Herbert Stone's Disappearance and George Stewart's Obituary from Archive Newspapers.


Julian Atkins

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Hello Steven,

I don't think the evidence supports Stone 'going on a bender' in June 1937 when he went missing, when the Wayfarer (of the Harrison Line on which he was Chief Officer) docked in Tilbury, London on the return from a trip to India.

He went missing on Thursday 17th June 1937, posting a letter to his family from London that arrived the next day Friday 18th June 1937.

He was apparently missing for some 10 days, and went home on the 10th day after being questioned by the police, having been noticed by the police hanging around Portsmouth dock gates 2 days running.

He is reported as suffering from a loss of memory, and could not remember how he got from London to Portsmouth. The Western Mail 28th (Monday) June 1937 press cutting supports this, though Stone no doubt traveled home on Saturday 26th June from Portsmouth (the train service from Portsmouth on Sundays was particularly bad, as I can vouch for myself some 30 years ago).

There is no suggestion whatsoever in the contemporary newspaper reports that Harland has posted that Stone had 'gone on a bender'.

Cheers,

Julian
 
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Nov 14, 2005
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Hello Steven,

I don't think the evidence supports Stone 'going on a bender' in June 1937 when he went missing, when the Wayfarer (of the Harrison Line on which he was Chief Officer) docked in Tilbury, London on the return from a trip to India.

He went missing on Thursday 17th June 1937, posting a letter to his family from London that arrived the next day Friday 18th June 1937.

He was apparently missing for some 10 days, and went home on the 10th day after being questioned by the police, having been noticed by the police hanging around Portsmouth dock gates 2 days running.

He is reported as suffering from a loss of memory, and could not remember how he got from London to Portsmouth. The Western Mail 28th (Monday) June 1937 press cutting supports this, though Stone no doubt traveled home on Saturday 26th June from Portsmouth (the train service from Portsmouth on Sundays was particularly bad, as I can vouch for myself some 30 years ago).

There is no suggestion whatsoever in the contemporary newspaper reports that Harland has posted that Stone had 'gone on a bender'.

Cheers,

Julian
Ok Thanks. I just brought up the possibilty because I know alcohol can do that to some people. It was probably a medical problem..some sort of siezure or temporary amnesia brought on by something.
 

Julian Atkins

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One ought to query why by 1937, 25 years on from 1912, Stone had risen only from Second Officer in the Leyland Line ie one below the Chief Officer in the way the Leyland Line did these things, to Chief Officer in the Harrison Line. Gibson's rise in the ranks was even less 'meteoric' !

By late June 1937, Stone's career was finished as an Officer at sea.

Cheers,
Julian
 

Jim Currie

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Hello Julian.

You must not think that promotion in the MN was automatic...it was not. Consider Pitman of Titanic. He had a Master FG Certificate and was 34 1/2 years old in 1912, yet he was a lowly Third Officer. Lightoller had an extra Master Certificate but never did command a Merchant Vessel. Compare the careers of these two, Stone and Gibson to that of the "incompetent" villein of the piece...Captain Lord.

Incidentally: is it known if Gibson ever sat and passed his 2M(FG or Coastal) certificate?
 

Julian Atkins

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Hi Jim,

I have very little to go in respect of Gibson, and none of it original research by me.

Paul Lee states (p.249 'Life After Lord' Appendix A) that in 1912 Gibson obtained his 2nd masters certificate, and the same year became a Sub-Lieutenant in the RNR. In 1940 he passed the exams necessary for a 1st masters certificate.

This must be an error - both "masters certificate"s being 2nd then 1st mates certificates?

Reade p.371 states in 'Appendix H' Gibson attained his Second Mate's certificate, with no date provided.

If my hunch is correct then Harrison's notes/diary containing the notes of his interview with Gibson's widow in 1963 will provide the answer.

I don't think Gibson can have been a Sub-lieutenant in the RNR in 1912 as stated by Paul Lee. Groves' RNR appointment as a Lieutenant in the RNR can be found online in the London Gazette, but I have not found anything for Gibson whatsoever. Would Gibson, with a Second Mate's certificate, be appointed a Sub-Lieutenant in the RNR?

Cheers,
Julian
 
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Jim Currie

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Hello Julian.

