THANKS TO MURRAY ROBINSON for his comprehensive article on the old Scots built New Zealand coaster Claymore, and the Niagara’s gold. Be assured that the Claymore and the Niagara’s gold is not forgotten. A brand new museum is now being built at Mangawhai, Northland, New Zealand, which will feature the Niagara incident, and the role played by the Claymore, in a large exhibit.
Mangawhai is one of the closest points on the North Island to the point near the Hen and Chicken Islands where the Niagara sank after sailing to into a German mine field during the Second World War. A lot has been written about the incident in newspapers, several books about New Zealand shipwrecks and also books about the Union Steam Ship Company Ltd, the Niagara’s owners. A fairly recent television documentary was made and the Hydrographic Branch of the Royal New Zealand Navy fairly recently surveyed the Niagara’s wreckage and produced underwater scans of her ghostly remains.
Today it is unimaginable that such a decaying wreck as the Claymore should have been used to raise such a valuable gold bullion cargo, but in war time New Zealand there was a heavy demand to supply war time auxiliaries to the Navy. Captain Williams and his crew may not have received the official recognition for their gutsy efforts in getting the gold ashore they deserved, but in war time acts of bravery were a daily occurrence and unfortunately the Merchant Navy always seemed to be far lower in the pecking order when it came to dishing out medals. At the time the New Zealand Navy was just a division of the Royal Navy so if there was any recognition for medals it probably had to be passed on to the Admiralty in London, and with the Battle for the Atlantic on their hands anything going on in New Zealand may have seemed a remote side show to them. A copy of Murray’s worthy article will go into the Mangawhai Museum and I suspect also to the New Zealand National Maritime Museum.
21 Pearson Street, Mangawhai 0505
Kaipara, New Zealand
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