Just William

It is fifty years since Richmal Crompton died at the age of 78 in 1969. Her original idea was to write stories of children for adults, but they ended up becoming favourites of the children instead, and still are today.

Over 12 million copies of her books were sold in the UK, at the time only the Bible outsold this author. Her books were translated in to 17 languages.

Richmal Crompton wrote 39 ‘William’ books and the final one was published posthumously.

My first ‘William’ book was given to me as a present for Christmas when I was about nine or ten.

01The Fourth

Published 1924 – the 4th book in the series

Entertainment for children was not electronic (unless you had an electric train set), because children were expected to read and amuse themselves, unless they could persuade an adult to play snakes and ladders or some other boardgame. At least I managed to learn how to play Cribbage, because it was one of Dad’s favourite card games.

‘William’ our hero, was eleven when I first met him in the pages of William-The Fourth. He never grew a day older during all our time together. Each chapter of the book was a new adventure for William and his friends, known as the ‘Outlaws’.

William and his friends came from affluent families, I suppose one would say ‘upper middle class’, because the house in which he lived was detached, with a large garden and Mr Brown (William’s father) caught the train each day to go to ‘town’ i.e London. Mr Brown must have had a good job because the family employed a cook, a maid and part-time gardener.
His home couldn’t have further from my own home, which was a terraced house, without a bathroom, but with an outside toilet. Yet the idea of living in a home that was William’s, just fired one’s imagination.

Birkenhead

The house where I lived when I discovered the William books, was something like the photograph above – the whole neighbourhood was demolished in 1970, and redeveloped.

The cost of a new William book in the mid 1950’s was 7/6d (seven shillings and six pence), so with 6d (six pence) a week pocket money it would take me fifteen weeks to save enough for a new ‘William’ book. In today’s money the equivalent is £7.26 (about £7- 5- 3d in old money or AUD $12.88)

One might ask why I didn’t use a library. The problem with this idea was that the nearest library to where I lived was at least two bus rides away and the cost would have been more than 6d.
I suppose that I could have walked, but the distance would have taken me about an hour and a half each way, and I couldn’t be sure that the William books would not all be out on loan – we didn’t have a phone so that I could check.

02The Conqueror

Published 1926 – the 6th book in the series

At least my relatives (aunts & uncles) knew what they could buy me, or contribute 2/- towards for a birthday present, which shortened the required number of weeks after Christmas, because my birthday is in April.

03The Pirate

Published 1932 – the 14th book in the series

04The Rebel

Published in 1933 – the 15th book in the series.

05 Crowded hours

Published in 1931 – the 13th in the series

Every chapter in each book is a standalone story, and all the main characters are the same, so the reader doesn’t have a problem when buying a book that it might be out of  sync with the overall image of William.

Several films have been made from the books – the first being in 1940.

The BBC turned the stories in to a radio show in 1946 on the ‘Light’ program, which played weekly for two years.

A stage play of one of the stories was created in 1947 and the play toured the UK.

In the mid 50’s, as TV became popular in the UK, a series of thirteen episodes were broadcast.

In the early 1960’s a new series of William stories were broadcast on TV with Dennis Waterman playing the part of William.
For Dennis Waterman – think ‘Minder’ & ‘New Tricks’.

From the ‘William’ books I moved to Billy Bunter . . .

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As much as I enjoyed Billy Bunter it didn’t have the same ‘flair’ as the William books.

Tom

Tom Sawyer was in the mold of William.

Gilliver

Gulliver’s Travels – very different.

Without wishing to be judgemental, but I wonder if today’s nine, ten or twelve year old children receive  the same pleasure from their Ipad as I did from being transported through books to being a member of William’s gang ‘The Outlaws’, or as a pupil at Greyfriars school with Billy Bunter, perhaps chasing after Becky with Tom Sawyer, and not to mention the ‘little people’ of Lilliput – Gulliver’s Travels was a 1953 Christmas gift from my cousin – I still have the book, but have lost the dust jacket.

Overall meeting William, Billy, Tom and experiencing Gulliver’s experiences in my opinion wins hands down.

When we emigrated in 1980 all my old friends had to come with me . . . . .

At the beginning of this blog I mentioned that this year is the 50th anniversary of Richmal Crompton’s death – it is also the centenary of the first publication about the boy called William.

Richmal Crompton had her first story published, featuring William, which was called “Rice Mould Pudding”, and was published in Home Magazine in 1919.  It wasn’t until 1922 that the first book of William stories appeared.

I’ve read comments that J.K Rowland is the Richmel Crompton of today, perhaps they are correct.

1-Just William

The above is the first of the William books to be published in 1922, note the cost, by the 1950’s it was 7/6d. I’ve read this book, but never owned it.

Road to Zanzibar

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It’s Always You
Bing Crosby sang it to Dorothy Lamour, in Zanzibar of course . . .

Christmas Day 1964 – we arrived off Mombasa and berthed alongside the Chakla, another Company ship. Also, in port was a BI passenger ship named ‘Karanja’ and this name had a family link for me. My father was on the first ‘Karanja’, when she was discharging troops in Operation Torch off North Africa during WW2.
She was bombed and sunk. Fortunately, Dad survived, but I wanted to see the replacement so as to tell Dad.

karanja_ss

Karanja that Dad sailed in during the war.
During peace time she operated on the India – East Africa Service.

hms-cropHMS Karanja in 1942 – after she’d been bombed, and is now on fire, and I can only assume that Dad was helping to fight the fires – she sank later.

Karanja

Karanja, that I saw in Mombasa.

The evenings over Christmas were spent along Kilindini Road, mainly at the Casablanca Bar and The Nelson Bar, very popular places that Christmas.

kilindini-tusksAt the top of Kilindini Road were the famous ‘tusks’.

During the Christmas period HMS Eagle and her support ships arrived in port. She was a Royal Navy aircraft carrier with a compliment of over 2500.

