The Surgeon's Log.

Hugh Ferguson
6th January 2008, 19:34
The photograph may be of interest to anyone who may have read the book, The Surgeon's Log; written by Dr. James Johnston Abraham who had made a voyage to Japan in a Blue Funnel ship which he had named-in the book- the CLYTEMNESTRA, but which as I (after long research) discovered was in fact the 1906 POLYPHEMUS. The voyage took place from January to June 1907.
In the book the captain was given the name Tucker and the second mate was a Mr Horner. Captain Tucker's real name was Chrimes (he later captained the ULLYSES), the second mate's name was, in reality, William Ambrose Holman and the man seated in the photograph was his son (he died aged 92 in Jan. 2006), his name was the same as his father's.
Note the walking stick which I am holding: I borrowed it from Bill just for the photo. He had inherited it from his father who had bought in Japan on one of his many voyages there.

treeve
6th January 2008, 19:48
Excellent and a proud moment. History!!

Hugh Ferguson
6th January 2008, 21:29
To see the old plate photograph, taken by the author, of Ponta,http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/92965/ppuser/8509, the sweetheart of 2nd mate Horner, walking down a street in Kobe in 1907, try this link.

Sister Eleff
6th January 2008, 23:23
Is the book still in print? Or would 2nd hand shops be the only option if you wanted to get a copy?

Hugh Ferguson
7th January 2008, 08:17
Is the book still in print? Or would 2nd hand shops be the only option if you wanted to get a copy?

The book (Surgeon's Log) ran to 31 editions (even had an American edition) and was re. and re-published over some 40 odd years. The last edition was dedicated to the author's daughter whom I had the good fortune to meet when she visited me in 1997. She, whose name was Jill and has since died, came with the very journal her father kept during the voyage and after her return home, had it all photo-copied and sent to me!
If you go to a web-site such as ABE books you will find many copies available from all over the world; there was even a Penguin paperback edition.
It became a mini travel classic and, after 9 rejections by prospective publishers, it became a best seller. It was first published in 1911.
A good read, and was probably responsible for me choosing to go to sea in the Blue Funnel Line.

Hugh Ferguson
7th January 2008, 12:33
As there appears to be a modest amount of interest in this story I thought of adding the following:-
It was a letter, published in the Oct.1995 edition of Sea Breezes, written by a retired Glasgow G.P., seeking information about the author of the book, Dr J.Johnston Abraham, that gave me the urge to investigate.
Prior to that I had never given any thought to researching the background to the book despite having owned a copy since my teens.
The very first clue (as to the real name of the ship) arrived with the invoice of a 30th edition I had purchased from an old Blue Funnel hand turned book-seller in 1964. He, Eric Lander, had written that 40 years previously he had sailed in the POLYPHEMUS and it had been commonly thought that she was the ship in which the voyage J.J.A. wrote about had been made.
I rejected that on account of J.J.A. having written in the preface that the ship had been sunk in W.W.1. But the POLYPHEMUS had not been sunk and so I discounted it for consideration.
I received a lot of assistance from a librarian in the Guildhall Library and she eventually suggested that I obtain a copy of Surgeon's Journey. I had not known that J.J.A. had written a biography of himself but, after obtaining a copy of which I read every word I had still drawn a blank-the voyage had been given mention but no disclosure of the name of the ship!
BUT, in the book I found a reference to a daughter and the name of the school she went to. Did the school still exist?! It did and a letter written to that former pupil soon found its way to her followed by a telephone call in which she, Mrs Jill Martin, nee Jill Johnston Abraham, told me the name of the ship, the POLYPHEMUS.
After that, information flowed thick and fast, a crew list, a visit from Jill herself and unbelievably, whilst she was still with us here in Cornwall, a call from Bill Holman, the son of the 2nd mate of that ship, whom the good doctor had befriended and with whom he enjoyed the occasional jaunt ashore in Japan and Java. Bill visited me on two later occasions.
Sadly, since then, all of the people mentioned have died, Jill herself, Marshall Walker (the Glasgow G.P.) and old Bill himself. I miss him greatly. He had started sea-going in the Clan Line, but left and went into the Royal Navy, served during the war in H.M.S. Volunteer and as 1st Lieutenant in the flag cruiser H.M.S. Royalist.

Hugh Ferguson
8th January 2008, 20:17
Dr James Johnston Abraham's view of Japanese women:-
-------her presence is so all-pervasive in her own country. Every time one buys a fan or a piece of china she is there. Her presence sends a ray of sunshine into every street. It is impossible to avoid her. As a rule one doesn't try to; for the Japanese woman is the greatest thing in Japan. Her beauty is of a difference-it grows on one day by day; and the longer one stays in the country the more one admires it. Men who have lived there tell me that it slowly permeates till one wakes up suddenly to find some day that the high acquiline Caucasian type has become distasteful to one, when by chance one meets a fellow countrywoman in the streets of a Japanese city.
She is so dainty so fine-lined, so small, so very gorgeous in her dress, so very artificial in her headgear bristling with pins; her smile is so ever-ready, her temper so equable, it is difficult to believe she can be really alive, could ever look cross, or be untidy.
She is inimitable, the apotheosis of Japanese civilisation. There is nothing in Europe at all like her--------------

Anyone go along with this view???

trotterdotpom
9th January 2008, 01:52
Very interesting, Hugh, I for one will be keeping an eye out for the book. It must have been very satisfying to come to meet and befriend those people.

