Among the passengers joining the Wimmera on her final voyage to Sydney were several large and small family groups.

The Davidson family

John Davidson, the [former] managing-director of the firm Oliphants Ltd of London and Edinburgh, publishers of religious tracts, was accompanied by his wife Frances and their seven children, John, (17); Frank (15); Violet (13), Hugh (11); Robert (9) and twins, Sheila and Allister (7). Accompanying the Davidson were two maids, the sisters Misses Janet and Mary McEdward. John Davidson had also consigned a large quantity of goods aboard the ship – 80 packages of effects. The family had originally set out for New Zealand from Plymouth, England on 1st February 1917 aboard the New Zealand Shipping Co’s Turakina and had arrived at Tauranga, New Zealand on 22 March 1917.

R.M.S. "TURAKINA" New Zealand Shipping Co.
R.M.S. “TURAKINA” New Zealand Shipping Co.
Postcard. Author’s Collection

The Croft family

Mrs. Croft and her six children, rescued from the steamer Wimmera.
Mrs. Croft and her six children, rescued from the steamer Wimmera.
“Thrilling Escape from a Sinking Steamer.” The World’s News (Sydney, NSW : 1901 – 1955) 27 July 1918: 9. Web. 9 Jun 2020 <;.

Another large family on board was that of Mrs Hilda Croft, the wife of Alfred John Croft, then master of Huddart Parker’s SS Barwon. She was returning to Australia with her family of six children – Amy Jean (15), Enid Hilda (15), Alfred John (13), William Francis (9), Gladys Ethel (7) and Sally Helen (4). The family had lived in Burgess Road, Devonport but were moving back to [their home in Neutral Bay, Sydney].

The Giblin family

The Giblin family of four from Wellington were on their way to Australia for holidays. Recently married 48-year old William John Giblin, his 33 year-old wife Myra and her two young children, Leslie (7) and Annie (3). The past two years had not been kind to Myra. In May of 1916 her former husband, James Daley, had suffered serious injuries due to an accident aboard the ship Ngapuhi and as a result had amputations to both legs. In early August 1916 he died and Myra had miscarried the couple’s third child. As Mrs Giblin, the family’s trip to Australia would once again test Myra, although the potential dangers of the crossing may have been of little concern as they eventually boarded the ship on Auckland’s wharves.

The Brownings

There were several mothers travelling with their daughters – 62-year old widow Mrs Elizabeth Ann Browning and her adult daughter Elsie May (31) of Melbourne were returning to Australia after a two-month holiday in New Zealand, with the past two weeks spent in Auckland. They were also travelling with a friend, 53-year old Emma Jane Whyte, of Armadale, Melbourne.

The McDonalds

Mrs Carrie Naomi McDonald (33) was accompanied by her 11 year old daughter, Monica. She was the wife of William McDonald, a bookmaker, of Te Kuiti. Born in Ballarat, Victoria in 1882 Carrie Naomi Hewitt had come to New Zealand where she was married on 21 September 1903. The family had resided in Blenheim yet by 1911 had moved to Te Kuiti.

The Jones

Australian-born Mrs Minnie (Madeline Josephine) JONES was accompanied by her adult daughter Thelma (aka Henrietta T.) (25). Their husband and father Henry E. JONES was manager of the Gisborne branch of the firm Sargood, Son & Ewen’s. Mother and daughter had arrived in Auckland from Gisborne aboard the Arahura and were joining the Wimmera for Sydney due to news that Minnie’s sister was dangerously ill.

The Schubergs

The youngest passenger was Oscar Alexander Schuberg, who was aged about nine months old. He was with his mother Irene Schuberg (nee Croll) who was to visit family in Australia.

Feature image:
Taken from the supplement to the Auckland Weekly News 4 July 1918 p031
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19180704-31-1

© Ralph L. Sanderson 2004-2021