HMSEagledepartsSAx

                                The above shows HMS Eagle leaving Mombasa harbour.
Among the various Royal Navy crews were several bands, and these bands obtained permission to play in the nightclubs and bars of Mombasa.
To say that Mombasa, during the Christmas period of 1964, was a ‘jumping’ town is an understatement.

1965 – New Years Day and onward

I met a young lady who had a car – very unusual at that time, and she asked me to join her at a beach outside Mombasa called Nyali Beach, and she arranged to pick me up from the ship.

VW

Of course this sounded a great idea, so I agreed, and she did pick me up in a small VW car, known as a Beetle. It was battered and dented, but it moved. The picture is the closest I could find to illustrate the car (I think the young lady had a blue car).

Nyali-Beach

A girl , a car & a beach . . . what more could a twenty year old want?

Little did I know that it wasn’t for my charming self that I was invited, but my ability to pick the car up a little by rocking it or to push it – a lot! The car did not have a reverse (it was broken, and she couldn’t afford to have it fixed), so every time we had to reverse I had to get out and push it backwards. I have been very wary of invitations to go for a drive with a female ever since. The beach was nice, and the sun helped me recuperate after all the exercise of pushing a VW part of the way to Nyali beach.

Mombasa is an island, so we had to cross to the mainland to visit the beech. Fortunately the car didn’t breakdown on the bridge.

Nyali

We were in Mombasa for a fortnight during which time we change our Indian crew to a full African crew. We now had to learn Swahili instead of Hindi.
The Chilka was the first British ship to carry a full compliment of African crew. We managed to make the newspapers and the Mombasa Times ran a major story with photographs, unfortunately I can not find any pictures.

The one problem with the African crew was that most of them did not have any concept of a European winter. They had sailed ‘deep sea’ from Mombasa, but mainly to neighbouring countries or to India or the Persian Gulf. So, when we mentioned to some of them that they should consider something better than open toed sandals for a UK winter, they grinned with their large sparkling white teeth, as if they knew best.

Our new African steward was aware of the winter cold, and he had planned for such, but he told us that the deck crew would have to find out for themselves, because they will not listen to either him or us.

When they did arrive in London the deck crew had a grey pallor due to the cold, and they had so many layers of clothing on that they could hardly move. During their free time they spent most of it in the cinema, because it was cheap, and they could at least keep warm.

After leaving Mombasa our next stop was Dar es Salaam in Tanganyika, which had become independent in 1961. It was a very short trip, a matter of hours.

Tanganyika Territory or German East Africa before WW1, was transferred to Britain under a League of Nations mandate in 1922, later confirmed by the UN, which changed it to a Trust territory after WW2.
In 1961 the trust territory was transformed in to a sovereign state, and eventually became a republic within the Commonwealth.
In April 1964 Tanganyika joined with the Peoples Republic of Zanzibar and Pemba, to create the United Peoples Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, which became the United Peoples Republic of Tanzania a few months later.

The city of Dar es Salaam still had that British feel, but I never felt as comfortable as I did in Mombasa.

Tanganyika might have changed its name to Tanzania, but at that time people still referred to it as Tanganyika. The economy of the place was not as strong as Kenya, and it showed.

Our time in Dar es Salaam was about three days. Not long enough to see much, because we had to work each day, but the town was a lot quieter than Mombasa.

1960tiesJos-Hansen-Tanzania

From Dar es Salaam we sailed for Tanga, which is a seaport on the northern tip of Tanzania, very close to the border with Kenya. Tanga, famous for its sisal, means ‘farm or cultivated land’ and gave its name to Tanganyika, which means ‘Sisal farm’.

sisal

Sisal plant – the leaves are removed and dried to make the sisal that we know at home.

drying

Sisal leaves drying in the sun.

Tanga was the first German East African establishment, having been bought from the Sultan of Zanzibar in 1891.

Of course, we loaded sisal, after discharging, stone, heavy machinery and frozen food, including more ice cream. Two days was enough for Tanga, after which we sailed for Zanzibar, a favourite place for the slavers of old, and of course Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour.

Zanzibar-waterfront-005

Picture from the internet – it was taken in 1964

The Anglican Christ Church cathedral in Stone Town, Zanzibar stands on the old slave-trading market site.
In 1822 the British signed a treaty with the Sultan of Zanzibar to end slavery, but it took until 1876 before this trade came to and end. Of course, the trade carried on to a lessor degree by kidnapping children and selling them to ‘customers’ in the Persian Gulf. Slaves escaped to freedom as late as 1931.

David Livingstone (pictured below) estimated in 1857, that 80,000 thousand slaves died on the way to the Zanzibar slave market, and of those that lived 50,000 were sold to Sheikhs and rich traders in the Persian Gulf.
This slave market had nothing to do with the West African slave trade to America, which was outlawed by the UK in 1807.

David_Livingstone_by_Frederick_Havill-222x300

David Livingston

The altar, in the cathedral is supposed to be at the exact spot of the whipping post.

We loaded bag of cloves from dhows and barges using our own gear and the local labour for stowing the bags.

dhow

Mtwara, in Tanzania was our next port of call. The town was a created town in the 1940’s for the export of groundnuts (peanuts), but the enterprise failed, and it was abandoned in 1951.
The town had been created to house 200,000 people, but when I visited Mtwara it had a feeling of being abandoned, with few people walking the dark sandy streets.

On leaving Mtwara it was back to Dar es Salaam, followed by Tanga, where I had an inoculation top up for cholera (another blunt needle). Not sure if it was the injection or the local beers, but I was not a happy chappy for a few days.

Our final East African visit was back to Mombasa where we anchored in the Mombasa Creek. The constant sound of insects and birds as we lay at anchored reminded me of the Edgar Wallace books and films that I’d seen and read.

Sanders

The Canoe song.
If you like Paul Robeson, click on the above link to hear him sing from the film.

