Monday, October 18, 2010

Jock Hume

Sorry for the delay in the writeup on the Person-of-Mystery.  I'm still unpacking from our Boy Scout campout this past weekend.  Blogger allows me to schedule a post date for my entries and I posted Hume before I left, but didn't get back until later on Sunday.

I couldn't figure out if a minor Titanic figure would be easy or not, apparently I'll need to up my game for this upcoming weekend.  Good job again Roger!

Recently, a teacher friend of mine was lamenting the increasing pressure being put on teachers.  I agree with the poor fellow.  I'm working myself silly and it feels like the harder I work, the more it seems is required of me.  We have six candidates running for our local school board and all six favor pay cuts in teacher salary next year, so unfortunately, next year is not looking so bright either.  During our conversation, my friend used the phrase, "You can't get blood from a stone," in reference to our situation.

(Titanic Musicians)

For whatever reason, it sparked in my memory the story of Jock Hume and his poor father.  Jock as you are aware was a violinist on the Titanic.  He was awakened the night of the collision and asked to quickly dress and come join the rest of the orchestra up on the deck to help calm passengers with his music.

By all accounts, the musicians performed with great courage and continued playing until the ship went under.  The public was greatly moved by the valor of these musicians.  As the bodies were recovered, there was an outpouring of emotion in the newspapers of the day.  It is estimated that 40,000 people attended the funeral of the band's director and a number of memorials were set up in their memory.

(Titanic Musicians Memorial in Southampton, England)

Jock Hume's body was later recovered by the MacKay Bennett and was logged as body 193.  He was still wearing his musician's uniform.

What many people don't know is that a couple weeks after Jock died, on April 30, 1912, Jock's father Andrew was sent the following note from C.W. & F.N. Black, a firm that had been contracted to provide musicians for the ocean liners:

Dear Sir:
We shall be obliged if you will remit us the sum of 5s. 4d., which is owing to us as per enclosed statement. We shall also be obliged if you will settle the enclosed uniform account.
Yours faithfully,
C.W. & F.N. Black

Yes, they were asking for remittance for the uniform Jock was wearing when he died playing on the Titanic.  Jock's pay was 4 pounds a month and no uniform allowance.

Two years elapsed until the Hume family was visited with more tragic news.  In 1914, word was given to the family that Jock's sister, Grace Hume, was killed by Germans while working as a nurse in Belgium.  It was said that she was tortured to death and papers like The Star published accounts like the following from September 16, 1914:

News has reached Dumfries of the shocking death of a Dumfries young woman, Nurse Grace Hume, who went out to Belgium at the outbreak of war. Nurse Hume was engaged at the camp hospital at Vilvorde, and she was the victim of horrible cruelty at the hands of German soldiers. Her breasts were cut off and she died in great agony. Nurse Hume's family received a note written shortly before she died. It was dated September 6th, and ran: “Dear Kate, this is to say good-bye. Have not long to live. Hospital has been set on fire.

Germans cruel.
A man here had his head cut off. My right breast has been taken away. Give my love to --- Good-bye, Grace.” Nurse Hume's left breast was cut away after she had written the note. She was a young woman of twenty-three and was formerly a nurse in Huddersfield Hospital.

Nurse Mullard, of Inverness, delivered the note personally to Nurse Hume's sister at Dumfries. She was also at Vilvorde, and she states that Nurse Hume acted the part of a heroine. A German attacked a wounded soldier whom Nurse Hume was taking to hospital. The nurse took his gun and shot the German dead.

This proved further evidence that Britain was justified in its declaration of war against Imperial Germany.  Kate Hume, Jock's younger sister produced several letters including this one from Grace:

Dear Kate, — This is to say “Goodbye.” Have not long to live. Hospital has been set on fire. Germans cruel. A man here has had head cut off. My breast taken away. Give my love to —. Goodbye, Grace.

and another from a friend of Grace in Belgium:

To Miss Hume –

I have been asked by your sister, Miss Grace Hume, to hand the enclosed letter to you. My name is nurse Mullard, and I was with your sister when she died. Our camp hospital at Vilvorde was burnt to the ground and out of 1,517 men and 23 nurses only 19 nurses were saved, but 149 men managed to get away.

Grace requested me to tell you that her last thoughts were of ---- and you, and that you are not to worry over her. She would be going to meet her Jock. These were her last words. She endured great agony in her last hours.

One of the soldiers (our men) caught two German soldiers in the act of cutting off her left breast, her right one having already been cut off. They were killed instantly by our soldiers. Grace managed to scrawl this enclosed note before I found her, but we all say that your sister was a heroine.

She was out on the fields looking for wounded soldiers and on one occasion when bringing in a wounded soldier a German attacked her. She threw the soldier’s gun at him and shot him with her rifle. Of course all nurses here are armed.
I have just received word this moment to pack for Scotland. Will try to get this handed to you as there is no post from here, and we are making the best of a broken-down wagon truck for a shelter. Will give you fuller details when I see you. We are all quite safe now as there have been reinforcements.”

What was not realized at the time was that the whole report was a hoax concocted by none other than Jock's younger sister Kate Hume (17 at the time of the hoax).  Andrew Hume had contacted the Home Office to verify the letters and the report, but news of the Belgian horrors had already reached the newspapers.  Soon thereafter, Mr. Hume received a telegram informing him that his daughter Grace was safe and no such incidents had ever occurred.  Grace followed up the telegram with a personal letter apologizing for her father's distress and concerned how anyone could know so many personal details about her time in Belgium.

Shortly thereafter, Kate Hume was put on trial for fabricating stories about her sister.  After an emotional trial in which she pled adolescent hysteria, she was found guilty but allowed to be released based upon her already three month imprisonment.

Many attributed Kate's desire for attention to the same attention paid to her brother Jock at the time of his death.  Others believed her sincerely deranged and the sudden loss of contact with sister Grace as something akin to her suddenly losing Jock.

Either way, I feel strong sympathy for Andrew Hume who had to endure his son's untimely death, then the prospect of his daughter's torture, then the embarrassment of a public trial for a crazed daughter.  How very tragic.


Astrocrabpuff said...

Andrew Hume did not have it easy. Thank you for posting this story of his family.

I worked in a school where the children littered the school yard with all the plastics from their lunches. The principal wanted the children to clean up some of the mess they were making but the parents vetoed this, claiming that the principal was endangering the health of the children with this request. No thought was given to the work of the sole caretaker or to the health of the children with their garbage left all over the yard.

Good luck in the next while as a teacher. If anything I've learned how little people want to pay for such an essential service and give those providing the service very little respect, and yet they demand the very best from educators who are also expected to act as babysitters.

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Anonymous said...

...and prior to all this, Andrew was in the middle of a nasty court battle with Jock's girlfriend Mary Costin-who was expecting Jock's child and was applying for help from Andrew's estate. How very sad.

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