Mrs Ferguson's Tea-set, Japan & the Second W.W..

Hugh Ferguson
4th April 2008, 14:34
This is the title of a recently published book written by retired diplomat, Eiji Seki. The sub-title is, The Global Consequences Following Germany's Sinking of the s.s.Automedon. A Japanese perspective
I have requested and received permission, from both the author and the publisher, to print extracts on this web-site. At the same time, the publishers offered to send, post free, a copy of the book, to any member applying, at a cost of 25.
It is a truly extraordinary story and revolves around a tea-set because the commander of the raider Atlantis, which sank the Automedon on 11th Nov.1940, was so disquieted that 6 people had been killed and several wounded, that he went to some effort to make amends for this unnecessary slaughter by ordering a search to be made for Mrs Ferguson's luggage residing in the strong room. That search took about two hours and not only resulted in retrieving her luggage, containing her precious tea-set, but enabled the German search party to discover a mass of top secret documents. All of these items were transferred to the Atlantis and when read by her commander, Bernhard Rogge and his second in command, Ulrich Mohr, they realised that they had stumbled on an absolute treasury of intelligence of such importance that it could change the course of the war.

The reason I became involved in the publication of this book was because somebody had told Mr Seki at the time of his first of four visits to this country that I may have been the husband of Mrs Ferguson (Mr Ferguson, incidentally, was a Straits Steamship engineer, returning to Singapore with his wife after leave in the U.K.). So, when Mr Seki hopefully telephoned me one morning, I had to disappoint him but I was able to be of assistance by telling him the names of two surviving members of the crew of the Automedom, and also that I had known Stanley Hugill, the A.B. at the wheel when the first shell arrived, killing the master and the officer of the watch surveying, from the bridge wing, the unidentified ship approaching.

For anyone interested in the book they can apply, enclosing payment, to:-Global Oriental Ltd. PO Box 219, Folkestone, CT20 2WP.
Don't forget to mention your membership of this web-site.
(To be continued)

benjidog
4th April 2008, 23:52
Hugh,

Thank you for bringing this publication to our attention.

I am moving this to Books Magazines and Publications where it will serve as a reference.

Regards,

Brian

Hugh Ferguson
5th April 2008, 21:05
After Atlantis's launch left the sinking Automedon for the last time, it was laden to the gunwales with the contents of the strong room, including Mrs Ferguson's luggage. The following in "quotes" is from the book.

"At first Rogge and Mohr were incredulous as one secret document after another emerged from the mail bags. There were Merchant Navy codes and sailing orders which were familiar to them as similar documents had been confiscated in previous raids. There was also much material of kinds they had not seen before: directives, letters, administrative communications, sensitive information, reports and data sent from the British War Cabinet, military and secret services to their outposts in Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo. The jackpot which delighted the two men above all, was contained in a long and narrow mail bag marked: "Classified: Destroy in an Emergency". This, of course was the confidential consignment for the Commander-in-Chief
of the Far East. Rogge opened it straight away and read the papers without concealing his great excitement."
To be continued.

Hugh Ferguson
6th April 2008, 22:00
From the book:-
"On the 15th Nov. the Atlantis rendezvoused with the Ole Jacob (a Norwegian tanker previously captured). The following day the sixty-one Norwegian and Swedish crew of the Teddy (twenty eight) and the Ole Jacob (thirty-three) were ordered aboard the Ole Jacob. Under a prize crew of seven commanded by Lieutenant Kamenz she set off for Japan. She avoided the Strait of Malacca and instead took a longer route south of Sumatra.
Rogge had decided that if the Ole Jacob sailed directly to Germany by the Cape of Good Hope she risked being caught by a British war ship, and that the best way to send the precious top-secret documents to Germany was via Japan, where a favourable reception could be expected.
"In order to prevent any disobedience or rebellion en route to Japan, Rogge took a signed pledge to follow Kamenz's orders from each of the Scandinavian
crewmen, in exchange for an assurance that they would be released once they had reached their destination. He told them if they refused to pledge their obedience, all but the engine room crew would be kept behind on the Atlantis. Rogge always took this kind of measure in order to avert a revolt or sabotage when sendind a prize ship to Germany or to a neutral territory".
To be continued.

Hugh Ferguson
7th April 2008, 13:29
The Ole Jacob arrived in Kobe on the 4th Dec.1940 despite the Japanese authorities wish to comply with neutrality law by the ship avoiding entering their territory-they had actually arranged a rendezvous at "Sheltering Place Y" in Lamotrek Atoll, but Kamenz, (commander of the Ole Jacob) was hell bent on delivering the documents to Berlin as soon as possible, ignored the Japanese sensitivity on this issue.
To continue:-
"Kehrmann (Chief Liason Officer) had boarded the Ole Jacob as soon as she had docked and taken charge of the prize documents. He had taken them to the German consulate and packed them in a large, sturdy chest. Two of the consulate staff had carefully taken it aboard the special express train that had left Kobe at 12.20 and arrived in Tokyo at 21.00. The same night they were delivered to Wenneker (German Naval Attache) who had been waiting impatiently in his office at the embassy.
"Wenneker had studied the contents of the chest from early the next morning, and focussed his attention on the papers destined for the British Commander-in-Chief of the Far East. As he had read through them he had become excited by the profound significance of their contents and convinced that the confidential British Cabinet papers must be of the very highest interest to the Japanese. He had cabled a digest of the contents to the German Naval High Command and requested permission to share them with the Japanese. He had also had the foresight to take copies of the papers. The
originals had been consigned to a diplomatic courier who had left Tokyo for Berlin via the Trans-Siberian Railway that day. Kamenz had accompanied this courier as a guard (he was later to rejoin the Atlantis!). He had other duties to carry out when he reached Berlin, such as reporting on the Atlantis's activities to the Naval High Command, making requests for materials and food supplies, and consulting with the commander of the submarine fleet on cipher communication, as concern was growing that it was increasingly being intercepted and decoded by the enemy".
To be continued.

John Briggs
7th April 2008, 13:37
This is absolutely fascinating Hugh. Keep it coming!

Hugh Ferguson
7th April 2008, 19:28
This is a photograph of Stanley Hugill who also came to be known, in later life, as The Last Shantyman. He acquired this title after having been an A.B. aboard the last deep water British commercial sailing ship, the Garthpool, when she was lost after grounding on a reef in the Cape Verde Is..
That was in 1929, but in Nov.1940 he was in the Automedon when she was attacked and sunk by the Atlantis. He was the A.B. who was at the wheel towards the end of a 6 to 8 watch when the first shell exploded on the wing of the bridge, instantly killing the master and the watch officer.
Stanley survived, only to find himself a prisoner, initially in the Atlantis and then in the Storstadt, and finally ashore in Milag prison in Germany. I don't suppose he could ever have imagined in all of those hours that eventually, when he had died, he would be given a full obituary in the Daily Telegraph!
I knew him in 1954 when he was bosun of the Outward Bound Sea School, Aberdovey. On every course there was a "Shanty Evening", led by Stanley singing shanties in the authentic style. He became internationally famous for his extraordinary memory of an almost limitless number of shanties.

Sister Eleff
8th April 2008, 03:19
Did anyone ever record him singing the shanties, Hugh? There are a few shanty men & women who would love to hear them if they exist.