 After a day and a half at anchor we moved alongside at the main port area, to load tea and coffee for the Sudan, and a present of flour from America for Aden.

Two days later our East African adventure was over, and we sailed for Europe via the Red Sea.

We arrived at Aden five days later around mid-night; anchored, and immediately gangs of labour came aboard to unload the Aden cargo. They worked through the night and we sailed at lunchtime.

It was two days to Port Sudan to discharge the Mombasa tea and coffee along with empty soft drink crates – no idea why they wanted empty crates. Strange how odd things like empty drink crates, stick in one’s mind from so long ago.

The export cargo from Sudan was Arabic gum (in bags, with plenty of tiny insects), ivory (it wasn’t illegal at that time), and groundnuts.

It was February, and as we got closer and closer to the Suez Canal the temperature became noticeably cooler. A very pleasant temperature for the Europeans, who were still in tropical whites, but for our African crew they began to complain of being cold. The Company had arranged for a supply of warm weather clothing for the crew and this was handed out.

The problem was that the clothing was of mixed sizes so some of the crew complained that they couldn’t move because their shirt was too tight, and others complained that their legs were cold because their trouser were too short. It became the cadets’ job to reclaim all the clothing and to make sure each crew member was kitted out with clothes that fitted, as best we could. This put a stop to a break out of fights over pieces of clothing.

Once in the Mediterranean all the crew appeared to put on weight – in fact they refused to take off any of their clothing because they were so cold, and they began to look like a gang of Michelin men.

michelin

It took us a week from Port Sudan to Gibraltar, during which time the temperature had dropped from around 27 c (80F) to a cool 12 c (53F) and the crew were suffering.

Our next  port was Hull in the UK, and we had to transit the Bay of Biscay in winter – not a pleasant experience with heavy Atlantic swell causing us to pitch, roll and corkscrewing in a force eight.

The temperature kept dropping and by the time we reached the English Channel it was down to 6 c (42 F), the officers were now in ‘blues’ far too cold for shorts.

I paid off Chilka on a Sunday, while still at sea, with the grand sum of £20 in my pocket. I’d been away for about four months, so I didn’t expect a long leave. We docked in Hull on Monday morning, and by the afternoon I was back home in Birkenhead, which is across the river from Liverpool.

Yesterday and today –

chilka1

Chilka at 7,132 gt, a happy ship to see the world and experience different cultures.

Container_Ship

Credit for the photograph by Muhammad Mahdi Karim

A container ship alongside in Zanzibar in 2011, where is the ‘romance’ of going to sea if you are only in port for a few hours.

Manga

 

DSC01606r
DSC01609rShigeru Mizuki is a Japanese Manga author who was born in 1922 and lived in Sakaminato.

Shigeru-Mizuki-Artist-Mizuki-ProductionsShigeru Mizuki

When he was a child he was a prodigy and during his time in primary school his skill with a pencil was so good that one of his teachers arranged an exhibition of his work.

When he left school he worked for a newspaper as an artist.

In 1942 he was drafted in to the army and was sent to New Britain, which is an island off Papua New Guinea.

Father & sonFather and son in 1942

Shigeru Mizuki was wounded and lost his left arm. As the last man standing in his unit he was ordered to die, which he considered a ridiculous order.
While in hospital the local tribes people befriended him and offered him a home and citizenship via marriage. He considered the idea, but didn’t take up the offer and returned to Japan.
He had various jobs after the war but kept up his drawings and stories. He worked as a kamishibai artist, which is a street artist and entertainer.

IMG_70871The artist creates his own pictures and tells the story around the pictures – he changes the pictures as the story progresses. The above is NOT Shigeru Mizuki
In 1957 he released his debut work Rokettoman.

RocketmanHe published other works which always focused on peace, and the characters that he created only came out during peace time.

manga - planche -2.jpgHe also produced a Manga biography of Adolf Hitler. I don’t think the Nazi party would have been pleased.

Shigeru Mizuki died in a Tokyo hospital in 2015 from heart failure.
His boyhood town Sakaminato, honoured him by naming a street after the characters that he created. Along the street are one hundred small statues of his super natural characters on both sides of the street.

During our tour of Sakaminato we were shown a train that carried some of his characters. Also see the first two pictures of this blog.

DSC01610ralso buildings surrounding the train station had characters.

DSC01608rcWhen our guide spoke of the characters I had the feeling that she considered them to be real – she was so passionate about them and the stories in which they took part. We were regaled with some of the stories and the background of the characters.
Only being aware of manga cartoon characters, but I haven’t ‘read’ any of the books or even opened one,  and based on various comments from other passengers I doubt that any one else had read or seen the characters of manga.

DSC01613rcEven the street lighting in a small park that we passed had a ‘manga’ eyes.

DSC01615rcThe side of a toilet block was pressed in to service.

oneJust some of the characters along the ‘memorial’ street, but I don’t know their names.

two

ThreeChildren’s comics ?

 

 

 

Queen Victoria Market

C_Class_Tram,_Melbourne_-_Jan_2008The light rail from Port Melbourne to the city takes about fifteen minutes, and costs $7.50 return, if you are a pensioner or $15.00 full fare.
After the Golden Princess docked in Melbourne, we caught the light rail to the city centre. The cost includes a reusable card that can be ‘topped up’ over the internet, so we didn’t throw the card away on leaving Melbourne – just in case we return, because it still has credit on the card!

DSC09675r  Sunrise over Melbourne as we crept alongside the wharf.

Maureen and I lived in Melbourne for five years before moving to Sydney. The Golden Princess would be alongside for about eight hours so where to go and what to see – for me the answer was a ‘no brainer’, Maureen likes shopping, so for something different how about Queen Victoria Market. It had been a long time since we visited this market, and our day of arrival would be Friday, so the market would be open.

