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SENDING MESSAGES AND PHOTOGRAPH'S  TO THIS SITE

Initial contact should be made via the contact or enquiry button in the main menu above. Please leave your message on the form which appears and state if you wish it to be published in the mess room pages. If you wish to submit photo's to the site please indicate this in your message and further instructions will be sent to you by return. Some notes re photo's appear lower down this page.
 
If you send a message and indicate that you wish it to be published, this is where it will appear in edited form. It will be edited (a) to keep a uniform format, and (b) to eliminate any spurious or abusive posts which unfortunately do occur. Do not worry your post will not become unrecognisable!
 
 To view 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013  messages click on a link at bottom of this page.
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Please note it is NOT our policy to publish your e-mail address on site. This is to protect your privacy and prevent you receiving spam. If your message results in somebody wishing to contact you, this site will send you an e-mail asking if you wish your e-mail address to be revealed to them. NO RESPONSIBILITY IS ACCEPTED FOR ANY INDIVIDUAL OR ORGANISATION WHO MAY CONTACT YOU.

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PHOTOGRAPHS

 If you are sending photographs please use a fairly high DPI setting [300dpi is fine] and aim for a width of about 800 pixels in jpg format. This allows more scope in editing this end. Please send as an E-mail attachment and NOT embedded in the text of the message containing any information about the photos. A maximum of three attachments to any one message please. All this makes life simpler and easier for me!!!
HOWEVER
Please do not let any of the above deter you from sending the photo. If you are unsure send it anway and I will try and sort it out this end. Many thanks and I look forward to seeing many more of your photographs.
 
ALL photographs will appear first on the latest news page. This is normally updated once a week, usually Friday or Saturday. I always try to be fair and publish pics in the order they are received, so please be patient, it may be a couple of weeks before your photo's are published as I usually have a backlog.
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2014

 
 

MESSAGES

Message posted 24-12-2014
 
Hello,
Eldest uncle was captain of the tug Canada. Mothers side were the Smiths who had a lighter building and repair works, see page 80 of Londons Lost Riverscape book. The ships clock from Canada is in the family but not with me.
Regards
Barry Adams
 
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Message posted 1-12-2014
 
Looking to contact anyone who worked on the tugs with my great grandfather Arthur Couves or My grandfather Colin William (BILL) Couves, - Angela Couves
 
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Message posted 24-11-2014
 
My intention is to bring to light the centenary anniversary of the award to my father Lewis John Hills 2nd engineer of the S.T. Revenger. Dad was mentioned in Despatches in the London Gazette dated 8th December 1915, in recognition of his distinguished services during the war, in particular his involvement in the Rufiji tow resulting in the sinking of the German surface raider Konigsberg. This involved a momentous tow of 5000 miles and all it endured, having knowledge of the construction of these old tugs one can only be brought to realise the horrendous conditions they experienced. Anyone who has an interest in the event ie relatives etc I would be pleased to hear.
Thanks, Peter Hills
 
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Message posted 30-10-2014
 
 
Dear Site Owner

My relatives are the Mastin family who feature quite prominently on the site. They worked on Sun V and we have an original painting of the tug still in the family.
Wonder how I might be able to investigate their involvement more fully ?
 
Paul Hammond
 
If anyone can help Paul please contact this site and will pass  messages on.
 
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Message posted 20-10-2014
 
Dear Pete,

I hope this email finds you well as its been a while since we last met onboard Cervia with Mike Houckham. My work has for the last three taken me elsewhere (London Museum of Water & Steam at Kewbridge) and I have as a volunteer been helping crew on the ST Portwey.

Very pleased that the Thames Tug site continues to flourish and has gained the important recognition it deserves by being fully archived. Well done you!

I am now writing on behalf of the Steam Tug Brent Trust (who you may remember I helped establish and am the chairman of), in the hope that you and your many followers may be able at last to help.

As you may know we have in the last few years set up a charitable trust to care for, restore and hopefully get working again the historic little London steam tug Brent.

