A.L. Morse

Estimate: $400 - $800

Lot Description

A.L. Morse, the 'Niagara', watercolour on paper, signed, dated 1934 and entitled 'Niagra -- Honolulu-Hawaiian-Islands', 490 x 560mm. Note: RMS Niagara was an ocean liner launched on 17 August 1912 and owned by the Union Steam Ship Company intended for the Australia-Vancouver, Canada service.[1] She was nicknamed "the Titanic of the Pacific", but after the sinking of the real RMS Titanic this was dropped in favour of "Queen of the Pacific". She should not be confused with an earlier RMS Niagara, an ocean liner built in 1848 for the Cunard Line. At the start of World War II, RMS Niagara was operated by the Canadian-Australasian Line, maintaining a service from Auckland, New Zealand, to Suva and Vancouver. On 19 June 1940 she was under the command of Captain William Martin and had just left Auckland when, off Bream Head, Whangarei at 3.40 am, she struck a mine laid by the German auxiliary cruiser Orion and sank in 121 metres (70 fathoms) of water at 5.32 am.[3] The mines were part of an extensive field of moored contact-type mines laid by the Orion on the night of 13–14 June, and a further three mines were disposed of by minesweepers in the area. No lives were lost, and the few injuries were minor. The process of abandoning the ship was aided by electric lighting which remained functional during the evacuation. A secret and large consignment of gold from the Bank of England was in Niagara's strong room and went down with the ship. There were 295 boxes, each containing two ingots of gold (590 ingots total), valued at £2,500,000.[4] The gold was payment from the United Kingdom to the United States, which had not yet entered the war, for munitions supplies.