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Week 9: My ancestor was a sailor

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  • Week 9: My ancestor was a sailor

    Week 9: Sailor


    This is an opportunity to showcase a sailor from your family tree, you might want to offer a short biography and speak about their work eg
    Name
    Birth location/date
    Family background
    Where you've found them on the census
    Their ships
    Any tips on researching this occupation?

    Maritime History - Family Tree Forum

    [Next week: Postal worker]

  • #2
    William Steel my 2x great grandfather was 5 feet four inches, had black hair, blue eyes and a fair complexion, I know because it says so on his seaman's ticket issued at Falmouth on 29th March 1849, it also gives his date of birth as 20th June 1831 and when not employed he lived at Stedham, Sussex. I have my doubts about the year of his birth as on the 1841 census at Stedham he was twelve. He is the eldest child and the only one for whom there is no baptism.

    William is missing from the 1851 census, possibly at sea. He married in Islington and his occupation is given as sawyer, he and his bride Harriet returned to Sussex to raise their family at West Lavington, Minsted and Stedham while he was working as a sawyer but them moved to Rustington close to the port of Littlehampton and for three baptisms of his children there between 1864-1868 he was described as a sailor, thereafter he was a sawyer again up to his death in 1883 (aged 54 which makes his birth date earlier than 1831).

    Littlehampton had a timber merchants on the dockside so I believe he worked there when he wasn't at sea.

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    • #3
      My grandparents probably met thru a sailing club, and I have a photo of my grandfather sailing. I hadn't known about their interests in sailing until I started genealogy a decade ago. Now I think about the time that we went sailing when I was a child and my grandmother was visiting us, and realize she wasn't just along for the ride.
      Last edited by PhotoFamily; 19-02-22, 16:10.
      ------------------------------------------------------
      My Families
      London-area Coverly Family Finder DNA Project

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      • #4
        My great grandfather Alfred Steel (1864-1931) and his three brothers William, John and Nelson were all sailors. The eldest, William (1861-1938) was the pilot at Littlehampton.

        I know about Alfred's career as my mother's cousin has a lot of his personal records. He lived in Rustington and sailed out of Littlehampton or Shoreham. Aged 17 he was an Able Seaman on the Clarissa of Shoreham 12 May 1881-3 Aug 1883, though he was at home in Rustington for the 1881 census as an agricultural labourer as seamen were only paid for the duration of a voyage so in between times he did other work.

        His next ships were the Bluebell of Shoreham, then the Harriet of Newhaven, Daring of Shoreham, and Warblington of Newhaven, all in 1883. In 1884 he sailed on the Raven, Egret and Mallard of London.

        Corsair of London and Frances Milly of London followed in 1885 and 1886. In 1888 he was Mate on the Isobel of Whitehaven, and in this year he married and seems to have taken a break from the sea and in 1891 is on the census as a brickyard labourer.

        In Aug 1892 he was cook and Able seaman on the Adela (he later named my grandmother after this ship) then Mate on the Sarnian Gem of Guernsey. In 1895 he was Mate of the Sarah of Littlehampton then Master of the Sarnian Gem, then the Ebenezer and finally the Clio. In 1901 he is on the census twice, at home at Rustington and aboard the Clio at Aldrington.

        In 1902 his wife died leaving him with seven children. His mother and sisters rallied round t help with the children. He remarried in 1906 and had another two sons, he's missing on the 1911 census, away at sea.

        His final voyage was in 1912 as Master of the Clio after which he retired from the sea and became a publican at the Royal Oak, East Wittering. My uncle has a letter to him with this address on the envelope "The Skipper of the British Oak, Sailing full and by East Wittering, Nr the South Shores of Old England.

        John Steel (1866-1958) joined the Royal Navy aged 18 and rose through the ranks to become a Lieutenant Commander and the youngest brother Nelson George Steel (1871-1897) also joined the Royal Navy but aged 12, the family have a letter that he wrote to his widowed mother from Yokohama when he was there on HMS Hyacinth which he jokingly called "an old coal barge" in 1890. He was invalided out in 1893 and died at home in Rustington in April 1897.