Queen_Victoria_Market_201708The market is a hundred and forty years old (opened in 1878), and is open five days a week – Thursday to Sunday and Tuesday.
It is the largest open-air market in the southern hemisphere, and with over 600 stalls covering seven hectares (17 acres) it would take us most of the morning to see them all. After the market we planned to return to the ship for a late lunch, which would also make sure that we would not miss the sailing time.

With hindsight I think we arrived a little too early, because many of the non-food stalls were only just setting out their goods. Two friends, Viv & Lorrain, from our small ‘cruising’ group had joined Maureen & I, so the ladies could please themselves as to what they wished to see, as I could, because I was not all that keen on checking out lady’s jackets for more than fifteen seconds.

I wondered around with my trusty point and click to record a few colourful stalls. Fortunately the more colourful stalls appeared to be set up earlier than the ‘run of the mill’ stalls.

DSC09682rThis was an interesting stall – all the individual flowers are made from recycled wood!

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DSC09680rI don’t know how many I touched, just to satisfy my curiosity and to make sure that the flowers were not real!

DSC09685r$5 ‘T’ shirts – I didn’t buy any, but the display was colourful.

DSC09688rSupposedly Australian roads signs, but as I don’t have a bar or ‘den’ I didn’t buy any.

DSC09689rBecause our destination was Tasmania I considered buying the Tasmanian Devil sign, but where to hang it at home – all too hard, so didn’t buy anything. I’m a great shopper.

DSC09678rBoomerangs – I think they were made in China. . . not sure if they were supposed to work (which I doubt), or if they are just for collecting dust in forgotten drawers at home.

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Not sure where the ships came from, but I don’t think it was Australia. I fancied one of them, but was bothered about getting it home in one piece. They looked very delicate.

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The card stall was ‘different’ – all pop-up three ‘D’ cards – five for $20.

DSC09693rGlitter and more glitter, reminded me of various stalls that I ‘d seen in Asia & India.

DSC09695rThis stall had the feel of Japanese cartoon characters – another stall offered Japanese crockery – mainly every day crockery. When I was at sea we used to call in to Nagoya (east coast of Japan), to pick up a cargo of everyday crockery, as well as expensively created porcelain.

800px-NoritakeThe above is a sample of Noritake porcelain of Nagoya, from the 1920’s.

We walked up and down each aisle and eventually came out of the covered area to find an unusual sculpture in String Bean Alley.

DSC09697rCheck the hanging item at the centre right of the above picture. Melbourne seems to be big into recycling packing cases or wooden pallets.

DSC09696rA close-up of the sculpture . . . unusual, but not to my taste.

DSC09698rWalking down the alley we came to the organic market, which is more my taste.

DSC09700rI do like chillies – and I was pleased that I’d found something that was ‘made in Australia’ !

veg

DSC09701rSay cheese!

DSC09702r Stuff this stuff that  . . .!

inside

DSC09703rThe indoor area of the market, was mainly for the sale of fresh food – wine, fish, meat, bread, everything that you could possibly want, such a shame that this market it is about a thousand kilometres from where Maureen & I live. The colours and the smell of the fresh fruit was a ‘feast’ to the senses.

fruitNectarines & peaches.

 

meatSmoked meat, cold cooked meat, olive oils and more.

wild meat

Wild meat – It’s years since I last had rabbit, I think it was just after the war when meat was still rationed in the UK.
Kangaroo meat is very lean and tasty.
Venison is ‘common’ and wild boar expensive.
A wallaby is a small to mid-size animal of the kangaroo family, and is a native of Australia and Papua New Guinea – I’ve not tasted wallaby, and didn’t know that it was available as food for humans.

When visiting markets, I try and remember to take my ‘book lists’, just in case I find a second-hand book stall – which I didn’t this time.
After finishing our tour of the market we decided to walk back to the city centre via Elizabeth Street, because years ago there used to be a second-hand book shop just off this street.
It is no longer where it used to be, but I did find a shop called The Book Grocer , which seems to specialise in ‘end of line’ books – nothing over $10!
Like the addict that I am, I couldn’t pass a book shop offering discount books.

As many of us do I couldn’t help but check to see if my own book was on offer . . . it wasn’t.

front

Triangle TradeFor the newer followers I’ve written one book, but it has been published twice. The above two books are the same story – I wrote Ice King and self published, which was picked up by a UK publisher and reissued as Triangle Trade in hardback. Ice King is cheaper and is still available as an e-book from Amazon.

The point of the above explanation is that I am writing the sequel and I’d written about the Fishing Fleet of India during the early 1800’s.

What did I find in the Book Grocer, but

Fishing FleetI had to buy it, for further background research for my sequel. I’m half way through reading The Fishing Fleet and have forgotten that I should read it for research, because it is such an interesting and entertaining book.

The best laid plans etc  . . .

Orchard Road & Gardens

 

orchard-road-620x400Orchard Road Singapore – nothing but shops & more shops.

There is a different kind of Singapore, the Botanical Gardens.

DSC09539rA beautiful peaceful park area, which concentrates on orchids.

DSC09541rMy knowledge of gardening and plants is very limited, so I’ll just post the pictures . . .

DSC09537r Getting to the Botanical Gardens from the city is very easy, because the gardens are on the metro system. You don’t have to take a taxi.

DSC09545rI couldn’t stop clicking the camera the colours of the plants are fabulous.

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The first botanical garden in Singapore was created by Sir Thomas Raffles in 1822. After his death the authorities lost interest in gardens.

The present garden was started in 1859 and many features such as the swan lake, main entrance and the ring road are still in use today.
Lawrence Niven was hired as Superintendent and he oversaw the layout and landscaping. A small hill was reduced to a flat area in the early 1860’s so that regimental bands could play for the public. In 1930 the band stand was created and can still be seen today.

unesco nom pic 1 bandstandBandstand Hill

Over the years the garden grew (excuse the pun) in size and is now 82 hectares in size.

In 1928 the gardens started orchid breeding, which is still carried on today.