Built in 1945 as a wartime TID class tug, Brent spent her working life on the Thames and in the London Docks working for the Port of London Authority, until sold for scrap in 1970. She was then rescued by the Hall family who preserved and steamed her successfully for many years until ill health and the need for repairs to the boiler and hull caused her to be laid up in the 1990's. She has since been donated to the Trust.

We are now faced with the difficult task of raising funds so that this important vessel can survive for future generations and can be seen in steam again along the Thames and Eastern and South Eastern shores.

To help us do this we need to show grant making trusts that people care about her. Can you and your followers please support us by signing up to our Facebook and Twitter pages?

We are hoping to launch a fundraising appeal for restoration works soon and we need as many friends as possible! We have a website as well which goes into full detail of our aims and the boats history:

https://www.facebook.com/steamtugbrent

http://www.steamtugbrent.org/

https://twitter.com/SteamTugBrent

If you could post these details onto your pages then we would be very grateful (we can supply a nice picture to go with it!) Also it would be wonderful if we could post regular updates or share info from our web and FB pages onto your site as the project slowly develops.

Brent is only a small tug, but she will need significant funding to restore her as much of the work needs to be done by specialist paid contractors. Its going to be quite a challenge!

Thanks for your consideration and support.
Kindest regards,

Richard Albanese. Chairman STBT.
 
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Message posted 23-8-2014
 
Albert Neall,

I read with interest your recent post (21-3-2014) re Captain Ross of the Simla. My own ancestor was William Page, the engineer mentioned by Kevin Haydon. If you do indeed have a picture of the crew of the Simla that you would be willing to share I would love to see one as we have no family photos of William at all!
Many thanks !    - 
Theresa Page
 
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Message posted 28-7-2014
 
Just read your request re Wally Jeavons. Here is a short trip I done with him as 2nd engineer
Ordered 6am Sunday 20th march 1983, Gravesend terrace pier, Sun London, Wally Jeavons captain, going to sea
Left Gravesend mid morning to proceed to the terschelling bank to move oil rig Glomar Adriatic 60 miles north of present position.
Monday 21st march 1983 Arrived in position 40miles west of Ijmuden, , during day the seas increased to storm force 10, 15mtr high seas,
Tuesday 22nd march, 3 tugs asked permission to go in for shelter to Ijmuden 40 miles away Rig master refused, so we had to ride out the storm.
Wed 23rd march, was informed that a weather window would appear at midnight, 3 tugs connected to rig, we connected at 10.30am, parted towing gear at 11.30, reconnected to rig at 13.30, this is during a gale force 8 to 9, proceeded with tow, 3 tugs in line, a Humber tug on the starboard side, a large Smit Lloyd tug in the centre, and Sun London on the port side, we were taking the full force of the westerly gale, twice the rig overtook us so the transport had to turn the rig back to us, during this time the weight on our towing gear was so great our stop rope parted and all the rope went overboard, meanwhile the towing winch spooling gear smashed up, the wind had increased back to storm force 10, all hands had there lifesaving gear on as we could have easily have turned over and sunk, such was our situation, none of the crew went below decks but all sat in the main alleyway.
  Thursday 24th March, 0400 – 4am Sun London was now getting the full force of the weather and was not steering well, a few times we came that close to our middle tug that we nearly went over his towing gear, imagine 3 tugs towing in line, the seas were that great, as you went up the trough of a sea, the centre tug dissapeared in a hole, Wally decided that it was getting that dangerous we would have to let go and abandon the rig for our own safety, 3 attempt’s were made without success, so the rig was requested to burn through our towing gear, which he done, we now had the task of getting 1000mtr of 6” towing wire back onboard, with the main towing winch spooling gear broken, it took 4 hours of hard work to get it all back onboard, in atrocious sea conditions at one time wally came down to the winch house to see why we were taking so long, but immediately saw our plight, this is the entry from my diary
Thur 24th march –Northerly gale storm force 10 @ 4am abandoned rig, all towing gear u/s, no food & sleep since Sunday all crew members. Told rig towing gear u/s, do you want us to stand by, NO CANT TOW YOUR OFF PAY !!!
Running back to Gravesend
Fri 25th, mid morning, off Harwich as the seas died down, heard the propeller clonking, informed the bridge, on return to Gravesend diver found rope round steering gear, perhaps it was the stop rope that parted and went overboard, was that the problem with Sun London not steering as she should.
As a last comment I will highly commend Wally for his great seamanship that trip in preventing what could have been a catastrophy, what could have been the loss of the Sun London and all hands. Highly regarded Skipper, by ALL.
Best regards
Nolly Harvey Retired chief engineer.

