Charles Sykes McIntosh JOHNSTON (5 January 1897 - 20 August 1977)
No 2140 Able Seaman. Served 30 September 1912 to 20 June, 1919

I do not know WHEN OR IF members of the Naval Forces were considered as ANZACS or just referred to as Returned Sailors, so all details about my father’s service are included in this Chapter.

My father, Charles Sykes McIntosh JOHNSTON No. 2140 enlisted in the Navy before the First World War on 30 September 1912 (when he was 15 years old) as a “Boy” Sailor and was discharged on 20June 1919. He trained on the H.M.A.S. “Tingira” and then served on the H.M.A.S. “Australia”, H.M.A.S. “Cerberus” (possibly for retraining), H.M.A.S. “Psyche”, H.M.A.S. “Tingira” again (possibly a paper posting) and finally on H.M.A.S. “Melbourne”. How he travelled to Italy (possibly the port of Brindisi) is still a mystery to be solved. I believe now (August 2008) that this journey was on the H.M.A.S. “Huon” but this still needs to be confirmed. Further enquires seem to indicate he may have been left at Singapore when the “Psyche” returned to Australia and sailed on the “Huon” on the 17th for Italy. Information located in March 2010 in the R.A,N. History by A.W. Jose convinced me that this was the case. I was advised there is no confirmation that the “Huon” was ever in Geelong, as a card I have seems to indicate.

He saw service in the Far East, around Australia, the Bay of Bengal, Hong Kong and Europe. He was on the H.M.A.S. “Melbourne”, when the Grand Fleet left from the Firth of Forth, Scotland, to rendezvous with the German High Seas Fleet on 21 November 1918. I have a copy of the disposition of the ships sailing out and the changes for the escort of the German Fleet back to the Firth of Forth, after the Germans surrendered.

He was a stoker, as far as my brother and I recall but as an ordinary seaman, may have been allocated to other duties as well. He told my son he preferred to work below deck because the ship rolled so much in rough seas and it was too easy to get washed overboard. This never happened, as far as I know. He told us many stories of the hardships that young sailors had to endure in those days but his memories of life on the “Psyche” in particular, seemed to have been mostly pleasant. In spite of his long service, harsh conditions in the navy, difficult childhood, being raised almost as an orphan, I never saw any evidence of any after effects and he was a kind and loving husband and father. My mother’s four brothers enlisted in the First A.I.F.

‘HMAS Tingira’ A.W.M.

There are many pages of data on my uncles and other relations and their War History on my pages. However, it was not until I was able to read the details of my father’s ship movements on the net, I was able to enter missing data of his life in the Navy. This came from A.W. Jose's books on W.W.I and Appendices from Royal Australian Navy by F.M. McGuire - notes from this source in different print. Information from the Australian War Memorial was also a great source of Navy History. Our family is very proud of his long service for his country. He volunteered on 30 September 1912 (Age 15) in the Navy as a “Boy” sailor.

Taken from his Service Documents
‘Tingira” Boy 2nd Class 30 September 1912 to 17-7-13 Training Ship
“ Boy 1st Class 18 July 1913 to 14 October 1913

He was posted to H.M.A.S. ‘Australia’ on 15 October 1913. On 5 January he was 1915 engaged for a period of seven years.

‘Australia’ Boy Cl.1 15 October 1913 to 4 January 1914. (Heavy Cruiser)
“Ord. 2nd Cl. 5 January to 20 April 1914.

My father would have been among this group of boys with the strange Sennet hats in October 1913 when the first fleet entered Sydney Harbour.

He jumped ship ('did a runner') at the end of April in 1914, because the conditions on the ‘Australia’ were intolerable to him. He had a lot of trouble with the quartermaster or an officer, who used to kick him and others or hit them with a cane, when they were asleep or resting on deck. They then had to jump up and salute him. When war was declared, the Navy issued a notice that all seamen absent without leave, who returned to duty, would be pardoned. Dad returned to the service.

From R.A.N. Appendices (Page 345)

1913 Australia, Sydney, Melbourne, Encounter, Warrego, Parramatta and Yarra entered Port Jackson under the flag of Rear-Admiral Sir George Patey K.C.V.O.
From R.A.N. Appendices (Page 345)

1914 Aug. 30-31 Capture of German Protectorate of Somoa at Apia. Australia, Melbourne, French cruiser Montcalm, 3 small British cruisers, Psyche, Philomel, Pyramus, escorting convoy of 2 transports Morraki and Mencrai (query spelling of these two names ED.), with New Zealand troops. No enemy resistance.

From his postings, it does not appear that he was on the 'Australia' or 'Psyche' at this time. He had been working on the cane fields in Queensland when he was A.W.L. and when he returned did not go back to the ‘Australia’ but was posted to ‘Cerberus’ in September (for retraining I presume) and then ‘Psyche’.

From his service Documents -

Surrendered Granted a Free Pardon.

‘Cerberus’ Ord. Sea 2 Cl. 12 September 1914 to 4 January 1915. (Melbourne Depot) – (Training Ship)
‘Ceberus’Ord.Sea 5 January 1915 to 30 June 1915.
‘Psyche’ Ord. Sea 1 July 1915 to 26 September1915. (Light Cruiser)
“Psyche” A.B. 27 September 1915 to16 October 1917.
“Tingira” A.B.. 17 October 1917 to 1 February 1918. (Training Ship ? Paper Posting)
‘Melbourne’ A.B. 12 Apri1 1918 to 20 June 1919. (Light Cruiser)

H.M.A S. Psyche

The ‘Psyche’ was originally a Royal Navy ship on loan to Australia at first but the ‘Melbourne’ was gift, so at that time, it then had the title of H.M.A.S.