Sailing to Japan, it seemed that everyone either hated the place or fell in love with it. I was one of the smitten and agree whole heartedly with Dr Abraham's description of Japanese ladies.

One afternoon, on a visit to Kyoto, I saw what must have been a genuine Geisha walking towards me - white face, zillion Yen kimono, dainty little steps, I was entranced. The spell was broken when she hawked up a big greenie and gobbed it out onto the pavement! Wow, I know they take years to learn the tea ceremony, etc, but she even spat gracefully! I did think that she could have had a tissue tucked into her obi though.

That was over 30 years ago, she'll have no idea of the impact she made on a gauping gai-jin in that bustling little backstreet.

John T.

Hugh Ferguson
9th January 2008, 11:39
Here's a piece of pure nostalgia taken from the epilogue, written by Dr. J.J.Abraham, in one of the three editions of the book I've collected over the years. He writes:-
Sometimes a weariness of London comes over me, and I feel that I would give almost anything to be on the high seas again. There are certain days and certain things that cause this feeling.
Sometimes it is only the misery of a cold raw day that sets me thinking. Often I get it crossing one of London's bridges when the tide is in and the salt tang strikes one's nostrils. Sometimes it is casually seeing in the Shipping Intelligence the name of my old ship that sets me off.
As a rule I try to avoid such thoughts. They are disconcerting; they confuse one's issues; they are not part of a well ordered life. But they are difficult to get away from, even when one tries. Once I went into a chemist's shop in Bond Street for something. As I entered the faint odour of "kananga" leaves struck my nostrils; and immediately I was back as in a vision on the ship and saw the low-lying beach of Cheribon, and the lateened praus around the ship, as I lay in my chair listening to the monotonous "amma-ti-ra-ta-huh" of the coolies swinging bales of java sugar in the holds.
Then a suave voice said, "What can I get you, sir?" and I was back again in London.
Once, a year later, I saw the ship's name amongst the arrivals at the Royal Albert Docks, and made a special pilgrimage to see her. I knew the ugly old black hull long before I could read the name. The Chief (engineer) was standing on the saloon-deck as I climbed aboard. "Hullo", he said quite casually, as if I had just come up from my cabin..............................

trotterdotpom
9th January 2008, 12:00
Thanks Hugh. The Doctor's trouble was he didn't have the Ships Nostalgia counselling service.

John T.

makko
9th January 2008, 15:49
A fascinating thread, Hugh. I remember a 2/E advising me against being seconded to China Navigation. He had fallen "under the spell" - the only problem was that he was already married!

Regards,
Dave

Hugh Ferguson
10th January 2008, 19:40
Signing on in 1907
........everyone was now assembled; and at a nod from Mr Thomas (chief officer) he (the clerk) began to read in a monotonous sing-song voice friom the document before him:-
".........s.s. Clytemnestra, bound from Liverpool to Yokohama, and (or) any other port or ports within the limits of 72 degs.N.Latitude, and 65 degs. S.Latitude, trading to or from, as may be required, till the ship arrives at a port, or final port of discharge, in the United Kingdom, or continent of Europe, between the river Elbe and Brest, for a period not exceeding 18 months, as the master may require........."
I was listening intently, but, looking around saw thay no one else was paying the least attention. It was all the same to them whether they "signed on" for San Francisco, Sydney, or Shanghai. It was a twice told tale to them.
And truly it mattered little whether they listened or not; for from the wording it was obvious we could be sent anywhere a ship could sail.
The sing-song voice seemed to act on them like a soporific. It went on indefinitely, reading more and more rapidly and indistinctly.
Suddenly it stopped; and then in a natural voice the clerk said:
"All members of the crew to be on board before mid-night on the 12th Jan."
This seemed to be the part they were waiting for. They all woke up. "get ready to sign now", the clerk said briskly. Then the clerk said, "You, doctor!" and pointed to a column. In five seconds I had signed away my liberty for eighteen months, agreed to abide by a mass of regulations I did not understand, and to sail on a ship I had never seen...................

And from this voyage a book resulted that was so successful that the author was tempted to give up medicine and become an author. Instead, he did both!

Hamish Mackintosh
13th January 2008, 01:37
Is the book still in print? Or would 2nd hand shops be the only option if you wanted to get a copy?

I have the Penguin Books copy, and on a scale of 1 to 10 shape wise I would say it was a 7, I will mail it to the first address I get ,FOB, with the proviso that it be forwarded to the next in line, and so forth untill it falls apart

Hugh Ferguson
13th January 2008, 10:37
I have the Penguin Books copy, and on a scale of 1 to 10 shape wise I would say it was a 7, I will mail it to the first address I get ,FOB, with the proviso that it be forwarded to the next in line, and so forth untill it falls apart

What a brilliant idea! I hope it takes off. I take it FOB stands for Free On Board.

Hamish Mackintosh
13th January 2008, 16:52
What a brilliant idea! I hope it takes off. I take it FOB stands for Free On Board.

