musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Tag: QE2

Connections: Woodbine Willie

Many years ago there was a programme on local TV called “Connections” and it dealt with how things connect to form a link between one action and a result. It was fascinating watching it and I have often tried to link things like that in my own life. Yesterday I found a perfect example. The connection between a ship and an Anglican priest and poet.

It starts off like this:

In March 1986 I went to see the QE2 in Durban for the first time.

I did not see her again until 1991. At that time there was a small ship called Avalon in Durban harbour. Formerly the RMS St Helena, she was now seeking a new career doing cruises to the Indian Ocean Islands.

We managed to wangle a short trip across Durban Harbour on board her as she vacated the berth where QE2 would be the next day.  

Both QE2 and the former St Helena were Falklands veterans. In 1992 I sailed on the Canberra, also a Falklands veteran, and when we arrived in Cape Town the new RMS St Helena was alongside and I photographed her from the Canberra.

I mentally set a goal to see whether it was possible to get a trip on board the St Helena, and I wrote away for a brochure. As luck would have it there was a voyage to Tristan da Cunha coming up in 1993 and I was fortunate enough to book a cruise on this mini mailship

Many years passed, and the RMS St Helena ploughed her lonely furrow between Cape Town and St Helena while they constructed an airport on the island. Once it was completed the announcement was made of the St Helena’s last voyage in June 2016. Of interest to me was her visit to the Pool of London, where she would berth alongside HMS Belfast. I decided to head down to London and watch her arrive and say my goodbye to her.

Upon arrival in London I went to see the RMS arrive on the 7th of June, and it was quite an emotional moment for me. 

On the 8th I revisited Kensal Green Cemetery, and afterwards headed into London once again to see the ship. I first visited St Pauls Cathedral, before heading towards the Thames. In the maze of streets I somehow ended up in Lombard Street, and saw one of the many churches in London, it was now the home of the London Spirituality Centre, or, as it was formerly known: St Edmund, King and Martyr.

During my visit the person manning the front desk showed me a number of wall memorials in the church, and she was very proud of a memorial to somebody called “Woodbine Willie”.

 

I had to admit that I had never heard of him before, but the nickname stuck in my mind because Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy was way too much for me to remember at once. Apparently he was the Rector of this particular church at one time. He got his nickname for his habit of handing out cigarettes to troops (Woodbines being a favoured brand).

I continued my walk down to the Thames to say my goodbyes to the RMS and the next day I returned to Tewkesbury to post my blog and recover from my short but exhausting London jaunt. 

Yesterday, I visited Worcester Cathedral, and after seeing the cathedral walked through Worcester, and while I was walking I discovered a number of small bronze statues in the area. I did not pay too much attention to them, just read the names and took the pic. At the one statue I did a double take because the one statue was of Woodbine Willie! 

I was even more amazed to discover that there is a memorial to him in Worcester Cathedral, 

as well as an engraved pane on the Window of the Millennium.

“Woodbine Willie takes the light of Christ to the Troops”

On the 13th of March I returned to Worcester to close the chapter a bit more, walking to St John’s Cemetery where I photographed his grave.

As strange as it seems, this sequence really revolves around how things connected to each other, from the QE2 in 1986 to a forgotten and reluctant war hero in 2017. The key to it is really the RMS St Helena, without seeing Avalon the chances are I would not have recognised the name on the statue. Had I taken a different route in London I would not have seen the church, had I not stopped to look at a statute I would not have read that it was Woodbine Willie. Come to think of it, it is all really the fault of the QE2.

 

There is a stained glass window dedicated to him in St Paul’s Church in Worcester, that will be the last step of this journey. 

Connections, they are all around us if we know how to tie them together.

© DRW 2017. Created 21/02/2017, updated 13/03/2017 

Updated: 06/04/2017 — 06:23

More Triang Minic

Following on my post from 24 January 2016, my collection has expanded a bit more with some new acquisitions. 

To go with my RMS Ivernia, I have also acquired an RMS Carinthia, as a sister ship. I have also outfitted both ships with cargo gear and mainmasts.

Because the masts and cranes are pricey, I decided to remove the gear from one of my C4 Mariner Class cargo ships and use those on the two Cunarders and convert the C4 into a early container ship iteration. Fortunately I had a duplicate Volunteer Mariner so she ended up donating her cargo gear. 