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        • #5
          newspaper.jpg When my father moved in to the care home, we discovered his naval records, which included the notifications of each posting, as well as his sword which is currently in my attic, and many other souvenirs and certificates, and I've always intended to put them into chronological order so now I have. I have related his career as it affected the family. His service record as provided by the RN is on one piece of paper and is almost illegible - it has an apologetic note with it, that it was copied from a faded microfiche. He needed this as an official proof of service as he plans for us to have him buried at sea when the time comes.

          My father was a sailor and my mother was a Wren. He joined the sea cadets, on the River Thames, as a young lad and then as soon as he was 15 years old, in 1944, he signed on as an Air Electrical Artificer Apprentice in the Royal Navy. My mother joined up when she finished school in 1947. She had been forced into doing Science subjects for her School Certificate, although she really wanted to act and go to RADA but that didn’t work out , so the WRNS was an obvious place for her to go.

          He was with the Fleet Air Arm and in 1947 was stationed at HMS Ariel in Warrington where he met my mother - she was a brand new WREN, and was responsible for checking his work which always rather rankled. They were both posted to HMS Gannet in Londonderry where they became engaged and were married when they were still young in April 1950.

          She had to leave the WRNS of course and he was then posted to the Radar Establishment in Malvern. His main air electrical work was with radar which was still in its early stages of development and he has many funny stories to tell of that time. I was born there and two days after my christening he went to sea on HMS Indomitable by which time my mother and I had had to be rescued from the bedsit where they were living - I was a very loud baby apparently! In those days there were often no married quarters and my mother and I ended up living with my grandmother for a couple of years.

          The downside to being part of a naval family was that they were rarely at home, even when shore based. The postings were every two years or so once they were commissioned and they got about 6 weeks' notice of where they were next going, if they were lucky, and the wives had to pack up and follow them. Even when they were based at a shore base, they could be sent on courses and as part of the Fleet Air Arm he often went to sea with the planes.

          ​When he was posted to Anthorn in Cumbria we joined him and my brother was born there. The next posting was back down south to Lee on Solent and we followed him there, although soon after, he was recommended for officer training and went off to train at HMS Hawke, Dartmouth as an Upper Yardsman. Following that, in 1953 he went off to the Royal Naval College, Greenwich for Junior Officer training.

          In 1955, we followed him to Abbotsinch in Paisley, Scotland for two years, where I started school, changing schools when we moved house during the time. Next he went to sea on HMS Albion - out to Aden first during the Suez crisis in 1956 and then on round the world, while we moved closer to my grandmother who was by then living near Farnham in Surrey so yet another home and yet another school for me.

          My parents by then had decided to buy a house and stop following him around. It meant yet another change of school for us, but it meant that we could all settle in one place. While we lived on the Hampshire/Surrey border he was involved in the procurement and development of the Buccaneer aircraft and worked in Brough, near Hull as well as at the RNAS in Yeovilton, Somerset. This also included short sea trips.

          This was followed by being posted to Lossiemouth in Scotland in 1962. We had only just moved house across the border into Hampshire, but followed him anyway and as I had just finished primary school, I didn't stay long there, but went off to boarding school in Dorset. During this time, he went off on HMS Victorious with the 809 squadron of Buccaneers. They called in to Portland, so not far from where I was, and was able to call in a couple of times to see me. While he was at sea, in February 1963, my mother and brother packed up the home and travelled back down to England, driving through the snow drifts - Lossiemouth had had very little snow.

          In 1964, he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and on his return from sea, he was sent to London to work with the MOD which involved frequent trips to the USA as part of the procurement team for the McDonnell F-4 Phantom fighters as well as the daily commute.