Hugh Ferguson
8th April 2008, 12:17
Yes, Sister Eleff, they did indeed and we have the French to thank for that! At the height of his fame, Stanley was a regular in Douarnenez, in Brittany where they held these festivals, "Fetes du chant de marin". The title of my CD is, "Chant des Marin Anglais", volume 3, Brest 92, and the address is:-
Le Chasse Maree (accent over first e in Maree) ArMen-B.P.159-29171 DOUARNENEZ CEDEX, France.
The first time I heard Stan shantying on air must have been about 20 years ago and I cursed for not having the means to have recorded it. But, after he died, aged 85 in 1992, the BBC re-broadcast the original program in tribute to him. That was four, half hour long broadcasts and I recorded them all on tape:I hope to, one day, get it all onto a CD.
On the broadcast he goes into a lot of detail about the different kinds of shanties, such as pump, halyard, capstan, stamp and go and the wonderful forebitters. The latter were not work songs but were sung recreationally whilst sitting on the fore-bits in the dog watches in trade wind weather.
In those four broadcasts there were many more shanties than appear on the French CD and they are amongst my most precious possessions!
British shanties were renowned and used by other seamen of differing nationalities. I have a CD of German pilots on the River Elbe singing them in English!
Stan couldn't bear to hear them sung melodically. I believe he once absented himself from one such performance! A great guy, a not so humble Liverpool seaman who spent all of his life at sea apart from a few years in Milag. I'm proud to have known him. Hugh.

Hugh Ferguson
9th April 2008, 12:10
Cont. from page 5:-
"Five days later, Wenneker (German Naval Attache), received a telegram from Berlin giving him permission to pass on the confidential documents to the Japanese Navy. However, it came with a condition: he should not reveal the real course of events that led to Germany's possession of the documents and he must claim that they were obtained through elaborate manoeuvres on the part of the German secret services-------------------------: The telegram also stated that the Japanese Naval Attache in Berlin, Captain Tadao Yokoi, had been supplied with the information. Indeed, the telegram sent from Yokoi to Captain Minoru Maeda, the head of the Third Division of the Naval General Staff, on 12th December stated that he had received from the German Naval High Command the minutes of the British cabinet meeting of 8th August and that he would send it with the next courier service to Japan. He also reported the key points of these minutes as follows:
1. Japan has long harboured an ambition to capture Singapore but under the present circumstances it is impossible for Britain to despatch a fleet to the Far East. Britain must defend Singapore by reinforcing her land and air forces in the region.
2. Japan will probably invade French Indo-China or Thailand first, and then attack the Dutch East Indies. However, in the event of Japan's invasion of French Indo-China or Thailand Britain will not declare war against Japan.
3. In the event of war against Japan, Britain will ultimately abandon Hong Kong, though she will continue to resist as long as possible.
4. If the contest with the Italian navy in the Mediterranian progresses swiftly and in Britain's favour it will become possible to despatch a fleet to the Far East.
5. Britain should collaborate with the Dutch East Indies.
6. As it is thought that Japan will probably attempt to occupy Suva in Fiji, a brigade from New Zealand must be despatched".

Little wonder that Mr Seki (author) has such high regard for Churchill's foresight! But what a gold mine of information for the Japanese!
To be continued.
1.

Allan Wareing
9th April 2008, 16:25
Hugh, your mention of Stan Hugill brought memories flooding back. I got to know him well, Stan and myself were among the 214 prisoners locked down the forward hold of the Storstad for 2 months on passage from the raider Pinguin in the Indian Ocean to docking in Bordeau. We all eventually ended up in Milag Nord. I often wonder now if there any other survivors of that trip. Regards Allan.

price
9th April 2008, 18:38
Hello Hugh,
I think that you and I were probably at the OBSS at the same time. I presume that you were one of the staff, I was one of the local lads who began their seagoing careers in Blue Funnel. Apart from Stan, I can only recall two of the instructors, one, an ex RAF pilot who was in charge of our watch and a young Scottish 3rd. mate by the name of Birt or Burt? who shipped out very sharpish after receiving his call up papers. Being a local, I of course knew Stan, he used to enthrall us young lads with tails of his experiences under sail and steam, he probably influenced some of us in our choices of career.
Capt. Kenn. an old friend, sent me some footage of Stan sailing on the 'Sorlandet'?? in a Tall Ships Race with a lot of youngsters some time ago, despite being in his seventies at the time, he was climbing the rigging like young man. I have in my collection a copy of Stans' excellent book 'Sailortown'. Quite a character. Bruce

Hugh Ferguson
9th April 2008, 19:30
Hugh, your mention of Stan Hugill brought memories flooding back. I got to know him well, Stan and myself were among the 214 prisoners locked down the forward hold of the Storstad for 2 months on passage from the raider Pinguin in the Indian Ocean to docking in Bordeau. We all eventually ended up in Milag Nord. I often wonder now if there any other survivors of that trip. Regards Allan.

Hullo Allan, What a surprise to hear from somebody who got to know Stan in such unimaginable circumstances! I knew of two survivors from the Automedon whose names I was able to give Mr Seki on his initial contact with me: they were deck Boy Frank Walker and 4th engineer, Sam Harper. Sam has died since but not before he was visited by Mr Seki at his home, in Manchester I believe. There's another survivor from a another ship but I cannot call to mind his name at the moment; I'll look into it.
Two of my old pilot colleagues landed up in Milag, Harry Garner from a Port Line ship and Graham Allan from the Rhexenor. Harry died quite some time ago but Graham's still around.
I'll come back to you, Regards, Hugh.

Hugh Ferguson
9th April 2008, 21:10
This photograph of survivors from the Automedon maybe somewhat out of date but those pictured are from L to R. Mike L. Hayes, Deck Boy, Milag Nord; Frank Walker, Deck Boy, Milag Nord; Sam Harper, 4th Engineer, escaped from train, made his way into Spain and eventually home to Liverpool; Alex C. Parsons, Asst. Steward, Milag Nord.
The name I could not recall was, Waggot, lives in Porthcawl. Ring any bells!?

Hugh Ferguson
9th April 2008, 21:25
Hello Hugh,
I think that you and I were probably at the OBSS at the same time. I presume that you were one of the staff, I was one of the local lads who began their seagoing careers in Blue Funnel. Apart from Stan, I can only recall two of the instructors, one, an ex RAF pilot who was in charge of our watch and a young Scottish 3rd. mate by the name of Birt or Burt? who shipped out very sharpish after receiving his call up papers. Being a local, I of course knew Stan, he used to enthrall us young lads with tails of his experiences under sail and steam, he probably influenced some of us in our choices of career.
Capt. Kenn. an old friend, sent me some footage of Stan sailing on the 'Sorlandet'?? in a Tall Ships Race with a lot of youngsters some time ago, despite being in his seventies at the time, he was climbing the rigging like young man. I have in my collection a copy of Stans' excellent book 'Sailortown'. Quite a character. Bruce

Yes, Bruce, I was an instructor together with (the only two names I can remember), Keith Ford and ? Nelson.
I had been ashore taking masters certificate, and to the best of my recollection it was probably the two courses Nov./Dec.1953. I have posted group photographs of both of those courses in my gallery. If you can't find it let me know. Bronwen, Stan's widow still lives, I believe, at the same address.
All the best, Hugh.
P.S. If it's the same RAF guy, he had been based in Germany, and was always going on about "leaping into the luft." Strange how one remembers silly things like that!

Hugh Ferguson
9th April 2008, 23:00
This thumbnail is a photograph of the fore-deck of the Storstadt crowded with prisoners on their way to Bordeaux after trans-shipment from the Atlantis.
It is plate No.13 from Eiji Seki's book, (source unattributable). There are 37 photos in the book including one of that incredible tea-set, photographed by Mr Seki at the time of his visit to Mrs Violet Ferguson's sister's home. Violet having died shortly before: it is now in the possession of her sister, Madge.

Hugh Ferguson
9th April 2008, 23:04
You're in there somewhere , Allan, I wouldn't be surprised!