2015 saw the current Singapore Botanical Gardens being inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the first and only tropical garden on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

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DSC09559rMany of the plants in the celebrity area have links to world famous people  –

Queen Elizabeth, Andrea Bocelli, Margaret Thatcher, Jackie Chan, etc over one hundred different orchids linked to the same number of famous people.

DSC09562rPeace and quiet where ever you go . . .

stock-photo-singapore-orchids-park-367509014

DSC09563rThe occasional problem if you are an insect.

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If you decide to visit the gardens may I suggest that you make it early morning before the heat of the day – we walked all over the gardens and as the morning progressed it became more humid (monsoon season), but it was well worth the effort.

In the evening I took some photographs of Singapore river –

2716362184_a7a57228c6_zThis is how I remember Singapore River in the mid 60’s.

DSC09522rAs it is today

DSC09535r The river at night today.

Singapore has changes so much in the last forty odd years.

In an earlier blog I posted this picture of Clifford Pier in the 1960’s.

clifford_pier

Clifford pier

Clifford Pier  today . . .

I think Joseph Conrad would have recognised the early 1960 version, but not today’s.

3345Joseph Conrad

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Swan of the East

While researching Prince of Wales Island (now called Penang) for the sequel to Ice King (aka Triangle Trade) I came across details of the German cruiser SMS Emden, which had links to Penang.

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Triangle Trade

Maureen often says that I am more interested in the research than the act of writing, which to an extent is correct. Little things started to come together so I thought – how about a blog.

Karl_von_Müller

Karl Friedrich Max von Müller was the son of a German colonel in the Prussian army.

In 1913, at the age of forty, he became a captain in the Imperial German Navy and took command of the light cruiser SMS Emden.

images-1He was posted to the China station and using his initiative he shelled Nanking, because it was in rebellion. For this action he was awarded the Order of the Royal Crown. (Third class).

200px-Prussian_Order_of_Crown_3rd_Class_with_Cross_of_GenevaOn the brink of WW1 the Emden was anchored at Tsingtao, which was a German naval base in China. I sailed in to Tsingtao in 1963, and it was still a naval base then, but this time for the Chinese.

Von Muller took the Emden to sea on the evening of the 31st July, 1914.

On the 4th August Emden captured the Russian mail ship Rjasan, which was the first vessel to be captured by the German Imperial Navy in WW1.

The Emden met up with the German East Asia Squadron commanded by Maximilian Reichsgraf von Spee who had decided to take his squadron across the Pacific and around Cape Horn in to the Atlantic.

Von Muller persuaded the Admiral to allow a loan raider to attack merchant ships in the Indian Ocean – the Admiral agreed.

As an aside Maximilian Reichsgraf von Spee defeated the British 4th cruiser squadron at the Battle of Coronel in November 1914. A month later he decided to attack the Royal Navy at the Falkland Islands, but the British surprised him and his squadron was destroyed. He was killed as were his two sons (serving in other ships of the squadron.)

In Germany he was considered a hero and several ships were named after him, including the ‘pocket battleship’ Admiral Graf Spee, which was scuttled after the Battle of the River Plate in December 1939.

300px-Bundesarchiv_DVM_10_Bild-23-63-06,_Panzerschiff_-Admiral_Graf_Spee-Admiral Graf Spee 

Back to SMS Emden – in the next three month Von Muller captured fourteen merchant ships, and became known as an honorable enemy of the allies. He was daring and did his best not to cause injury to civilians. His attacks required the British to stop merchant ships sailing between Singapore and India.

The British tactics reduced the targets for the Emden, so in September 1914 Von Muller sailed in to Madras harbor at night (now called Chennai) and attacked the oil tanks.

Bombardment_of_Madras_by_S.S._Emden_1914Within thirty minutes the oil tanks were ablaze and causing explosion that damaged vessels in the harbor. SMS Emden sailed before the harbour defense guns could train on  the raider.

The following days she added six more vessel to her score.

On the 16th September 1914 the Royal Navy in Singapore advised the Admiralty, London, that they were sending HMS Yarmouth and HMS Hampshire to hunt down the Emden.

HMS_Yarmouth_(1911)   HMS Yarmouth – note the number of funnels.

   In the mean time SMS Emden added a false funnel to disguise herself as HMS Yarmouth.

Bundesarchiv_Bild_137-001329,_Tsingtau,_SMS_-Emden-_I_im_HafenSMS Emden photo taken in 1911 in Tsingtao.

SMS Emden approached Penang harbour at 4.30 am on the night of the 28th October 1914.

Its silhouette, with the fourth false funnel, gave the impression that HMS Yarmouth, was coming in to port, but once in the harbor, and before he opened fire, Von Muller ran up the Imperial German Navy battle flag.

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He spotted the Russian cruiser Zhemchug at anchor. She was in Penang for repairs to her boilers.
SMS Emden opened fire at three hundred yards (270 mtrs) by firing a torpedo, and followed this with gun fire. The torpedo and the gun fire struck the Russian, and she was soon on fire. Von Muller ordered a second torpedo, which hit the Russian’s ammunition causing a huge explosion as she sank.

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Russian cruiser Zhemchug.

German_postcard_of_the_Battle_of_Penang_1914A German postcard  of the battle.

A French cruiser and destroyer opened fire on the Emden, but they were inaccurate. The firing was enough for Von Muller to order the Emden to retreat.

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A newspaper reporter from the New York Times wrote that she watched the battle of Penang from near the hotel, which would have been the Eastern & Oriental Hotel, where Maureen & I have stayed. I took the above photograph when at the hotel, which shows the entrance to Penang harbour. The anchorage is to the right of the picture, where the battle would have taken place.
The map below is from the report of the New York Times correspondent who witnessed the battle.
At this time, 1914, the USA was still neutral, they didn’t become involved until 7 th December, 1917, which is ironic considering the 7th December in 1941.

