Murder at Breakfast - By Commodore Oliver Lindsay
The 16th August 1959 found the M.S. New Westminster City berthed below the cliffs at Rosario, on the River Parana, loading general cargo which included several large parcels of bagged sunflower expellers.
The second day of loading opened sunny and mild, a beautiful winter morning and a promise of a good loading day. At about 0740 hours the stevedores led by their foreman and his son descended the cliff face by means of the steel stairway on the cliff face and strolled the 200 yards or so to the ship’s accommodation ladder. The foreman accompanied by his son started climbing the ship’s ladder followed by the stevedores. One of the stevedores standing on the wharf shouted up to the foreman ”have you ordered extra stitchers for repairing the broken bags containing expellers?”. The foreman with a wave of his hand dismissed the question, for which he paid with his life. In the hand of the stevedore on the wharf appeared a pistol, he fired two shots, the first struck the foreman in the head and he died instantly on the gangway, the second shot fatally wounded the foreman’s son who fell from the gangway onto the wharf and died two hours later in hospital. The murderer turned and ran to the cliff and ascended the stairway and disappeared. Soon police, doctor and ambulances arrived and attended to the incident formalities.
At the time of the incident I was standing at the top of the gangway waiting for the foreman to board to discuss stowage, rather too close to the victims for comfort.
Normality was soon restored. The gangway seacunny for the second time within an hour scrubbed the accommodation ladder down to remove the blood etc. The ensign was lowered to fly at half mast. The butler beat the gong for a late breakfast. No loading was performed for the next two days out of respect for the two men who had died.
Up to the time of sailing the murderer had not been found, however I learnt from officials that twelve months previously he shot and killed another man. Apparently he was a member of a wealthy family who paid a very substantial fine in lieu of a long jail sentence for homicide.
Some readers may well remember Rosario and the berths under the cliffs.
Commodore Oliver Lindsay
Mem No. 4.