Hugh Ferguson
10th April 2008, 12:43
The next chapter in this saga has the sub-heading; The Suspicion and Stupefaction of the Japanese Navy. On receiving approval from Berlin, Wenneker (German Naval Attache), took the documents to Vice Admiral Nobutake Kondo in Tokyo.
To continue:- "Wenneker wrote in his diary: 'As anticipated, the contrents were read with extraordinary interest.' This was the first that Kondo knew of the secret documents,as Yokoi's telegram was not sent until late that night. Wenneker reluctantly told Kondo how the documents had come into Germany's possession as instructed by Berlin. That evening Kondo invited Wenneker to an exclusive meal attended by his inner circle at a restaurant in the Akasaka district of Tokyo. It is not clear from Wenneker's diary whether this had been prearranged , but it was more likely a last-minute decision on the part of Kondo, who was astonished by the highly sensitive contents of the document and wished to thank Wenneker without delay.
Over this meal Kondo repeatedly expressed his gratitude for the priceless information and remarked that: 'Such a significant weakening of the British Empire could not have been identified from outward appearance.'
"These words were the first response from the Japanese Navy. However, subsequently some members of the Navy Ministry and the Naval Staff raised their doubts. Having reflected on Wenneker's explanation as to how Germany had acquired the documents, they realised that it was not feasible for any intelligence agency to obtain original material of such calibre. They became sceptical and began to question whether there was a conspiracy by Hitler to entice Japan to attack Singapore."----------------------------
To be continued.

Hugh Ferguson
11th April 2008, 13:47
After more careful analysis of the documents, and after making comparisons with some of their own intelligence, the Japanese Navy's initial suspicions of the veracity of this gift from Hitler were alleviated, and as it states in the book: "The navy came to regard the documents as highly reliable. Its initial suspicions gradually faded and gave way to astonishment. In time, this gift from Hitler would have the effect of hastening the Japanese military to war."
To be continued.

Allan Wareing
11th April 2008, 16:11
Hugh, don't recogonise any of the faces in your thumbnail. However I did exchange a few letters with Jim Waggott when I was in the U.K with my wife in 1988. He was organising a re-union dinner for ex Milag people but unfortunately it was to take place after we had left to come home so I never got there. If I remember rightly he told me that he worked for Dorman Long at one period. The only other person from Milag days who I came across was Captain Thornton (He was Master of the British Commander sunk by Pinguin in 1941) I sailed as AB with him when he was Master of the British Commodore in 1946 but he obviously did'nt recognise me and I never raised the subject. Not surprising really as there were about 3000 of us there. SNAP!!! as regards your pic of the Storstad's foredeck, I have a similar one taken from the starboard bridge wing. I scanned it from a photo in the book " Ghost Cruiser H.K.33" by H.J.Brennecke,published by Wiliam Kimber,London,1954. It contains photos of the the Atlantis taken from the Pinguin during a rendezvous in the Indian Ocean after she sank the Automedon. I've tried several times to upload pics to the site without success so if you would like copies I could do this by e-mail. I'm afraid, as far as computers are concerned I've only got a 'ten knot brain' . Regards Allan.

Hugh Ferguson
11th April 2008, 23:03
Allan, I've been looking up some details of the Pinguin. Did you know that she was the most successful of all the German surface raiders? Her tally was 27 ships sunk and 5 captured, amounting to 154,619 tons. The next heaviest tally was by the combined efforts of the Gneisenau and Scharnhorst which between them accounted for 21 ships sunk and 1 captured, amounting to 115,622 tons. The Atlantis (Armed Merchant Cruiser, as was the Pinguin) sank 18 ships and captured 4, amounting to 145,698 tons.
Which one were you in when you got sunk? Regards, Hugh.

To post thumbnails you need to resize your photograph down (to not more than 293 Kilo bytes) on your photo & imaging facility, and then click on "Go Advanced", click on the "key" symbol to select your photo which, presumeably you have already scanned into your computer, and then press up-load. Wait until that is completed and click send.
Otherwise post it in the photo gallery which is easier to do and you don't need to downsize.

Hugh Ferguson
12th April 2008, 18:17
To continue with the politics at the time all this was going on:-
"When the tripartite agreement (between Germany, Italy & Japan) had been signed, Britain had responded by promptly deciding to reopen the supply route for Chiang Kai-shek through Burma to Chunking. Churchill had been holding on to the slim hope that the Japanese leaders would make the wise choice, and when it had become clear that Japan was aligning herself with his mortal enemy Hitler's Nazi Germany, and was complicit in the latter's ambition of world domination, he had despaired more than ever for the future of Anglo-Japanese relations. Even so, in talks with Ambassador Shigemitsu six months later on 4th March 1941, he urged Japanese prudence and did not abandon his efforts to avert the worst. Churchill's words, according to Shigemitsu's telegram reporting on the talks, can be paraphrased thus:
'From now on there will be many difficult twists and turns in this war, and its peaks and troughs will continue until the end of 1942. However by the end of next year, Britain will have overpowered Germany with her air force. Bearing in mind our naval and aerial superiorityand the American arms production, we will certainly win. When that time comes, we will extend our friendship to Japan and our countries should collaborate on the political world stage. Japan and Britain should have a cooperative relationship, not an antagonistic one, especially considering our geographical similarities; we can both flourish as island-empires. In this war, inevitably the pendulum will swing to and fro. But do not let your vision be clouded by this; I ask you to look at the situation in the long term.'
"The war did indeed go on to develop exactly in the way that Churchill predicted. To make matters worse, in the middle of 1942 Japan suffered a major defeat at the Battle of Midway and her hopes of winning the war were completely dashed.
"By the time of Churchill's meeting with Shigemitsu, the Battle of Britain was over and Hitler had given up on the invasion of Britain and was setting his sights on the Soviet Union. The United State's readiness to fight was also increasingly apparent, and an Axis defeat could now be predicted. The behaviour of the Japanese leaders must have been unfathomable to Churchill, a politician who reacted so judiciously to any situation-------------"

The author's admiration for Churchill and his despair at the stance of the Japanese leaders is very apparent.

Allan Wareing
13th April 2008, 14:30
9929Allan, I've been looking up some details of the Pinguin. Did you know that she was the most successful of all the German surface raiders? Her tally was 27 ships sunk and 5 captured, amounting to 154,619 tons. The next heaviest tally was by the combined efforts of the Gneisenau and Scharnhorst which between them accounted for 21 ships sunk and 1 captured, amounting to 115,622 tons. The Atlantis (Armed Merchant Cruiser, as was the Pinguin) sank 18 ships and captured 4, amounting to 145,698 tons.
Which one were you in when you got sunk? Regards, Hugh.

To post thumbnails you need to resize your photograph down (to not more than 293 Kilo bytes) on your photo & imaging facility, and then click on "Go Advanced", click on the "key" symbol to select your photo which, presumeably you have already scanned into your computer, and then press up-load. Wait until that is completed and click send.
Otherwise post it in the photo gallery which is easier to do and you don't need to downsize.
Hugh I was in the B.I. Nowshera sunk by Pinguin on 18 Dec 1940.Will now try to upload some pics using your advice. Allan

Hugh Ferguson
13th April 2008, 17:17
Well done, Allan! I reckon you could identify some of those faces: I don't suppose many of them are still around. Looks as if the photograph was taken through a wheelhouse window. I note the German officer's profile on the extreme right. Great stuff; looking forward to some more. Regards, Hugh.

Allan Wareing
15th April 2008, 16:39
Well done, Allan! I reckon you could identify some of those faces: I don't suppose many of them are still around. Looks as if the photograph was taken through a wheelhouse window. I note the German officer's profile on the extreme right. Great stuff; looking forward to some more. Regards, Hugh.
Hugh, I will try again, Allan.

Allan Wareing
15th April 2008, 16:54
Hugh, I will try again, Allan.

Bingo!!! and more,Allan

Hugh Ferguson
15th April 2008, 19:31
Well done, Allan! I've never seen those pictures before: I'll have to tell Mr Seki about them! None of them in Mohr & Sellwood's book.
You havn't told me yet if you have, "Valiant Voyaging" (B.I.war history). In that you can read the Gairsoppa saga. I researched the story after seeing some Merchant Navy headstones in a graveyard on the Lizard, not so far from where I live. If you can get into my "Gallery" you will see a photograph of Richard Ayres, 2nd mate and the sole survivor, looking down into the cove where his boat capsiized when trying to land in Caerthillian Cove. He is pictured in the company of the Coast Guard and the two evacuee girls who dragged him out of the sea more dead than alive.
I've put the story on a web-site some place but I cannot remember where at the moment. All the best, Hugh.