          In 1969, just as I was finishing my A levels, he was posted out to Hong Kong as First Lieutenant of the Naval Base, HMS Tamar and I took a gap year. This was really the only time that as a family we were involved in life on a base and as I was 18, I was expected to participate in the social side of diplomacy involved in overseas postings and "flying the flag" and to watch the associated pomp and ceremony. I went to cocktail parties and dinners on board the visiting ships/fleets from France, USA, New Zealand and Australia, the Governor's Garden Party (gloves and tights to be worn even though it was very hot!!), watched Ghurka and Marine bands Beating the Retreat and also had to host Roy Hattersley while he visited our flat during his time as Minister of Defence for Administration. My mother had a prescribed (unpaid) role too as part of his job - she took over as the Secretary of the Hong Kong Children's Playground Association, a charitable concern, as well as being part of the welfare side looking after the wives of the sailors. It was an interesting time to be there - the US and other ships came up from Vietnam for R&R and the Chinese were not keen on us, so diplomacy was key.

          On his return from there he was posted to the Royal Naval Air Yard, Fleetlands, Gosport until he retired. By this time I had started my first teaching job near them and as my mother had fractured her back, again I was expected to be his partner at official functions so spent a lot of time going up and down to Gosport after work!

          The education and training opportunities during his service were excellent - his Electrical Artificer training meant that he was eligible to be a Chartered Engineer and the RN gave him the opportunity to study to become a Chartered Secretary as well as giving him the experience with procurements.

          He opted to retire aged 45 and went to work in industry as a contracts manager, first with Rolls Royce Gas Turbines in Leicester and then Pye (later to be taken over by Phillips) in Cambridge. He decided after 10 years of it that working in industry wasn't for him, so left Phillips and started his third career, as an antiquarian bookseller - specialising in maritime books.


          SHORE BASES between 1944 and 1973
          HMS Daedalus Lee on the Solent, Hampshire - several times
          HMS Raleigh (ATE) Torpoint, Cornwall
          HMS Condor/ RNAS Arbroath, Scotland
          HMS Ariel Risley (also called Culcheth) in Warrington, Lancs.
          HMS Ariel, Worthy Down, Hampshire
          HMS Gannet/ RNAS Eglinton, Londonderry
          HMS Nuthatch/RNAS Anthorn, Cumbria
          HMS Royal Arthur Skegness, Lincolnshire
          HMS Hawke Dartmouth, Devon
          HMS Pembroke Royal Naval College, Greenwich
          HMS Collingwood Fareham, Hampshire
          HMS Victory Portsmouth
          HMS Sanderling/RNAS Abbotsinch, Renfrewshire
          HMS Heron/RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset
          HMS President St Giles Court (MOD), London - twice
          Blackburn factory at Brough
          McDonnell factories in the USA
          HMS Fulmar, Lossiemouth, Morayshire
          HMS Tamar, Hong Kong
          RNAY Fleetlands, Gosport, Hampshire

          Ships served on
          There may be others I don't know about, as when he was attached to a squadron, the squadrons would go off on aircraft carriers while officially assigned to the shore bases.
          HMS Indomitable
          HMS Eagle
          HMS Ark Royal
          HMS Albion - a year long round the world trip, including visiting Aden during the Suez Crisis in 1956
          HMS Victorious - at sea on and off for nearly a year

          This is really just the bare bones, but all the shore bases, squadrons and ships have a lot of detail available online, including pictures of times when he will have been serving there. Google Is your friend!!
          Caroline
          Caroline's Family History Pages
          Meddle not in the affairs of Dragons, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup.

          Comment


          • #6
            The only known “Sailor” on my tree was my Great Aunt’s husband, Aubrey Eric Peters who initially enlisted in the Navy before being transferred to the RAF. Because he’s on an outlying branch of my tree I know very little of his service.

            the list of home shore bases that Caroline posted is very helpful, I have seen lots of posts where people are looking for a ship whereas in fact it’s the name of a “home port”.

