George Bernard Musson
Life & Career
Prior to the First World War, Musson had been Master of the merchantman S.S. Henley. The Henley was at San Francisco, California when the famous earthquake destroyed most of the city on 18 April, 1906. Three days later he wrote a letter to his mother describing the disaster:
My dearest Mother,
...If you picture the scenes described and imagine the horrors a thousand times greater you will still know less than I have personally witnessed. The shock threw me from side to side in my bed and I thought our engines were blown up until I reached the deck and even in that short space of time smoke was breaking out from 100 places in the town and of course all water conduits were destroyed so that little could be done to save the city from the terrific sea of flames which swept and roared from block to block....
This is the most hideous catastrophe that has ever happened to any city and thousands still be buried beneath the smoldering ruins. I have got a large number of homeless people aboard and the tales of woe are fit to break any human heart….
One sweet old lady onboard saved only her umbrella and a cage of pet canaries together with the clothes she wears. Others have nothing but what they had time to put on, motherless children and childless women are here, the old and aged and young are all here, high born and low are all one class and I shame to say it, but the women are more cheerful in all their grief than the men....
I have been condensing day and night and have supplied tens of thousands with water to drink. Fancy people walking miles and miles through blazing streets to get a drink of water and a bite to eat....
Oh, the brave deeds will never be all known and neither will the despicable nature of others. Justice is swift and sure now and all are shot down on sight who refuse to work when called upon, or thieves, or for molesting women.From Poor Old Burns
Kenneth M. Greig
|Captain of H.M.S. Clonmel
23 Aug, 1918
- The 1906 Earthquake: Eyewitness Accounts: NPR
- Sub-Lieutenant (A) John Bernard Musson ( - 1941) - Find-a-Grave Memorial
- The Navy List. (September, 1919). p. 758.