The Rules concerning the awarding of MN certificates were very stringent and included mandatory periods continuously at sea between examinations.
exam regs 2 2019-08-18 001.jpg


The above Rules were stringently applied. I find it unbelievable that any Officer Candidate presenting with a DR in his Discharge Book would ever have been allowed to sit for any of the above examinations.I have never heard of an Officer being given a "Declined to Report" at the end of a voyage. That is a new one to me.
 

Julian Atkins

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Hi Jim,

Well, according to Paul Lee, Gibson had plenty of DRs in his book!

It is a shame that Paul Lee has not posted on here for quite a number of years.

Neither Paul Lee or Reade provided their sources for the info on Gibson in their books. Not so surprising with Reade with his 'PI' (private information' claimed sources), but Paul Lee was generally quite a bit more forthcoming, except with regard to the later careers of Gibson and Stone, which is somewhat perplexing to me, given that Paul also attempted some analysis of Stone based on his subsequent career.

Cheers,

Julian
 
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Seumas

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Julian, I heartily agree with you that (amongst several others) it is a great shame Paul Lee no longer posts on ET, he is a wonderful researcher of RMS Titanic.

Admittedly I haven't actually read his book about the Titanic and the Californian yet (it's "on the list") although I gather from posts on here that it's probably the most even handed of all the works published on the subject, what did you think of it ?

He still regularly updates his website (which is a goldmine of in-depth Titanic articles) every few weeks. He's recently put up an interesting new article about how third class passengers escaped the ship. The articles listing all the mistakes on the various Titanic films and TV series are fun to read too.

It's really admirable that he shares about twenty years or more worth of his intense research on the web free for anyone to read.

I sent him an e-mail with a few questions on the address provided on his site several months ago but never got a reply. He is a quite a busy man I understand with a demanding day job lecturing at a university.

It would be great if he ever did return to ET but it's completely up to him.
 

Julian Atkins

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Hi Seumas,

I regard Paul Lee's book 'Titanic and The Indifferent Stranger' as a most valuable work for anyone interested in 'The Californian Incident'.

I also emailed Paul's email address without a response.

You do have to be slightly mad to spend a lot of time and money in seriously researching 'The Californian Incident'. Paul did this with some vigor some 20 to 15 years ago, using time and resources that few of us can spare.

Cheers,

Julian
 

Rob Lawes

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Hi Julian

Regarding Gibson and his RNR commissioning, the rank Sub Lieutenant was introduced in the mid 19th century to replace the term (Masters) Mate, for newly qualified Midshipman. I believe it may be possible that an MN Mates certificate would have been enough to hold the RNR rank and then he would have achieved promotion to Lieutenant RNR on achieving his Masters.

Gibson would have been expected to have completed 12 months familiarisation with the Regular RN, usually on a Capital Ship, in order to understand RN practices such as gunnary drills etc, before qualifying for his "Wavey Navy" sleeve braids.

I'll try and do some more digging when I get back from work.
 

Jim Currie

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Hi Julian

Regarding Gibson and his RNR commissioning, the rank Sub Lieutenant was introduced in the mid 19th century to replace the term (Masters) Mate, for newly qualified Midshipman. I believe it may be possible that an MN Mates certificate would have been enough to hold the RNR rank and then he would have achieved promotion to Lieutenant RNR on achieving his Masters.

Gibson would have been expected to have completed 12 months familiarisation with the Regular RN, usually on a Capital Ship, in order to understand RN practices such as gunnary drills etc, before qualifying for his "Wavey Navy" sleeve braids.

I'll try and do some more digging when I get back from work.
That is correct. Rob. Equivalent RNR Ranks were, in my day as follows:
1. Apprentice...Midshipman.
2. 2nd. Mate...Sub Leutenant.
3. Mate....Leutenant.
4. Master....Leutenant Commander.

On retirement, you could expect to be promoted a rank up. Thus. for senior ranks:
1. a Sub-L would retire as a Leutenant
2. a Leutenant....L. Commander.
3 a L, Commander to Commander.

RN Regs. in the 1950's stated that an MN Officer who had left the service before the age of 28 would not receive a commission but had to start at the bottom of the ladder. i.e....a Deck Officer had to enter as an AB. I know this for a fact since in 1961, a friend of mine who had a Master's Certificate presented himself at the RNR Headquarters, Eglington Toll, Glasgow and was told he could only join as an AB. He subsequently joined the RM Reserve...as a Squaddie.
 
