Home             MESS ROOM 2008 [1]

THE MESS ROOM

2008 DECEMBER - JULY

 
 
 
Mesage received 21st December 2008.
 
Hi Tug
I think I finally have the full story of what happened on the 30th January 1952. The Worcester, as was, had a magazine called The Dog Watch and there is a report in there on the incident which is pasted below.
COLLISION, M.V. "AQUIETY" AND S.V. “CUTTY SARK."
About 6 p.m. on 30th January, all hands rushed on to the upper deck on feeling a crash on the starboard bow. There, in the darkness, could be seen a fully laden tanker of some 800 tons, belonging to Messrs. F. T. Everard and Sons. Greenhithe, that had run foul of the bow of the Cutty Sark, and powerless to manoeuvre, was interlocked with the clipper and crashing her down in the strong ebb tide alongside the Worcester. The 40 foot jib boom of the Cutty Sark immediately caught the fo'c'sle rails and carried them away, the jib boom itself snapping at the inboard end, carrying away all fittings, including the arm of the " Naughty Witch," the figurehead. The bow of the Cutty Sark then scraped down the Worcester's starboard side, damaging plates, platform and fittings, and carrying away her own stout port cat-davit. Fortunately, the Cutty Sark’s yards were braced round and did not foul those of the Worcester which might have led to serious consequences. Cutty Sark and Aquiety finally drifted astern clear of the Worcester; the former dropped her anchor, which eventually brought her up, whilst one of the four moorings of the Cutty Sark still held, and with the help of this, two launches and a tug, she was held and then slowly towed up river alongside Everard's floating crane. Here the remaining mooring cable was cut in order to free her, and at 2 a.m. she was towed and secured to the Rainham Tier buoys off Erith, where she remained for some days until taken in hand for repair by Messrs. Green and Silley Weir, Ltd., at Shadwell Basin. The missing arm of the "Naughty Witch" was recovered days later at Ward's Wharf, Thurrock, and sent to London for replacing on the damaged figurehead.
There is still the question of which tugs may have been involved, particularly who towed her to Shadwell Basin? If you are able to help with this I would be very grateful.
Roger Hodge.
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Message received 14th December 2008.
 
Hi Tug I've just discovered the site and was both delighted and saddened. Delighted to find an active site and really impressed with the quality but also saddened to hear of the death of Joe Horey. He was deck hand on the Sun XV111 when I knew him and we spent many a night in the Leytonstone pubs. I was boy cook from 1964 on the Sun XX111 and then from 1965 on the new Sun11 (which we collected from Hull.) Then from 1967 to 1969 on the Sun V111 and the Sun X as junior deck hand. The first crew I was with was with Skipper Stan Smith (who I believe went from Junior deck hand to first mate during WW1) The mate was Dave Cross, senior deckhand was Eddie Bridgeland and Chief engineer was John Brown. My elder brother  Danny Collins, was senior deck hand on the Sun X. Is the Ray Woods mentioned the same Ray Woods from Chauntler Road, Custom House? Regards to All     
Mick Collins
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Message received 10th December 2008.
 
I wonder if someone is able to help me with the following query.
I am a volunteer on the Cutty Sark and we have a photograph in our archive of the tug Sun XVIII towing the Cutty Sark into a dock, probably the East India Dock but I can’t be certain. The photograph is dated c1952. We also have a copy of a painting showing the same tug towing the Cutty Sark upstream away from HMS Worcester but this does not have a date attached. Our records show other movements when Gondia, Java and Kenia were used but there is no mention of Sun XVIII. The information we are seeking is a more accurate date and also why Cutty Sark was being moved. In 1953 the Cutty Sark Preservation Society was formed and all movements of the ship and why were recorded thereafter but the reason and date of the Sun XVII tow unfortunately pre-dates the Society’s records. Any information would be gratefully received.
Roger Hodge
I have emailed some details to Roger regarding this event which I believe took place in March 1951, but can any of you ex-XVIII's add anything?
 
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Message received 2nd December 2008.
 
