The recent series of Ships We Forgot to Remember, TSS Wahine, brought to mind the telling of a friend’s experience on the last voyage of that lovely ship.
Frank Synnott was, I believe, an Electrical Engineer at that time. Frank had an amazing life, electrician, Marine Engineer on the Sir Thomas Hiley, a Queensland Government dredge which operated along the coast, a crop duster pilot in Central America and Africa, and simply a great man to know.
Frank related the story that the boats were all off the stranded Wahine and someone remembered they had not seen Frank. Again the Wahine was boarded and Frank was found asleep in his cabin. When woken and told of the situation, he got out of his bunk and his feet were in water.
The story that Frank loved to tell and was not in the article was the large cargo of beer that was also lost. When the Wahine was in Cairns it took on, I believe, 4,500 cases of the local beer and if my memory is correct it was donated for the troops in Japan & Korea, by the local brewer. The local islanders would not allow any of the beer to be offloaded, as alcohol was against their religious beliefs. However, it was fairly well known that much of it was looted by the same locals.
JOHN A GATES
5 Windermere Tower
27 Harbour Rd, Hamilton
Qld 4007, Australia