This Week’s War: 217

Aside

Not as Bad as It Might Be

Sergt. H. C. Hiles (Bristol Office), R.F.A. who is serving in the Italian Expeditionary Force writes: “I am spending a cool summer on the mountain tops. It is not such a bad old war as it might be.”

Extract from Cunard magazine September 1918 issue [D42/PR5/1].

Cunard archive: Engineering staff records

At SCA we often receive enquiries from individuals who are researching their family history or are trying to trace an individual who worked for Cunard.

In this post we highlight some of the types of records found within the Cunard archive that relate to the engineering staff who worked for the company, and how researchers can discover this information.

Engineering staff taken at a luncheon on board Mauretania II prior to her breaking up – all of the individuals are named (18 Nov 1965)

As is often the case with business archives, the surviving records are not comprehensive and this is particularly the case for staff records. However, the role of engineer is perhaps the most likely to produce results for a researcher when compared to other roles such as steward or those working in the catering department. This is largely due to ‘D42/EN Engineers Department: Personnel records’ – a unique series of records within the Cunard archive  whose catalogue is available in printed format in our reading room.

These records appear to represent an almost full record of engineering officer staff from 1870, and as such are the most comprehensive staff records of any department within the company. This series of records also includes appointment books of White Star Line engineers prior to the creation of Cunard White Star in 1934. They generally contain information concerning appointments made to particular ships, length of sea service, rate of pay and rank information as well as often noting resignations, retirements and deaths.

Due to the personal nature of these records, some are subject to closure periods and their frequent use as a business record before being transferred to SCA also means that many of these volumes are fragile. Advance appointments to view these records help researchers get the most from their visit and ensures the long-term preservation of the records.

 

‘Cunard Careers at Sea’ (D42/PR4/46/56)

The personnel records of the engineering department can be complimented by ‘Captains Reports on Officers’ 1910-1922 (ref. D42/GM14/1-3) which were compiled by the General Manager’s Office. Other individual records which help provide biographical information of engineering officers can be found in the form of news clippings, press releases and notes (ref. D42/PR4/43/1).

Further potential sources of information can be found within passenger lists which in some cases record the names of senior staff, including that of the Chief Engineer. The photograph collection within the Public Relations series also contains a few examples of named individuals, with engineering staff appearing in both individual portraits and group photographs.

D42/PL12/1/3/14

All of the catalogues for the Cunard archive are available in printed format in our reading room. Further information about the archive and links to the catalogues that are searchable online can be found on our webpage, along with an information sheet about tracing crew.

This Week’s War: 213

Aside

D.S.C. for Cunard Apprentice

It is interesting to record that one of the Cunard apprentices, F. W. Hartley, who left the Company to join the Navy in 1917, has been awarded the D.S.C. for conspicuous bravery while in action with enemy submarines.

Extract from Cunard magazine August 1918 issue [D42/PR5/1].

This Week’s War: 208

Aside

Active Service Letter Bag

Pte. J. H. Cliffe (Accountants), Labour Company, assures us that “everything out here is going on nicely in spite of old Fritz. For some little time we have been in a backward area, and have had an opportunity to see a little bit more of the Belgian civilians and their ways. Their method of churning milk, the contrivance being worked by a dog is very interesting. It is something after the style of a treadmill, the dog working inside the wheel.”

Extract from Cunard magazine, July1918 issue [D42/PR5/1].

Cunard ‘Old’ and ‘New’

On Monday 23rd July visitors to Liverpool’s waterfront will have the opportunity to see Cunard’s youngest ship, Queen Elizabeth as she makes her seventh visit to the city. This particular visit will celebrate an historic date for the company, that of the 80th anniversary of the launch of the Mauretania II, one of Cunard’s most famous ships. The occasion is being marked with a “sail away show” that will take place at Princes Dock at 16.30.

Constructed at Cammell Laird’s shipyard in Birkenhead, the Mauretania II was the largest ship ever to be constructed in an English shipyard at the time. Huge crowds of tens of thousands of people came to see the launch which was carried out on 28th July 1938 by Lady Bates, wife of the Cunard chairman Percy Bates.

Mauretania II launch at Cammell Laird, Birkenhead (D42/PR1/14/147)

The Mauretania II made its maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York on 17th June 1939 but was soon hired by the government for use in the war effort. During the early stages of the war the ship transported Australian troops to Suez, India and Singapore but later it mainly served in the north Atlantic. After the war the Mauretania II served on the Southampton to New York route but it was also used as a cruise ship to destinations such as the West Indies.