Just a few lines to say thankyou to peter sutherland for the reply about my dad and Bill Wood, i  can just about remember the deckhands back in those days when my dad was on the sun xv1 and xv11. so one of them was probably you ! i also remember a bit later in the 60s the cook on my dads tug was named billy, maybe you knew him also, there was also a deckhand who was good at painting pictures of the tugs. and i still have a painting he done of the sun xx, i also remember my mum telling me that somebody from the tugs had called in at john street to let dad know he was late !....thanks again for the reply Peter have a great xmas........
Pat Flynn jnr.
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Message received 1st December 2008.
 
Hello, Trish & Pat jnr.
I worked on the XVI & XVII with Bill Woods and Pat Flynn also there was George Anewt? eng., Bob Jewiss 2rd eng., Jim Jewiss senior.hand, John Hewitt 3rd hand, Jim Grant & Ted -----? were the firemen. I was cook there in 1961 and then later 3rd hand in the crew.I can remember Bill Woods  sending me to St. Johns Rd on a couple of times to tell Pat he was late for work, The other thing which I can still hear and see is Bill  with a fag in his mouth leaning over the top bridge screaming for Pat to go up and see him. Bob gave me the name of Snorky or Snorkel - I always answered to that and it stuck till I retired in 2006 .(44 years on the tugs)  Sending all who read this my best for christmas and for the new year.
Peter Sutherland
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Message received 29th November 2008.
 Hi Tug
I noticed the article from Harold Russell regarding the Bencomo being escorted to Aalborg in Denmark by the Dhulia.I can fill in some of the gaps regarding crew members as I was one of the two deckhands in the crew at the time.The other deckhand was John Cole.The boy cook was Ron Stanford. William Connelly was the 2nd eng I am almost certain the other crew member was Roy
Smallwood. Our orders were escort the ship and make fast to her stern if the weather  deteriorated. Luckily the weather held out and we did NOT have to make fast to the ship.We met up with a British army football team the night ashore in Aalborg and what a time we had for a few hours
    Finally all the best for Christmas and 2009
                  Colin Gardner
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Message received 22nd November 2008:
 
A big hello to Trish Van Zyl.
Just a few lines to let you know that I knew your uncle Bill because my Father Pat Flynn senior was first mate with Bill Wood for very many years, and also a friend of Bills outside of work also.
 My Father would take me on board the steam tugs sun xv1 and sun xv11 when i was a boy of 7 or 8 years of age, and i clearly remember Bill buying me both comics and sweets, at the time which was back in the 60s if my memory serves me correctly Bill lived at Woodfield Avenue Gravesend and my family lived at John St both in Gravesend ! I was once told that Bill never married and lived with his Mother, he was a very well respected tug Captain and probably taught my Dad most of what he knew about ship towage, my Dad went Captain when Bill retired and at the time of his death from cancer in 1986 he was the captain
of the sun London, I read of Bills passing in our local newspaper the reporter and it also mentioned that he was living in South Africa at the time, I also remember somebody telling me (probably my mum) that Bill had a niece and that he thought the world of her. and ime pretty sure that the niece in question was yourself! .....
Well take good care Trish have a great xmas when it gets here it was good memories thinking back about  my boyhood,  of your uncle Bill and my Dad.
Pat Flynn.......jnr
If anyone else out there has any memories or records of any of the Wood family involvement with the Gravesend tugs please let us know. - TUG.
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Message received 20th November 2008:
 
Over the last year have looked at your internet site if possible on a day to day basis and read the letters sent to this brilliant site.  Please keep this on   going just love to see the tugs of to.day and years gone by.  Please  give every one my best wishes for the christmas festive season and may they all stay safe  ...
Peter Carter    Western Australia
Thanks Peter and all the best to you. Keep out of the sun Xmas day!!- Tug.
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Message received 15th November 2008:
 
I'm so very pleased to hear that John Peard is still alive and kicking.  Thanks for the news Barry.  Next time you speak to him, please remember me to him and apologise for my report of his premature demise.
Kind regards
Frank Cable
 
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Message received 14th November 2008
 
Message for Pat Flynn Jnr.
 Please direct me to photo you refer to as I think the link is actually a different photo.[This refers to a comment made by Pat on the gallery site - Tug] Also intrigued to know how you knew my uncle died in South Africa, which he did, in Fish Hoek, where he spent his last days. Great website.
Trish Van Zyl.
 