Hugh Ferguson
15th April 2008, 19:48
This is the Gairsoppa; Sole Survivor site:-
Click here (http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/32/a3563732.shtml)

Hugh Ferguson
16th April 2008, 13:13
Continued from No.22:-
"He (Churchill) attemted to persuade Matsuoka (Japanese Foreign Minister)
------------one last time, to reflect on the consequences of joining the Axis. The resulting letter from Churchill to Matsuoka dated 2nd April 1941, was to be entrusted to Shigemitsu (Ambassador), who was due to meet with the Japanese Foreign Minister in Switzerland.
"Shigemitsu was of the opinion that Japan should choose her moves very carefully, as the war in Europe was not progressing in Germany's favour as claimed by German propaganda. The Japanese Military Attache in London, Captain Eiichi Tatsumi, shared this view. Shigemitsu undertook to arrange a meeting with Matsuoka during his visit to Europe and to persuade him to handle relations with Britain and the United States with the utmost caution."

This meeting did not materialize but Churchill's letter was eventually handed to Matsuoka by Sir Stafford Cripps in Moscow, but there is no evidence that on his return to Japan Matsuoka brought this important letter to the attention of the Imperial Japanese Government and people as Churchill would have hoped. When he visited the imperial palace on the night of 23rd April and delivered his report to the Emperor, he did not once refer to the letter either.
Mr Seki is very evidently of the opinion that the hard-liners were determined that their views would prevail, and were prepared to side-line, even conceal, the opinions of those who did not share their assessment of the situation.
To be continued.

Allan Wareing
16th April 2008, 15:28
Well done, Allan! I've never seen those pictures before: I'll have to tell Mr Seki about them! None of them in Mohr & Sellwood's book.
You havn't told me yet if you have, "Valiant Voyaging" (B.I.war history). In that you can read the Gairsoppa saga. I researched the story after seeing some Merchant Navy headstones in a graveyard on the Lizard, not so far from where I live. If you can get into my "Gallery" you will see a photograph of Richard Ayres, 2nd mate and the sole survivor, looking down into the cove where his boat capsiized when trying to land in Caerthillian Cove. He is pictured in the company of the Coast Guard and the two evacuee girls who dragged him out of the sea more dead than alive.
I've put the story on a web-site some place but I cannot remember where at the moment. All the best, Hugh.

Hugh,no I have'nt got the book. I had a look at the Gairsoppa site and it made me realise again how 'lucky' I was to have fallen into German hands the way I did. Did'nt even get my feet wet. I'm not really a B.I. man and I'll tell you how I got there. I was sailing as O.S in the Queen Anne (Thos Dunlop's of Glasgow) after having put in over 2 years as O.S in the Federal Line and we were discharging in Abadan on our way out East when war was declared and we were ordered to load grain in Basra and come back to the U,K. I went on a gunnery course in Liverpool and got a D.E.M.S. certificate. I then joined the San Ubaldo (she had just had a gun fitted )as 'sailor', a quaint term used in those days for an O.S with insuffient time in to be signed on as A.B but on A.B's pay. Made 2 trips to Curacao, up to Halifax N.S. to join the homebound convoy And she then went into refit. I was offered an A.B.s job in the B.I.Lahore and when I signed on I realised that I was only there on the strength of my gunnery certificate , There were three of us, myself, an O.S. and an Irish Marine who was in charge of us. What a weird set up, not involved in any work on deck (all Indian crew of course),never went anywhere near the bridge and virtually no contact with the Mate or any of the deck Officers. We went out to India and on arrival in Calcutta the three of us were transferred to the Nowshera for the trip home. Same story there, we lived in a small cabin up forrard and had our meals in the junior Engineers mess down the back end and were generally ignored by all and sundry.
At least we got to do the job we were there for. When the Pinguin fired a shot over our bows at 2 O'clock in the morning we manned the gun and put one up the spout ready to go.The problem was that it was pitch dark and she was illuminating us with short bursts of her searchlight then moving so that we had no idea where to fire. Luckily Captain Collins realised that she was sitting outside the range of our 'peashooter' ( an old first world war Japanese 12 pounder, if memory serves) and ordered us to train the gun fore and aft and to leave the gun platform which we did. The rest is history. A boarding party came on board , dashed up to the radio room and smashed the transmitter,then relaxed a bit and told us to put a few belongings and toileteries into a bag and go down aft to be ferried across to Pinguin.
It looks like I'll be burning the midnight oil looking in your gallery which I have'nt done yet. Somewhere I have a complete list of Pinguin's victims victims which I compiled from a book ' The Secret Raiders' by David Woodward also published by William Kimber and Co.Ltd,46 Wilton Place London S.W.1 This is another out of print book and covers the history of all 9 of the raiders. Again I say I'm not really a B.I.man, Regards Allan.

Hugh Ferguson
16th April 2008, 21:01
Fascinating story, Allan! So you were in it from the very beginning. I'm very pleased to have made your acquaintance. Another book which would probably be of interest to you is, Gabe Thomas's, Milag: Captives of the Kriegs Marine: published by The Milag Prisoner of War Association:ISBN 1 872808 35 2. More than 50 illustrations with another nine in colour.
Gabe was formerly the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen. His home is named, Milag.! Regards, Hugh.

Hugh Ferguson
17th April 2008, 11:52
Cont. from No.29.
" From the formation of the tripartite alliance to the Japanese occupation of southern Indo-China, the international climate became increasingly critical. Konoe (Japanese P.M.) was overwhelmed by the situation and deeply regretted appointing Matsuoka as Foreign Minister. In order to rid the cabinet of Matsuoka he even had the entire cabinet resign on the 16th July, and then reformed it with Admiral Teijiro Toyoda as the Foreign Minister. However, Konoe relinquished his position in less than three months and made way for a new Cabinet headed by General Hideki Tojo, thereby driving Japan further down the road to destruction.---------------------Konoe had a habit of regretting his actions in retrospect. Masuoka was the same in this regard. On 8th December 1941, Matsuoka heard on his sickbed that Japan had gone to war with America. He wept and said: 'It has really hit me, for the first time, that the Axis pact was the greatest blunder of my life.' The mass of the Japanese people conformed blindly and allowed men like Konoe and Matsuoka, who were devoid of foresight and strategy or reckless and emotionally unstable to occupy the heart of national government. Moreover they applauded these men, paving the way for their country's downfall, and suffered bitterly as a result. The people of Japan must reflect on the part they played, as well as denouncing their leaders. In the words of J.S.Mill: 'The worth of a State , in the long run, is the worth of the individuals composing it.' "
To be continued.

Allan Wareing
18th April 2008, 15:00
Fascinating story, Allan! So you were in it from the very beginning. I'm very pleased to have made your acquaintance. Another book which would probably be of interest to you is, Gabe Thomas's, Milag: Captives of the Kriegs Marine: published by The Milag Prisoner of War Association:ISBN 1 872808 35 2. More than 50 illustrations with another nine in colour.
Gabe was formerly the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen. His home is named, Milag.! Regards, Hugh.

Hugh, me again. The thumbnails were due to finger trouble,here are the ones of Pinguine that I intrd to send, Regards,Allan.

Allan Wareing
18th April 2008, 15:28
Hugh, me again. The thumbnails were due to finger trouble,here are the ones of Pinguin that I intended to send, Regards,Allan.
Oops! still there.Try again ,Allan.

