24 January 1919 diary of Dr John Stewart Muir (1845-1938) of Selkirk

Weather I.S.Q.1 Alexr Mitchell [?] came in with lacerated finger which I dressed. P.C. [post card] from Dora dated 22nd off English coast on her way to Cherbourg in the “Western Australia”2. Absolutely no country work. Walked to Curror Street + Hospital + saw 8 cases. Was called over to the Victoria Hall to a soldier who had a compound fracture of leg got while walking [?] Sent him over to Hawick Hospital. Worked away at the accounts. Jean [Muir] had Mrs Mackintosh + her niece, Cath Smith, Norah + Mr Ross at tea. My cough very nasty.

1 I.S.Q. In Statu Quo – Latin: in the same state; unchanged

2 States Ship Western Australia “… was the third vessel in the [West Australian] Stateships fleet. Originally built for the Tsar of Russia [as Mongolia] she was a hospital vessel in the Russo-Japanese War. After serving on the W.A. coast between 1912 and 1916 she was used by the British Admiralty as a hospital ship. She was sold to shipbreakers in 1935.”1 The whole States Ship enterprise was controversial, pitting the State against commercial lines such as that of Sir Malcolm Donald McEacharn (1852-1910), Australian shipping magnate#, but a large part of the S.S. Western Australia’s failure in her States Ship role was a huge appetite for coal2. In 1919, not long after Dora Muir’s journey, the West Australian newspaper reported “rumours of changes in connection with the State Steamship Service, and it has been stated that the Government had disposed of the S.S. Western Australia at a satisfactory figure. The vessel, which was purchased for work on the North-West coast, proved unsuitable for that purpose and she was chartered by the Imperial Government for cross Channel work as a hospital ship.”3 A sad part of the ship’s story was the sinking of HMS Hazard, a former Dryad-Class Torpedo Gunboat, built 1894 at Pembroke Dockyard and later converted to a submarine depot ship; she was lost on 2 January 1918 when accidently rammed by S.S. Western Australia while she was operating as a casualty clearing ship4.

# for a small coincidence see Dr Muir’s reference to an “Australian Merchant” in 22 September 1918 diary of Dr J S Muir of Selkirk http://heritagehub.tumblr.com/post/178340204429/22-september-1918-diary-of-dr-j-s-muir-of-selkirk


1 Stephens, Alan M, The Stateships story: 1912-1977 http://innopac.slwa.wa.gov.au/record=b2215660

2 Walker, Bill. “WESTERN AUSTRALIA’S COASTAL SHIPPING: GOVERNMENT VERSUS PRIVATE ENTERPRISE PART TWO: 1908-1914.” The Great Circle, vol. 30, no. 2, 2008, pp. 77–101. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/41563272

3 ‘S.S. Western Australia Rumoured Sale By The Government’ In The West Australian, 1 April 1919



Image is from the Izzy Orloff collection, courtesy of the State Library of Western Australia, reference: image number: 112383PD / BA1059/1456

Source: Scottish Borders Archives & Local History Service SBA/657/22, Dr J S Muir of Selkirk, medical practitioner, journal for 1919]

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Archivist, interests include Dr John Stewart Muir 1845-1938) of Selkirk, general practitioner, and Seton Paul Gordon (1886–1977), naturalist, author and photographer

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