sent this to relation of wally jeavons, this is how I remember this particular trip, some may well bring in further points, or be corrected, regards nolly
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Message posted 10-7-2014
 
I see that Mr aksel Ongre of Norway,is asking about s/tug Empire Winnie,my father was master of her at the time.He placed the first ship called Alan Bank on 6 of june 1944,with tug empire Betsy with my brother as bosun.I have copy of e.t.f.area.also have log of Foremost 87 Dunkirk &Arromanches
Albert Fryer
 
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Message posted 24-6-2014
 
I have read: Records of work done by S. T. "Empire Winnie" from 31.5.44 to 5.7.4 4. My father was onboard the corncob "Sirehei" which Empire Winnie plantet June 11th in Arromanches, according to her report. According to the planting officer lt. cdr. Lampen's memoirs "Sirehei" was planted June 10th with assistance from two American tugs. I am now preparing a manuscript about the four Norwegian ships that were scuttled in Normandy and for correct references I would like to know in which archive Empire Winnie's report is filed. I will of course also refer to thamestugs website.
Best regards, Aksel Ongre. [Norway]
 
Aksel, I have replied by email.
 
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Message posted 24-6-2014
 
Hello again after quite a while.
First may I say what a great job you have done putting this all together. It's a great tribute to all those that have worked on the Thames. I was completely surprised by your model of the Empire Wold. Amazing what you have done. Did you find plans or just work from the few photos?
As for her sinking, after quite a bit of research some time back my own thoughts is she was lost due to bad weather. The submarine that was rumoured to have sunk her did not mention it in her meticulous logs before being herself sunk somewhere near the Mediterranean. Unfortunately I'm going on memory as I lost the research in a computer crash but there is a U boat site with relevant information somewhere.
Your newer photos.
The image TG15, I'm sure The back right figure is my father Fredrick James Fothergill. I have domestic pictures of him that look very similar in his pose and features. The hair is quite distinctive too so I'm fairly certain from the quality of the image.
I can also confirm the center figure in TM5 is Fred.
I do hope that at some point this site is archived for posterity or has others to take over the work eventually. You have done an immense service to those that served and for their families.
Thank you so much.

Ray Fothergill
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Message posted 21-3-2014
 
We are after information on a family member who was Captain Ross of Thames Tug boat Simla. We have family photos of Captain Ross and crew on this Vessel and of the tug itself. Any information would be of great help.
Many Thanks,
Albert Neall
 
 
24-3-2014  G Ross is mentioned in articles by Frank Bowen etc as master of the tugs Zealandia (of 1882), Guiana, Simla, Scotia, c 1906 and Iona, c 1918. I assume all references are to the same George Ross. Captain Ross (born c 1854) was master of the Scotia in the 1911 census. He is listed in the Watkins "Roll of Honour" as a long serving employee (1872-1923) as is the engineer of the Scotia, William Page (born c 1847, 1863-1917). It looks as though he spent some time working away, coasting etc., before working mainly on the Thames, but I have no details of any towage jobs. Perhaps the photographs will give a clue.
Regards,
Kevin Haydon
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Message posted 26-1-2014

In reply to Sidney Conway Ted Stevens OK now lives in Herne Bay, Brian Biggs retired as is Les Dyer both ok as far as I know regards Keith Toms