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Message received 12th November 2008
 
MESSAGE FOR FRANK CABLE
REGARDING YOUR MESSAGE ON 27 TH OCTOBER CONCERNING JOHN PEARD, I AM HAPPY TO REPORT JOHN IS ALIVE AND WELL ,I HAD A LOVELY CHAT WITH HIM YESTERDAY 11TH NOVEMBER, JOHN AND HIS BROTHER BERN [BUCK] ARE STILL LIVING IN NORTHFLEET.
           REGARDS
           BARRY SUTHERLAND
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Message received 5th November 2008.
 
In response to a query on the Shipsnostalgia website i wondered if any tugmen could remember if the Southampton based, Union-Castle mailship EDINBURGH CASTLE ever visited the Thames in 1975/6.
Replies much appreciated.
Cheers John Grainger (ex SUN VIII, SUN XVIII)
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Message received 2nd November 2008.
 
Hi Mick Wheelband here,
 l started on the Sun Tugs in 1958 as a cook on board the Sun V. Skipper George Turner, Mate Derek James, Deck hand Jo Josh, Third hand Terry ? can not remember his surname. Then l went to the XX1 with skipper Don Webb, Mate Gordon Packer, Deckhand Johnny Cross Third hand myself, Cook Tony Dunkley. Enjoyed many years on this tug and finally left in 1968 and went as a self employed Waterman. Then just recently l have worked for three years on the Woolwich ferry had a good time and worked with a good crew until in June this year l was 65 and therefore had to retire. On the ferry l worked with Trevor Harris a good mate of mine, he also was on the Sun tugs he was on the XV11 and the XX11
If anyone remembers me, do drop us a line would like to hear from you.
Tweedle as l was known as
 
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Message received 27th October 2008.
 
Message for Denis Roberts:
Hello there again Denis.  Sad to hear that John Bromley and John Peard had passed away. I would have guessed the the skipper and chief would have but not those two. They couldn't have been that old. In fact, I think John Bromleys wife went to school with one of my sisters. He took the Terrace pub didn't he.  I remember going in there a few times to see him after I joined the RAF.  He still treated me as if I was his cook.  HaHa. I would love to hear from you.  Let me know what happened after I left. Tug has given you my email address I hope, so get in touch, I'd love to hear from you.
Regards,
Frank Cable
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Message received 10th October 2008.
 
Hi  Mike Robinson in Australia
when you joined the Racia as 3rd hand ,I was the mate & Willy Watson 2nd mate & Fred Gillis was the skipper ,
and you and Willy used to wrestle down the after cabin , and when we got the bunkers , Fred the skipper would have the coal half way up the funnel [glad them days have gone].
 I ended up skipper of the Sun 26 .and took early retirement in 1995, after 45 years on the tugs ,
 We had a reunion on tuesday  7-10-2008 and Willy was there ,and a lot of the old hands ,
 hope to hear from you,
 so all the best Mike ,
 
Doug Hardy.
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Message received 3rd October 2008.
 
Hi Tug
 I was sorry to hear about the death of Joe Horey.
 I worked with Joe on the Sun XVIII from 1966/69 as a cook,
 It was Joe that taught me to cook ,and have very fond memorys of Joe and my Sun Tug days
 
   regards
    Steve Martin
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Message received 2nd September 2008.
 