            You do not have permission to view this gallery.
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            My Family History Blog Site:

            https://chiddicksfamilytree.com

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            • #7
              What a fascinating career your father had Caroline, thank you for sharing it with us.

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              • #8
                Thanks again for the prompt to focus on someone in my tree and look at a bit more detail about him. The man in question was my father's grandfather but there were no stories passed down about him as my father lost both his grandfather and his own father before he was even 4 years old. The only tiny snippet I had was that he had been on the Iron Duke at some time during the 1880s. And this proved to be true.

                Charles James Goodall was born in October 1861 not long after his parents were married. He was one of three children. In 1871 he was living with his grandparents in Leamington but by 1876 when he was just 16 he had signed up with the Navy and spent the next couple of years until his 18th birthday on two training vessels - the Fisgard and the Impregnable. At 18 he transferred to the Iron Duke where he was listed in the 1881 census as Able Seaman. I have a copy of his service record which makes interesting reading, not least that his conduct varied from Very Good to so poor / indifferent that he spent a few days at one point in Bodmin Jail. Later, aged still only 24 he spent 28 days in jail in Byculla, Mombai and then ended his service career in Haslar Naval Hospital, presumably suffering from something unpleasant that he picked up in jail in India. Interestingly, Byculla Jail still exists and a quick internet search shows that to this day it is a pretty horrendous place to be locked up.

                Charles J Goodall Navy record 1876-85-3498x2541 small.jpg

                Soon after his discharge from the hospital and from the Navy he married Albertina Carpenter in 1885 and they had 5 children together. Charles died of pneumonia and heart failure in 1920. I don't have any photos of him but the description on his service record is that he was 5' 7", with blue eys, light coloured hair and a fresh complexion. He had anchor tattoos on each of his forearms and tattooed bracelets on both wrists so in my tree software I have a naval anchor image for his profile picture.
                Main research interests.. CAESAR (Surrey and London), GOODALL (London), SKITTERALL, WOODWARD (Middlesex and London), BARBER (Canterbury, Kent), DRAYSON (Canterbury, Kent), CRISP (Kent) and CHEESEMAN (Kent).

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                • #9
                  Gardengirl It seems Bodmin jail had a naval wing, there are some old photos here but it is now a tourist attraction and hotel, so you could actually go and stay there!

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                  • #10
                    I originally posted this as "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Favourite Photo" on a blog about my Great Grandfather Edward Henry Wilkinson 1861-1934

                    It is difficult to choose a favourite photo as those of us who are fortunate enough to have any of their ancestors will agree. They are all pretty special but this one of the family aboard my great grandfather’s barge ‘Sea Gypsy’ has to be up there. Perhaps this is a Sunday afternoon picnic on the river?


                    Wilkinson's on Sea Gypsy.jpg
                    I just love that my Great Grandmother is actually pouring tea from a huge teapot into a cups and saucers – who would do that these days? ……and she has on the ubiquitous floral pinny!
                    Although this photo was taken in 1932 Edward had acquired the barge much earlier and had enjoyed much of his retirement sailing the Rivers Stour, Orwell and Deben in Essex and Suffolk.

                    ‘ Grandfather’ in the photo is my great grandfather, Edward Henry Wilkinson, together with Great Grandma, Cassandra Elizabeth (Palmer), my grandfather, Raymond Wilkinson and his brother-in-law, my great uncle 'Bob' - Robert Lock.