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Message posted 17-1-2014

 I've just found your site and am amazed at the detail. 
I worked for the PLA from 1967-77 in the docks, afloat in the harbour service and finally with TNS. 
I saw the message dated 02.2013 from Mr Shelton regarding the Bruce Stone in the 70s.  My brother-in-law, Victor Craddock, was the master of the vessel at that time and is still around working afloat. - Mike Dent.
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2013






Message posted 22-12-2013

Hi my name is sidney conway and i worked on the sun   18 and 24. while on the 18 i lost the top of my thumb in the engine room deck door. I would like to know if any of the following people are still about and how they are doing, Capt Les Dyer, Mate Brian Riggs, Senior deck hand Ted Stephens (brother of Roy), also if anyone knows the whereabouts of Tony Bolman, who i was working with when i lost my thumb.Sorry to hear about the passing of Joey Horey. 
Any relations of the above especially Ted, i would appreciate if they could let me know. Thanks.
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Message posted 21-12-2013

 i am trying to find out if any crew members who i might have worked with [Sun Tugs 1964-1969] are still alive and what they may be doing now. can you suggest a site or info as to how i find out. - Sidney Conway.
 
If anyone remembers Sidney please contact the site via contact button and messages will be passed on.
 
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Message posted 13-9-2013
 
Does anyone remember me i am the youngest of the barnetts and worked on number 7 relief and number 11 relief nollie harvey was deckhand john chainey mate roy cole and c phillip where skippers. i now live in southampton since 1976.i have found this tuggie line and have just started using computer now that i know where to put the coal in them!!  - Ray Barnett.
 
21-9-2013 The enquiry from Ray Barnett, who was with me in No11 Relief crew, yes i remember him well, he had a brother in the Tanga  - Nolly Harvey.
 
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Message posted 16-8-2013
 
Keep up the good work, I see on the message board a note from the son of Wally Wakefied, when I was cook of the Kenia 1959 - 61 he was the Senior Deckhand on that tug, he then went as mate on the old Hibernia or No 7 Relief Crew I think, John Cole ( Nanna ) came in as deckhand of Kenia
Regards Nolly Harvey.
 
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Message posted 12-8-2013
 
This is just to take the history of the Hoiles back a few more years.
Charles Hoiles was a boy in the Endeavour in 1881. Later he joined Watkins and was the chief engineer of the Guiana pre WW1 and the chief engineer of the Racia during WW1. His brother-in-law George Pullen was the agent on the Terrace Pier for the PLA and later for Ring Tugs.
Charles' son Bill started on the Ring tug Dorunda in about 1904. My cousin tells me he joined Watkins in time to run down to Dakar in the Arcadia in 1906. The trip may be the reason for the tropical paint job in your photograph. His first command was the little Canada in about 1914. He took command of the newly built Kenia in 1927. I think his last command was the Napia before he came ashore in 1950.
Kevin Haydon
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Message posted 5-8-2013
 
Captain Whitbread - skipper on one of the Cock tugs perhaps - great friend and neighbour of my father John Hoiles, particularly during the war, but is not mentioned on site. Lived in Bernard Street, Gravesend.
Janet Hoiles.
Does anyone remember or have any info on Captain Whitbread please???
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Messages posted 18-5-2013
 
 

