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Posted 5 years ago


(675 items)

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."

Unsolved Mystery

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  1. vetraio50 vetraio50, 5 years ago
    Many thanks mustangT and ttomtucker too!
  2. vetraio50 vetraio50, 5 years ago
    Many thanks blunderbuss and kerry10456 too!
  3. vetraio50 vetraio50, 5 years ago
    Many thanks Sean B!
    It's just such a great shot too!
    You get an idea of those broadside guns!
    It must have been like they arrived from another planet!
  4. vetraio50 vetraio50, 5 years ago
    There were also torpedo support ships in the Great White Fleet. But some of these battleships also had torpedo capabilities too!
    The USS Kansas was 16,000 tons, 74 guns, 450 feet in length and capable of 18 knots. She had four submerged torpedo tubes that could push out the new 21 inch turbine-driven torpedoes. And there were three of that class in the Fleet. The Kansas, the Vermont and the Minnesota. Imagine the sight of such power. The other postcard has two Australian guys in a rowing boat and then the US navy arrives ....
    it must have been like in that 2012 movie "Battleship"!
  5. vetraio50 vetraio50, 5 years ago
    "What can you do in a day?"
  6. toracat toracat, 5 years ago
    I think the main reason for this Far East Show was Japan, they had just defeated Russia in war, which shocked or surprised many countries in the world, Maybe we were saying, we with England will protect our interest, no kangaroo sushi in your future!
  7. vetraio50 vetraio50, 5 years ago
    I agree with you toracat.
    It was meant to impress the Japanese.
    The Great White Fleet just had 'attitude'.
    They defined the Pacific Rim.
    Look at that broadside of guns!
    Peleton naval diplomacy!
    Sixteen of them arrived in town at once ... and then there were the support ships. They were on tour.
    43 000 nautical miles!
    20 ports
    The first time anything like it had been done.
    It was an historic event.
  8. vetraio50 vetraio50, 5 years ago
    Many thanks walksoftly!
  9. vetraio50 vetraio50, 5 years ago
    Many thanks miKKo and Autumnal greetings from the Land of Oz!
  10. vetraio50 vetraio50, 5 years ago
    Many thanks Tonino and to you too SteveS!
  11. vetraio50 vetraio50, 5 years ago
    Many thanks Petey!
  12. vetraio50 vetraio50, 4 years ago
    Many thanks pw-collector!
  13. vetraio50 vetraio50, 4 years ago
    Many thanks mikelv85!
  14. vetraio50 vetraio50, 4 years ago
    Many thanks MANIKIN!
  15. vetraio50 vetraio50, 4 years ago
    Many thanks AGHCOLLECT!
    Strange you picked up on it today.
    Today is the beginning of a big naval event here in Sydney.
    An International Fleet Review.
    It celebrates 100 years of the Australian Navy.

    It might make news over the next couple of days.
    105 years after these photos.

    The weather has not been good for the start of it all.
    Very grey day!

  16. vetraio50 vetraio50, 4 years ago
    Many thanks VINTAGEFRAN!
  17. Roycroftbooksfromme1 Roycroftbooksfromme1, 4 years ago
  18. vetraio50 vetraio50, 4 years ago
  19. vetraio50 vetraio50, 4 years ago
    Many thanks TTOMTUCKER! More Fleet Stuff is happening today. The weather is fine and the warships are arriving in the Harbour for the big events to come.
  20. vetraio50 vetraio50, 4 years ago
    Warships to enter Sydney Harbour for Fleet Review
  21. vetraio50 vetraio50, 4 years ago
  22. Cpomedx Cpomedx, 3 years ago
    I have sepia photographs of long gone relatives posing on the ships of the white fleet when it visited Sydney.
    Being born in Sydney (first relatives arrived 1815), I miss the city constantly.
    I lived for a long time in Balmoral.
    Love the history in the post cards. Thanks
  23. vetraio50 vetraio50, 3 years ago
    Hi CPOMEDX! Balmoral is beautiful. Welcome to CW by the by.
  24. vetraio50 vetraio50, 3 years ago
    Many thanks POPS!!!
  25. Cpomedx Cpomedx, 3 years ago
    Did you have any insight into that lovely large piece of purple glass that you mentioned.
    That purple centrepiece.
  26. vetraio50 vetraio50, 3 years ago
    Many thanks TTOMTUCKER!!!
  27. vetraio50 vetraio50, 2 years ago
    Many thanks CAPERKID !!!!!!!

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