Recollections of a veteran

The following newspaper article has been found by one of our members as a result of her research into the BALD family in South Australia, of which she is a descendant.

(By a special Reporter: “The Observer”. Saturday July 14 1917)

What Mr George Bald has not seen or heard of life on the ocean is hardly worth recording. He has seen it in all its pleasantness; he has seen it with all its excitement and danger; but withal he has been enabled, despite numerable vicissitudes and privations, to view portions of the world and participate in events which fall to the lot of few men. Mr Bald, who resides with his wife and daughter on Glen Osmond Rd, Eastwood, was born at Dunfermline. Fifeshire, Scotland, on December 27th 1835, has had an eventful career. He was a weaver by occupation, but that life did not appeal to him, and at an early age he ran off to sea. After many years spent before the mast, he permanently settled in Adelaide in 1860, and for the past 35 years has lived at Parkside.

Crimean memories

 After serving on a collier trading between Newcastle and London, Mr Bald joined the brig “Her Majesty”, of Whitby, and at this period the Crimean War broke out. The vessel was commissioned by the French Government to transfer a load of coal from Cardiff to Constantinople, but she went ashore in the Bristol Channel. This ship was the first vessel to tie up at the new dock at Cardiff in 1855. Discharging her coal, “Her Majesty” of Whitby, was chartered to convey troops and material for the fighting forces at the Crimea, and duly landed them at Commish Bay, about seven miles from Sevastopol. Mr Bald was in that port when the news of Lord Raglan’s death came through. There were scores of troopships lying at Commish Bay, and the injured were brought from Sevastopol, and thence transferred to Constantinople. Florence Nightingale had gained great prominence at this stage, and she had organised a hospital on the opposite side of the Bosporus, where the wounded received every attention. Mr Bald recalled a terrific gale in 1855 at Balaklava, in the Black Sea, when the “Granite City”, of Aberdeen, was the only vessel to successfully ride it out.

Marooned on an island

Another vessel in which Mr Bald sailed was the Ship “Port Jackson” of Port Jackson, belonging to Bobby Towns – ‘as pretty a vessel as ever left port’. While making a narrow passage at the Philippines, the little vessel struck a submerged rock and went down almost instantly and the crew of 20 had barely time to escape. They reached a small island in the ship’s boats, and had to remain there three months until they were taken back to Shanghai by a French ship. After a few days on shore the skipper proposed that he should make for Manila, ostensibly for assistance, and a special deck was constructed on what was known as the “long boat”. The second mate, the carpenter, and two coolies accompanied him, but no further tidings were heard of the party. As the Chinese pirates were prevalent just then, Mr Bald is of opinion that they were massacred. While trading between the Coorymurry Islands, in the Arabian Sea, for the Arabian Government on the “Caractacus”, of Liverpool, the veteran, with other Europeans, assisted to quell a mutiny among the coolies from their ships, when a conspiracy of massacre was frustrated. Mr Bald arrived in Australia in the “Granite City”, and his last connection with the sea was on a trading vessel named the “Uncle Tom”, plying between Sydney and Queensland.

An earlier account concerning George BALD was recorded in the South Australian Register on October 24 1855 and can be read here……