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On leaving the harbor the Emden spotted the French destroyer Mousquet, which was coming off patrol and unaware of the Emden’s attack on Penang.

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Postcard of the French destroyer Mousquet.

Von Muller opened fire and sank the Frenchman, after which he rescued thirty five sailors and one officer from the water. He later stopped a British cargo vessel SS Newburn and instead of sinking her he handed over the French survivors on the understanding that the Newburn would take them to a neutral port in Dutch Indonesia and that they would no longer be involved in the war.

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I took the above picture from the Eastern & Oriental Hotel. I think the area to the left of ship in the photograph would have been close to where the Mousquet and the Emden  fought their battle.

SMS Emden sailed south to re-coal from her captured British ship Buresk after which she  headed for the Cocos Islands. Von Muller wanted to destroy the radio station, in the hope that this would cause the British and Australian navies to leave the Indian Ocean to protect their line of communications.

On the night of the 8/9 th November Von Muller arrived at the Cocos Islands and sent a shore party to disable the wireless and the undersea cables. Fortunately the station staff had seen the Emden and managed to get off a message that they had seen a strange ship, before the Emden jammed their transmissions.

A convoy of Australian troops ships was not too far away, and the allied commander ordered HMAS Sydney to investigate.

StateLibQld_1_120860_Sydney_(ship)HMAS Sydney

As the Sydney approached the Cocos Island the Emden opened fire and scored hits on the Sydney with her fourth salvo.

 The Australian ship replied with her heavier guns and soon the SMS Emden was so damaged that Von Muller decided to beach her on North Keeling Island to save the lives of his men.

SMS Emden Image 3The Imperial ensign still flew over the beached ship, she had not formally surrendered. Captain Glossop  of the Sydney signaled a number different ways, including plain language because he knew that the Emden’s code books had been thrown overboard, to try and see if the Emden was ready to surrender. The Sydney fired again and hit the stricken ship before the ensign was pulled down and white sheets hung over the side. The Germans burnt their ensign rather than allowing it to fall in to the hands of the enemy.

Captain Von Muller had captured twenty seven ships for the loss of one civilian life.

Karl Friedrich Max von Müller was captured and ended up in a PoW camp in England. Earlier in his career he had been attached to the East Africa Squadron where he suffered from malaria. The climate in England didn’t agree with the malaria, so he was sent to Holland, under compassionate grounds, as an exchange prisoner, for treatment. In October 1918 he was repatriated to Germany – the war ended in November.

Von Muller was awarded Pour le Mérite (For Merit) (also known as The Blue Max)

200px-Blue_MaxThis was awarded to particular people for excellent service in the military. The military version of the award was stopped in 1918, but the civilian award is still in use – similar to the British OBE

Karl Friedrich Max von Muller died suddenly in 1923 at the age of fifty – weakened by malaria.

Swan of the East was a nick name given to the ship in Tsingtao, because of her sleek lines.

220px-Emden-gun-3One of the Emden’s guns can be seen in Hyde Park in Sydney

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HMAS Sydney’s mast can be seen when taking the ferry from Circular Quay to Manly – it is on the north shore of Sydney harbour.

All of the photographs, except for the two that I took, have been taken from the internet to illustrate a paragraph etc.

Llandudno, Cymru (Wales)

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A few years ago Maureen & I and three other couples had a seven week holiday of self catering, self drive around the UK. We hired a mini-bus and stayed in farms and apartments – all self catering. We were a mix of three ex Poms, three Australians, a New Zealander and a Russo – German. One of the places that I wanted them to see was Llandudno.

Llandudno has a Great Orme & a Little Orme.

P5152254rLittle Orme – picture taken from the Great Orme.

Both headlands are of limestone and the names are said to be linked to old Norse, rather than Welsh, and in English mean sea serpent. The word ‘orm’ is thought to be translated in to English as ‘worm’  – serpent??

The headlands are now mainly nature reserves. On top of the Great Orme is the Summit Complex,

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which is a pub, restaurant, amusements centre etc. It used to be the Telegraph Inn from where messages would be relayed from Holyhead to Liverpool of the arrival of sailing ships. It was rebuilt to become a hotel in 1939, and then taken over by the RAF during the war and became a radar station.

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The old lamp for the lighthouse.

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In 1952 Randolph Turpin (the boxer who beat Sugar Ray Robinson in 1951 for the World Middleweight title) bought it, and when he was in financial difficulties with the taxman, the Llandudno council stepped in and took over the building.

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The above five pictures were taken by KI one of our Australian companions.

Funny how things come back to you, but I can remember the huge interest in boxing at that time when Randolph Turpin won – I was seven, and the Festival of Britain was in full swing.

Festival_of_BritainEveryone seemed to know Turpin’s name even the people who didn’t have any interest in boxing.

In the Summit Complex they remember Turpin by naming a bar after him – Randy’s Bar – see above photograph. Sadly, Randolph Turpin shot himself in 1966.

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To get to the summit without walking, you have to use The Great Orme Tramway.

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Single track for most of the way, with ‘passing sections’.

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Near the top.

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Coming down gave us some great views of Llandudno with all the B&Bs and hotels along the sea front.

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A wide ‘prom’ could accommodate many walkers without getting in each others way.

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The town is also famous for its pier. It is 2,295 feet of cast iron lacework. The original pier was built in 1858, but was damaged in a storm in 1859. It was repaired and used for sixteen years before being upgraded to the present pier. I can remember as a child passenger ships sailing from Liverpool to Llandudno packed with holidaymakers. The ships would berth at the end of the pier, as there is deep water.

FerryLlandudno pier is at the bottom of the picture.

Pier

It was pleasant to walk to the end for the fresh air.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEntrance to the pier.

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The inclusion of slot machines as amusements (see pic below) did devalue the experience. A sign of age on our part I suppose.

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We did find something that we were sure we wouldn’t have found in Australia . .