 

The containers are left overs from my P&O City of Durban and I filed down the crane housings till they were level with the hatch covers and pasted the containers onto a false deck and glued that onto the hatchcovers. I stayed with only one stack of boxes though, too many would have left them with no view to the bow. I also added a foremast but  I am not quite done with this ship yet, and of course she does not have a name, but is more of a generic interim vessel.  

My other major acquisition was the “Might Mo”: USS Missouri,
  
I have also been working on and off on the HMY Britannia. This model was available in the Royal Yacht livery as well as in a hospital ship livery. She was built to be easily convertible to a hospital ship in the event that she was needed, but she never fulfilled that role in her long career. Triang Minic used to sell the model as part of a boxed set
  
 
In 2014 I bought a Revell 1/1200 QE2 model, the intention being to waterline it and add it to the collection. 
 
 
I bought the paint and brushes and packed it all away and never built it, and like the original ship  it has been languishing in limbo until last month when I got it back with the rest of my collection from storage in Lichfield.
 
Last night I attacked it with a saw and cut away the underwater part of the hull and started to build it. The big problem is trying to find the sheer line as it is not really marked on the model. I also used gloss black instead of matt black as the matt paint is really lousy.I am probably going to have to give it a 2nd coat so will see how the matt works on it.  By this morning the QE2 was looking somewhat odd.
  
 
It is not a very complicated kit, but the painting is a pain. the upper deck has not been glued down yet, but the fore and aft decks have. And the funnel has had its first coat. This is very close to the livery that I saw her in in 1986, although she did have a few changes in her stern area then. 
 
Alongside Ocean Terminal in Durban 1986

Alongside Ocean Terminal in Durban 1986

I will try get more pics of her before I glue down the main deck,  at the moment I am waiting for paint to dry.
 
I have a 1/2000 QE2 model that was bought for me on board QE2 in 1994. It does not have any makers identification on it and I have been looking all over for an answer and finally found it on the 2nd day of 2017!  The model was made by S.R. Precision in the UK, and was available with a blue hull too. Unfortunately it is not a very good likeness and it does not fit in with my 1/1200 and 1/1250 fleet, but it is an interesting keepsake. 
 

S.R. Precision QE2 Model

 
 
Meanwhile, back at the building dock QE2 is looking more like QE2 every hour. 
 
First coat on funnel and fore and aft decks painted. Lifeboats are still not on. Big problem is that the davits were all black at this particular part of her career, but frankly painting them black was a lot of work, and I decided to leave them white. I may do it later. The other question is, what colour was the roof of her bridge and the suites as well as around the funnel?
 
Lifeboats are added, most of the superstructure elements are in place and I am starting to look at the fit onto the hull. It was not a good fit. 
 
 
But eventually I got it on and started to fit the bridge and their wings as well as try to make sense of her sheer line, as you can see it is wobbly as can be. I will sort that once all is built and when there is better natural light. I did give it a coat of matt black and it looks better. Now to fit forward cranes and mast and touch up paintwork 
 
 
Mast is on, cranes are on. I have not given the funnel its final coat as I have white drying in the funnel area. She is more or less completed now and she just needs touching up, the sheer line needs finalising, and of course I have to add colour to the lifeboats, at one point their superstructures were orange and I do not have orange paint. I have also seen her with green above the bridge.
 
The QE2 changed many times over the years, and this model has her original thin funnel which puts this before 1986, and probably just after the Falklands when they gave her the traditional Cunard funnel livery. I was also considering giving her a false flat bottom, but must first complete her properly and then she can join the fleet. Gee, I enjoyed that bit of model building.
 
A postscript. 
QE2 and Canberra were contemporaries, and that is partly one of the reasons I bought the model; to see them together once more, but on 1/1200 scale.
 
 
I was also able to buy a 1/1250 Oriana to add to the collection, and while it is a small scale it does fit in well with the QE2 and Canberra. The model is by Mercator and it sold for £20 on board the ship when we sailed on her.

(B-F) QE2, Oriana and Canberra

(B-F) QE2, Oriana and Canberra

 

My newest addition is really one of two similar vessels operated by the French Line.  The ill fated SS Flandre, or SS Antilles were both lost to fire. My particular model is numbered M714 “Flandre” so I will stick with that. Incidentally, she was also known as the “Flounder”, and was lost to fire in 1994.  
 
© DRW 2016-2017. Created 05/03/2016. Updated 20/08/2016, 02/01/2017
Updated: 04/02/2017 — 17:25

Triang Minic Ships

Many years ago. I had a huge collection of model ships and boats, including two radio controlled tugs. The smaller waterline diecast vessels I had never really indulged in because I did not know that they existed. A visit to the home of one of the friends of a friend opened my eyes because he had the three major liners (Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth and United States) in 1/1200 scale, and they were the start of my collection.
 
