When a King Comes Visiting: King Robert at Bush Point

If you look closely at the prow of the freighter in this photo, you'll see the British crew waving at the people gathered on the beach below the giant ship stranded on the sand. The freighter King Robert ran aground near Bush Point over three years after the United States entered World War II in December 1941.

The crew wouldn’t have known that the photographer was Charles Farmer, one of South Whidbey Island’s important citizens. Farmer wouldn’t have known that he was photographing a ship that had taken the place of an earlier King Robert merchant ship which had been sunk by German U-boats on January 29, 1941. 

Farmer, a S’Klallam Tribe member, was born in Bush Point, Whidbey Island, on July 13, 1884. In the book, Resorts of South Whidbey Island published in 2013, author William Haroldson provides an entertaining account of Farmer’s life and his family’s importance to the area. In 1932, Farmer was the first to establish a fishing resort on South Whidbey Island. For many years, the fishing resorts were of significant importance to Island economy.

Farmer was a busy man, yet in 1944 amidst a world at war, he stopped to take a photograph of friendly British sailors waving hello to the people of Bush Point. It was a day to remember.

To view more photos from our past, visit our online historic photo archive.