I’ve managed to trace my family back to John Woodland, who was born around 1610, near Newport Pagnell.
His grandson, Richard, married Mary Exon, a girl from Ware in Herts , which is 50 miles (80 km) from Newport Pagnell. The distance today is less than an hours drive, so to marry someone so far away in the 1600’s must have been a huge challenge. Later members of the family grew up and married for generations in and around Ware, Hertford and later St Albans, which is ‘only’ 17 miles from Ware.
As time passes I noticed that certain male Christian names are repeated time and time again – Robert, William, Thomas, and Frederick.
My father was Robert William, my grandfather was Frederick, my great grandfather was Robert, my great uncle was Robert William – perhaps the family lacked imagination until my mother was allowed to name me, and my father was allowed to pick the spelling of my Christian name.
Earlier this year Maureen & I visited Perth, Western Australia, and during our short stay we visited, with friends who lived in Perth, the maritime museum in Fremantle.
Picture from the Maritime Museum web site.
We arrived late in the afternoon and the guide said that the museum would be closing in thirty minutes and perhaps we should just visit the submarine display on the ground floor.
We were happy to just brows around and I wandered over to the display for HMA (His Majesty’s Australian) submarine AE1, which had been built in Barrow in Furness and launched in May 1913.
She was the first of two E class submarines built for the Australian navy.
726 tonnes submerged and 599 tonnes on the surface. She could do 10 kts submerged and 15 kts on the surface. Her range at 10 kts was 3,225 nm.
AE1 along with AE2 sailed to Australia and reached Sydney in May 1914. AE1 had a mixed crew of Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy.
On the 4th August 1914 Britain declared war on Germany, because German had invaded Belgium, so as to attack France. As part of the British Commonwealth, Australia followed suite declaring war on Germany and offering support to the British, which was accepted on the 6th August.
At the outbreak of war AE1 joined naval units to capture a German Pacific colony, German New Guinea, just a few miles north of Australia.
Dennis Adams painting (1983) illustrates AE1 at sea.
AE1 took part in the German New Guinea operation and was in attendance when the Germans surrendered at Rabaul on the 13th September 1914.
Next day AE1 rendezvoused with HMAS Parramatta (destroyer) and patrolled St George’s channel. HMAS Parramatta advised AE1 that she was to patrol north east and that Parramatta would patrol to the south. The weather was hazy and later in the day AE1 asked about visibility (she being very low in the water her horizon was limited) and Parramatta reported that is was about five miles. About 3.20 pm Parramatta lost sight of AE1 and being concerned, steamed to her last known position.
There wasn’t any sign of the submarine so Parramatta considered that AE1 had returned to port without informing Parramatta.
By 8.00 pm authorities were concerned that AE1 was over due and order several ships to search for her. She has never been found, nor any sign of her, not even the smallest sign of an oil slick.
AE1 had three officers and thirty two sailors.
The above is a brief outline of AE1 the ship and I found it all very interesting. I then moved over to the display of letters, photographs and paperwork relating to AE1 – and that was when I found something – a crew list, and listed among the crew was Frederick William Woodland AB, ex Royal Navy.
A photograph of Fred W. Woodland
There were also a letter of condolences from Winston Churchill, (he was First Lord of the Admiralty at the time), letter of condolence from the Australian High Commission in London.
A scroll of remembrance
I have tried to find a link between Bognor (now Bognor Regis) and Ware or St Albans, but have failed.
On our return from Western Australia I did manage to find the address of where Helen Woodland lived in 1914, but for some reason I can’t find it now!
an interesting link
Wrapped in the ocean boundless
Where the tides are scarcely stirred
In deeps that are still and boundless,
They perished unseen, unheard …
From ‘Missing’ by Will Lawson, 1914
The submarine AE1 still hasn’t been found.
Helen Woodland moved to Canada in 1921, and she kept all of the documents relating to her husband’s death. These paper passed to her daughter, Annie, and Annie’s son visited Australia in 2001.and was moved by the display in the Maritime Museum about AE1.
On his return to Canada he persuaded his mother to donate all of the papers relating to the Frederick William Woodland to the Australian Maritime Museum, and it was these paper that I read when in Fremantle.