Hi Tug,Re the photo of Dhulia and Bencomo.Bencomo had heavy bow damage after her collision with an Esso tanker.I went as navigating master with Dad escorting Bencomo to Alborg in Denmark via the Skagerak .Most of the way we stayed astern averaging 12knots but when the wind came away from the Northwest we towed her stern first for 12 hours for fear of damaging the forward bulkhead.Being my Dad we stayed in Alborg four hours long enough to get a few lagers.Dad and the pilot took her down the river into a southwest gale I think to teach us a lesson.We came back via Kiel Canal.George Dunlop was engineer,I think Chunky Wood was there Stan Wood was mate and I am not sure if Mick Wenban was there.I'm afraid the memory is failing.By the way does anybody know what became of Fred Love who was my skipper when I was deckhand in the Contest? Regards to all.Harold Russell.
 
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Message received 23rd August 2008.
 
Dear Tug
        Initialy may I congratulate you on an excellent web site, I am new to computing,about four to five months,and at the age of seventy it does not sink in very well. Anyway I was told about your site and after going through your wonderful collection of photographs I came upon one that brought back memories of my childhood It graced our parlour wall until I went deep sea in the early fifties, it was a framed photo of Vanquisher (1),one of my dads tugs though I know he was also in Crusade and Security. My birth certificate states that he was a tug engineer  though i do not think he was quaulified.
                  At a later date, I would, wih your permission, like to write up some material about him also of, my elder brother Fredrick Ronald Shelton,of  Empire Wold and Tanga, and his epic voyage from Iceland in Tanga. Sadly at the age of eighty three he died last summer
                                      My reason for contacting you at this moment in time is to inform anyone knowing him that at the age of eighty seven at Greenock Scotland after a long illness my elder brother Ted Shelton passed away.this week. I am doubtful that he would be known on the post war Thames,the reason I will come to later. Ted under Capt J R Lukes was at Dunkirk in Sun XI. this must have been very traumatic for all the crews involved, there was no councelling in those days it would appear they were not made very welcome at Dunkirk.Not long after Sun XI with Ted on board was dispatched to the Clyde He did not return to the Thames,he met a lovely lady in Glasgow so decided to stay and after a short while became master of the Empire Ace this was followed by various naval towing projects ie senior tug master Holyloch and later Gareloch,there is very little of the scottish coast that he  did not know. Sadly after bearing him seven children his wife Nan died young so he had to raise his children himself, Six have survived him and will be at the funeral on Wednesday  27th Aug.at Greenock
     I wonder how many Dunkirk veterans remain.sadly they must be getting few and far between now. Anyway thankyou Tug   With best regards
     Alan Shelton
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Message received 22nd August 2008.
 
Hi Tug,
I was saddened to learn of JOE HOARY having passed away, we became good friends back in 66/69 when I was a cook on SUN111/ X11/ XV. When I left LONDON TUGS to go into the docks joe was on SUN XV111.I  often look back to those tugs days with fond memories, wondering what's become of some of the chaps I worked with?. Would like to hear from JIMMY DOVE,who was deckhand on the SUN111 when I was on her,so if anyone could help I would be very grateful.
Regards Dave Rennie.
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Message received 21st August 2008.
 
In reply to message from Frank Cable 27-2-2008.
 
Hello Frank, yes I remember you from the Sun X1X days. Have retired from the tugs since 2003 .Was Roger Parker there with us, he went to the Medway and is now skipper. H Webb , J Bromley, Percy Peard. J Hawkings have all as far as I know  passed away.
 
Regards Den Roberts
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Message received 14th August 2008
 
Hello Tug,
 I have just found your site and have seen some names I worked with in the P.L.A. Bill Cramer, John Burgess, Terry Morgan and Tom Morris. I think Tom took my place on the Plankton when I was sent to the Plagal in the West India Dock. Give my best wishes to Terry, John and Bill. I am still in touch with some of the lads we worked with.
Regards, Mick Kirby ex PLA
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Mesage received 6th August 2008.
 