                    Edward Henry Wilkinson was born 1st May and baptised 23rd June 1861 in Tollesbury, Essex. As with his forefathers, Edward had an affinity with the sea; firstly, as a fisherman and oyster dredger and then, after his marriage in 1885 and their move to Harwich then on to Dovercourt, as an AB aboard the ferries of the Great Eastern Railway (GER) running between Harwich and the Hook of Holland. For the year 1891 he was an AB aboard SS Brandon and his known ferries between 1906-1907 were the SS Cambridge and SS Brussels as mate, then, after gaining his Master’s Certificate for a home trade passenger ships on 15th May 1908, he served in SS Brussels as first mate and then Master on SS Essex and SS Brussels until his retirement in 1913.
                    He was fortunate not to have served on a sister ship SS Berlin when it was wrecked on the night of 20th February 1907 just off the Hook of Holland in a terrible storm. 128 of the 144 persons on board died that night; 40 of whom were crew.

                    d3cd2b29-718d-47dd-b771-5f67102dccee.jpg
                    Misc Crew Lists for Great Eastern Railway Ships - Index. Transcript Copyright Marcus Bateman 2020.

                    Edward was not listed on the 1901 census with his family; he was probably still at sea on that night. On 1911 census Edward is shown living in Dovercourt with his family and listed as 1st Officer Home Trade, Great Eastern Railways, (Marine) but by 1912 according to Kelly’s Directory for Suffolk he had moved to Ipswich, where he is listed as Master Mariner.

                    Even after he retired Henry did not give up on the sea; he took on part-time work as Captain of a paddle steamer ferrying between Ipswich, Harwich and Felixstowe. On 1921 Census Edward Henry is shown as living in Ipswich as a Master Mariner with Great Eastern Railways Co. River Boats. It was during this time that we believe Edward bought his beloved ‘Sea Gypsy’. My grandfather, Raymond Wilkinson recalled tales of their family jaunts out on the river after WW1. What joy!

                    sea gypsy.jpg
                    'Sea Gypsy on the River Orwell'

                    On 13 May 1934, two years after the 'favourite photo' had been taken, Edward died of heart failure whilst out for a walk. He was buried at Whitton-cum-Thurlston, Ipswich on 16th May 1934
                    Last edited by Katarzyna; 21-02-22, 19:46. Reason: added info
                    Kat

                    My avatar is my mother 1821 - 2012

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Jill on the A272 View Post
                      Gardengirl It seems Bodmin jail had a naval wing, there are some old photos here but it is now a tourist attraction and hotel, so you could actually go and stay there!
                      Thanks, Jill. Those are very evocative pictures!
                      Main research interests.. CAESAR (Surrey and London), GOODALL (London), SKITTERALL, WOODWARD (Middlesex and London), BARBER (Canterbury, Kent), DRAYSON (Canterbury, Kent), CRISP (Kent) and CHEESEMAN (Kent).

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Leonard Everitt in the Navy0002.JPG
                        My Dad, Leonard William Everitt was in the Navy during WW2. Joined 10 March 1943 aged 18. He was at D Day and received the Legion D''honneur in 2016 for his part there.

                        They took the Canadian tanks over to France with about 15 Soldiers to get them off the Tank Landing Craft.

                        He was demobbed 14 Sep 1946.
                        Lin

                        Searching Lowe, Everitt, Hurt and Dunns in Nottingham

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Harry Everitt, my Grandad's brother, was a Merchant Seaman. Born in Nottingham in 1897 to William and Clara.

                          By 1911, he wasn't on the census but had signed up. He is on a Merchant Seamans record I have for 22 Nov 1911. Found on the 1930 census for Merchant seaman in America. Also found a document for February 1924 to say he deserted. Not sure if he rejoined or was found and made to go back.

                          Don't know much more about him except Dad said he once visited them and gave all the children 10shillings.
                          Lin

                          Searching Lowe, Everitt, Hurt and Dunns in Nottingham

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                          • #14
                            Solomon Brammer, my 4 x G Grandfather's brother was born in Spittlefield, Grantham in 1777. He had 2 brothers and they were all apprentices in 1785, by the Guardians of the poor. He was sent to Nottingham as a FWK. I have the indenture documents.

                            In 1795 he joined the Navy and I have a document that says he volunteered to go aged 19, a FWK and born Spittlefield.

                            Don't know any more about him though.
                            Lin

                            Searching Lowe, Everitt, Hurt and Dunns in Nottingham

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              A letter from a naval wife.