Thats a Yes Hugh ,but Sister Elef has got on board first

Hugh Ferguson
13th January 2008, 20:19
An interesting exercise that needed to be undertaken consequent of my contacting J.Johnston Abraham's daughter Jill, was on discovering that she had never seen a photograph of the ship her father had sailed in.
That lack was easily taken care of, for on p.43 of Clarkson, Harvey & Fenton's excellent book, Ships In Focus, Blue Funnel Line, there is a splendid photograph of that very ship. No sooner had Jill set eyes on that but she was keen to know if it was possible to discover the location of her father's cabin!
I knew from having read the book umpteen times that the engineer officers' accommodation was on the port-side of the centre castle deck, and the deck officers' was on the starboard side. The photograph, fortunately, was stern on on the starboard side, and the row of cabin port-holes was well defined. But, how to discover whose was whose!!
The only thing I could think of doing was to read the book again, which was no hardship, and there on p.273 was the clue. The ship is in Soerabaya and loading molasses........it leaked from the tubs as it was being hoisted from the lighters and trickled down the ship's side. I (the good doctor writes)
had to screw up my port-holes to keep it out of my cabin.........
So, some 90 years later, the daughter of Dr.James Johnston Abraham knew the ship her father had sailed in and the very cabin he had occupied during the five months long voyage. She was delighted.

(I think this must have been the last class of Blue Funnel ships in which there was crew accommodation in the centre-castle deck with ports situated along the ship's hull. It later became valuable cargo space, especially when there were motor cars to be stowed).

Bill Davies
13th January 2008, 20:37
Hugh,

The 'M' Class were configured in this way and carried the Stwds along the port side. What a waste of space!!!!!!

Bill

Hamish Mackintosh
17th January 2008, 18:38
Thats a Yes Hugh ,but Sister Elef has got on board first

Anyone who would like a read should get in touch with Sister Eleff

Sister Eleff
18th January 2008, 09:50
Sssh Hamish! Don't tell everyone (Jester)
It hasn't arrived yet but will let you know as soon as it does.

Dampier
12th April 2008, 15:51
Thanks everyone for their background on the Surgeons log. I have a holt family connection and was sure it described a blue funnel ship but didn't know which one.

But now have even seen its photo - courtesy of H.M Le Fleming's Ships of the Blue Funnel Line :)

Hugh Ferguson
13th April 2008, 20:25
This is a photograph of the 2nd mate of the 1906 Polyphemus. His name was Wm. Ambrose Holman. He was later master of the same ship. In the book,The Surgeon's Log, he is portrayed as Mr Horner. His son, of the same name is portrayed in post No.1 of this thread. The photograph was given to me by him.

Hugh Ferguson
3rd August 2008, 18:14
On one of his three visits to me, here in Cornwall, Bill (Bill Holman, the son of the 2nd mate of the Clytemnestra) real name of the ship was the s.s.Polyphemus-arrived with his daughter and I couldn't resist the temptation to show her the photograph, (see attached thumbnail) taken by the author of the book, of Ponta, her grandfather's Japanese sweetheart.
As far as I can tell, this photo only appears in the first of the thirty one editions the book, The Surgeon's Log, went to. She had never set eyes on it before and I was curious to see her reaction. She gazed at it for a little while and said something under her breath which I didn't catch.
Well, they are all memories now including her father who I miss very much. He went right through the war-as did his father in WW1-serving in the Royal Navy. He was a 2nd Lieut. in H.M.S. Volunteer, escort destroyer in Western Ocean convoys, followed by 1st Lieut. in the flag ship cruiser, H.M.S. Royalist, on service out east. A lovely man and I'm so pleased that my researching of the book brought us into contact before he crossed the bar.

(The photograph was taken in 1907)

Hugh Ferguson
7th August 2008, 23:13
The author of the book very evidently had some misgivings about disclosing in the pages some events, taking place during the voyage, that may cause embarrassment, or even worse, to various people and especially the 2nd mate. And it was certainly true that rumours of sacking and even divorce were still going the rounds years after. In his epilogue to the 30th edition the good doctor writes:- 'It was only when the pile of author's copies arrived, and we (his friend the pathogist), that a certain doubt came to me. It must have been more or less in the Pathologist's mind also, for he suddenly said:
"Shall you send copies to your old shipmates?"
'The question somehow seemed to crystalise the doubt in my mind; and I began to wonder, when it was too late, how they might like being thus exhibited before the great unknown public. An uncomfortable feeling that they might not take it as kindly as it was meant assailed me. "I don't know," I said dubiously.
'Hesitating about the matter for some days, I finally came to the conclusion that on the whole it would be better not, comforting myself with the thought that sailors never read expensive books of travel, and that these old comrades of mine were away from England so much they might never hear of the liberties I had taken with their personalities.
'But the success of the book defeated me ; and when I found that the Colonial edition had been issued, I knew it was only a matter of months before I should hear from some of them.
'It was the Chief who, characteristically,broke the silence, set my mind at ease, and gave me all the news. One morning I found a letter with a Japanes postmark awaiting me.'

It's sad to conclude that in 1919, the one time 2nd mate of the Polyphemus had achieved command of the same ship, and in waters so familiar to him was responsible for grounding her on rocks departing Hong Kong. His career in Blue Funnel ended. His son did not follow him into the Blue Funnel Line: he went to sea in the Clan Line instead.

