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Samantha Davis

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  1. Hello, I am researching my Grandfather's history. He was in China and Hong Kong in the 1920s. From Jan 1921 to Aug 1924 he was with the Chinese Customs Service. Then I am told he went off chasing pirates around the coast of China and HK. I have this photograph which I think may help identify who he worked for. Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks, Sam
  2. Hi Michael, Yes I am very proud to have had such an amazing GF. I only met him a few times as we lived overseas when I was young. For my 10th Birthday he sent me a letter which said " Always ask questions, who, what, when, where, why and how." I have never forgotten that advice. I kept it in a tin wrapped around a large copper ship's nail that I found on a beach in Trinidad. It was a prized possession of mine ( I used to imagine it was from a Galleon!). Both were destroyed in a fire but I have never forgotten that letter or that nail - and I always ask questions!! Memories!! I haven't emailed the Museum yet, instead I emailed The Halifax Explosion 100th Anniversary Special Advisory Committee. If anyone should be interested in my idea it should be them! I will give then 10 days then I will email the Museum. Your poor GF what a thing to happen but with so many men losing their lives during the war maybe he was lucky in a weird kind of way. All the best, Sam
  3. Hi Michael and Paul, Thanks for the updates. Michael that is a great photo. It must be exciting being able to put a face to the name and finding out more about their lives. I shall contact the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic - thank you for that! Did you hear about the photographs of Victor Magnus? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2841066/Unique-photographs-taken-WWI-sailor-biggest-manmade-explosion-history-two-warships-crashed-other.html Apparently the Grandson Damian Saunders has control over the photos but is very difficult to contact. I know that Joel Zemmel author of "Scapegoat" has had no luck contacting him. Attached are a couple of photos of my Grandfather. All the best, Sam
  4. Hi Michael, Thanks for the link. very interesting. You might like to know that Joel Zemmel who wrote the book "Scapegoat" has a new centenary edition coming out soon. I sent him a photo of my GF to include in the book. He also said: "One of the key figures in my book, Commander F. Evan Wyatt, the Chief Examining Officer of the port, was the only person sent to trial on charges of criminal negligence and manslaughter. A relative and close family friend of his British family contacted me from the UK and forwarded numerous photographs from the family album. Until then, I did not have a decent image of Wyatt as an adult or any of his family. Now, I have several. As well, after many years, I finally managed to track down Wyatt's elusive American family. They are also sending photographs. This all happened within a two or three week period. Because the edition has already been printed, I am creating a one-page insert with nine new images that I will place in the back of the new edition. I am just waiting for the American photographs. So. I should have the page ready about mid- February." Did you know that of the 6 Albert Medals awarded for gallantry during the Halifax Explosion - 4 are in the Canadian War Museum. The 5th, that of my Grandfather’s shipmate Robert Stones is at the Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. My Grandfather’s Albert Medal is at the Submariners Museum in Gosport, UK. I had the mad idea that for the 100 Year Anniversary of the Halifax Explosion - this December - it would be great to have all the Albert Medals together in one place. I did send an email to someone at the Canadian War Museum in January but I haven't had a reply yet. I thought it would be good way to remember the actions of the British Royal Navy during this dreadful event. Thanks again for that interesting link. Sam
  5. Hi GreyC and Peter, It certainly won't be for the want of trying! I will have to start saving my pennies so I can go and spend time looking through the Archives in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan! It's a crying shame that some folk have no interest in what life would have been like when their own Grandparents / Great Grandparents were alive. Anything surviving from their time is very precious. Nowadays with photos, letters and documents printed from home printers with poor quality paper and cheap ink that starts to fade after so many years - there really will be a lot of valuable history gone. There is something pretty special in picking up a book from 100 years ago, ebooks just can't compare! When I managed to get my GFs Enlistment Papers from the Fleet Air Arms Museum they also sent a copy of this telegram. Who ever sent it must have seen something special in my GF. All the best, Sam
  6. Hi Peter, It must have been quite an experience for my GF in China - nowadays we can discover and experience almost anything with the click of a button. I wonder what he really knew about China when he applied for the position with the Chinese Maritime Customs. I am told that he fell in love with a Chinese girl and wanted to marry her but she was beheaded by the Communists and her head was put on a spike on some railings. I am guessing that that is maybe why he left the Customs. My Uncle who passed away last year said he had a Chinese book and tucked in the pages was a photo of this girl. I have been asking my Cousins for months about this book but I am getting nowhere. It is also said that my GF was somehow involved with Chiang Kai Shek but I have no details about that. My Father was in Taiwan about 30 years ago and he said he saw a photo of GF with Chiang Kai Shek in a Taiwanese Museum - but he can't remember anything else. Aggrrrhhh!!!! I have attached this photo which is 100% Chinese Maritime Customs - my GF is the one sitting on the railing on the balcony. Such a wonderful group! You can understand why I initially thought the first photo was more of a "Naval-type" scene than this one. All the best, Sam