Hello, I have been doing my family history for sometime & for years I couldn't find out what happened to my Great, Great Grandfather, Richard Anderson Adams. I was, however proud to see him recorded on your Roll Call page. This was all of particular interest to my uncle, as he and his twin brother (now deceased) worked for the PLA for most of their working lives - when he came off the water in 1984, my uncle was skipper of PLA Plangent!.
I first saw your website, earlier this year,and last week my uncle, who doesn't have a computer, visited so that I could show him what I'd found out our family, but sadly  I couldn't get to your site to show him everthing, and have only just found it again today, so I'll ask Uncle Ken to pay another visit!
Anyway, I just thought I'd share what I've found out about the "early tug" Rambler ON49904, on which my GGGrandfather was a fireman on the 1881 census. This information came from the Southampton Crew List Index Project.
List for 1870 Rambler ON49904, as you've recorded owned by David S Mitchell, but this list says Gravesend.  In 1880 it was Daniel S Mitchell, but it was still Gravesend, so could be just a mistake in the name. In 1890, she was still going, but the owner is recorded as Robert Mitchell, 72 Jackson Street, North Shields.
I stopped looking after that because I knew Richard Adams had died in 1882, because my Great Grandfathers birth certificate says his father was deceased.
I don't know if you are intetested in this or not, but thank you very much for recording Richard Adams in your list. He was at least the 3rd generation in his family to work on the Thames and I'm pleased he's been remembered.
Kind regards,
Jenny Robinson.
ps I KNOW that my uncle, who is now 78, is going to LOVE this site when I show him. He's got so many memories of river life and remembers so many people.
 
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Hi
At least 7 of my family, the Hoiles, were on the tugs, the eldest William Charles won the MBE at Dunkirk, the youngest Roger retired not long ago, even the female cousin, Jean Roberts,  I spoke to this evening worked for Watkins in Mincing Lane.  
Captain Charles William Hoiles MBE - awarded for bravery during Dunkirk and his wife Polly (Mary A Elliott) apparently the whole family went aboard and washing was hung out on the tug!   He was Skipper on the Kenia 1940?
Charles was born 16.4.1890 and died 15.8.1967
His son Donald Hoiles (born 1.1.31) served on the Avenger.
His son William Charles Hoiles (Nob) - born 17.1.1913) was on the Gondia.
His grandson Roger (born 2.11.1947) served on the Avenger and was at Great Yarmouth with the tug.
Charles Williams brother, Albert Victor [Doon] Hoiles (born 19.5.1897 died 19.11.1974) was a tug skipper on the Vincia (I believe)
 Charles William's younger brother Roland (John) Hoiles (born 6.7.1910 and died 27.7.1995) was Engineer on the ST Java and married Iris Rose Walter 18.12.1937.
Iris's elder brother was on the tugs, Maurice (Wag) Walter (born 25.9.1910, died 22.9.1993)
Iris's father Charles Robert Walter (born 10/10.1875-January 1941) He was on the tugs but I cannot find any records.
Regards
Janet Hoiles
 
Janet has sent in a number of pics and other info which will be appearing soon on latest news page.
 
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One of the very best sites just keeps getting better. Very nice job indeed, at my instance enjoyed by all my tug and pilot friends.
Many thanks . . . Doug Charles
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Hi, my father was William Wakefield (nicknamed Curly) worked for Watkins Tugs when I was a child. I have many photos of the tugs and crews and even of a day with Captain Bill Simmons when I went on board to help with painting (wouldn't be allowed today!) When I was 16 my first job was in the London Tugs Office in Mincing Lane from 1964 until Alexandra Tugs took over. I remember many of the names from your website because I used to do the payroll. I also worked for Mr William and Mr John Watkins and JR Page. I'm also in the photo of the Christmas Party at The Clarendon Hotel with my brother Brian where we were entertained by 'Danny and Splinters'!
Tugs are in my blood and I have many, many fond memories of watching and waiting at Royal Terrace Pier for my Dad to come ashore.
I can send a selection of photos, let me know.
Kind regards,
Gill Cain (nee Wakefield)
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Message posted 9-5-2013
 
 I am the nephew of John Sutherland of Gravesend Kent who was serving on the Empire Stella when its boiler blew in 1st January 1946,I have no photos of my Uncle whom I remember as a five year old,and remember him being in hospital on the isle of Sheppey where he died.Does anyone remember him or have a photo of him. 
Alan Sutherland.
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Message posted 13-3-2013
 