R.J. Jack
18th September 2008, 18:27
Hugh, I just found this thread yesterday, topic surfing.
I joined the Forum specifically to thank you for your
research, which is a benefit to all who read old travel
books and wonder at their authenticity. I had done a
similar investigation of another voyage book published
in London, detailing a trip from China to France in 1917, in which all the key figures were given false names and even the author used a pseudonym. So I understand some
of the steps you took. In my case the author was long dead and family could not be located.

I have printed out your entire thread and folded it into the book. I have the first edition which I found in San Diego in 1990 and a later edition picked up here in Vancouver.
I didn't know that the author had also written his autobiography. Can you tell me if he mention a Dr. Thomas Hately Macfie in that memoir of his life? I have
a suspicion that they knew each other pre-WW1.

Ron

Hugh Ferguson
18th September 2008, 19:37
Ron, Just a year before J.Johnston Abraham's daughter Jill died she presented me with three of her father's books; namely, Surgeon's Journey, A Surgeon's Heritage and 99 Wimpole St. Only the first named has an index with no fewer than 13 Dr. Mac/Mc's listed, but not a Dr. T.H. Macfie. His other book, My Balkan Log (the one he reckoned to be his best) also has no index, but mention is made of many of the doctors he knew during his long and eventful life. In leafing through them should I come across a mention of the afore-named Macfie I'll let you know.
So pleased you found the thread of interest: it was a truly fascinating research into the book that probably enthused me to go to sea in the Blue Funnel Line in 1943, and first read all of those years ago! All the best, Hugh.

Hugh Ferguson
12th July 2009, 13:17
Sad to say, that not so long after the photograph (see post 1) of myself and Bill Holman was taken he died, on Jan.14th 2006 aged 92, and that was the end of my association with any living person associated with the book, The Surgeon's Log.

johnb42
12th July 2009, 14:31
Hugh,
The photograph taken in Japan in 1907 - great picture, thanks for posting.
John

trotterdotpom
10th June 2010, 05:55
Hamish/Hugh & Sister Eleff, after an unavoidable delay, the book is now winging it's way to Bob W. in Port Melbourne.

An interesting read, highlighting how some things have changed and some have stayed the same in a hundred years of seafaring, all the more interesting for the background supplied by Hugh - arigato Ferguson San.

John T.

PS Thanks to Hamish for sending the book on too.

bobw
11th June 2010, 12:50
Looking forward to a good read. Thanks john.

Hugh Ferguson
11th June 2010, 21:36
Hamish/Hugh & Sister Eleff, after an unavoidable delay, the book is now winging it's way to Bob W. in Port Melbourne.

An interesting read, highlighting how some things have changed and some have stayed the same in a hundred years of seafaring, all the more interesting for the background supplied by Hugh - arigato Ferguson San.

John T.

PS Thanks to Hamish for sending the book on too.

How strange that on the same day, Thursday 10th June, that this thread was resurrected, I should receive an E.mail from the son of Dr Marshall Walker (it was his father's letter in Sea Breezes, Oct. 1995, that set me off into the research). He is coming to Cornwall and wants to visit.

I'm sure Bob will enjoy the book. The author had NINE rejections of his manuscript. On the ninth rejection he recounts how, standing in front of his consulting room fire he was all set to consign it to the flames, but on looking out the window he noticed a sign painted on a window on the opposite side of the street which stated, Chapman & Hall (Dicken's publisher).
They accepted and the result, 32 editions!! The last one was dedicated to his daughter; the same Mrs Jill Martin who visited me here in Cornwall bringing with her, her father's original log, written up daily, in doctor's hand-writing, aboard the Polyphemus, from January to June 1907.

trotterdotpom
12th June 2010, 11:32
Lots of coincidences, Hugh - thanks again.

John T.

bobw
26th June 2010, 12:52
I have finished reading "The Surgeon's Log" and shall forward it to the first person who PM's me with their name and address.
A great read.

bobw
29th June 2010, 12:06
The book is now on it's way to Lionel in Western Australia.

teb
9th July 2010, 06:17
I too have now finished reading "The Surgeon's Log" and will be happy to forward it to the first person who PM's me with their name & address .
It is a fascinating read and for me brought back forgotten memories of the voyage I completed on a Dutch Blue Funnel vessel some 60 odd years ago calling at all the ports in Java & Celebes mentioned in the book (Thumb)

The Dog
9th July 2010, 13:31
All Blue funnel men writing fiction (and there are quite a few ) name their ships after female characters in the trojan wars, ref Richard Woodman's Antogone whereas all the Holt ships were named after male charactors except Hecuba and Gorgan. Hecuba was Queen of Troy wife of King Priam, the Gorgans were three female baddies one of whom Medusa was killed by Perseus.
The ship Hecuba was not built for BF but was a WW1 German prize. Gorgan was a very desirable posting as she ran the Australia to Malaya service carrying Ozzie holidaymakers and sheep....... and we want no snide remarks on the connection.. Endo

teb
10th July 2010, 05:13
The book is now wending it's way to Malcolm in France - Teb