Dear Sir’
Like a lot of people contacting you it was through tracing my family history that I came upon your website. Our paths have crossed regarding your entry for the Warrior (2) owned by the Elliott Steam Tug Co. Ltd. My grandfather, Leonard James Williams, was the master of this tug during her tour of duty as HM(T) Warrior in the 1st World War. I have attached a photograph of my grandfather in his Sub-Lieutenant’s uniform, which you may use, if you so desire. He was later promoted to full Lieutenant in September 1917, therefore this was taken while he was the master of the Warrior
I have read the book ‘Danger Zone’ by E Kemble Chatterton, which records the Naval operations of the Queenstown command during the 1st World War, but there is no mention of the salvaging of the Wayfarer, which you list. I would be very interested in learning more of this incident. Are you able to provide more details relating to this? Incidentally ‘Danger Zone’ makes reference to another tug, Stormcock. Was she one of the Gamecock tugs ?
The most intriguing element of her history relates to the incident on the 31st March 1922, when she was instrumental in the capture of the Upnor by the IRA. This was extensively reported in the ‘Irish Times’ during April, and in the ‘Times’ on the 1st April. The speeches by Winston Churchill appear to have been delivered through clenched teeth and his terse responses to questions show that he was clearly ‘not amused’. This ties in with a story told to me by my Aunt, that the first her Mother knew of the incident was when she read in the newspaper that her husband had been arrested for ‘gun running’ on behalf of the IRA. As Leonard’s father was Irish, and had been a vocal supporter of ‘Ireland for the Irish’, one can understand why suspicion might have fallen on him as being complicit in the event. This is still the subject of research on my part, but if you have further details I would be very interested in them. There is one anomaly that puzzles me. The Warrior was owned by the EST Co., however my grandfather was employed by the TCD Co., and had been the master of several tugs, dredgers and hoppers during the pre-war years, even taking two overseas commissions in the Gulf of St Lawrence and the River Plate. His assignment to the Warrior began on 10th April 1915 and was probably a combination of his experience, qualifications and availability. His tour of active duty finished on the 24th May 1919 when he suffered a nervous breakdown and appears to have attended several naval hospitals prior to formal discharge on the 9th December 1919 with the demobilisation of the RNVR. It therefore seems strange that he was still the master of the Warrior in 1922, particularly as he wasn’t an employee of the EST Co. Are you able throw any light on that ?
My grandfather, Leonard James Williams, and his elder brother, George Robert Williams, were both apprenticed to the Company of Watermen and Lightermen. Possibly their younger brother, William, was also apprenticed, but I have still to confirm that. I have my grandfather’s certificates, which show that he was fully licensed as a waterman, but I have still to research George’s career. The Williams family were not traditional waterman, but it appears that strings were pulled by their father, Robert Pakenham Williams, who was a prominent Baptist preacher in the Greenwich/Deptford area and involved with the Seamans Mission on Creek Street, (now the Up the Creek comedy club). The frontpiece of the family Bible has a gold inscription from the Mission. The brothers do not appear to have stayed as watermen, both ending up in the employ of TCD Co., George working in the office, while Leonard kept the deck beneath his feet. I have a letter from George to Leonard informing him as to the company’s arrangements for his secondment to Canada. My grandfather started his service as a deckhand and listed a large number of brigs, colliers, coasters, tugs, dredgers and hoppers during his time and attained a full Home Trade master’s licence. He was very proud to be in uniform, as shown in the photograph, and tried to enlist in the RFA, but was turned down.
I trust you will find some of this information of use to your project, and if you are able to throw a light on some of my queries I would be grateful. If you have any details regarding George’s employment by the TCD Co, they would also be gratefully received.
Yours sincerely
Len Williams
 
Len's Grandfathers pic appears in Crew Photo's in the gallery and at the moment also in Latest Pics. If anyone can add anything to the above please get in touch. Thanks Len for a very interesting post.

 

 
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Message received 4th August 2008.
 
Hi I think the photo of Captain Dyer, Biggs and Borman the unkown is Dave Dunstall.
 
yours Bill Cramer [ex sun tugs]
 
Photo in Gallery, Crew photos:

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Message received 25th July 2008.
 