  7. Hi again, I found this photo of Chinese boatmen. It is the closest I have come to identifying the uniforms in the front row. It is of Customs Boatmen Nanjing 1900, Hedgeland. They also have the same Chinese characters on the front of their shirts. All the best, Sam
  8. Hello Peter, Paul, GreyC and 1314, You have all been great in trying to help me identify the photograph and I am very grateful. I know bits and pieces about my Grandfather's history - he certainly did a lot! I found out about his dates for the Chinese Maritime Customs which I included when I posted the photo. Since posting the photo I discovered the info about him being a Prison Warder in Hong Kong - which I have now verified by tracing an address on a Ship's Passenger List. The ship "Malwa" left Hong Kong and arrived in London in Jan 1929. The name was Tom Neil Davis. Warder. The address was for the Lloyd family. It turns out that Florence Lloyd was the daughter of the family who Boarded my GF and twin sister for 10 years when they were orphaned. I still haven't found out what happened to the parents. After Bristol Uni couldn't verify the photo I was convinced it had been taken in HK and would help to explain what he was doing after leaving the Customs. The biography says he had been off chasing Pirates in 1927 but I don't see how that could have been true if he was a Prison Warder. Some of the information in his Biography I don't believe is 100% correct. For instance, I know he joined the Mercantile Marines in 1929 and I have found a copy of a CR2 ticket with a Discharge No.R70245. Stamped Liverpool 31 Aug 1934. The only ship listed was 141934 which I believe is the "Peshawur". He was a Quarter Master. I can find no other records for his time (1929 - 1934) in the Mercantile Marines or if he served on any other ships. The other piece of mis-information is his rank when he was invalided out in 1943. I believe he was 3rd Officer on the SS Dover Hill. I know he then joined the RNVR from 1944 to 1964 and spent the majority of his time training the Sea Cadets. It was during that period that he was promoted several times with a final rank of Lt. Cmdr. I found this info in the Navy Lists. I would like if possible to correct the Biography if they ever do a reprint but that is only if I can discover the true facts. Thanks again for all your help. Sam
  9. Hi Dave, Thank you. Everything is definitely pointing towards the Chinese Maritime Customs. Sam Hi 1314, Thanks for the intriguing email. My GFs name is Thomas Neil Davis. Date of Birth 18 May 1895. Fingers crossed you can help! Sam
  10. Hi Peter and GreyC, Sorry for my silence. I have been away for a few days. Thank you also for the help. To recap what I do know about the photo so far. The time line is between 1921 and the end of 1928. It is either China or Hong Kong. Someone has found some records with my GFs name which suggests he may have been a Prison Warder from 5/12/1924 to 8/5/1928. Someone has also suggested: "The ratings, but not the officers', uniforms are similar to the Water Police ( they patrolled extensively around the Hong Kong and provided anti-piracy armed guards for passenger ships). The stokers' caps and cap badges and the sergeant's chevrons look like the Hong Kong Police insignia - though it is hard to see. They were organised on quasi-RN lines and their launches were - due to piracy- classed as warships. The Europeans and Chinese in summer western style white suits would also suggest Hong Kong rather than one of the other Treaty Ports as it was more westernised." The Blue Book records for Civil Establishments of HK, also include staff for the Harbour Master's Dept, HK Volunteer Defence Corps and the Police Dept. To my mind, I think that rules out the photo being taken in HK as it looks more "Maritime related than land-based." I have just had an email from a Chinese professor who says: "The big four characters merely paid tribute to him or whoever the event honoured. " That seems to tie in with what your Chinese student says, GreyC and also answers Peter's question. I am trying to get hold of the original photo so I can get it scanned using a better scanner. Hopefully then the small characters will be able to be read. I did sent the photo the Bristol Uni where they did the big Chinese Maritime Study many years ago. The guy who is scanning all the photos said he didn't recognise anything. That threw me a bit. But now after learning about the possible Prison Service connection I am certain it must be a Customs' photo taken in China so I will try again and identify the uniforms of the sailor types in the front row. Thank you for all your suggestions - I do appreciate your help. All the best, Sam
  11. Hello Greg, Please believe that I am not trying to take advantage of anyone. I am getting conflicting information about the photo and I didn't want to confuse the issue. Some people say they are Royal Navy and Royal Marines and others say not. I don't know enough to agree or disagree. I do apologise if anyone feels used. Sam