Hugh Ferguson
26th April 2008, 19:32
Continuation from Post 32:-
The following is the final paragraph in the chapter, A Gift From Hitler.
"Japan drove herself into a corner with her failure to settle the conflict in China and her alignment with the Axis powers. Her military and political leaders alike no longer had any psychological margin or the courage to voice their individual views to one another. They did not opt to conserve and nurture Japan's national strength while distancing her from the war in Europe. It had long been clear that a new international order would be formulated in the wake of the European war, but they failed to realize that, in that event, there would be opportunities to promote the principles of the self-determination of peoples, racial equality and fair trade. They lacked any sense of history or understanding of what was taking place around the world. They did not possess the wisdom to pursue tangible economic benefits for Japan instead of empty slogans. As we have seen, around 1941, Churchill was appealing to Japan that if she remained neutral by not joining the war in Europe the Allies would invite her to take part in the building of a post-war world order."

There are many more chapters in this fascinating and superbly researched book,and I would strongly recommend it to anyone interested in this Japanese perspective of how they became involved. We shall be left forever speculating as to whether, or not, Mrs Ferguson's tea-set,leading to the discovery of those secret documents,was instrumental in tipping the balance as to the course events took.

Sister Eleff
26th April 2008, 22:48
What eventually happened to the tea-set, Hugh? Thank you for this story, it has been fascinating (Applause)

Hugh Ferguson
27th April 2008, 13:50
What eventually happened to the tea-set, Hugh? Thank you for this story, it has been fascinating (Applause)

The tea-set was inherited by Violet Ferguson's sister, Madge, and when the author, Eiji Seki, eventually discovered the whereabouts of their home, he visited and was invited to photograph said tea-set together with a photograph of Violet and her sister. It is ironical that had Mr Seki known at the time of his first visit to England, in his researches into the story, he could have met and interviewed her, as she was still living into her ninety second year. Sadly, she had died a few months previously. Alan, Violet's husband, had died many years previously when they had lived and worked in Singapore.

Please refer to post #1 on this thread for details of how to obtain this book, post free in the U.K..

Hugh Ferguson
28th April 2008, 21:42
The factors which contributed to the course of events attending the capture of the top secret documents are well worth some further speculation, and they relate to the character of Bernard Rogge, the commander of the Atlantis.
After the attack on the Automedon his inclination would have been to move away from that location as fast as possible. But, after receiving the report from Mohr (boarding officer) of the six dead, and receiving on board the Atlantis the wounded from the Automedon, he evidently felt a degree of remorse that the bombardment had been unnecessarily heavy and sought to make some amends as evidenced by his signal to Mohr to recover Mrs Ferguson's luggage. This took two hours and considerable delay was caused by Mr Stewart, 2nd mate, trying to mislead Mohr about the location of the strong room containing the luggage and the documents.
Just compare that conduct with that of Korvettenkapitan Helmuth von Ruchteschell of the Widder when they attacked the Anglo Saxon causing all of the lifeboats to be wrecked and allowing only seven crew to eventually abandon ship in the "jolly" boat-only two of whom were still alive seventy days later.
Had it been the Widder which attacked the Automedon, is it conceivable that the Japanese military would never have been in receipt of that incredible haul of intelligence which unquestionably became a factor lending them considerable encouragement to pursue their expansionist ambitions.
In that event it would have been doubtful if Alan and Violet Ferguson, or the documents would have survived, let alone the tea-set.

Hugh Ferguson
29th April 2008, 20:59
As a testimony to the character of Bernard Rogge, commander of the Atlantis, Captain J. Armstrong White, of the City of Baghdad, which had been sunk by the Atlantis, wrote as a preface to Rogge's memoirs the following:-
That there is a cameraderie of the sea..........there is no doubt. And Rogge proved this fully in his attitude and behaviour to the prisoners he took. From the moment that we found ourselves upon his ship the treatment he afforded us was correct and humane in every detail. His first thought and attention was always for those wounded in the attack and, secondly, to provide as much comfort for the remainder of his prisoners as the circumstances permitted. To the best of my knowledge and belief not one accusation has ever been levelled against him, either by his prisoners or by his crew....And that is why the greater majority of his prisoners first began to respect, and then to like him.

Hugh Ferguson
26th July 2008, 22:10
This photograph of survivors from the Automedon maybe somewhat out of date but those pictured are from L to R. Mike L. Hayes, Deck Boy, Milag Nord; Frank Walker, Deck Boy, Milag Nord; Sam Harper, 4th Engineer, escaped from train, made his way into Spain and eventually home to Liverpool; Alex C. Parsons, Asst. Steward, Milag Nord.
The name I could not recall was, Waggot, lives in Porthcawl. Ring any bells!?

It has just been reported that Frank Walker (deck boy on board the Automedon) died on 13th July 2008. I believe that makes him the last of all of the crew of that ship on the 11th Nov. 1940, to have died.
I E.mailed Mr Seki with this news but he had already heard it from Vera, Frank's daughter.

Hugh Ferguson
23rd December 2008, 22:41
This is an account, from Mr Seki's book, of the return of Sam Harper, 3rd Engineer of the Automedon who escaped from the train taking him into captivity in Germany. After many escapades he had walked out of France, crossed into Spain and arrived in Gibraltar from where he boarded the troopship Nea Hellas arriving Glasgow on the 25th June 1941.
"As soon as the ship berthed a man came aboard found Harper and handed him a train ticket to Liverpool. Harper disembarked and stepped onto British soil for the first time in eight months. He was overcome by emotion as he looked back on the hard tmes aboard the prison ship, his perilous flight through France and his days of captivity in Spain-------------
"Harper could not wait to get home and made straight for the railway station. However, probably owing to air raids, none of the trains was running on schedule. After a long wait he was at last able to board a train for Liverpool. At midnight, the train finally reached the outskirts of Liverpool but came to a standstill for a long time as the city was experiencing an air raid.
Eventually the alert was lifted and the train pulled into Liverpool's main station--------------------
"There was no public transport whatsoever so Harper had to walk to his parent's home at 68 Holmfield Rd. in Aigburth, a southern suberb of Liverpool.
When he arrived the house was empty and steeped in silence. Later that day his father came home. He told Harper with visible heartache that the merchant ship Matina, with Harper's younger brother Frank on board, had been sunk by a German submarine on 24th Oct. 1940, 500 miles west of the Outer Hebrides, and there had not been a single survivor. As he heard the news, Harper, who had been very fond of his brother tried to bear the grief that welled inside him; a grief that would never leave him for the rest of his life. Twenty two year old Frank had been an apprentice engineer. The Matina had been attacked by the U.28 commanded by Captain Kuhnke which itself was sunk in March 1944.
"Harper's mother had been told that the Automedon had been sunk and that it was not known if there had been any survivors. Believing she had lost two beloved sons in succession she had been distraught, and when her husband's ship had not returned to port when expected, her anguish had been exacerbated. She had fallen ill and been hospitalized."

Such was the homecoming of a merchant seaman in those days.

Trader
24th December 2008, 22:49
Many thanks Hugh for your tales of the Automedon I have a personal interest in your posts in that I sailed with Frank Walker on the "Bellerophon" in 1952/53 and we came from the same town (city) and used to drink together there.

I was at Aberdovey Outward Bound sea school in March 1952 course 114 when Stan Hugill was an instructor there and have a group photograph of our course with Stan on the front row. I posted the photo on another thread some years ago.

I was sorry to see that Frank had died this year in July. He was a character and we had some good times together. He never ever mentioned his time on the Automedon and his time in the P.O.W camp. I knew that he was the youngest prisoner (15 years of age) to be taken in the war but that didn't come from him but some one else on the "Bellerophon". He spoke good German and would go aboard any German ships to arrange football matches with them.

Regards..Alec Sheldon.