R651400
10th July 2010, 06:03
Thanks Lionel... When read it will be passed on in a similar manner. 73 Malcolm

makko
11th July 2010, 03:00
Thanks Lionel... When read it will be passed on in a similar manner. 73 Malcolm

Malcolm, would it be possible that the book wends its way to Mexico next?
Regards,
Dave R.

surfaceblow
11th July 2010, 05:34
I was looking for a book to down load to my phone so I could read while waiting for the OWMBO is shopping or going to other appointments while I wait for her. I found The Surgeon's Log in Google Books. I still like paper than these little electronic devices but if I carry a book around with me I get the evil eyes.

http://books.google.com/books?id=LzgPAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=surgeons+log&hl=en&ei=1kM5TIy2FcWqlAeg8I3VBw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CDUQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false

R651400
11th July 2010, 06:47
Malcolm, would it be possible that the book wends its way to Mexico next?Regards,
Dave R.Hi Dave, Tony Allen just beat you to it but will make sure you're next after Tony. B-r
Malcolm

Reef Knot
11th July 2010, 08:00
What a nice read this thread has been! Ken.

makko
12th July 2010, 00:56
Hi Dave, Tony Allen just beat you to it but will make sure you're next after Tony. B-r
Malcolm
Many Thanks, Malcolm. I look forward to it.
Dave

KIWI
12th July 2010, 03:10
Would advise local members this book is held in the Wellington NZ main Public Library.Have just ordered it up. KIWI

kauvaka
12th July 2010, 06:46
Kia ora Kiwi, will look for it when I'm next in Wellington in October. When there last month I pottered thro' shelves 387.2 - .5 and 910.45. You've probably covered these but there are some good NZ seafaring titles there at the Wellington Public Library, we are lucky.

Pat Kennedy
12th July 2010, 11:12
All Blue funnel men writing fiction (and there are quite a few ) name their ships after female characters in the trojan wars, ref Richard Woodman's Antogone whereas all the Holt ships were named after male charactors except Hecuba and Gorgan. Hecuba was Queen of Troy wife of King Priam, the Gorgans were three female baddies one of whom Medusa was killed by Perseus.
The ship Hecuba was not built for BF but was a WW1 German prize. Gorgan was a very desirable posting as she ran the Australia to Malaya service carrying Ozzie holidaymakers and sheep....... and we want no snide remarks on the connection.. Endo
There were also( according to Duncan Haws 'Blue Funnel Line') Atalanta, Hebe, Medusa, and Sarah Nicholson. All owned by Holts and all female, although I never clapped eyes on any one of them.
Regards,
Pat(Thumb)

R651400
28th July 2010, 05:22
SL now on it's way to Tony Allen. Mni tks to all. Malcolm R651400

TonyAllen
18th August 2010, 11:42
The Surgeons Log
The book is now on its way to mexico to Makko Tony Allen

Sister Eleff
7th January 2012, 21:46
I hope that everyone who has read this, much travelled, wee book has added their name and country in the fly page (==D)

The Dog
8th January 2012, 01:59
I found a first edition of this book in a job lot bought at an auction. I read it and as there was a hunt on for copies I lent it to one of the luminaries of the BFA. Needless to say I have not seen it since and would like it back.

I have one doubt about the good Doctors memory, early on he mentions seeing the sailors stowing the sails away. I believe Holts dispensed with sails in the late 19thC and landed the yards in Birkenhead where some still lay in 1950. They had been used to make derricks for the newer ships but that stopped with the introduction of much lighter steel derricks.

If this is so the Doctor is mistaken about the sails, he probably saw the sailors stowing away the hatch tents.

A right Nerdish comment but I can't help myself.


I have another wartime book about a run crew going to the US to bring a wooden minesweeper back to the UK (a Mickey Mouse). They travelled out as passengers in a Blue Funnel vessel "Priam" which the previous voyage had suffered sever damage in a hurricane when the deck cargo of tanks had broken adrift and charged around the fore deck. The hull had been holed and she took in so much water she only just made it to port. On arrival her forecastle and fore deck were under water as far as the saloon windows. I have never seen or heard of this incident, can anyone help.

Priam was renamed Glenorchy in 1948 and later Phemius.

Hugh Ferguson
8th January 2012, 15:08
"sailors stowing away the hatch tents"

I don't think that there were "hatch tents" in those days: I can remember them as being a recent innovation. The sails referred to by the good doctor would not have been square sails but fore and aft sails which, in extreme circumstances, could be set on fore stays and back stays.
The Polyphemus in which the doctor sailed was 1906 built and, in 1907 when he made his voyage, a large proportion of the crew would have been in sail and therefore used to handling them. Yes, I'm sure sails would still have been in a steamship at the time of his voyage.

Barrie Youde
29th January 2012, 22:19
Hi, Dog!, Hi, Hugh,

Memories Memories!

