Don't know if you can get the Olympic's crew agreements on web-based sites, but the original documents are held in the celebrated ships class at the Public Records Office (PRO) in Kew, England. If you have a specific name and date I'd be happy to do a look up in the agreements for you (some time early next year when I'm back out at Kew again), or perhaps someone else here can do a look up for you sooner.
Please don't spend money or time in looking for info for me but if you happen to be looking for stuff yourself and you have a minute I would be extremely grateful. I have made further inquiries with the older members of the family and this is what I got:
My grandfather's name was Richard Samuel Richards.
He was on the Olympic when the Titanic met its end and according to the family he made it to assistant Purser - this of course might not be true - but it's what we understand to be the case.
He was sailing out of Southampton and his home at the time address was likely to be Toxteth in Liverpool.
Apparently he was somewhat of a black sheep in family terms and we therefore have a lack of information about him.
Thank you for the response Inger - but please, I repeat, do not put yourself out either financially or time wise for me.
It's neither trouble nor expense to check this, Huw I already owe quite a few lookups to people in the Olympic agreements, so I'll be calling up those documents again away.
If you have reason to believe your grandfather was still in the British mercantile marine in the immediate post-war era (circa 1919-1920) he might also show up in the BT 350 CRI for seamen - information that generally includes a photograph and possibly a few more ships he served on. I'll have a look and see - if you have a birthdate for him it would be useful to cross reference against his entry.
Once again, I'm afraid I won't be able to do any lookups until early Februrary as I'll be out of the country.
I have been quizzing family members for further information and lo and behold in a box belonging to my recently deceased father out pops a load of info!
Bruce has e mailed me with some of his research and he confirms what I suspected - that the Olympic out of Belgium seemed unlikely.
But We have found the following info on my grandfather:
Olympic -1912 (starting on 3rd March)- under Haddock a Purser's Clerk to New York. Soton appears is given as the place where he signed on - this is a mystery to us.
From 5th November 1912 he was on the Arabic signing on at Liverpool under Finch - to Boston.
1913 and 1914 - Baltic under Rauson to New York as Assistant Purser.
One trip on the Cornishman doing transport (war work?) Under Havers.
Then for the rest of 1914 and most of 1915 the Michigan to the USA and Montreal under Finch from Liverpool now as Purser.
The remainder of 1915 was on the Adriatic under Rauson and Finch.
Information runs out in 1916 when he makes a trooping voyage to Australia on the Ceramic under King from Liverpool - we assume.
What I would like to know now is a little more about the ships mentioned above - where they all White Star Line vessels? Where could I find photos? Know any good books? Is it likely that my grandfather worked with some of those who made the fateful voyage with the Titanic.
The Belgium thing is a puzzle - my father said that the family was there for a number of years. It's likely that this period was after the service outlined above. Bruce questions whether my grandfather was then with the Red Star Line then. Did the Red Star Line work from Antwerp? Where do I find out about Red Star? Again - any good books?
I will post his DOB later. Let me know if you find anyting extra.
Hallo there, Huw - I was sorry to hear about the recent loss of your father. Like Cal, I know well the profound impact the loss of those close to me has had in recent years.
Calling up your ancestor in the Olympic crew agreements shouldn't be a problem - do you already have a photocopy of any of his entries? If not, I'll take one.
I may be able to lay my hands on the Arabic and Baltic logs for those years without too much trouble (they're a bit scattered). While the offical logs don't have the amount of personal info the agreements do, they do list the crew and incidents on the voyages.
The Ceramic met a tragic end in WWII, so her crew agreements are held in the 'Celebrated Ships' class and I can look them up. The Adriatic's agreements are also still extant, but I need to find where they're held. Will also do the CRI lookup. Don't know if I'll be able to get out to Kew this weekend as orignally planned (I'm developing a cold), but will do it as soon as possible. Do you have his birth certificate, btw? I can get a copy of that as well.
Let me have a fish around for Jeff Newman's site address - it has some excellent information on ships, illustrations from Jeff's collection and write ups by the inimitable Mark Baber
In lieu of Inger providing the URL for Jeff Newman and Mark Baber's site: http://www.greatships.net/ (Hope you don't mind, Inger.)
Ceramic's story is quite interesting - lengthy service, including two world wars, and a remarkably sad end for the ship, her passengers and crew. You'll also find information on Olympic, Baltic, Arabic and Adriatic.
As for the Red Star Line, it did sail out of Antwerp and the Great Ships site does have information on several of her ships. To date, the best book on Red Star is Vernon WE Finch's The Red Star Line (De Branding NV, Antwerp, 1988, ISBN 9072543017). Finch actually worked on RSL's Belgenland as a bell boy at one point. Information on each ship is also available in Duncan Haws' excellent Merchant Fleets series. Mark Baber could tell you which volume number(s) in particular and probably shed light on other sources of information too.
Arabic...Baltic...Adriatic...Ceramic...all White Star
Michigan...Atlantic Transport Line
All three lines---White Star, Dominion and Atlantic Transport---were part of J.P. Morgan's International Mercantile Marine Co. during the time period you're talking about, Huw.
Atlantic Transport, Dominion and Red Star are all covered in Vol. 2 of Haws' Merchant Fleets in Profile, which is unfortunately long out of print. White Star is covered in Vol. 2 as well, but also appears separately in Vol. 19, which I believe is available currently through amazon.uk and/or the Internet Bookshop, http://www.bookshop.co.uk/
There's also a newly-published history of International Navigation Co., which operated the Red Star and American Lines (and is, in fact, the corporation that later changed its name to IMM), called "The American Line, 1871-1902", but as the title suggests, its focus is on a time well before what you're focusing on. It's by Bill Flayhart, and the ISBN is 0-393-04710-5.