Hugh Ferguson
4th January 2009, 20:28
Very pleased, Alec, to have brought this to your attention. Since Frank died one of the amusing stories of his time in Milag has been recounted. Apparently, on account of him being so young, the guards were not averse to him leaving the camp for a little sortie down to the nearby village. During one of these "outings" the guard had changed and failed to recognise him as he returned to camp-they wouldn't allow him in!!! They evidently thought he was one of the village lads having a bit of a lark! Obviously they soon cottoned on and back in he went.
I wonder if you've heard of the exploits of Sam Harper (he and Frank were still attending regular meetings of members of the Blue Funnel Assoc. in Liverpool up until the time they died, (Sam a few years years ago and Frank more recently). Sam was an engineer in the Automedon and he escaped by jumping off the train, taking them to Milag whilst it was crossing France! He made it to Marseilles where he was able to contact somebody who provided the means for a guide to pilot him across the Pyrenees. He then spent some time detained in Spain, but eventually deputations were made and he made it to Gibraltar from where he got a ship back to Liverpool where he discovered a devastated family-his mother hospitalised with shock from the blitz on Liverpool and, as she assumed, the loss of both of her sons; Sam's brother had died when the ship he was in had been torpedoed. What a homecoming after what he had gone through!

Billy1963
11th January 2009, 12:36
Many thanks Hugh for your tales of the Automedon I have a personal interest in your posts in that I sailed with Frank Walker on the "Bellerophon" in 1952/53 and we came from the same town (city) and used to drink together there.

I was at Aberdovey Outward Bound sea school in March 1952 course 114 when Stan Hugill was an instructor there and have a group photograph of our course with Stan on the front row. I posted the photo on another thread some years ago.

I was sorry to see that Frank had died this year in July. He was a character and we had some good times together. He never ever mentioned his time on the Automedon and his time in the P.O.W camp. I knew that he was the youngest prisoner (15 years of age) to be taken in the war but that didn't come from him but some one else on the "Bellerophon". He spoke good German and would go aboard any German ships to arrange football matches with them.

Regards..Alec Sheldon.

Attached photo. June 1941, digging peat in the Sandbostel Concentration Camp. The young boy to the right of this picture is the 15 year old Deck Boy Frank Walker, PoW No. 87343

Billy1963
11th January 2009, 12:44
This photograph of survivors from the Automedon maybe somewhat out of date but those pictured are from L to R. Mike L. Hayes, Deck Boy, Milag Nord; Frank Walker, Deck Boy, Milag Nord; Sam Harper, 4th Engineer, escaped from train, made his way into Spain and eventually home to Liverpool; Alex C. Parsons, Asst. Steward, Milag Nord.
The name I could not recall was, Waggot, lives in Porthcawl. Ring any bells!?

Photo taken in 2001. An 80 years young Jim Waggott (right of the picture) PoW. No. 87919 from the ship Port Wellington with his life long friend, Dave Lovering PoW No. 1475 who was also held at Milag Nord after his ship the Empire Ranger was bombed and sunk in Convoy PQ-13.

Trader
12th January 2009, 01:54
Very pleased, Alec, to have brought this to your attention. Since Frank died one of the amusing stories of his time in Milag has been recounted. Apparently, on account of him being so young, the guards were not averse to him leaving the camp for a little sortie down to the nearby village. During one of these "outings" the guard had changed and failed to recognise him as he returned to camp-they wouldn't allow him in!!! They evidently thought he was one of the village lads having a bit of a lark! Obviously they soon cottoned on and back in he went.
I wonder if you've heard of the exploits of Sam Harper (he and Frank were still attending regular meetings of members of the Blue Funnel Assoc. in Liverpool up until the time they died, (Sam a few years years ago and Frank more recently). Sam was an engineer in the Automedon and he escaped by jumping off the train, taking them to Milag whilst it was crossing France! He made it to Marseilles where he was able to contact somebody who provided the means for a guide to pilot him across the Pyrenees. He then spent some time detained in Spain, but eventually deputations were made and he made it to Gibraltar from where he got a ship back to Liverpool where he discovered a devastated family-his mother hospitalised with shock from the blitz on Liverpool and, as she assumed, the loss of both of her sons; Sam's brother had died when the ship he was in had been torpedoed. What a homecoming after what he had gone through!

Hugh, thank you for the story of Frank. That must be the reason for him speaking such good German if he was allowed out to go to the local village. As I have already said he never even mentioned being a POW when I sailed with him.
I have read the exploits of Sam Harper actually on another web site. As you say, what a homecoming. At least he went on to have a reasonably long life. Their exploits would make a good film.
Regards...........Alec Sheldon.

Trader
12th January 2009, 02:09
Attached photo. June 1941, digging peat in the Sandbostel Concentration Camp. The young boy to the right of this picture is the 15 year old Deck Boy Frank Walker, PoW No. 87343

Thank you Billy for the photo of Frank. I wonder what was going through his mind when the photo was taken. I sailed with him in Blue Funnel in 1952/53 and he never mentioned his time as a POW. I also used to drink with him in our home town of Manchester. I was sad to see that he had died a few months ago, I live in Dover now and have lost touch with Manchester.

Regards.............Alec Sheldon.

Allan Wareing
9th January 2010, 10:39
Attached photo. June 1941, digging peat in the Sandbostel Concentration Camp. The young boy to the right of this picture is the 15 year old Deck Boy Frank Walker, PoW No. 87343

Hi Billy,
I've just been having a nostalgic look at this thread and your pic of the peat diggers triggered a long forgotten memory. I passed through Sandbostel Camp on the way to Milag and very often got roped in to dig peat. As I remember we used to cut slabs off the face and then slice it up into blocks about 4 inches square and about 18 inches long. then we piled it up in little stacks 4 pieces on the ground sepatated by a couple of inches then 4 on top at rightangles and so on until the stack was a couple of feet high. It was then left to air dry. Sorry I don't remember Frank Walker though.
Regards,Allan.

Hugh Ferguson
30th January 2010, 19:56
This is the Gairsoppa; Sole Survivor site:-
Click here (http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/32/a3563732.shtml)

I've had two calls this week from reporters on the Sunday Times and the Independent. All related to the possible finding of the wreck and recovery of the bullion.What did they expect me to be able to tell them!?
They mentioned that she is a war-grave but I don't think that would interfere with such an operation. In the B.I. book, Valiant Voyaging, mention only is made of the cargo containing pig-iron ingots. She sank 300 miles S.W. from Galway Bay-only Mr Ayres, 2nd mate survived.

chadburn
30th January 2010, 21:08
When you read and hear about you and other Allied P.O.W. and what my Father told me they went through, its hard to contemplate the way we treated the German POW. in England, I attended a talk given by a former Luftwaffe Pilot who ended up at Grizedale Hall (T Brocklebanks old home in the Lake District), he showed me some photograph's of the Dining Hall with the long dining tables neatly laid out and there on the wall overlooking the proceedings was the German Eagle complete with Swastika underneath. The food was so good that most of them were quiet happy where they were and did not want to be shipped to Canada.

will.
30th January 2010, 21:12
Allan
My Grandfather, Harry Steele, was master of the "Port Brisbane", which was sunk by the Pinguin,He spent the rest of the war in Milag nord, did you meet him ?, I have most of his documents and memorabilia from this time which I treasure greatly.

Hugh Ferguson
30th January 2010, 21:30
When you read and hear about you and other Allied P.O.W. and what my Father told me they went through, its hard to contemplate the way we treated the German POW. in England, I attended a talk given by a former Luftwaffe Pilot who ended up at Grizedale Hall (T Brocklebanks old home in the Lake District), he showed me some photograph's of the Dining Hall with the long dining tables neatly laid out and there on the wall overlooking the proceedings was the German Eagle complete with Swastika underneath. The food was so good that most of them were quiet happy where they were and did not want to be shipped to Canada.