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Rob Lawes

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Thanks for the info Jim.

With regards to the last paragraph, the same sort of absurd rules exist today. I left the Andrew as a Chief Petty Officer with 22 years service. Had I joined the RNR in a seamless transfer I could retain my rank. As I discharged from the RN, if I wanted to then enlist in the RNR I would have to start right back at the bottom. No thanks.
 
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Thanks for the info Jim.

With regards to the last paragraph, the same sort of absurd rules exist today. I left the Andrew as a Chief Petty Officer with 22 years service. Had I joined the RNR in a seamless transfer I could retain my rank. As I discharged from the RN, if I wanted to then enlist in the RNR I would have to start right back at the bottom. No thanks.
Thanks Jim and Rob -

The situation was something similar in the USN. I left my active duty as a Second Class Petty Officer with 4 years service. If I had re-enlisted or joined an active Naval Reserve unit I would have been promoted to First Class Petty Officer, having passed all the requirements and examinations.

But there were no programs at the nearest Naval Station for my rating as an "ET" (Electronic Technician) I would have to take a demotion to Third Class Petty Officer and start over in the program for "AT" (Aviation Electronics Technician) since the nearest Naval Station was the Naval Air Station at Grand Prairie, Texas.

Instead, I was placed in the " Inactive Ready Reserve" for 4 years (as an "ETR" - Electronic Technician with Radar experience and qualifications .)

Luckily I was never called up so I finally got my Good Conduct Discharge 8 years after my initial Enlistment Date. That's how it was in the USN.
 
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Jim Currie

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Thanks for the info Jim.

With regards to the last paragraph, the same sort of absurd rules exist today. I left the Andrew as a Chief Petty Officer with 22 years service. Had I joined the RNR in a seamless transfer I could retain my rank. As I discharged from the RN, if I wanted to then enlist in the RNR I would have to start right back at the bottom. No thanks.
Spot-on, Rob. The other nasty bit is (in my case) that in the event of hostilities, you could be called back up until you were 55 years old. If I remember correctly, the "Big Andrew" is the same?
 

Rob Lawes

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Yes indeed Jim

I had my annual reminder to provide my contact details arrive in the post last week containing a lovely threat of legal action if I didn't return it within 14 days. Oh, and a few paragraphs in the letter begging me to join the reserves.
 

Jim Currie

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Ah well! They can't catch me now. Korea and Suez were my "baptisms." Although, as a Civvy, I worked with out American cousins post Yom Kippur and during Desert Storm. The last was not of my choosing.;)
 
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Spot-on, Rob. The other nasty bit is (in my case) that in the event of hostilities, you could be called back up until you were 55 years old. If I remember correctly, the "Big Andrew" is the same?
Thanks again, Jim , for an interesting point .

You learn a lot on this website on other forms of Naval Life !

I don't know if there were any age limits on being called up in the USN Inactive Ready Reserve.

I do remember, just before I got my "separation" ( back then you didn't get your discharge until completion of 8 years - 8 years active duty or 4 years active duty plus 4 years in an active reserve unit or Inactive ready reserve status)
I do remember some persons being called up from the reserves "to replace those of us being "separated."

I was also the Senior Petty Officer in charge of the "O-E Division " ( Electronic Technicians in Operations Department, Electronics ) during the last 6 months of my active duty. We had a rapid turn-over each year......Zero re-enlistments.

Another little quirk in the USN at that time.
The ET ratings were first in the Engineering Department as the "E-R Division" but later changed to " O-E Division" in the Operations Department.

In closing this with one more bit of trivia.:
In the United States Army a "Division" is a very large number of soldiers.
In the United States Navy a "Division " is a very small number of sailors.
We never had more than 15 in our group which included both rated and non-rated personnel.

P.S. And Korea was my baptism.☹
 

Julian Atkins

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So are we all agreed that if Gibson got his second mates certificate in 1912, he would have become a RNR sub-lieutenant?

And Paul Lee's reference to Gibson passing his 2nd masters certificate in 1912 is inaccurate?

Cheers,
Julian
 
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