1953 brochure advertising cruises on the Mauretania II (D42/PR4/17/1/7/1)

The Cunard Archive contains many records relating to the history of Mauretania II which can be found within the Accounts Department, Chairman’s Papers, General Manager’s Office and Public Relations files. There are also records within the Cunard Associated Deposits, a collection of records donated by members of the public. Further information about the Cunard Archive can be found on our website.

This Week’s War: 197

Aside

Two Years in India

Pte. E. J. Nelis (Costing Department) Manchester Regiment, writes to inform us that he has now completed two years service in India. He much appreciates the parcels which he receives from time to time from the Comrades’ Fund.

Extract from Cunard magazine May 1918 issue [D42/PR5/1].

New Exhibition: Puzzles, Poetry and Playground Games

This week sees the launch of a new SC&A exhibition highlighting some of the more unusual items from our collections: those relating to games and pastimes, for children and adults, from the 18th-20th centuries.

D958: Queen Mary jigsaw puzzle [1936]

Included in the display are a huge range of games – some designed purely for fun, others intended to be more educative and improving, particularly for young, developing minds. We have, for example, jigsaw puzzles (depicting Cunard ships such as the Queen Mary, as above); activities which encouraged participants to try their hand at poetry; as well as illustrated guides to various playground and parlour games, many of which have now been forgotten (“Hunt the Slipper”, anyone?).

Noble D6.26: Kate Greenaway’s Book of Games (1889)

Also included are photographs from our Cunard collection which show passengers enjoying a variety of onboard activities, including bottle pushing, shuffleboard, “chalking the pig’s eye”, tug of war, and potato racing, from the 1920s-1960s.

The exhibition will run until September and is situated on the Ground Floor Grove Wing SC&A exhibition area.

‘New’ online catalogue – Cunard Chairman’s Correspondence (2)

We are pleased to announce that the catalogue for the papers of Sir Percy Bates who became deputy Chairman of the Cunard Steamship Co. in 1922 and was Chairman from 1930 until his death in 1946 is now available online. Sir Percy Bates was instrumental in the development of two of Cunard’s most prestigious vessels, the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth and oversaw historic periods in the company’s history, including the formation of Cunard White Star Line and the Second World War.

Sir Percy Bates on his way to Chicago 1938 (D42/C3/1/2/63)

The majority of papers in the D42/C3 series descend from Sir Percy Bates’ private files, which he himself created and therefore reflects his daily working life. Files have been numbered and arranged in an order designed by Bates himself, presumably to meet his working needs, and tend to be grouped by topic and theme or individual and organisation. Indexes are available for Sir Percy’s business and personal files. Totalling 85 boxes, these papers are considerably more extensive than those for either the Booth or Royden Chairmanship.

Over the next few months, catalogues for the papers of other members of the Bates family from the time of their Chairmanship will go online. These include Frederick Bates who succeeded Percy as Chairman of Cunard, holding that post during the years 1946-1953 and Denis Bates who was the final member of the Bates family to be Chairman of Cunard from 1953-1959.

Researchers are also able to access the catalogue for The Bates Family Papers (D641) which are part of the Cunard Associated Deposits. This collection complements the Chairman’s Papers of the Cunard archive and provides real insight into both the personal and professional lives of members of the Bates family.

Items from Dennis Bates’ war service (D641/3)

These family papers were used by Philip E. Bates to research his book The Bates of Bellefield, Gryn Castle and Manydown and by Percy Bates in writing his book Some Transactions of a Halifax Family. They comprise personal and work-related correspondence, letter books, legal documents, diaries, photographs and medals, news clippings, shipping memorabilia, a pencil drawing and other related papers. Some of the highlights include letters sent by Dennis Bates whilst on active service during the First World War, business papers of Edward Bates & Sons and a pencil sketch of a soldier by John Lockwood Kipling.

Pencil Sketch of a soldier by John Lockwood Kipling, given to Percy Bates by Rudyard Kipling (D641/2/4/1)

This Week’s War: 191

Aside

Wedding Bells

‘Sergt. H. C. Hiles, M. M., R. F. A. (Bristol Office), visited Liverpool during a fortnight’s leave from the Italian Front. We learnt that he had been fortunate in love and war, having just taken unto himself a life partner. We also noted he was wearing the ribbon of the Military Medal. He has our sincere wishes for life long happiness.’

Extract from Cunard magazine March/April 1918 issue [D42/PR5/1].

This Week’s War: 189

Aside

‘We are awaiting the Boche onslaught: the latest date is March 25th. Meanwhile both sides practice raids and so far we have had much the best of the exchanges as our men are ready and able for the fight while the Boche is the very opposite.’

Letter sent to Percy Bates from a friend at the General Headquarters of the British Armies in France, dated 18th March 1918 [D641/2/1/6].