In Dec.1945 I met the 2nd watch-keeping officer from U.190. He was a POW in a camp near where my parents' home was in Newport. Maybe the Luftwaffe people fared better than the U.boat men. My acquaintance had been in the U.190 when they surrendered off Newfoudland-he preferred it in Canada!! I still correspond with him.

Ben Lee
1st August 2010, 13:33
The Banknote on SS Automendon

I recently came across this piece of banknote and was somesort interested to research the history and only to uncover what a history behind the SS Automendon and the Atlantis. To say I was pretty much astound after some reading over the net was an understatement. We were taught in our Singapore history books that Singapore fell because of poor war planning of General Percival and the Far East Command as they were anticipating the Japanese attack on Singapore to come from the south. The attack from the north in their belief was simply not viable in their opinon. Hence with all the big guns pointing out to the sea, the attack came from Johore.

And now, I've gathered Singapore would not have fallen and the Japanese forces under General Yamashita could have retreated had Mrs Ferguson not asked for her tea set. So Singapore effectively fell because of a Tea Set and a Trunk.

And who in his right mind could have place 60 mail bags on Top Secret intel documents including the decoder book in a merchant ship?

Perhaps such is life and fate.

I would reminiscence the time we would sit with my grandfather to listen to his war stories over a cuppa of chinese tea. How the locals banded together with the british and their valiant attempts in urban warfare and how he and my grandma survived the horrendous Japanese Occupation. He had a habit to kept momentos and relics to as he would tell us stories while we hold unto the objects, less we forget. He has since bequeath this duty to me since his passing.

I am keen to collect relics from the SS Automendon and the Atlantis.

You can reach me by sending me a private message

Hugh Ferguson
27th July 2011, 18:23
I should have previously made mention of the extraordinary generosity of Mr Seki after we had initially made contact and I was able to put him in touch with the two, still living, Sam Harper and Frank Walker, survivors from the Automedon. An enormous 'goodies' hamper arrived at our front door, one of Fortnum and Mason's, the biggest I'd ever set eyes on-there was enough tea alone in it to keep us supplied for a year!!

(Sorry to confuse! This post should have gone on Lynnelle's thread, World War Two).

Hugh Ferguson
7th January 2012, 14:23
Forgive me for resurrecting one of my own "threads"! It has sunk so far down into the archives that it could easily be missed by the many who have joined in the last couple of years.
But, chiefly I would like to draw attention to the comments made by one one of our oldest members, Allan Wareing, who is now in his nineties!

trotterdotpom
7th January 2012, 14:53
No worries, Hugh. I've tried to find a couple of my own posts from way back without luck- maybe we're just doomed to that Old Fart's disease of repeating ourselves endlessly. How do you get into the "archives", the "see all posts" thing in the profile only goes back a few months.

Maybe it doesn't matter as the SN population seems to be continually being re-cycled - such a lot of posters have disappeared over time, and not all have "fallen on their swords".

"ThunderD", Derek Blair, a funny and interesting poster from Tasmania, disappeared after his wife sadly died. I often wonder if he's OK, but nobody seems to know.

John T

PS What news of "The Surgeon's Log", is it still travelling the world?

Hugh Ferguson
7th January 2012, 16:11
John T. "The Surgeon's Log" its travels: click HERE (www.shipsnostalgia.com/showthread.php?t=15759&page=2&highlight=Surgeon%27s+Log) for the latest.

makko
7th January 2012, 16:15
John T

PS What news of "The Surgeon's Log", is it still travelling the world?
It is in Mexico City!

I still have the Surgeons Log which I have read and re-read. My daughter (16) was reading it to see the subtle differences of the early 20th Century english with regard to the "modern" english, especially the non-PC comments! I would be glad to send it on it's way again if Hugh will tell me to whom it should be sent.
Rgds.
Dave

Hugh Ferguson
7th January 2012, 17:25
Nothing to do with me, Dave, it's some other member's (Hamish Mackintosh) paperback. Whoever else may wish to have it should send a PM to Dave in Mexico City, otherwise he won't know what to do with it other than keep it until somebody contacts him.

Hugh Ferguson
4th July 2012, 22:12
This is a photograph of Stanley Hugill who also came to be known, in later life, as The Last Shantyman. He acquired this title after having been an A.B. aboard the last deep water British commercial sailing ship, the Garthpool, when she was lost after grounding on a reef in the Cape Verde Is..
That was in 1929, but in Nov.1940 he was in the Automedon when she was attacked and sunk by the Atlantis. He was the A.B. who was at the wheel towards the end of a 6 to 8 watch when the first shell exploded on the wing of the bridge, instantly killing the master and the watch officer.
Stanley survived, only to find himself a prisoner, initially in the Atlantis and then in the Storstadt, and finally ashore in Milag prison in Germany. I don't suppose he could ever have imagined in all of those hours that eventually, when he had died, he would be given a full obituary in the Daily Telegraph!
I knew him in 1954 when he was bosun of the Outward Bound Sea School, Aberdovey. On every course there was a "Shanty Evening", led by Stanley singing shanties in the authentic style. He became internationally famous for his extraordinary memory of an almost limitless number of shanties.

Click HERE (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxFF40xPV7E&feature=related) for a shanty by the aforesaid Stanley Hugill

TonyAllen
5th July 2012, 20:36
It is in Mexico City!

I still have the Surgeons Log which I have read and re-read. My daughter (16) was reading it to see the subtle differences of the early 20th Century english with regard to the "modern" english, especially the non-PC comments! I would be glad to send it on it's way again if Hugh will tell me to whom it should be sent.
Rgds.
Dave

hello dave IM glad that you recieved the book OK I had wondered if you had.I'd forgotton that sent I it to you my wife passsed away 23 dec last year so its been a bit frought of late I'm surprised the nobody had asked for it since a few members had mailed me for it.
regards Tony

makko
5th July 2012, 21:38
Sorry to hear that Tony - My condolences.

I shall remain on STBY, awaiting orders with regard to the book.

Take Care,
Rgds.
Dave

Hugh Ferguson
7th October 2012, 13:50
As a foot-note to this story-and having been given the author's permission-I can't resist adding this account of the travels of that "teaset"!

'As for Violet's (Ferguson) belongings which had been retrieved from the Automedon that day in 1940, the trunk that contained a tea-set among other items, had initially been sent to Milag with Alan (Ferguson) and kept there. However, as there had been a shortage of tableware at Liebenau the trunk had been transferred to this camp and its contents used for a time, after which they had been repacked and stored on site. When Violet had been sent back to England in 1943, this crockery along with her clothes and other possessions had been left behind.

On the eve of the couples departure for Singapore in 1945 they had been informed by the British military authorities that they had received Violet's luggage from Germany. By the couples request it had eventually been shipped to Singapore and safely delivered into their hands. The luggage had been kept in a large warehouse in Hamburg ever since Violet's repatriation and not a single item had been lost or broken. The Fergusons' friends and acquaintances who heard this story all agreed that it was nothing short of a miracle.
Professr K.G. Tregonning, former Raffles Professor of History at the University of Singapore, who wrote the history of the Straits Steamship Co., Home Port Singapore, in 1976 at the Company's request, interviewed the Fergusons in February1965. He writes that he was served afternoon tea with that very tea-set from Violet's trunk;a tea-set with a story, one that had crossed the IndianOcean three times. This author had visited Madge Christmas (Violet's sister) in the Autumn of 2003 and when shown the Taylor & Kent tea-set on that occasion, was deeply moved thinking of the many twists and turns it had followed with its owner over time; he was face to face with a silent witness to history.'

Coastie
8th October 2012, 10:28
Blimey! That's an amazing story and one which probably wouldn't happen these days.

Thankyou Hugh.

Hugh Ferguson
19th April 2013, 08:55
Time to give this another airing: especially for the new members?