                              Last week my uncle me sent four airmail letters that were sent to my grandmother. This is from Mona Simpson, wife of Richard Simpson, Dick was my grandad's nephew and they were close, Dick having lost his father Thomas Sidney Simpson who died on HMS Genista in 1916, as a boy he spent a lot of time with his Crisp grandparents in West Wittering, my grandad was only 6 years older than him. Dick married Mona Mackenzie in 1931 and their son John, known by my family as Jackie, was born the following year. Dick had followed in his father's footsteps and joined the Royal Navy as a teenager and was now leaving for South Africa...

                              1, Vine Cresc.,
                              Beacon Park,
                              Plymouth.
                              21.10.37

                              Dear Rose,
                              No doubt you’ll be surprised
                              to hear from me, and it not yet Xmas
                              but I thought you’d like to hear the news.
                              Dick got the Neptune, he left on
                              the 20th Sept. for S. Africa, & I am going
                              out next month, with Jackie, or course, for
                              a couple of years, or as long as he’s there.
                              We have let the house in Fisher Rd.,
                              unfurnished, & I am staying with my mother
                              at present. It was a bit of a struggle
                              of course, to get the money for my fare, but
                              we’ve managed it, just. I was
                              very anxious to go but now that it is
                              drawing near, I’m getting a wee bit
                              nervous. I am very glad now
                              [page 2]
                              that we managed to see you all this
                              year, because for certainty we won’t be
                              seeing you for a couple of years, at least.
                              Is Elsie still with you? If she
                              is, give her my kindest regards, will you?
                              Jackie has not forgotten you
                              all, he has picked it out definitely in his
                              mind as the place he wants to go to for
                              a holiday. Although he never gets the
                              name right, I know where he means.
                              I hope you are all in
                              good health, we’re certainly having
                              the weather to keep us so.
                              I don’t know where I’ll be
                              staying in S. Africa yet, but as soon
                              as we get settled I shall write you.
                              We arrive on Dec. 12th so there will
                              not be time to send you a Xmas card, but you
                              know that I’ll be wishing you all a happy
                              Xmas in my thoughts.
                              Yours Sincerely
                              Milly
                              Last edited by Jill on the A272; 24-02-22, 09:05. Reason: font size

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                              • #16
                                A further letter from a naval wife see post #15 for details of the sender.
                                C/o Blake,
                                Murdoch Valley,
                                C/o Simonstown P.O.
                                S. Africa
                                12.2.38

                                Dear Rose,
                                I did not receive your letter until late in January. It arrived at my mothers the week after I left & she had to wait to hear from me before she could send it on.
                                Dick had a bit of a job to get me a place to come out to, as, when I arrived it was the height of the summer season, & every place was taken, apart from the prices they were charging, which were ridiculous. Anyhow, he managed to get this flat we are in now, they wanted £10 a month, but he knocked them own to £5 from the 13th, the day I arrived to the end of the month. When I got here I had a bit of a shock, having always been used to modern conveniences, & I thought I should never be able to stick it, but it is wonderful how one can adapt oneself, so you
                                see we are still here & have taken it on a year’s lease, for which of course, they reduced the rent a bit.

                                It is a very nice flat, three large rooms & a kitchen, & a front stoep, which we would just call a balcony. Up to now however, it has been too windy to use this
                                stoep at all, I’m only too glad to get in out of the wind. You would not believe that it was possible for wind to blow so hard & so constantly as it has done out here, it is a South-easter & they call it the Cape Doctor, but I’m sure I could do fine without it.It takes away all the benefit one might get from the sun, & has it made me swear. However, since Saturday (this is Wednesday) it has dropped & I can understand better why the people think it is lovely here. But this wind is just peculiar to this little corner of S. Africa. Up in Durban, & those other places they do not get it at all, they get intense heat & very heavy rains, which we do not get down here, so I have been told. I think I would prefer the rain to the wind myself.

