Daily Event for December 1

In Dec. 1914 a ship named Montrose broker her lines, drifted out onto Goodwin Sands and foundered. No lives were lost and this event is only significant because of one event earlier in her history. The Montrose was a steel ship launched in 1897. Registered at 5,431 tons, like many ships of that time she was designed for the immigrant trade. Not at all a luxurious ship by any stretch of the imagination, Montrose sailed between Liverpool and Montreal. The ship gained a little fame in July of 1910. At this time Montrose was in Antwerp preparing for a voyage to Quebec. At the time in Belgium there were rumors that Dr. Harvey Crippen might be in the area. Crippen was on the run with his lover Ethel le Neve after the body of his wife had been found, dismembered, under the basement floor of their London home.

The captain, Henry Kendall, became suspicious of a Mr. Robinson and his son. Kendall noticed the pair was uneasy in the company of the other passengers, and that the man had recently shaved off his mustache. He also noticed marks on the bridge of the man's nose that indicated he had recently worn glasses. When he saw a pistol in Robinson's pocket he contacted the Liverpool office of Canadian Pacific;

"One hundred and thirty miles west of Lizard...have strong suspicions that Crippen, London cellar murderer and accomplice are among saloon passengers...Accomplice dressed as boy; voice, manner, and build undoubtedly a girl."

An inspector Dew of Scotland Yard boarded the Laurentic, which was a faster ship, and caught up to the Montrose off Canada. Dew boarded the Montrose and confronted Crippen. In one version of the story Crippen surrenders peacefully and says "Thank God it's over" In another version Crippen curses captain Kendall. Crippen would be hanged four months later in London.

Kendall later commanded another ship, the Empress of Ireland. It sunk after being rammed by the Norwegian ship Storstadt on May 29, 1914. With the loss of 1,024 people, the Empress of Ireland was the worst single ship disaster in Canadian history. The Montrose, was sold to the Admiralty in Oct. of 1914. They were going to fill her holds with cement and sink her to block the Dover harbor from enemy attack but, she broke her mooring lines, drifted out onto the Goodwin Sands and sank. Her mast was visible until 1963 when it snapped and vanished beneath the waves.
© 2005 Michael W. Pocock

SS Montrose


Dr. Harvey Crippen