Leratty
19th April 2013, 15:24
Hugh, a brilliant story & piece of history, just amazing how it all turned out well besides the finding of the secret data along with code books. As Ben Lee says, how naive to put those on a merchant ship, more so without some form of either destruction or being separated from general baggage. Enjoyed reading the whole thread. In a way possibly clears Gen Perciville of some of the bad rap he got, maybe?

ben27
20th April 2013, 02:28
good morning hugh ferguson.s.m.4-4-2008.re:mrs fergusons tea set,japan and the second w.w..as you may note I like reading up on the past threads.they hold a lot of history worth reading.it is an amazing story.almost like a best seller of the secret service.i note the name.mrs,ferguson.is she a relative of yours? of cource the book was a best seller.a great thread,well presented.and there for us new members to enjoy.thank you for posting.regards ben27

duncs
20th April 2013, 06:39
It's brilliant to come across an old thread like this. Thanks Hugh. I was spellbound from start to finish.
Rgds, D

Hugh Ferguson
20th April 2013, 12:19
It's very pleasing to receive such appreciation: thankyou both!
I must say that the modest amount of my researching sundry maritime events has been the most rewarding thing I have done in retirement.
One such effort began after reading a letter, published in Sea Breezes, written by a Glasgow doctor. He was enquring about the book, The Surgeon's Log. That research resulted in a visit to my home of not only the daughter of the book's author but also of the son of the 2nd mate of the Blue Funnel ship in which the voyage had been made in 1907! She turned up for a three day stay bringing with her the actual log which her father had zealosly written up every day of that long ago voyage-it became a mini classic of travel literature.
She later sent me a complete photo-copy of her father's log!
I also received several visits from the son of the 2nd mate of that old Blue Funnel ship. Since those happy events I'm sad to say that all of those people have died.

(No, ben27, as far as I know I'm not related to either of the Fergusons afore mentioned, and the only one of all of those people I remain in touch with are a niece of Chief Engineer Ferguson, and also with the author of Mrs Ferguson's Tea-set, Eiji Seki).

ben27
21st April 2013, 02:42
good morning hugh furguson.s.m.yesterday.20:19.re:relationship to mrs.ferguson.thank you for your reply.it is great that you still keep in touch with the niece of c.eng.ferguson and the author of mrs ferguson's tea-set.eiji seki.i intend to see if I can get a copy of the book.a great post.have a good day.ben27

reefrat
21st April 2013, 04:25
The survival of the tea setis unbeleivable,, thank you for a most marvellous post

Hugh Ferguson
21st April 2013, 14:14
As a foot-note to this story-and having been given the author's permission-I can't resist adding this account of the travels of that "teaset"!

'As for Violet's (Ferguson) belongings which had been retrieved from the Automedon that day in 1940, the trunk that contained a tea-set among other items, had initially been sent to Milag with Alan (Ferguson) and kept there. However, as there had been a shortage of tableware at Liebenau the trunk had been transferred to this camp and its contents used for a time, after which they had been repacked and stored on site. When Violet had been sent back to England in 1943, this crockery along with her clothes and other possessions had been left behind.

On the eve of the couples departure for Singapore in 1945 they had been informed by the British military authorities that they had received Violet's luggage from Germany. By the couples request it had eventually been shipped to Singapore and safely delivered into their hands. The luggage had been kept in a large warehouse in Hamburg ever since Violet's repatriation and not a single item had been lost or broken. The Fergusons' friends and acquaintances who heard this story all agreed that it was nothing short of a miracle.
Professr K.G. Tregonning, former Raffles Professor of History at the University of Singapore, who wrote the history of the Straits Steamship Co., Home Port Singapore, in 1976 at the Company's request, interviewed the Fergusons in February1965. He writes that he was served afternoon tea with that very tea-set from Violet's trunk;a tea-set with a story, one that had crossed the IndianOcean three times. This author had visited Madge Christmas (Violet's sister) in the Autumn of 2003 and when shown the Taylor & Kent tea-set on that occasion, was deeply moved thinking of the many twists and turns it had followed with its owner over time; he was face to face with a silent witness to history.'

Is it possible that that tea-set even survived THIS (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKWyK9rtRtA)

ben27
22nd April 2013, 02:48
good morning hugh ferguson,s.m.yesterday.22:14.re:mrs,ferguson's tea set.i have posted this thread before.but after watching your video post(72)I had to say how horrific that night of the fire storm must have been.i was in the London blitz,i would not wish a night like that on anybody.but if you play with fire.you get burnt.a great post,thank you.ben27

Hugh Ferguson
28th September 2013, 13:13
The last surviving member of the crew of the Automedon, Alex Parsons, has died aged ninety one. Alex was a deck boy in the Automedon when she was sunk by the surface raider, Atlantis, in 1940.
I have E.mailed the author of the book, Mr Eiji Seki, this news and he sends his condolences to Alex's family.
I guess that must really be the end of this amazing story.

ben27
29th September 2013, 01:19
good day hugh ferguson.sm.yesterday,thank you for posting about the last surviving member of the automedon.may alex parsons rest in peace.regards ben27

Hugh Ferguson
16th December 2013, 12:30
As an epilogue to this story I thought it worthwhile to make mention of an exchange of letters I had with Mr P.Toosey (son of Colonel Toosey) some years ago. He sent me a copy of this extraordinary letter his father had received from Saitoh (commander of the camp in which Col. Toosey was imprisoned)

Hugh Ferguson
16th December 2013, 21:02
As an epilogue to this story I thought it worthwhile to make mention of an exchange of letters I had with Mr P.Toosey (son of Colonel Toosey) some years ago. He sent me a copy of this extraordinary letter his father had received from Saitoh (commander of the camp in which Col. Toosey was imprisoned)

This extraordinary reversal of circumstances persuaded Mr Saitoh to convert to Christianity and that involved, that at the time of his death, the interment would take place secretly, unobserved by any former comrades.
For those who may have forgotten it was Alec Guinness who played the part of Col.Toosey in the film, "Bridge Over The River Kwai".

(Which makes me wonder, if Muslims might do the same faith change, they may, possibly, begin to resolve many of their differences, not only with the West but also with some of their fellow Muslims.....or is that just a dream!!!)

Sister Eleff
19th December 2013, 02:03
As an epilogue to this story I thought it worthwhile to make mention of an exchange of letters I had with Mr P.Toosey (son of Colonel Toosey) some years ago. He sent me a copy of this extraordinary letter his father had received from Saitoh (commander of the camp in which Col. Toosey was imprisoned)

What a beautiful letter Hugh, from obviously an honorable man.

Hugh Ferguson
19th December 2013, 14:07
What a beautiful letter Hugh, from obviously an honorable man.

Thanks, Sister Eleff: would you believe? I've been looking for that letter for months, certain that it resided some place in my chaotic archives, AND then I found it whilst looking for something else!
But however did I manage to contact Col. Toosey's son; I have no idea, I can't remember!

Hugh Ferguson
19th December 2013, 21:02
Hullo Allan, What a surprise to hear from somebody who got to know Stan in such unimaginable circumstances! I knew of two survivors from the Automedon whose names I was able to give Mr Seki on his initial contact with me: they were deck Boy Frank Walker and 4th engineer, Sam Harper. Sam has died since but not before he was visited by Mr Seki at his home, in Manchester I believe. There's another survivor from a another ship but I cannot call to mind his name at the moment; I'll look into it.
Two of my old pilot colleagues landed up in Milag, Harry Garner from a Port Line ship and Graham Allan from the Rhexenor. Harry died quite some time ago but Graham's still around.
I'll come back to you, Regards, Hugh.

I've just received a Christmas card from Graham: he survived being in a ship torpedoed and sunk in mid Atlantic, followed by ten days in a U.boat which was depth charged by the R.N. on its passage back to St. Nazaire. Followed by two years in Milag; followed by some years piloting in Aden where his wife died prematurely and he, at the time of the insurrection, lost his job!
I spoke to him on the 'phone a few weeks ago-I think he told me he was ninety two! Happy Christmas, Graham.