The first Triang Minic ship I acquired was the Aragon. She was in a poor condition and minus masts and half of her bridge wing. I repainted it and made masts out of pins and put her on my shelf as an oddity amongst my collection. I still have her today, bad paint job and all.

 

Then things went quiet until I picked up an advert in a local newspaper for somebody selling a collection. There were 2 Cunarders in it, as well as the Queen Elizabeth and two tugs and a light vessel and some bits and pieces of harbour. This was in the pre internet days so there was no real way of finding out what was available. He also wanted R500-00 for it, and given my dead end salary it was really out of my price range. I came very close to buying it, but never did. Awhile later I picked up a slightly used Queen Elizabeth and added her to my collection too. She was resprayed by a friend and her funnels need a lot of work.

 
I have recently found masts for her, and one day will do something about the funnels.
 
That was the sum total of my collection for many years. There were rumours of a huge collection being sold out of the country, but I had no way of knowing what was available apart from the two Cunarders I had seen and the three major liners. Nothing happened for a long time but I used to haunt the hobby shops hoping to build onto my collection and at some point I managed to pick up a Queen Mary.
 
The model above is not my original Queen Mary though, this one I found in Salisbury in 2014.  
 
I also found a mint United States in South Africa which was really surprising. By now we were in the internet era and I would haunt the net looking for more ships, the problem was no longer a lack of ships, it was more about an exchange rate that made them very expensive and postage that was never guaranteed.   
 
My last South African acquisitions were on a local auction site, namely the Aquitania which does need a lot of work. 
 
as well as a Canberra in a poor condition
 
and a mastless model of the NS Savannah
 
I have since replaced my Canberra with a better one and found white metal masts for the Savannah. 
 
Triang also had a range of warships, and while I did not really look for them I would buy them if they were affordable, and I managed to acquire a DKM Bismarck
 
as well as an IJN Yamato
 
When I left South Africa in 2013 I left my ships behind, but hoped to get them back with me at some point and to add to my collection until then. 
 
In 2013 I attended the Maritime Festival  in Southampton. And on display there was an almost complete collection of Triang Minic ships and I was able to see what I was missing (and there was a lot).  My first acquisition in the UK was the Queen Mary pictured above as well as a Naval Harbour Set.
  
That set included HMS Bulwark and HMS Vanguard
vanguard32
 
  
I also started watching ebay and buying modern warships that interested me. Including HMS Daring, HMS York,  HMS Chatham and of course HMS Ark Royal.
rnships20
 
  
I also picked up three very nice C4 Mariner class cargo ships. 
 
and even bought a Ellermans container ship: City of Durban
 
 
and a thumping great bulker too.
I brought my collection across in 2014 and it was still small compared to what it could be.

The 2014 Maritime Festival in Southampton once again had a Minic collection on display and I did quite a lot of drooling over it.

 
 
More importantly, I was able to add the Caronia to my collection, 
 
  
and bought a Canberra to replace my existing one. 
 
My most recent acquisitions were DKM Scharnhorst
 
  
 
 
 
  
Sadly she is in need of a lot of work, but considering that she is quite an oldish model I was lucky to find her. Those missing Cunarders still haunt me though (Carinthia, Carmania, Franconia, Sylvania and Saxonia), but considering how many years it has taken to get to this point anything can happen. I am also on the lookout for an SS France to complete my major liner collection.
 
  
and I would like to add an American battleship to my battleship collection
 
  
But that is for the future. Anything can happen in these collections, it seems to happen in spurts and bumps, and who knows what I will have tomorrow.

My passenger ship collection.

IMG_7958

 
The Triang Minic ships are nice momentos for a ship buff like myself, but once again, they are only of worth to a collector like myself, and not to somebody else. So hands off my stash!  (I have images of my 2016 expanded harbour available too)
 
There is a part 2 to this post which may be found here 

forwardbut

 
© DRW 2016-2017. Images migrated 02/05/2016. Added pointer to part 2 of the post 20/08/2016
 
Updated: 04/02/2017 — 17:22

The Canberra and the Falklands.

