London 1904

Saturday, 15 November 2008

75. 1921 April

This is a parody on Whyte Melvilles poem. Melville was a Scottish novelist but I can't find the original poem my granddad refers to but have found this !

I doubt F.A.I. wrote this himself as nothing I have found indicates he played golf!!

A Parody on Whyte Melvilles’ most beautiful poem the Place Where the Old Horse Died


At the bottom of the bunker where the sand is soft and deep

And each ball takes a heel mark of its own

Where the stance is loose and shifting and the face in front is steep

And you seize on your niblich with a groan

There a spot I never pass through laying safe on grass

But my heart gives a flutter and a bound

And I breathe a little word by bunkers often heard

It’s the place I spoilt my medal round


There’s my driver in the corner, there’s my mashie by his side

But I have often driven and I have lofted in vain

I will never win the medal I haven’t even tried

And I shall never have so good a chance again

How the ball flew off the tee I holed my first in three

How I walked as if I hardly touched the ground

The lowest score that day and only 2 to play


Did I heel I hardly think so

Did I slice I cannot tell

I had done the front 16 in sixty nine

I was swinging like a windmill

I was driving strong

Two hundred yards and never off the line

But I sometimes knew that my soaring spirit knew

I was just pressing a quarter of a pound

Still I played my level best and my caddy knows the rest

The place where I spoilt my medal round


I stood for half a minute as the ball rolled down the bank

Then I hacked with my niblish where it lay

But the more I smote behind it the deeper it sank

And I knew it was in there for the day

But sometimes I think (its true) that my soaring spirits knew

And dashed it in a ????? on the ground

I had played about thirteen and wasn’t on the green

And that’s how I spoilt my medal round


There are men good and wise who hold that in a future state

Poor fellows who where bunkered here below

Will always be on the green in two and always putting straight

Is it folly that I hope it maybe so

For if your wish to try the thrash to mortify

There is not a better method to be found

Then to play some eight or ten in a sandy bunker when

You have very nearly holed your medal round

FAI April 1921

Saturday, 26 January 2008

74. 1921

There is no indication in F.A.I.'s collection of memories that tells me where he was living or what he was doing that year.
However, there are 2 pieces written in his book that he took with him to sea.
To me that tells me he was away in January and April of that year.

This one is called Ex - Service dated 8th January 1921. Again I am not sure whether it is his own words or those taken from somewhere else. Either way it shows the disheartened state that the veterans of WW1 found themselves in after they gave their all to fight for King & Country and free the world.

(Ex Service) 1921

Your hands have held the sword

That kept our country free

What now is your reward?

Who gave us victory?

Why you can draw your unemployment pay today

A land for heroes meet

For each his decent home

A heaven on earth complete

And the millenniums come

While rosy light fulfills the everlasting hills

Nay for the vision passed of which our statesmen told

And there remains at last

A cruel word and cold

Where weary of strife

You battle still for life

Your comrades of the fight

Who come again no more

Victors in death despite

Rest on an alien shore

In honour and in peace

Shall you never envy these


8th January 1912

Friday, 25 January 2008

73. 1920

Post WW1 F.A.I and granny set up home in Liverpool. They lived on Cornwallis Street not far from the docks. It is uncanny because my mother’s family also lived in a nearby street in the 1860’s. They were sea farers too who came across from Belfast, Ireland in the 1850s.

In the 1920’s Europe was crippled by the after effects of the War, physically, politically and economically. It was a different tale across the Atlantic were America was seemingly unscathed by the events of 1914-1918.
The 20’s saw the first public radio station, the Flapper’s, prohibition, organized crime, the Model T Ford, not to mention the rise of Charlie Chaplin and movie theatres. It was an age where anything and everything happened.

In February 1920 F.A.I was off again on the liners. This time it was on the R.M.S Orcoma.

He sailed out of Liverpool on the 28th February onward to the West Coast of South America. He returned to Liverpool on the 29th May.

The Orcoma was commissioned in May 1907, she was a luxury liner capable of carrying 1,150 passengers and the first class accommodation was built to an exceptionally high standard. She was also the fastest and largest vessel in the South American Pacific coast route at the time. In March 1915 The Orcoma served as an armed merchant cruiser fitted with 6 six-inch guns and 2 six- inch pounder guns.

She was released in 1919 and returned to the Pacific Steam navigation Company from Liverpool to Valparaiso via the Panama Canal. In 1933 the Orcoma was scrapped

It is obvious from family tales and what I have discovered researching F.A.I. as much as he loved dear granny he couldn't stay still. He had a wanderlust. His siblings had all emigrated, whilst he remained in the UK. The thing that kept him going was his trips away. Early days it was the sea that drew him away, later it was hotels around the UK.

Whether he sailed gain that year I don't know, I doubt it as the record in the National Archives only shows the Hildebrand 1919 and the Orcoma 1920. I know he did sail again in 1927 but I won't know if there are any more sailings in between until I visit Kew again later this year. I feel that he may have had two discharge books as the one I have stops in 1920 and has the 1927 sailing as the next entry.

I mentioned some time ago that my mother came up with a nugget of a find. She had assumed I knew about it!!! It was a box of hotel menus dating from 1920 and odd years up to the 50s.
It has enabled me to track F.A.I.s work path post sailings.

In November of 1920 there is a menu for the 'Yachtsmans Lodge' Banquet 3rd November at the Exchange Station Hotel, Liverpool.
He was a member of a lodge himself but I think this is a menu that he was actually contributing as a chef.

