Leaden skies cover my sixth boro today, a dour sign leading me to the Gmelin collection and the grim discovery that well over a third of the photos of shipping represented in his photos from the 1930s by a decade later were sunk or scuttled as fanaticism drew the world into war.  Take this photo taken in 1931.  To situate the photo in the sixth boro, note the Stevens Mansion–demolished in 1959– just above the stern of the ship.  Nerissa was launched in Scotland in 1926, ran between NYC–St. Johns NF until 1931, when she ran between NYC and the Caribbean.  Her end came in 1941, when she was torpedoed off Ireland by U-552, on her 40th crossing with mostly Canadian troops from Halifax to Europe.  The number of souls lost was 207.

nerissa

Here’s another victim, Empress of Britain taken in 1932.  You can see the Empire State Building less than a year “topped-out” at this time. Empress of Britain made its first crossing from Southampton to Quebec City in spring 1931.  Here she was likely completing her first visit to the sixth boro, headed for Southampton to complete her first trip around the world. In November 1939 she was requisitioned as troop transport.  Less than a year later she too was sunk by a combination of a German bomber and U-boat.    She was the largest Canadian-owned merchant vessel lost in WW2;  beyond that, she was the largest ship sunk by a WW2 submarine.  For others, click here.

empressbrit

 

I’ll be looking for sunshine in the next days and longer.