                                Oh, I hadn’t finished telling you about the flat, well, the drawbacks are, no elect. or gas, I have a paraffin oil stove & lamps, & I have to draw the water from the well, which is the chief drawback, as it is downhill with the empty bucket, but of course up hill when it is full. Then there is no sanitation of course, & I have to climb over a few rocks to empty all my rubbish into the sea.
                                The sea is right in front of us & the house is built into the mountain. Can you get the idea? I’ll have a look and see if I can find a snap of the house which Dick took.

                                It is wonderful for Jackie here, he is beginning to look a lot more robust and more like what I should like him to be. Only it would be nicer if he had a chum or two to play with, he only has a little dog out here, which belongs to the people upstairs, the owners of the house, their name is Blake. Still he climbs up & down the rocks and dashes up and down the mountain side & on the whole manages to amuse himself quite well. Sometimes I take him along to the beach but not too often, it’s too windy, you’ve got sand in your ears and your teeth for about a week afterwards. He goes to school in the mornings only, I had to send him to the Convent School as they don’t take them in the ordinary school here until they are seven what an age, isn’t it, in England they are quite advanced at seven years old. I have to pay for him there and buy all his books & a uniform which I had to make, as clothes are awfully expensive out here. However, he doesn’t seem to be learning much except hymns & prayers, so I’m going to the other school before the next term starts to see if I can get him in. If necessary I’ll say he is a year older to get him in.

                                You can tell Shirley that Jackie is not in the least afraid of the black men, but I’m sorry to say his Mammy is, just a little bit. When I was in England I always stoutly defended black people, if any discussion arose about them, but I feel a bit different about it all now when I see so many of them. Of course there are quite a lot of respectable people amongst them, but the crowds of dirty men& kids you see lounging about the street & the smell that comes from their shops is enough to put anybody off. That was partly my reason for agreeing to remain out here instead of getting a place in Simonstown itself, we are I suppose about half-a-mile from the nearest house here, but I’d rather have the loneliness than know that there were all those black men hanging about my door at nights, especially while Dick is away. He has only been away for a fortnight & a few odd days since I’ve been here, but they’ve got to do two month’s cruise starting in May, I believe, but on the whole he won’t be away nearly so much as he would if he were in the Home Fleet. They are going to Durban in July and he would like it if I could go, I would too, of course, but it is rather a long way & I think the fare is somewhere about £10, so it would cost quite a bit for Jack & I. I don’t think I’ll manage it this year, but must try the next time they go. After coming all
                                this way I might as well try & see a bit more of it.

                                I was very sorry to hear you were ill again & sincerely hope you are quite better now. Jack has just come in from school so there is no more peace now, he keeps on talking so will have to stop writing.
                                Best love to yourself, Bert and the kiddies & Elsie if she is still with you
                                From Millie & Dick

                                ​​​​​​​

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                                • #17
                                  The last letter from a naval wife although the year is not written on there are clues that it was 1939. See post #15 for sender's details.

                                  C/o Keeper,
                                  St Georges Street
                                  Simonstown
                                  Cape,
                                  S.Africa
                                  12 Nov [1939?]

                                  Dear Rose & Bert,
                                  Christmas is almost upon us again & probably will be here by the time you get this. It reminds me of all the letters I should have been writing all through the year, & haven’t done, but I’m hoping to drop at least a few lines to everybody now, just to let you know that at the time of writing at least, we are all O.K. Dick, of course, is gone, we don’t know where, I get letters from him but they are all censored & he is not allowed to
                                  say where they are. We are constantly hearing rumours of course, but I’ve got so sick of hearing them that
                                  don’t take the slightest notice of them now. Dick told me to stay here if war did break out, (he had to go
                                  before it happened you see) & in any case I’m afraid I’m too much of a coward to cross the water just now, so it looks as if I’ll be stuck out here for the duration of the war. It is a terrible thing to have happened though isn’t it, even now there are times she I have to ask myself if I’m awake & not dreaming that we are at war.
                                  It does seem to me to be a bit of a bit of a farce to wish anyone a Merry Xmas just now, but everybody
                                  is doing it just the same, so when I wish you a Merry Xmas, I mean as Merry as possible under the circumstances.
                                  I hope Diane & Shirley & L**** (is it L****? I’m a bit vague) are all well also yourself & Bert. I’m writing this early in Nov. but will leave it open as long as possible in case I get any real news of Dick, before I have to post.
                                  Cheerio for the present,
                                  Yours sincerely, Milly
                                  P.S. A week later, no more news.