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A touch of yesterday for many of us – during the 40’s I had two stuffed dolls on my bed, a sailor doll and a gollywog doll and never for one minute thought either of them as un-pc. For the record I also had a lion doll, in to which I would stuff my pajamas each morning. No animals were injured in the operation, because he didn’t come from a zoo.

Trivia linked to Llandudno – for my Australian readers.

Billy Hughes, Australia’s 7th PM,

Hughes15-16his parents were Welsh, although he was born in London. He was seven when his mother died and he was sent to live with his Aunt in Llandudno until he was 14, after which he moved back to London. He emigrated to Austraia in 1884 at the age of twenty two.
Marconi (of morse code fame) lived in Anglesey between 1900 & 1918 and it was from Anglesey that the first wireless morse message flashed around the world to Australia. The first message, in morse, was to the PM of Australia, William (Billy) Morris Hughes. There are suggestions that Billy Hughes and

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Lloyd George (British PM during WW1, who was also Welsh – above picture) sent messages to each other, in morse, but also in Welsh, so as to keep them secret during the 1st WW.

200px-Alice_LiddellAlice Liddell.

She and her family holidayed in Llandudno in 1861.

Her father liked the place so much that he bought a house for his family’s use during the holidays. It was called Penmorfa,

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and the family often had guests staying. A close friend of the family, Charles Dodgson, is said to have stayed with them, and he often used to tell Alice stories. He told one where he used the daughter of the house as the heroine of one of his stories. Later the story was written down and published.
Charles Dodgson didn’t wish his name to be used as the author, so he used another – Lewis Carroll. Alice, of Alice in Wonderland was based on Alice Liddell, while she was in Llandudno.

Alice_in_Wonderland,_cover_1865                      AliceWonderland2.1

The original cover and a later cover.

alice-in-wonderland-ladybird-book-disney-first-edition-gloss-hardback-1987-3211-pThe cover that we all know from the Disney studios.

In November of 2008 a developer demolished Penmorfa House to make way for apartments – locals tried to save the old building, but . . . .

To quote Alice . . .

 It would be so nice if something made sense for a change.

Should I write or research?

old-dock

The first commercial wet dock in the world was opened in Liverpool in 1715. It was known originally by the engineer’s name Thomas Steer’s Dock, but later, as other docks were built it became known as the Old Dock. This Old Dock was infilled in 1826.

When Liverpool One was being created they found the Old Dock during excavations in 2001. The Old Dock has been preserved as much as possible and is now part of Liverpool Maritime Museum and you can take tours of this Old Dock and see where the original stream flowed in to the Pool.

As Rome was built by the local people who lived on seven hills, Liverpool, nearly 2000 years later, planned its layout in 1207, based on seven streets.

High Street, (1207), which used to have a weekly market and annual fairs and was originally called Jugglers Street

Chapel Street, (1257), named after the Chapel of St Mary, which no longer exists, having been demolished in 1814.

Water Street (1207), used to be called Bonk (Bank) St, the street to the river bank of the River Mersey.

Castle Street (1235), the street that lead to the castle.

Dale Street (1207), used to be called Dell St., through which the stream ran to the pool (Liver Pool).

Tithebarn Street, used to be called Moor St, which I think was connected to the Salthouse Moor district, or perhaps the Moor family. It ran from Castle Street to the river. Later in 1523 Sir William Molyneux bought the tithe rights from the monks of Shrewsbury Abbey and erected a tithe barn to collect produce as a tithe. The street then became known as Tithebarn St

Old Hall Street (1207), (used to be called Milne or Mill St) and changed to Old Hall Street after the Moore family moved from this hall to another on the outskirts of the city. The Moore’s ‘old hall’ remained, so the street’s name changed over time to Old Hall Street.

Making sure that the background of Liverpool was correct for my novel Ice King, which is set between 1804 to 1807 was very time consuming , but for me, very interesting. I had to make sure that I didn’t refer to any location in Liverpool that didn’t exist in 1804.

So the research was to find out what did exist in 1804.

imgp2403r I was safe in using St Nicholas Church – the sailors’ church, because it was used as a guide by sailors to bring their ship in to port in 1804. It had been a place of worship since 1257, so I felt safe if I had to refer to the church building. The above photograph taken a few years ago.

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The above photograph of St Nicholas’ church taken a few years after William King’s, my main character, adventures.

So what else can I use from 1804? After a great deal of searching I found just what I wanted, an old map of Liverpool which was produce by John Britton (1771 – 1857) and as far as I can make out he produced the map in 1807!

liver-map

From the above map I was able to expand the area that was of my particular interest – the area around George’s Dock. As sailors did in the early days they used the tower of St Nichols’ church to navigate in to the ‘Bason’ and then in to George’s Dock.

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George’s dock was opened in 1771, and named after King George III.

In 1874 the Bason was filled in, and in 1899 the dock itself was filled in to create what we know today as the Pier Head.
Later (1914) Cunard Shipping Line commissioned a new headquarters,which was opened in 1917. The Cunard Building, which is to the right of the Liver Building, can be seen in the picture below. A section of the George’s dock wall can still be seen in the basement of the  Cunard Building.

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What was the river like in 1804 (sand banks, wrecks etc), so I need a chart.

chart  Chart of the Mersey Bar area dated 1801; produced by William Morris, (the link will take you to the National Library of Wales) a fascinating man who also charted the seas around the island of Angelsey.

When researching for an appropriate gentleman’s club, one where a prosperous ship owner and trader would frequent in 1804, I came across the Athenaeum Club. I wanted to develop the background and life style of the main character’s father.

This club was opened in 1797 and the location of the club as in Ice King is correct for 1804, but not for today, because the club moved from Church St to  Church Alley in 1928. The club is still active in Liverpool.
There is an Athenaeum Club in Pall Mall, London, which was founded in 1824.