I just love the food that is on offer
~Huitres Royales au Citroen (oysters with lemon?)
~Hors d'oeurves Varies
~Petite Marmite (meat broth made & served in a small earthernware cassarole)
~Creme Portugaise (Tomato veloute soup, finished with cream and garnished with diced peppers and rice)
~Supreme de Soles Normande (the fish course?)
~Contrefilet de Boeuf Richlieu
~Pommes Rissollees
~Chouxfleur au gratin (cauliflower cheese?)
~Faison en Cocotte (pheasant in a pot)
~Savarin aux fruits (light sponge with fruit)
~Pailles au Parmesan (straws of parmesan?)

What a menu !!!!

Sunday, 30 December 2007


I have been rooting through all my papers and saved/scanned images and came across this.
It is F.A.I. and my dear granny, I am thinking it could be their wedding photograph or at very least an engagement one.

Friday, 28 December 2007

72. 1919

Looking at F.A.I.’s service record obtained from the National Archives, it appears he was discharged from the Royal Naval Division on 26th May 1919. Against the date is WG 154972 A.G. 9b what ever that means? So what was he up to after that? I had no idea until I visited the National Archives at Kew with my Australian cousin for a very brief root around last month
(and I mean very brief, you have never seen two people copy images so fast with one of the curators saying ‘we are closing now’ ‘just one more please’ were our cries.)

I had been scrolling through Merchant sea records under the family surname looking at ID photos to see if there were any family resemblances. Suddenly I saw a chap that was definitely my family it was F.A.I’s eldest brother Edward. Surely it couldn’t be him as he had been in Australia since at least 1911? It was him! Edward Charles born London 1880. The records showed he had sailed on the Nestor as a steward on 17th May 1919.

The only explanation I can think of was he served over here in WW1 and was on his way back home to Australia. More research is needed on this one.

I carried on scrolling across and came across F.A.I. born 1886 (2 years out) in London.

It showed he had sailed twice on the same ship 131329 on the 11th September and 18th November 1919.

This is an excellent site for maritime shipping through it I found that he was back sailing on the Hildebrand, the ship he sailed on in 1911, I wonder if he went to Paraguay on these occasions too

The other event of 1919 was that his dear brother Arthur’s war medal was sent home to the address in Vincent Road in Croydon. His French Auntie Matilda was still living there until 1923 so she would have had receipt of them but where it ended up is anyones guess

71. 1918

1918 was a great year. Not only did it finally see the end of the ‘War to end all war’s’ in the November, it was the year F.A.I. married my dear granny.

F.A.I. must have had some shore leave and they wed in January at granny’s home in Duke Street, Edinburgh. I note from a clipping kept of the Edinburgh Evening News that many of the happy couples of that time also married at residential addresses. Maybe that was the done thing then with so many people wanting to get married at short notice.

On the wedding certificate F.A.I. is noted as a Gunner Royal Navy aged 32 (he was 33), granny is noted as a laundry maid aged 27. His date of birth was often mis-described. When he joined up to serve King and Country his year of birth was noted 1885 and later when he rejoined the merchant Seaman it was 1886, but his birth certificate says 1884.

As a family researcher I was glad they were married in Scotland as the Scottish Certificates give you mother’s maiden name, on birth certificates the time of birth and other information that is sadly lacking on English Certificates. Unfortunately this time as well as having F.A.I.’s age wrong, both mothers maiden names were also wrong. Luckily I already had this information, although with his mother Caroline, it did take an awful long time to discover the truth.
The marriage was carried out by the Rev Donald of Albany Street Church, Edinburgh, (sadly now a block of offices)
I would suspect that there wasn’t any proper honeymoon, as F.A.I. would have been called to Duty straight afterwards and certainly by his birthday in early February there is a Birthday card sent to him on the H.M.S. Settsu.

The next one is dated 26th April 1918 to granny
H.M.S. Settsu No650 this address is good
C/o Flagstaff
26 April

Dear Wife
I had your letter of the 15th waiting for me this morning I was so pleased. There was one from Ethel and some letters from Mr Taylor and boys
The rest are going to leave tonight. Lovely weather – will write you all news so be happy as you understand me will send them all cards soon also May & Bella. Now dear take care of yourself till my next leave. All my love your F xxxxx

On the 1st May he received a postcard from a friend called Bill from Melrose. Melrose is where my dear granny was born.

Dear F
You will be thinking I am a fine one not letting you know I got your PC alright & was very please with them so & hope you will get this one also & I hope it won’t be long an you are back here again & was to tell you the chap was asking for you from your friend Bill

The other postcard I have of that year is one to his new bride. I wonder how often and how proud he was to address the person as Mrs F.A.I.
This was for granny's Birthday

To my Darling Wife Violet

with many happy returns of the day

And I hope your future days will never

be sad ones and may your path be one

Path of Roses from your ever loving husband F

Friday, 9 November 2007

11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month

Again it is along time since I posted but Sunday 11th November is upon us. The time to remember the brave lads & lasses that gave their lives so we can live in the freedom we do today.
The losses of life in WW1 were sadly unnecessary in most respects but it was a different time a different place where values were different too.
To fight for your Country was what you did, you were called and you went.
F.A.I. did his bit at sea, his brother joined the Army and fought in France/Belgium. F.A.I. survived.
If he hadn't then I wouldn't be here.
Not the same story for his brother Arthur St. John. he was killed in January 1916.
I have been unable to find what battle he fell. He could have been injured for a while before he died, he was 24 years of age.

My other Grandfather also lost a brother too. John Edward.
He was married, he was shot in the jaw and died 10 days later. The day before he died his wife gave birth to their daughter Alice. He would have known he was to be a father but never saw his child.
So to all the brave people that have fought for our freedom whether it be almost 100 years ago or more recently in Iraq, Afghanistan and the like, I would like to say a big Thank you. You are brave and unique.

John Edward

Arthur St. John