To take Priam first, I recall reading that she arrived at Liverpool down by the head with a draft of 42 feet. I believe (but might be wrong) that her Master was Captain Jimmy Nelson. Be that as it may, Jimmy Nelson lived in Osmaston Road in Prenton (a few hundred yards from our own home in Queens Drive). For reasons which I did not understand until much later in life, I was under standing orders as a child (born 1943) to be on my best behaviour whenever I was anywhere near Chez Nelson. I later learned that this was because Jimmy Nelson had given my Dad a good reference at some point; and NOTHING WHATSOEVER was to be done which might blot Dad's copybook. Dad later told me that he had piloted Jimmy Nelson into the Mersey at some point in the war (whether in Priam or not, I do not know) and had been obliged to anchor prior to docking. Nelson was then called ashore to an urgent conference. Before going ashore he said to Dad, "You seem to know what you are doing. Take good care of her" - and left Dad and the Mate to put the ship into Gladstone and her berth. Dad would have been aged 32 in 1942. The name Nelson was therefore sanctified in the Youde household.

As to the Surgeon's Log, Hugh, what an interesting yarn and sequence of events. I would very much like to read the book one day. (I wonder how it might compare with Richard Gordon?) Your own research and information re Bill Holman senior reminds us that, unfortunately, we all have feet of clay.
Please forgive me if I start a new Thread on influential books!

Hugh Ferguson
30th January 2012, 11:19
The ensueing fortunes of the 2nd mate, and the master of the Polyphemus, could not have been more different. The 2nd mate, Bill Holman, eventually became master of that same ship and, unfortunately, put her aground departing Hong Kong-that was the end of his Blue Funnel career (and the reason his son did not go to sea in that company).
The master of the Polyphemus, Frank Chrimes, subsequently commanded the new 1914 Ulysses (sistership of the Nestor), he retired c.1930.

Hugh Ferguson
30th January 2012, 13:05
To see the old plate photograph, taken by the author, of Ponta,http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/92965/ppuser/8509, the sweetheart of 2nd mate Horner, walking down a street in Kobe in 1907, try this link.

I'm not surprised Mr Horner (Bill Holman) fell in love with her!

Hugh Ferguson
4th July 2012, 17:13
Any news on the where-abouts of this much travelled book?

makko
4th July 2012, 19:32
It is in my possession Hugh. Much thumbed and well cared for. If anyone would like to volunteer, I can get the show on the road so to speak.
Regards,
Dave

Hugh Ferguson
7th July 2012, 19:13
Hi, Dog!, Hi, Hugh,

Memories Memories!

To take Priam first, I recall reading that she arrived at Liverpool down by the head with a draft of 42 feet. I believe (but might be wrong) that her Master was Captain Jimmy Nelson. Be that as it may, Jimmy Nelson lived in Osmaston Road in Prenton (a few hundred yards from our own home in Queens Drive). For reasons which I did not understand until much later in life, I was under standing orders as a child (born 1943) to be on my best behaviour whenever I was anywhere near Chez Nelson. I later learned that this was because Jimmy Nelson had given my Dad a good reference at some point; and NOTHING WHATSOEVER was to be done which might blot Dad's copybook. Dad later told me that he had piloted Jimmy Nelson into the Mersey at some point in the war (whether in Priam or not, I do not know) and had been obliged to anchor prior to docking. Nelson was then called ashore to an urgent conference. Before going ashore he said to Dad, "You seem to know what you are doing. Take good care of her" - and left Dad and the Mate to put the ship into Gladstone and her berth. Dad would have been aged 32 in 1942. The name Nelson was therefore sanctified in the Youde household.

As to the Surgeon's Log, Hugh, what an interesting yarn and sequence of events. I would very much like to read the book one day. (I wonder how it might compare with Richard Gordon?) Your own research and information re Bill Holman senior reminds us that, unfortunately, we all have feet of clay.
Please forgive me if I start a new Thread on influential books!

Stacks of copies available on ABE Books, Barrie--one for as little as a fiver (incl. postage)!!!

Barrie Youde
8th July 2012, 06:23
Many thanks, Hugh.

trotterdotpom
8th July 2012, 09:58
Why not just ask Makko, Barrie? And don't forget to add your name to the list inside.

John T

alan ward
8th July 2012, 10:48
Dr James Johnston Abraham's view of Japanese women:-
-------her presence is so all-pervasive in her own country. Every time one buys a fan or a piece of china she is there. Her presence sends a ray of sunshine into every street. It is impossible to avoid her. As a rule one doesn't try to; for the Japanese woman is the greatest thing in Japan. Her beauty is of a difference-it grows on one day by day; and the longer one stays in the country the more one admires it. Men who have lived there tell me that it slowly permeates till one wakes up suddenly to find some day that the high acquiline Caucasian type has become distasteful to one, when by chance one meets a fellow countrywoman in the streets of a Japanese city.
She is so dainty so fine-lined, so small, so very gorgeous in her dress, so very artificial in her headgear bristling with pins; her smile is so ever-ready, her temper so equable, it is difficult to believe she can be really alive, could ever look cross, or be untidy.
She is inimitable, the apotheosis of Japanese civilisation. There is nothing in Europe at all like her--------------

Anyone go along with this view???

Ichiko, Osaka-ko 1972/74

trotterdotpom
8th July 2012, 11:10
Ichiko, Osaka-ko 1972/74

Sumiko, Kobe, around the same time.

John T

Hugh Ferguson
18th November 2012, 16:27
Just to save this thread from disappearing, out of sight, down into the archives, here are a couple of photographs taken on an old plate camera by the author of the book, The Surgeon's Log. The woman at top of the gangway is the sew sew girl.
(They are out of a 1st edition of the book, dated 1911, and do not appear, as far as I know, in any of the 30 following editions).