I have just finished reading “A Very Strange Way To Go To War” by Andrew Vine (published 2012 Aurum Press Ltd). It deals with the requisitioning and subsequent service of the Canberra in 1982 in the Falklands War. In fact it is one of at least four different books I have read on the Falklands conflict this year. However, what makes this book very special is that I have been fortunate enough to have sailed on the ship in 1992.
 
By then the Falklands were a mere memory, and yet reading this book brought back so many memories of this magnificent vessel that I thought I would have to pen a few words. The first time I was aware of her calling in South Africa was 1986, and the next would be 1990, when she made an unexpected call to our waters. I went down to Durban to see her, and hopefully get on board, but that never happened. My one abiding memory of her though was her arrival, it was a cold and foggy morning when she sailed into view. A white ship in a field of white fog. Beautiful. 
 
 
The whole day was one of lousy weather that ensured that any images we did get were not great. And, not getting on board was even worse, especially since we had travelled over 570 kilometers to be here. Reading the book I suspect there must have been moments in the South Atlantic when she looked like this. A white ship in a white fog.
 
 
Winding forward to our trip in 1992, I suspect I was curious to see what there was to see from her trip down South and surprisingly there was not too much that was obvious to the likes of me. I do know she had a plaque above her bridge windows which was the most noticeable thing.
 
 
And, in the one stair tower there was a glorious photograph of her returning to Southampton; rust stained, grubby, and getting the biggest welcome that was accorded a ship in many years. I tried to photograph that pic on that star tower and the closest I got was the image below.
 
 
Seeing that image on board that ship was a very special moment, she was as famous as the Queens, and she served in wartime just as well as those two mighty Cunarders did. It was easy to place myself in the areas they discussed in  the book, but I could never recreate that atmosphere or that epic voyage that lasted just over 90 days. I am sure there are a number of Falklands Veterans who remember her with fondness too. 
 
Canberra has sailed into history, while her old rival QE2 still “lives” on, possibly one of the last remaining Falklands vessels. In the week when QE2 was in Durban she was there with another Falklands Veteran, the former RMS St Helena.The QE2 however was a very high risk target and did not see the prolonged service that Canberra undertook. In fact it was said “Canberra cruises where QE2 refuses”. The book does hot heap glory on the QE2, but then I have never read a book about her Falklands jaunt either.
 

Triang Minic 1/1200 scale Canberra model

 
While I was in Southampton I often wondered where did Canberra berth? and she invariably berthed up at Mayflower where Oriana berths most of the time.
Oriana berthed at Mayflower

Oriana berthed at Mayflower

How I wish I had been able to see Canberra at Mayflower, or better yet, to have been there when the Great White Wale nosed her way through the hordes of small boats that followed her down Southampton Water. Such is the stuff of legends, and if ever there was a ship of legends Canberra is it.   
 
© DRW 2014-2017. Images recreated 17/04/2016
Updated: 13/12/2016 — 20:15

Heading to Hong Kong.

The company I worked for had introduced a new product and they decided to send three of us to Hong Kong for training. I was not too keen on going originally as the long flights are killers, but it was an opportunity seldom given to technical staff so did not protest too much.


We left on the Friday afternoon, flying with Cathay Pacific, and the flight was a killer, but much more bearable because of the excellent service on board the aircraft. After we landed we had a bus scheduled to take us to our hotel in Mong Kok in Kowloon, The company giving the course was in the same complex and that made for easy commuting every day. 

 
After landing and freshening up we decided to grab the MTR and head to Hong Kong Island itself. Naturally I wanted to ride a ferry and check out the ships, the other two were not interested in that at all. The MTR is fantastic; it is easy to use, efficient, fast, and goes almost anywhere. 
 
I photographed the building where we were staying just in case we got lost so at least I could show the image and gesticulate madly if I needed directions.
 
 
Then we were off, and once we arrived at our destination station (which we had chosen randomly) we bailed out and went for a quick walk. The mere presence of all that water made me very happy and I peeled off from my companions very quickly and headed to the closest point where I could see ships. 
 
I was in luck because there were two cruise ships alongside. 
 
 
The vessel in front is the Silver Whisper and the one behind the berth is Super Star Aquarius. During our stay there were 7 cruise ships in port, literally a new one every day, so I made it my business to visit the harbour at least once a day. In 2010 I did a separate blogpost about the cruise ships in Hong Kong
 
I crossed the harbour using the iconic Star Ferries, and I did a separate blogpost about these vessels that ply to and fro in Hong Kong. They are wonderful to travel on, although I do regret not using the lower deck as it was much closer to the water.
 
