Bermuda Thanksgiving Stowaway Saga

November 24, 2011

An eight-year-old American schoolboy’s irritation that Bermuda did not observe the Thanksgiving holiday — being celebrated in the US today [Nov. 24] — led to a kidnapping scare which made front page news around the world in 1934.

Carroll Wainwright — whose stepfather was locally-based British shipping magnate Sir Hector MacNeal — ran away from home and then stowed away on a luxury liner to get back to the US after he was told there was no day off for Thanksgiving at his Bermuda school.

Given his mother was also a granddaughter of billionaire American railroad developer and speculator Jay Gould, it was initially speculated the boy — who became known as “The Silk-Stockinged Stowaway” in the American press — had been kidnapped from his Bermuda home.

Kidnappings for ransom were not uncommon during the Great Depression, the most famous case being the 1932 abduction — and subsequent killing — of the infant son of pioneering aviator Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

“But Carroll had actually secreted himself aboard the ‘Queen of Bermuda’ at Hamilton, Bermuda and his absence from home created a short-lived kidnapping scare,” reported the Associated Press on November 30, 1934. “When he was found in the New York-bound ship arrangements were made by wireless for payment of his passage.”

The great Furness Withy ocean liner “Queen of Bermuda” made her maiden voyage to the island in 1933.  Upgraded and modernised in 1961, the ship wasn’t taken out of service until 1965.

The “Queen Of Bermuda” In Hamilton Harbor

When the “Queen of Bermuda” berthed in New York, he boy shouted to his grandmother from the liner: “Hello, grandma, are you mad with me.

“Not a bit,” Mrs. Carl F. Wooly replied, “just glad to see you.”

“Gee, I had a swell time,” the excited boy continued. “I was on the bridge lots of times: I examined the instruments and steered the ship. The captain is a grand guy.”

Carroll Wainwright told his grandmother he was irked with his Bermuda school’s failure to give him the day off for Thanksgiving so he decided to take matters into his own hands and get back to the US so he “could be with American kids like me.”

After the ship had departed from Bermuda, he had emerged from the cabin in which he had hidden and let Captain Jeffries Davis know he was aboard the “Queen.”

The captain wired his distraught family in Bermuda to let them know he was safe.

“It was jolly having him aboard,” said Captain Davis. “He is a bright sturdy lad and I had him with me throughout the voyage.”

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