Posted 12 months ago
This is the second of two Johnson Studios postcards of the Great White Fleet. This one is in good unused condition and has an amazing view of three of the American battleships. As yet I am still unsure about the identity of the ships but I suspect that it is the Connecticut in the foreground. Any comments re the identity of the ships is welcomed.
The Great White Fleet is the nickname of a fleet of sixteen gleaming white American battleships that arrived here in Sydney in 1908 as part of an around the world show of force by the US Navy.
This card is one of two that I have from an Australian set celebrating the event. It was collected by Maude Lankester. This one was not used. The photo was taken by William Johnson I believe and was put into production immediately for sale to the US sailors and the Australian population eager to buy souvenirs of this historic event.
On the reverse of my two cards is the identity of the studio that produced them. They are by “The Johnson Studios, Pitt & Market Sts”, Sydney, Australia. I believe the firm was run by Johnson, William, (1897-1921). The full address is W. Johnson, Bank Chambers, 61 Pitt St., Sydney.
Title: American Fleet anchoring in Sydney Harbour, Ausgust 20th 1908
Photographer: Johnson, William (1897-1921)
Publisher: The Johnson Studios, Pitt & Market Sts”, Sydney, Australia.
Year: August 1908
Size: 14.1cm x 9cm (5½" x 3½")
Description: black and white photo card with three battleships at anchor.
Materials: paper, ink.
Associated place and context: “For the next eight days, there was a non-stop celebration in honor of the Navy visitors.
With all this celebrating, some of the crewmen were beginning to feel the wear and tear. One sailor was found asleep on a bench in one of Sydney's parks. Not wishing to be disturbed, he posted a sign above his head which read:
Yes, I am delighted with the Australian people.
Yes, I think your park is the finest in the world.
I am very tired and would like to go to sleep.
Being truly hospitable, Sydney let him sleep.
“As coal burning ships with manually stoked boilers; nearly 2/3rds of each ship’s company were stokers, whose primary duty was simply to shovel coal into the ranks of boilers within each ship. Coal, commonly referred as "black diamonds," was the ship’s sole source of power. Ships would normally go into port and take on coal every two weeks. "Coaling ship" was an all hands evolution and a dirty job. It could take over a day to coal a ship. Afterward, the crew would spend several more days cleaning the ship, inside and out, fore and aft, since coal dust settled everywhere.
A member of the "black gang" on the battleship Connecticut described coaling day. "Our ship held about 2,000 tons of the stuff. All the deckhands would go down into the collier (coal supply ship) and fill these big bags with about 500 pounds. Then they’d hoist ’em over to us down in the coal bunkers and we’d spread out the coal with shovels until all the bunkers - about 20 - were full to the top."