Empire John was my first ship in WW11 I was signed on at William Watkins tugs Nr liverpool str station London UK  I joined my ship at Liverpool Jan 1944..First assignment tow a small vessel south through English Channel to Ipswich ( i believe ) Next tow was a captured German U Boat. I believe it had been captured by RAF Sunderland The U boat towed very badly..kept racing up alonside..( a mine was sighted and fired at  missed ) This was in the North Sea..we stopped at Aberdeen Scotland to re balast the u boat..continued North and West across the top of Scotland  then South..During a night off the Hebrides the 6in manilla tow rope broke..we went back next morning to find the floundering U Boat Capt asked for volunteers to go in to the water to attempt a new line..nobody did to my knowledge Oil was released to calm the choppy seas..i felt quite sick.    Next the Capt backed towards the submarine..The U boat went under our stern and smashed our steering
mechanism..we were now disabled..A Canadian destroyer passed but could not assist..a RN tug arrived and towed Empire John to a West Scotland point...end of my first ship. I can show you my discharge book and record. A year later i was seriously injured on special operations in the Greek islands and mainland
My injuries were at Simi a Greek Island off the coast of Turkey 

Ronald S Osborne R312582 age 16 at Jan 1944
Formerly of 50 Glenarm Rd London E5
 
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Message posted 9-2-2013
 
 Hello,
This is just to say that my friends, TP Towage in Gibraltar, who have the SUN SWALE, are going to sink her off Gib as a diving wreck. This is to happen very soon.
Anyone who has an interest in seeing her, now is the time....the last time. Tommy at TP Towage is the guy to speak to - or I will pass messages on.
I am told my parts of family (based in Greenhithe) were on the river decades ago with Sun Tug. Any Morris's left around?
Richard Morris
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Message posted 20-2-2013
 
 Good Afternoon,
I was drawn to your website upon researching on the internet. For the past year or so I have been researching my family line.
From my research my I understand certain members of my family worked at Gravesend Docks on various boats.
Namely my father Geoff Shelton 1942-1997 worked on the Brucestone during the 70's and 80's and his father (my grandfather) Robert Shelton 1899-1970 also worked on the Tugs. I believe there was another relation called ALbert Shelton that work and I believed he may have perished whilst on duty.
I would be grateful if you have any information on members of the Shelton's that may have worked on the tugs at Gravesend be it photo's or indeed any relevant information.
Any help would be great.
Regards,
Matt Shelton
 
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Message posted 10-2-2013
 
 Hello,
I have just recently been directed to your site, and I am amazed at the wealth of information contained.  I note with great interest that your entry in Thames at War under heading "Minesweeping from Gravesend" lists "Slogan".  My Dad, "Jerry" Ernest G W Ewins was an ordinary seaman on Slogan assigned to base Badger at Harwich, from 16 Feb 1940 to 25 Oct 1940.  I wonder if you can possibly point me to the possible source of any further information about Slogan and/or Gravesend minesweeping for this period? Dad remained on Slogan, 1 Jun 40 to 25 Oct 40 at Barrow in Furness base Clio, and then 26 Oct 40 to 15 Apr 43 at Liverpool base Eaglet. I remember Dad telling me that Slogan was almost sunk on three occasions, but I note from your entry that she was laid up in 1943 (which is possibly why my Dad's service on minesweepers was finished in 43, and he was placed on less arduous duties). I am extremely keen to find out anything at all about Slogan at these times and places.  D
I should be delighted to hear from you, and I thank you in anticipation.
Mike Ewins
West Sussex
 
Can anyone assist Mike with any further details please?? 
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Message posted 24-1-2013

My great uncle was John May on the Persia when it blew up.
My mother has told me that the workers who dredged up the Persia from the bottom of the Thames; would not work on it once finished. As they stated that weird things happened and insisted that there were ghosts on the ship and that is why it was renamed.
My grandfather Charlie Lane was a stoker and dispatcher was well known in the docks and this story came from him.

Any information you have on John May would be greatly appreciated and that of Charlie Lane.
I am trying to compile a list of all the boats he was on.
Charlie Lane was born January 1892.

Carol Francis
 
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