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Warsailor Stories - Page 15
Warsailor Stories - Page 1
In Dec.-2002, this message was posted to my "Find old shipmates" forum for Chris Wright. See also this thread on my Ship Forum. One of the responses to the latter says:
Chris Wright has now sent me the following:
I have written here what I know about this relationship with Norway and Tyneside. My understanding from my parents was that it all began during the second war and that is why the Norwegians began giving a Christmas tree to Newcastle.
My parents, Alex and Mabel Wright lived on Cemetery Road in Gateshead and provided lodgings for Norwegian seamen during the 1939 1945 war. Some of the seamen became regulars and parties would be held when they came back. They provided special drinks by saving up the naval rum ration and adding dried fruit to it in the shape of raisins and sultanas. My parents also told me that they tried to brew their own beer as well using potatoes in the tin bath. However this fermented for days on end and so violently that it overflowed the bath and ran out of the back door and down the steps. I of course can only relate this from the odd bits of conversation that I picked up as a child because I was born in 1946.
After the war ended my mother continued to exchange Christmas cards and letters until for some reason they stopped. My father never ever spoke about it and he died in 1967 but after my mother died in 1974 someone came from Norway to visit her, obviously being unaware of her death. I only found out about this from one of my mother’s neighbours some time later because I had moved away when I married.
I have tried to trace the Norwegians from the addresses that I have but without success and the Norwegian Embassy have not been able to help any either. I have also tried to make enquiries about the shipping movements during the war but they are still covered by the official secrets act apparently. However, I have attached some photographs, names and other details that may help you add something to this story.
The print attached below.
This picture title is I believe “Home from the Sea” and was given to my mother and father as a token of appreciation for their efforts. It is a print from an original which is why I think there must be many other families on Tyneside who were involved in this. On the back of it is the inscription appended below* giving details of a relief fund for Norway. There was also a certificate from the King of Norway but after searching the house for several weeks I still cannot find it. The artist who painted the picture was Nell Inez Hott of New York; she was a well known magazine and book illustrator of the 1920’s and 30’s but little seems to remain of her work, I assume this was specially commissioned for the relief fund and the original still exists somewhere. My brother informs me that the picture shows an officer in the military navy because of the sleeve bands whereas the officers pictured above do not have any banding and are merchant navy, if this has any significance. My brother was born in 1932 and has also said that he thinks some of the Norwegian crewmen were based in Newcastle and did not actually go to sea or if they did it was very little.
I have also discovered that Nortraship had an office in Newcastle during the war which was originally DNV (Det Norske Veritas) and the office was in the charge of Captain F. Skage, Captain H. Holst (L). I assume that my mother and father’s friends worked for /were attached to this office.
UPDATE: Chris has since found Simon's son - see her Guestbook message.
Warsailor Stories - Page 1
I would again like to encourage others to send me more personal stories for inclusion on this page, these stories are very valuable.