As Aquitania neared Europe in mid-July 1928, the Commodore was heard to murmur, "I never realized how hard the parting would be" to his staff captain. Sir James was convinced of his imminent death.
Thelwell, a junior officer on that voyage, describes what happened at Cherbourg, France on July 15, 1928:
[Sir James] was obviously unwell but refused the pleas of his officers and the doctor to leave the bridge. He docked the ship but immediately had a severe internal hæmorrhage. On the short passage from Cherbourg he became worse and he was carried down the gangway unconscious at Southampton with only a few hours to live. He was a truly modest man. His headstone in the churchyard of the little village of Netley Marsh in the New Forest bears only his name and the dates of his birth and death.
It seems that the Commodore's premonition was indeed correct. Is there something about the sea that warns its servants of their coming deaths? This surely ranks as an interesting instance in the long - and sometimes bizarre - history of ocean travel.
References: Commodore Robert G. Thelwell, I Captained the Big Ships (London: Arthur Barker Limited, 1961), 36-37.