My first time in Singapore was in Sept.1945 when peace-time conditions had not been restored, but it was not long before they were and on all subsequent visits I would not have noticed any difference between then and when the pictures were taken in 1907.
But now, in the 21st century, it is all changed and has become a part of history.

Hugh Ferguson
18th November 2012, 19:56
Coaling in Moji with Mr Flanagan C/E overseeing operations. Note, all women!

NoR
18th November 2012, 23:58
Coaling in Moji with Mr Flanagan C/E overseeing operations. Note, all women!

I recall discharging sugar ( ex Durban ) in Tokyo with all female stevedores. Cape York 1964. They shovelled the stuff into skips and then swept the remnants up with straw brooms into baskets. It took about a week to discharge. Less than a year later it had all changed, all grabs and mechanisation not a female in sight.

Hugh Ferguson
19th November 2012, 10:40
Another photo taken by the author on his "plate" camera which he often had cause to curse on account of not having a "plate" ready for a photo opportunity: well, it was 1907 when, I don't suppose, there were many people who owned a camera. In his log he never makes any mention of developing the photos so, I can but presume, he would have to have stored them safely during the five month long voyage.

(This is Captain Chrimes and Chief Engineer Flanagan taking a ride in Macassar when the Polyphemus was loading homeward bound).

ben27
2nd May 2013, 00:49
good morning hugh ferguson.s.m.7th.jan.2008.07:29.re:lifeboat no.7.i have been reading this old thread.i found it very interesting.but your link in (post 3)shows photo's of the life boat and the rescued crew menbers,an amazing story of endurance.and great navigation to make land.i liked the romantic story set in the days were japanes and Europeans did not mix.(post22)a great post.thank you for sharing.regards ben27

Hugh Ferguson
17th July 2013, 08:56
During the last couple of weeks there have been no fewer than 70 "hits" on this old thread but no further comments! Interesting!

The life-boat No.7 referred to by Ben was to be seen in one of the random pictures and was unrelated to this thread.

rich9591
17th July 2013, 09:55
Just for the record this book was serialised on what is now BBC Radio 4 in the early 1980's when they had a book reading at 4:30pm each weekday.

ninabaker
17th July 2013, 18:56
The book (Surgeon's Log) ran to 31 editions (even had an American edition) and was re. and re-published over some 40 odd years. The last edition was dedicated to the author's daughter whom I had the good fortune to meet when she visited me in 1997. She, whose name was Jill and has since died, came with the very journal her father kept during the voyage and after her return home, had it all photo-copied and sent to me!
If you go to a web-site such as ABE books you will find many copies available from all over the world; there was even a Penguin paperback edition.
It became a mini travel classic and, after 9 rejections by prospective publishers, it became a best seller. It was first published in 1911.
A good read, and was probably responsible for me choosing to go to sea in the Blue Funnel Line.

Like Hugh, this book was a big contributor to me going to sea. I had my parents wartime penguin edition, now tattered beyond reading so I have bought a hard backed earlier edition to replace it. A wonderful set of stories that even though it was generations out of date when I read and reread in in the 1960s, continues even now to give a fair feel for life at sea and runs ashore.

Other books that were influential for me were The Cruise of the Cachalot, The Kontiki expedition, The Seas Were Mine, The last grain race, the various coastwise books by WW Jacobs, and when I was little I loved the Edard Ardizzone books about Tim and his seafaring adventures and even before I could read I had a Little Golden Books Boats (http://www.ebay.com/bhp/little-golden-book-boats).

When people ask me why I wanted to go to sea, I honestly cannot remember a time before I wanted to go to sea. I was so lucky to get the chance.

Hugh Ferguson
25th January 2014, 13:17
Very interesting, Hugh, I for one will be keeping an eye out for the book. It must have been very satisfying to come to meet and befriend those people.

Sailing to Japan, it seemed that everyone either hated the place or fell in love with it. I was one of the smitten and agree whole heartedly with Dr Abraham's description of Japanese ladies.

One afternoon, on a visit to Kyoto, I saw what must have been a genuine Geisha walking towards me - white face, zillion Yen kimono, dainty little steps, I was entranced. The spell was broken when she hawked up a big greenie and gobbed it out onto the pavement! Wow, I know they take years to learn the tea ceremony, etc, but she even spat gracefully! I did think that she could have had a tissue tucked into her obi though.

That was over 30 years ago, she'll have no idea of the impact she made on a gauping gai-jin in that bustling little backstreet.

John T.

Poor girl, she must have had a bad cold; I don't think trotterdotpom would see this happen should he visit Japan this day and age.

(Apologies for resurrecting one of my own threads, but at least it is about nostalgia!)

trotterdotpom
25th January 2014, 14:33
Maybe not Hugh, but you never know, I hear the old traditions still survive in amongst all that crazy new stuff that goes on there.

Any news of the book's travels?

John T

Hugh Ferguson
25th January 2014, 17:56
Maybe not Hugh, but you never know, I hear the old traditions still survive in amongst all that crazy new stuff that goes on there.

