Author Topic: South Tyneside - March 2019 Branch Report  (Read 1132 times)

Offline Annf

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South Tyneside - March 2019 Branch Report
« on: March 31, 2019, 08:19:27 PM »
Branch Member Ann Franklin gave the talk at the meeting on the 20th March, the title of which was 'The Stowaway'.  Ann started by saying she hoped this would be an interesting example, particularly to anyone starting out with researching their family history, of stories which can be unearthed from a 'find in the attic'.

Following the death of her father, and whilst searching through some papers which had been placed in the loft, Ann came across a cutting from the Daily Express, a letter sent during WW2 and a picture of a sailing ship.  Questioning why these documents had been kept, Ann's mother told her that during his time as a wireless operator in the Merchant Navy, her father had befriended a stowaway and how she had visited and stayed with his family in South Shields.

The newspaper article is dated 8th November 1935 and tells the story of a young English woman named Edith Williams who had stowed away on an epic journey from Melbourne to Stockholm aboard the Swedish windjammer 'C B Pedersen' and how she had found romance on the ship with the wireless operator Uno G Ehrulund.  Born in West Derby, Lancashire in 1911, Edith immigrated to Australia with her mother in 1920 and according to the newspaper she wished to return home to her family in Liverpool but she did not have the money to pay her fare.

For several years the 'C B Pedersen' had transported timber to Australia and on return each return journey she took part in the race with other windjammers to be the first to bring back Australian grains to Europe.  Having left Sweden in the autumn of 1934, her voyage was beset with problems and as a consequence her arrival in Melbourne was so overdue, she was too late to secure a cargo for the return journey.  Having spent several weeks in port, Captain Dahlstrom decided to take on 8 fare paying passengers, one of whom was an Australian journalist, Warren Bednall.  He kept a diary of the journey and later wrote a book "A Strange Sea Road", in which he describes how the ship successfully navigated the Torres Straights, and how a stowaway called Edith Williams was on the ship.

Whilst Joe Franklin had made lengthy trips to Australia in 1931 and again in 1932/33, at the time the Pedersen was en-route to Stockholm, he was on another vessel in the White Sea and was back in England by the time the Pedersen reached its destination.  Exactly how and when Joe and Edith met is unclear;  Joe married in South Shields in December 1937 and Edith married William (Bill) Lamont in Bootle in the latter part of 1938.  However, a letter sent to Joe by Edie Lamont dated 6th December 1940 refers to several family members and clearly shows they had been close friends.

In her letter, Edie expresses concern about the "Gerry air raids on Liverpool and on the Tyne.  Shortly after her letter was written, the bombings on Liverpool & Bootle Docks intensified and for 3 nights starting the 20th December there was a heavy loss of civilian life.  This period became known as "The Christmas Blitz" and on the 20th December 1940, Edith Lamont (nee Williams) lost her life when her home at 44 Viola Street, Bootle took a direct hit by the German Luftwaffe.  She was 29 years old.