One of the founder members of the Liverpool Atheneum Club was William Roscoe who was a very strong anti- slavery advocate. Other founder members were some of the most prosperous slave traders in Liverpool. I found it odd that the needs of the members for a club, such as the Athenaeum, over came their like or dislike of the African slave trade. Perhaps William Roscoe thought that he might be able to influence the slave traders, to reject the trade, in a social situation.
Roscoe was a strong Christian and fought in Parliament, as the member for Liverpool, for the rights of Catholics and other denominations to hold high office. In 1807 he voted with William Wilberforce to stop the slave trade, which successfully passed in to law, but caused William Roscoe trouble back home in Liverpool. He lost his seat at the next election.

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William Roscoe

In the novel I referred to a character who had won £20,000 in a lottery in 1776 – this is true.
His name was Thomas Leyland and he was the Mayor of Liverpool three times. When he died in 1827 he was one of the richest men in the Britain. His wealth was due to him investing a large amount of his winnings in to the slave trade. In 1807 when Britain made it illegal to trade in slaves he switched to banking.

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Thomas Leyland

The bank stayed in the Leyland family until 1901, at which time it merged with the North & South Wales Bank.
Later, in 1908, they were taken over by the the London City and Midland Bank. Eventually this bank became just ‘Midland Bank’, before being taken over itself by the HSBC Bank. I wonder if they realise that part of their foundation is based on slavery?

The hours of research helped produced less than a chapter, but hopefully a reader would enjoy the story that much more because of the research, but I am still not sure if Maureen is correct when she said that I  prefer the research to the writing. . . .

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Fact or fiction for historical stories.

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Writing historical fiction is time consuming to say the least. Each scene that surrounds a character must be true for the reader, and the easiest way to make this scene true, is research and more research. You cannot afford to be wrong, unless of course you do it deliberately, because you are writing an ‘alternate history’ novel.

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A few years ago I wrote an historical novel, which took me at least two years to research. I’d write a scene and then study it to make sure that a character could do what I wanted. For example, I had the main character board a coach in London to travel to Liverpool in 1804. The first thing that comes to mind, was from where in London would he leave – research.

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How big was the coach, how many horses, how many passengers, did they all sit inside or did some sit on top and if so was it cheaper to travel ‘up top’ than inside? Research, research and more research.

My wife considers that I more interested in the research side of writing than I am in producing the finished novel. There may be some truth in her comment . . .
Small details can pop up that you consider and then either use or discard. Too many details will slow the story and you are trying to entertain, not educate, but you do inadvertently educate, so accuracy matters.
One small detail that I didn’t use was that the cost for sitting inside was 5d (five pence) per mile and if you sat up top it was 2 1/2d (twopence h’penny). If I play trivia pursuit on NYE I wonder if I’ll get this question?
How fast did the coach travel, – the average speed being about eight to ten miles an hour until the roads were improved by Mr. McAdam allowing the speed average to increase to fourteen miles an hour.

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How long was it before the horses were changed?
The route was cut in to ‘stages ‘ hence the coach was a ‘stagecoach’- and they would change the horses every ten to fifteen miles.
Some stage stops would allow the passengers to have a meal, but if a coach carried mail many stage stops would be to just change horses, and the post office would only allow five minutes for this procedure, but a crack team could do it in three minutes. To warn the inn and to save time the guard at the rear of the coach would sound his horn in a way to warn the coaching inn that they were approaching, and to have the horses ready for the change.The tone of the sound informed the inn keeper that the coach only wanted fresh horses or that it was a meal stop.

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Was there anything special about the coach; – a Royal Mail coach would have the origin city’s name and the destination city’s name blazoned on the side along with the Royal coat of arms. Royal Mail coaches used numbers whereas commercial coaches gave their service names ‘The Flyer’, ‘The Union’, ‘The Courier, and ’Umpire’ was a Liverpool bound coach and so on.
One would think that a novelist could make up the answers to many of the questions, but if he was wrong then this would taint the overall story and if a reader thought that the author had ‘cheated’ then the reader might not finish the book or the they might post a negative review, which would be worse.
In my novel I had the London to Liverpool coach stop at an inn at Stony Stratford, which was well known as a stopping place for stagecoaches on their way north to Liverpool, Manchester etc, Stony Straford being a day’s ride from London.

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The picture illustrates the inside of a coaching inn (not Cock Inn).
The inn I used was the Cock Inn, which is just up the road from the Bull Inn, which was also a coaching inn. It is known the both inns would exaggerate their services and after a time a story teller would be told that his story was a load of Cock and Bull.
Jon Cok was the original landlord in 1480, which is how the inn got its name not from the bird. Although the pub sign shows the bird.

cock-sign

Stony Stratford has been around since 1194, and the word ‘Stratford’ in Anglo-Saxon means a ford on a Roman road – the ford being across the River Ouse. The ‘stony’ bit is referring to the stones on the bed of the river.
A friend of mine from my Conway days, who lives near Stony Stratford and had read my book, sent me photographs of the same street today.

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The Cock Inn is now a hotel.

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As is the Bull Inn, which is to the right of the Cock Inn.

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The Bull Inn can be seen on the right of the picture with its Bull Inn sign and further along the road, near the flower baskets close to the lady in red, is the Cock Inn.

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Cock Inn late 1800’s – I doubt that this coach & four was on its way to Liverpool.

All this research for a small part of one chapter – if nothing else I learned a lot.

If you wish to know the connection between the slave picture and my book, read the blurb on the book’s cover. If it is unclear or too small, try this link

https://www.amazon.com/Ice-King-Geoff-Woodland-ebook/dp/B0042P52VG/ref=sr_1_15?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1483139337&sr=1-15&keywords=ice+king

AE1

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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.

maritime-memoriesPicture 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.

painitingDennis 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.

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A photograph of Fred W. Woodland

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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.

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A scroll of remembrance

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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!

http://sevenseasaustralia.com.au/club/?page_id=2829

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.