The waterfront area of Kowloon is fantastic as it has great views across the harbour (and vice versa), 
 
Unfortunately though the air quality is poor and there was a yellow haze that blocked out the sun in the mornings. It was also very humid and hot and fortunately bottled water was available almost anywhere, 
 
The Kowloon waterfront area has been developed as a touristy area and was crowded with sightseers and tourists, as well as those who ply their trade off these visitors.  
 
That was also true to some of the shopping areas where shady individuals try to sell you knock off watches and tailor made suits. 
 
Realistically though I was in sensory overload. Some areas were frenetic with energy, and there was a definite buzz to it. When you look out over the crowd all you see is a mass of black hair with the occasional westerner sticking out above the crowd.
 

 
Generally though the people were helpful and friendly and most spoke a modicum of English and tolerated these strange visitors. On Sunday it looked like whole families grabbed their gear and headed off for an impromptu picnic in some of the open areas (of which there are very few).
One of our party had not brought a camera long and we seemed to spend a lot of time in shops looking at cameras, and while this was a waste of time, it was also interesting to see the wide array of electronic goods available, most of which never came near South Africa. We also spotted a local name in one of the alleys which led us to investigate more closely.

 

But we came away without a camera! In fact, by the time we left Hong Kong he had still not bought one.

Overall shopping was amazing, and at night the street market was abuzz, but unfortunately a lot of what was for sale was junk, or knock off designer labels. But it was fascinating to walk through the crowds and just interact with the locals.

 

The other night activity took part on the Kowloon waterfront, every night there would be a laser light show that happened across the harbour. It was really interesting to watch because all the major buildings would remain lit up or change their lighting schemes as the show went on. It was also a great time to experiment with the camera.

 

 

Night sailings happened too, This is Nautica sailing just after the light show.

 


My room was on the 17th floor of the hotel and the view was really good, although tinted windows and smog did colour the images.

 

The hotel was literally built on top of the railway station, and the whole complex was incredibly busy during the day and at night.

 

But again the complex was dominated by the designer label fad, and frankly those places do not interest me. However, the escalators were really amazing.

Our course usually ran from 8.30 till 3 and we had the rest of the day free after that, and would go walkies around the area. As it was a 3 day course we also had an extra day off (Thursday) and would fly out on the Friday, But by Thursday my sinuses were starting to suffer and I was reaching a point where leaving would be a great idea, even if I was having a blast.

Our time off we spent roaming around and just enjoying the ambience. Hong Kong was an experience rather than just a place, there is a blend of old and new on every street corner, and as far as I recall at least 8 of the buildings are over 50 storeys high!

 

 

 

It is also one of the cities in the world that still has trams running, and while we did not ride them this time around we certainly did in 2010.

 

As you climb higher towards Soho on Hong Kong Island everything changes. This is residential, trendy, yuppie and student orientated. And the area where we explored even had an escalator rising up the steep streets. Now that is not something you see everyday.

In fact the angles and slopes here can be quite interesting, and if you do not know how to use a handbrake you can wave your car goodbye. We did not get to ride the Peak Tram though (because we were too busy looking at bloody cameras!) although we did rectify that in 2010.

At least our hotel was not quite of the calibre of some of the seedier “One Hour Hotels”

 

Kowloon Park was also on our agenda and it was a very nice quiet place in the otherwise bustling shopping areas.

 

But, like a good things our trip had to end and we spent the Friday morning chasing the QE2 which was on her last world cruise. Unfortunately we did not find her, but passed her on the coach on the way back to the airport.

 

The airport is efficient, clean, and huge, but much more preferable than the cold soulless hub at Dubai.

 

Would I return? of course, I returned in 2010, and would return again given the chance. The fact remains, it is a great destination offering the best of all worlds. There are no visa problems,  it is safe. reasonably clean, and of course I know what to expect. Unfortunately hotel accommodation is expensive, and prices can be a surprise, although when we were there the Rand was roughly on a par with the $HK, so it was easy to get a comparison. I am not so sure now though, the Rand having taken many tumbles.

Random Images.

 
 
 

And then it was over. Massive sinus plagued me for a few days afterwards, and I had over 1000 images to process, and did I mention jetlag? yaaaawn. The flights were killers. Hong Kong was tops though, I just wish that we had seen QE2, it is one of my biggest regrets.

Oh, he never did buy a camera.

© DRW 2008-2017. Created 31/10/2015. Images moved 03/03/2015

Updated: 28/11/2016 — 07:03
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