama they sailed the usual course but about 5 pm, when about 5 miles off Stanwell Park he noticed the ship listing to port. He said he heard the Captain A. R. Bell tell the chief engineer he was going to turn back and to keep the engines going slowly to keep steerage way on the ship.
They continued southward until about 9.30 pm. when, some four or five miles north east of Wollongong lighthouse, he heard that the Captain had informed the second engineer he proposed to drop anchor off Port Kembla until daylight. Fitzsimmons said he noticed the list was getting worse and than heard the Captain' shout "All hands on deck and lower the starboard lifeboat". "I tried to assist two sailors to lower the boat" said Fitzsimmons, ship began to list more so we grabbed the lifebouys and jumped. He said the captain and seven others followed them and no more, than no more than two minutes later the ship turned over on her port side and sank.
Fitzsimmons said the captain told them to keep together and they commenced swimming towards the beach, six of them clinging to two pieces of timber. Another man who was swimming weakly was helped to this board. "After paddling for some hours we became very tired," said Fitzsimmons, "and then we just hung onto the timber." The floated around until about 4 o'clock when the beach came into site and they recommenced to paddle. One man pointed out the plank might be dangerous in the surf, so one by one they left the plank and made for the shore. He said he managed to struggle ashore where he took off his lifebelt. He made towards a house where he saw a bread carter, Mr. Hobbs, of Hubbards bakery, who gave an overcoat and took him to Bulli police station.
Throughout yesterday a close watch was kept on the beaches and an aerial search was carried out.
Mr. E. F. Reid, of Wollongong and South Coast Aviation Services, with Mr. Brian Crump, as observer, made a two hour search in one of the companies tiger moth planes. Members of the Woonona Surf Club joined in the search with a lifeboat. Heavy seas and drizzling rain made the task more difficult for searchers. Late yesterday afternoon a Catalina search plane dropped flares over several objects floating in the water off Coldale.
Owing to very heavy seas, however, launches and boats were unable to put out to investigate the wreckage and pieces of similar were washed ashore at many beaches, but only a lifebouy found near Bulli beach has been actually identified as coming from the Bombo. Police and citizens have maintained watching squads on cliffs and beaches between Cronulla and Wollongong during the day.
Fitzsimmons was in a state of collapse when he arrived at the Bulli Police station with Hobbs and had to be carried into the station. He refused to go to hospital and declined a suggestion that he should have a sleep.He was provided with a meal at the home of Sgt P. Kennedy, Bulli station sergeant. Sgt. Kennedy also gave him socks, shoes, and clothing.
In Memoriam to
BUILT, LEITH SCOTLAND, 1930.
LOST OFF PORT KEMBLA HARBOUR, FEBRUARY 22ND, 1949.
LENGTH 154'3" x 30'1" x 12'0".
TONNAGE 540 GROSS. 282 NETT.
THORVALD THOMSEN ABLE SEAMAN
MICHAEL FITZSIMMONS FIREMAN
ARTHUR BELL CAPTAIN
HENRY STRINGER CHIEF OFFICER
PERCY CARROLL CHIEF ENGINEER
JOHN STEVENSON SECOND ENGINEER
EDWARD NAGLE DONKEYMAN
ERNEST NORRIS FIREMAN
THOMAS BELVOIR FIREMAN
CHARLES BARHEN ABLE SEAMAN
WILLIAM CUNNINGHAM ABLE SEAMAN
LAURENCE LUCEY ABLE SEAMAN
JAMES GORDON RIDDELL STEWARD
ARTHUR LIGHTBURN COOK