Introduction

A series of articles published in Shipping Today and Yesterday between October 2015 and February 2016 had described the Wartime career of Capt. Geoffrey Jameson serving on board five ships operated by Crest Shipping Company Limited. The 1966 edition of Ocean Ships, the starting point for the author’s recently published book on “Classic British Cargo Liners”, while not listing Crest Shipping, had included the less well known Cove Shipping Company Limited of Nassau, Bahamas, which, at that time, had owned three vessels, Orecrest, Skycrest and Tidecrest, together with another ship, Formentor, owned by the associated Argo Shipping Company Limited. Photographs of these ships proved to be scarce and their owners’ identities were unclear. Subsequent research, greatly assisted by the Croatian maritime historian Marijan Žuvić, has proved most enlightening. The owners of those three companies, along with several others, were Yugoslav nationals named Milica Banac (widow and second wife of Božo Banac) and Vane Ivanović.

Božo Banac

After completing a course in trade at Graz academy, Austria, Božidar (Božo) Banac, born at Dubrovnik in 1883, had moved in 1902 to Glasgow, where he formed good relations with Sir James Lithgow and the Royal Bank of Scotland, and in 1905 to London where he joined the Baltic Exchange and started his own company representing Dalmatian shipowners operating outside of the Adriatic and Mediterranean. Among these owners was Captain Ivo Račić (1845-1918) from Cavtat near Dubrovnik, whose daughter Marija became his first wife.

Once World War I had ended Božo Banac became a member of the SHS delegation to the Versailles Congress, supporting Ante Trumbić, foreign minister and merchant navy advisor. The Kingdom of SHS (Serbs, Croats and Slovenes), which was formed on 1st December 1918, was on 3rd October 1929 renamed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia by King Alexander I who was unfortunately assassinated in Marseille during a state visit to France in 1934. The delegation persuaded the Allies to put pressure on Italy to return all of the captured Austro-Hungarian ships owned by their people seized in the occupation of Rijeka, the Croatian Littoral and Dalmatia.

In June 1937 Božo Banac had been successful in obtaining loans from the Royal Bank of Scotland in order for Yugoslav Lloyd to buy the Sušak based company Jadranska Plovidba, which operated 55 ships on coastal services along the Yugoslav coast including the Adriatic islands. In addition he bought the companies Parobrodarsko Drustvo “Marovic” s.o.j., and Prekomorska Plovidba D.D., each the owner of five ships. Two of the latter company’s ships, Lika and Korana, were transferred to Crest Shipping in 1939/40 to become Milcrest and Oakcrest for operation by the British Ministry of War Transport (“MOWT”).

Božo Banac sadly died in New York in April 1945, leaving his shares in Crest Shipping to his second wife Milica.

PhotoTransport

Vane Ivanović

Born in Osijek, then in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Ivan Stevan (“Vane”) Ivanović (9th June 1913-4th April 1999), had entered the world of shipping through Božo Banac, his stepfather, and in 1937 became a director of Jugoslavenski Lloyd D.D. (“Yugoslav Lloyd”), at that time Yugoslavia’s largest shipping company.

Vane’s father, Ivan Rikard Ivanović, was a Vienna-educated lawyer, one of the founders of the National Progressive Party (NNS) and a deputy in Croatia’s Parliament and his mother, Milica Popović, a Croatian Serb, was also from a prominent political family but they had divorced when he was young. In 1921, after Vane’s mother had married Božo Banac, the family settled in London where Banac was managing the fleet of Atlantska Plovidba “Ivo Račić”. Vane received his education at Westminster School, London, and Peterhouse College, Cambridge, where he read Economics and became ardently pro-British. However, in 1933 he was obliged to return to Yugoslavia to serve nine months’ military conscription at the Cavarly School at Zemun, Belgrade. Following that experience, given the continuing world economic crisis, Banac sent Vane to the Trepča mine to improve business connections with its British owners and to gain knowledge of the work in the flotation mill near Sitnica river and in the zinc mines of Zletovo. In January 1935, Banac sent Vane to Southampton to oversee the work modernizing the former Royal Mail Liner Ebro which had been laid up for four years due to the economic crisis and had been purchased by Yugoslav Lloyd. In the autumn of 1935 Vane was sent to Buenos Aires as a “traveller-student” to join the vessel Marija Račić. In his memoirs, Vane revealed that working in Yugoslavia Lloyd’s office in Buenos Aires had motivated his career in shipping.

Vane Ivanović was also a renowned athlete, in the August 1936 Berlin Olympics running in both the 400m race and the 110m hurdles (see the table below) and, in both disciplines, achieving new Yugoslav records. However he may be best remembered for persuading the entire Yugoslav team to refuse to give the Nazi salute to Adolf Hitler!

In 1939 Vane Ivanović married June Fisher with whom he had two sons, Ivan Božidar (“Božo”), born in September 1940, and Andrija, and also one daughter, Milica. In 1967 Vane Ivanović was appointed by Prince Rainier III to the post of Consul General of Monaco in London, an honour to which, following his death in 1999, his son Božo has succeeded.

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