In answer to Message From Tug 22nd July
Joe Horey died on the 14th October 1999.  When a shake up at Gravesend  a long long time ago some of the men went to Felixstowe to work.  Joe and I were in one of the crews that were made up, and served with him on the VICTORIA
Captain was Malcom Fisher  Mate Joe Horey 1st Eng Mick Holloway 2nd Eng John Grant.   What a hell of a crew, and one of  the happiest times afloat.  Joe was always Happy, Consumed food like you would not believe, and food fights that are legendary.   Joe was a character, and sadly missed.
Thank you for a wonderful site. Nice to see E. Cawsey is back  
     Mick Holloway
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Message received 23rd July 2008.
 
I have just discovered your website and as my maternal grandfather was a  tug skipper with the Gaslee Line I wonder if anyone might recall him.  Jim Carder died in about 1936 from chronic asthma. I have a photograph  of him at the wheel of a tug named NAJA - obviously from the 1930`s or  so- which I am quite happy to pass on to you if it has any interest. I  was in touch with Alexandra Towing many years ago and they sent me a  p/copy of their booklet on Gaslee tugs and their own fleet.
I have a further  "family memory" of Jim`s brother Percy who was -  allegedly- another tug skipper but seemingly he lost his ticket after  hitching his tug to one of the London bridges and nipping off for a pint  or two. On his return the tug had dragged its moorings and disappeared  downstream. It may well be a fanciful yarn but it summed up two men whom  I wish I had known. Sadly they both died long before I was around. Via Alexandra Towing I do have a copy of Jim Carder`s  employment record which I have to say blows the froth off the image I  had throughout my formative years. There seems to be an awful lot of  going on strike etc and then the final days when he was sent home and  subsequently died.
             There is no doubt that he was a great humorist as all of  his four children testified ( sadly all are now deceased) He moved from  the East End of London to New Cross which was seen then as a real uplift  in status. He also bought a Jowett motor car but my grandmother refused  to get into it outside the front door lest neighbours should think her a  snob. Quite how you can be regarded as a snob with Millwall football  ground a step away down the road is a matter for conjecture.
             One of his (two) sons went with him to fire up the tug in  the early hours of a bleak winter day and he told of these huge men  swaddled in oilskins and sou`westers rowing out to the tugs moored  midstream and coping with the tide and current flow. Apparently they had  to row " like mad upstream" and then allow the current to take them back  to the tugs. Then  there was the firing up process and raising steam  before any work could commence. My uncle was impressed with the  dedication all of the tugmen had to their work and there was a pride in  what they did. Obviously taking strike action must have been something
quite serious.
Best regards
Peter Greenhill
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Message from Tug 22nd  July 2008
 
Hi All
Something quite unbelievable and very ironic has just happened. After all the years I have spent researching the London tugs and latterly the crews I have just learnt, via an Aunt who came to stay with us for a few days, that there was a tugman in her family. The guy was John 'Joe' Horey, who lived in Debden, Essex. Even more remarkably a picture of him, kindly sent by Alan Cobb a fair while back, appears in the Crew Photo's section of the gallery site !! The picture was taken aboard Sunrise but Ray Wood, who was a very good friend of John, also served with him on Sun XI. Unfortunately John died of a heart attack whilst on holiday in Spain in either 1999 or 2000. When my Aunt returns home soon she is going to firm the dates up. Any further info from anyone else who knew him, or knows which other tugs he served on up until his death, would be very gratefully received. 
Thanks to all
TUG.
 
 
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Message received 4th July 2008
 
Hi everybody,I am going to build a model of the "Fabia" as soon as I can
 but having trouble finding a lot about the HS class tugs of which she is
 one.They were built at the end of the First World war to replace tugs lost
 as were "Tids"  in the Second World war.There is one picture on the
 site but if anybody knows anything about them I would appreciate
 information.Dad was deckhand on "Fabia" but it is too late to ask him. The Chantry Model Club are putting on a display of Thames tugs models at the request of Gravesend Council on the promenade this Sunday [July 6th], might interest a few "old hands".
 Harold Russell
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