Any news of the book's travels?

John T

makko was the last recipient-as far as I know-I've asked him to let us know. I wouldn't think there was much left of it now!

Hugh Ferguson
27th January 2014, 15:01
Maybe not Hugh, but you never know, I hear the old traditions still survive in amongst all that crazy new stuff that goes on there.

Any news of the book's travels?

John T

Still with makko in Mexico City.

TonyAllen
30th January 2014, 01:11
I sent it to macko I think 2 years ago.He should have read it by now methinks

trotterdotpom
30th January 2014, 03:08
I sent it to macko I think 2 years ago.He should have read it by now methinks

Probably nobody has put their name forward as a recipient.

For the benefit of those who may not be aware, the book is about a ship's surgeon's voyage to the Far East on a Blue Funnel ship in the early 1900s. Hugh Ferguson generously made it available to SN members to pass around. It has been to a few places in Australia and now is in Mexico.

There is more information on Hugh's thread about the book.

John T

trotterdotpom
30th January 2014, 03:09
Probably nobody has put their name forward as a recipient.

For the benefit of those who may not be aware, the book is about a ship's surgeon's voyage to the Far East on a Blue Funnel ship in the early 1900s. Hugh Ferguson generously made it available to SN members to pass around. It has been to a few places in Australia and now is in Mexico.

There is more information on Hugh's thread about the book.

John T

PS make that this thread!

makko
30th January 2014, 15:14
Please contact me if you would be interested in reading this book. I have it in my possession.
Rgds.
Dave

Hamish Mackintosh
30th January 2014, 16:32
PS make that this thread!

Not True JT

Farmer John
31st January 2014, 00:05
If you search on 't net it is available as an electronic text. It takes a bit of finding, and I did this some time ago in Google books. It seems to have been scanned from a library book, so as libraries quietly salute and pass over the horizon, this may be the most easily available text for the interested reader.

I have just spent 30 min trying to find this from infromation in the header of my downloaded copy, but not much success. PM me if you want more details of where I downloaded it, my reply may help your search.

trotterdotpom
31st January 2014, 00:27
Not True JT

Whoops, must apologise, Hamish. It was your own generous offer that set the ball rolling, sorry about that and thanks again. At the beginning of the thread, Hugh does give a great introduction to the book and information about the author and some of the people in the book.

John T

Hamish Mackintosh
31st January 2014, 01:09
Thanks JT not a problem at all! At the onset of someone wanting the book I thought it would be a good idea to pass books aroundthe site that we all have gathering dust and other things, and which would be of interest to others, however the postage put an end to that "bright" idea, as in some cases the books can be picked up at Abes or downloaded from Amazon, for a fraction of the cost of the postage, I just mailed a book (hard cover)to Aberdeen Scotland, and I feel I could have hand delivered it for what they charged me, but I guess thats the way it is Cheers H

trotterdotpom
31st January 2014, 01:21
Hadn't thought of the postage side of things. I can't remember where I sent the book, maybe Melbourne, so not too expensive. It is a nice idea though and interesting to see how the book meanders around the world. I had a bit of drama with it myself because I took it to work and someone "borrowed" it - eventually found in the back of a drawer about 12 weeks later! Had to do a bit of a repair job on it too.

It's an interesting book and I was surprised to see that some things hadn't changed that much over the decades to th '70s, especially in Indonesia, although all different now, I think.

John T

makko
31st January 2014, 14:54
It's an interesting book and I was surprised to see that some things hadn't changed that much over the decades to th '70s, especially in Indonesia, although all different now, I think.

John T

John,
That was exactly my thought. My first ship was a true Blue. Maybe that set up the atmosphere. Later ships were Barber Blue Sea although we did the BF ports, however always going east. Then again, maybe I'm just an old romantic and too focused through through my rose tinted glasses! No, really I do believe that there was still a veneer some 70 years later of old times.
Rgds.
Dave

Duncan112
31st January 2014, 15:59
Found it here scans.library.utoronto.ca/pdf/3/22/.../surgeonslogimpre00abrauoft.pdf

Farmer John
31st January 2014, 17:41
Found it here scans.library.utoronto.ca/pdf/3/22/.../surgeonslogimpre00abrauoft.pdf

Many thanks for that, my text is very garbled and includes page numbers, page headings and chapter synopses just there in the main text, needs a good deal of editing to make it easy to read.

Farmer John
3rd February 2014, 22:30
I have just finished reading this, I wish it had been 3 times as long. Very evocative, form the sea itself to the sheer boredom and heat that can occur, it is wondeful, I have been trawling the net for more information on Batavia, Praus and many other things.

He recommends "The Malayan Archiplego" by Alfred Russel Wallace, I read that a year or so ago and it is wonderful, very easy to read for a Victorian narrative, and again, it can be found as an Ebook.

Hugh Ferguson
4th February 2014, 16:08
There's no doubt that the book, The Surgeon's Log, caused considerable disquiet in Blue Funnel circles and indeed the author himself had misgivings about some of what he had disclosed.
Some of his disclosures are, it seems to me, to be somewhat disingenuous: is it conceivable that a 2nd mate would ask the ship's doctor to hold his hand when he was going ashore in Kobe to call on his beloved Ponta?!?!

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