                                  Last edited by Jill on the A272; 24-02-22, 09:34. Reason: living person's name removed

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                                  • #18
                                    I have a big box of letters written by my father to my mother - he wrote to her pretty much every day when he wasn't at home. One day I might transcribe them but I read a few and felt that I was eavesdropping and put them back again. I can see there is huge detail in there about travelling to and from home (wherever it happened to be then) and life on board ship, almost like a diary, and comments about us, but they will need to wait.
                                    Caroline
                                    Caroline's Family History Pages
                                    Meddle not in the affairs of Dragons, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup.

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                                    • #19
                                      I love reading these old letters, such an insight into the lives and feelings of our ancestors.

                                      Thanks for sharing them, Jill.
                                      Main research interests.. CAESAR (Surrey and London), GOODALL (London), SKITTERALL, WOODWARD (Middlesex and London), BARBER (Canterbury, Kent), DRAYSON (Canterbury, Kent), CRISP (Kent) and CHEESEMAN (Kent).

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                                      • #20
                                        A letter from Richard Simpson RN to his aunt and uncle Rose & Bert Crisp in East Wittering (my grandparents). The letter is dated 16th April but there is no year, he was serving on HMS Neptune at the time of the letter but had left before it was lost with all hands except one in December 1941 so it has to be either 1940 or 41.
                                        C.P.O.’s Mess,
                                        H.M.S. Neptune,
                                        C/o G.P.O.
                                        London
                                        16th April

                                        Dear Rose & Bert,
                                        I must write and thank you for the nice time you gave me during the weekend and say how much I enjoyed myself, I’m afraid that worrying about catching the ‘busI I neglected thanking you as I left.

                                        I have had a letter from Milly today; she has shifted from her old address and is now living at Kalk Bay, this place is not ffar from Simonstown and is quite a nice place. Milly is sharing a house with another girl whose husband is on active service, she has a daughter about the same age as Jack. The house has six large rooms,kitchen and all “etcs”, it is right beside the sea and has a big patch of grass in front which will be handy for the kids.

                                        I had quite a good journey back yesterday, and arrived in good time. I saw and had a yarn with George Kewell at the station before I left. Milly’s new address is
                                        Gordon’s Cottage,
                                        Harris Rd.,
                                        Kalk Bay
                                        Cape. S.A.
                                        Well I must close now, thankyou
                                        ever so much for a lovely weekend.
                                        Cheerio
                                        Dick



                                        Richard Simpson RN Ordnance Artificer 1st Class was killed off Torbruk aboard HMS Coventry on 14th September 1942. His widow Mona (aka Milly) and son John returned to England on 5th April 1946, they went back to her mother's and I have found a court case from September 1946 where she had to take the tenant of her house at 18 Fisher Road to court to get the house back, the court granting the tenant leave to stay there until April 1947.

                                        We lost touch with the Simpsons I think until the 1980s when Jack (John) & his wife took a trip to West Wittering to see his Crisp grandparents' house and was overheard talking about the Crisps - there was a reunion with my mother and her brother and one of her sisters. I kept in touch with him by letter and Christmas card after my mother died until his death in 2007. I know he has a daughter in Australia and two sons here one of whom is an artist in the West Country, but we are not in touch.

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