Capt. Arthur David LINKLATER

Captain Arthur David LINKLATER 1879 - 1955

Salving the S.S. Lotusmere (iii)

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In due course the salvage agents sought to reward those for saving their underwriters some thousands of pounds; the following ‘Extract from the Proceedings of the 1595th Meeting of the Commissioners for the Port of Calcutta’ held on 11th November 1915 containing Proposal paper No. 11 was forwarded to the “Commander, D.V. Retriever for information” 11. Letter dated the 26th October 1915, from Messrs. Gladstone Wyllie & Co., Agents, London Salvage Association, expressing the appreciation felt by the owners and under-writers of the S. S. Lotusmere of the services rendered by the officers and crew of the Commissioners' D. V. Retriever in connection with the salving of the former vessel and forwarding a cheque for Rs. 3,136 to be distributed among them. It is recommended that the acceptance of this bonus be sanctioned. And again, Resolution No. 447 received that most pleasing of verdicts “Sanctioned” - this time without any caveat. Indeed, the only caveat came from Arthur, who was dissatisfied with the proposed division of spoils. He explained his position in a letter dated 29 November 1915 to the deputy Conservator thus;


With reference to letter dated the 26th Oct. 1915 from Messrs. Gladstone Wyllie expressing the appreciation felt by the owners and underwriters of the S.S. Lotusmere of the services rendered by the Officers and crew of the Commissions D.V. retriever in connection with the salving of the former vessel, and forwarding a cheque for Rs. 3136 to be distributed among them & to your No. 4070 of the 10th inst with reference to [how] the money should be [rateably ?] divided among the officers and crew onboard the vessel at the time the salving of the Lotusmere was effected.

While thanking the owners and underwriters of the Lotusmere for the sum of money equivalent to one month's salary of the ship's company, I beg to ask you to reconsider its distribution. The award has been given for services out of the ordinary, which have been successfully carried out, and of which their whole success, or their failure rested wholly with the master of your vessel.

On the 27th Jan you recalled me to Calcutta and it is hardly necessary for me to say that to have returned would have eliminated at once my increased responsibility. It was myself who telegraphed to you asking for longer grace, and this I did through Lloyd's Agent and immediately you granted it I set about laying out moorings and anchors, to assist in the salving. I did the whole thing. Even it was my idea about laying out the chain moorings, and all this was done with my ship 200 feet from the surf on the beach, and with her broad side on to it. Had there been a mistake, my clear professional record would have been destroyed, and the salving by the Retriever would have been effected.

With the award everyone has been put on an equal footing, as if all had contributed equally in the salving: the Pantry boy in the pantry is equally awarded with the Master; which is hardly equitable. Consideration is given in Salvage awards to the Master, and then to the Crew, exceptions being made in individual special members cases.

I beg to ask you to turn to the case of the Rescue when she brought in the disabled S.S. Strathavon, and beg to quote:- “In the case of Capt. T.Parker who was in command of the Rescue, and had therefore the entire responsibility of the operations, it is proposed to apportion to him a sum equal to three times his monthly salary. Capt. McCullock was on board but had no responsibility; he worked as a watch keeper, and therefore has been apportioned a sum equal to one month's salary.” Exceptions were made with the other officers, and the crew otherwise were apportioned two months salary.

My position is identical with that of the master of the Rescue, as I had the entire responsibility of the operations. I trust the purport of my letter will not be misunderstood, and I don't ask you to grant to me any thing that some other person may have equal right to with myself, but I ask you to please reconsider if the award, as it stands, is as fair as you can make it.

I have the honour to be Sir ...

It is worth noting that the division of Prize Money in the Royal Navy was strictly according to rank. Typically, after 1808, when the regulations were changed, prizes were divided as follows:

  • The Flag Officer, if any, got 1/3 of whatever was due to the Captain
  • The Captain's share was 1/4 of the whole
  • Captains of Marines, Lieutenants, Masters, and Surgeons got 1/8 between them.
  • Lieutenants of Marines, Secretary to Flag Officer, Principal Warrant Officers, Chaplains also got 1/8 between them
  • Midshipmen, Inferior Warrant Officers, Principal Warrant Officer's Mates, Marine Sergeants and the rest of the crew got 1/2 between them

The principle of the thing cannot have been in doubt; the Naval precedent conferred a reward proportionate to the responsibility borne. Barring special rules of the Commissioners' to the contrary, which does not seem to have been the case, Arthur had right on his side.

On the 9 December 1915 Arthur drafted another short letter to the Commissioners but appears not to have sent it - why is unclear. A typed copy is pasted into the ‘Folio Commonplace Book’ but crossed through with a blue line and the words Not submitted added. The letter reads;


With reference to my [letter] of the 29th ultimo, I beg to attach a cutting from yesterday's daily paper, which bears out my statement, and affords an illustration of the degree of difference between the award of the Master and that of the Crew.

I have the honour to be Sir...

No cutting is attached but in ink across the bottom Arthur quoted the following;

“The Capt. has been awarded £500 sterling and a similar amount has been divided among the crew.”

If the Commissioners ever vouchsafed an answer to Arthur's special pleading I have no record of it. Did this ‘injustice’ rankle? Maybe. Was it the straw that broke the back of the man who had shipped more camels than I have had hot dinners? Possibly. But certain it is that early in July 1916 Arthur effectively “swallowed the anchor” when he wrote to the Commissioners for the Port of Calcutta asking for unpaid leave to take up trial employment in Bombay with Bomanji Dhunjibhoy, whom he does not name, but with whom he had been negotiating since at least May 1916. The Commissioners reply dated 20th July 1916 says; With reference to your memorandum No. 106 of the 6th July 1916, I beg to inform you that the Commissioners in Meeting on the 17th July sanctioned the grant to Captain A.D.Linklater of six months’ leave without pay with effect from 31st July 1916, and permitted him to take up an appointment with a private firm during this period. To which was added, on 22nd July 1916; This is to certify that Captain A.D.Linklater has been granted six months’ leave for the purpose of accepting employment in Bombay, but should he wish to return at the end of that period, he is at liberty to do so. In the event he did not wish to return, although within a few years he was heartily to wish that he had. Arthur and the Commissioners parted on amicable terms with the usual glowing testimonial which stated that ...he resigned of his own accord for the purpose of bettering himself. That may have been the purpose, but with hindsight conferring a clarity of vision that would be the envy of any mariner, it does not look that way at all.

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