In July 1915, the ‘Psyche’ had warning of a typhoon, when the ship was around Amoy, near Hong Kong, the ship sailed out to sea into it. This was the usual action in those circumstances. It went full steam ahead for three days and nights and because of the strength of the winds hardly made any headway and limped back to port with the boilers nearly burnt out and needing repairs. Many Chinese junks headed right back to port and many sailors were drowned. It was fortunate that the winds dropped or the ship could have been in real trouble.

In that month, it was commissioned as an Australian ship and shown as being in the Bay of Bengal and Malaya from July 1915 to October 1917.

I felt he was happy on this ship and he talked a lot about incidents that occurred while he was on board and stories of other sailors.

The Padre on the ship was continually reminding my Dad to write home to his Auntie Jessie. She had written to the Padre complaining, when she had not heard from him for a long time. She was his ’guardian’ after his mother died (in New Zealand), when he was very young and he was sent to live with relations in Moss Vale in Australia.

Often, when Dad went on shore leave, he called into the nearest hotel and would stay there drinking, with his mates, until he was taken into custody by the Navy Shore Patrol or Service Police and returned to the ship. I do not remember him ever being drunk and if it had happened before I was aware of such things, someone, particularly my mother would have mentioned it. I believe he did get a bit tipsy a couple of times on Anzac Day.


These are a few of the stories that he related over the years to our family, but whether they are true or not, they are just for your information.

Sailors, who did not keep themselves personally clean, were scrubbed with a deck scrubbing brush.

When the officers were harsh, the ratings usually found ways to get back at them. One officer lost a dog overboard and another had his immaculate white uniforms ruined by oily, rusty water leaking on them. One of the men had carefully drilled a hole in the ceiling of the locker or cabinet in his cabin, so that this would happen.

One unpopular officer went ‘down’ the ‘up’ stairs one night, when he was drunk and was beaten up. To save confusion, particularly in times of emergency or ‘Action Stations’ on board, it was the strict rule that the stairs on one side of the ship were used to go ‘up’ and on the other side to go ‘down’. The culprits were never found, so no one was punished for this attack, as far as I know.

Dad told us this story a few times but I certainly could not vouch for its truth. A Lascar seaman was washed overboard during a bad storm and then washed round the front of the ship and back on to the deck, on the other side. He looked absolutely ghastly from having a soft brown skin, to a horrible whitish-green from fright or fear. I always thought that this happened on his ship but after reading Jose’s history (Page 588 – 19-21 Dec. 1916), it is probable he was referring to an incident on the H.M.A.S. ‘Sydney’ whilst on duty in the North Sea that he heard about. It is difficult to believe that a similar occurrence could happen twice.

From the Log of the H.M.A.S. ‘Sydney’

"An able seaman - was washed overboard the starboard side by a wave that came across the ship from the port side. As he disappeared over the side a wave that must have struck the ship ‘head on’ came sweeping along the ship’s side and washed him back again. He was an extremely lucky lad."

On a special occasion in England, a crowd of English seamen was cheering the King shouting “hip-hip-hooray” and lifting their caps in a very orderly way. This was in great contrast to the Australians, who yelled out their greeting and threw all their caps wildly into the air.

Once, when they were in port in Southampton prior to sailing to France, all the sailors were ordered below decks. This made them very curious and some of them made it their business, to see what was going on. Three men boarded in mufti (with long trench coats etc). When the ship reached France, two civilians disembarked. What happened to the third person was not known. This may have been a spying mission or to dispose of a traitor.

Dad played Rugby Union for the Navy as a Hooker and must have been a reasonably good player, as he was chosen to play in Ireland & Scotland. After one match in Ireland, he was hit on the head with an umbrella, by an irate Irish lady. She evidently did not appreciate their team beating the Irish. (He was not tall but the position of Hooker seemed an unlikely one for him because we only knew him as a very solid, broad-shouldered man but in those days he was very slender.)

On the same occasion, again in Ireland, some of the ladies tried to trip Australians with the hooks on their umbrellas, if they came near the fence.

When they were in the North Sea on patrol, every sailor put on every item of clothing they could find, as well as towels around their necks for added warmth but still felt very, very cold.  

He also mentioned the Fleet putting to sea from Scotland, when they thought they would be having a big battle with the Germans. He and his mates were very scared and many were saying their prayers. He stated that they were given a speech or message from someone in charge that was given by Nelson before Trafalgar that ran something like this – “England expects this day that every man will do his duty”. It did not comfort them at all.

I had always thought that this happened when they went out to escort the surrendering German Fleet and it was thought that they might decide to fight instead. However, after reading Jose's History, I now feel it may have been a earlier time, when the Grand Fleet put to sea in expectation of a battle, some ships with coal still on the decks – Possibly 30th September 1918 -.

(Page 307) - when this was the entry in ‘Melbourne’s’ diary.

“Left with squadron, but had only gone a short way outside when recalled.” The Fleet returned to port soon after that for some reason, not explained.

The Sydney took part in the last-mentioned operation, and diary notes it thus:

“The Fleet got a sudden spasm; we coaled ship - .and proceeded to sea with coal on our decks. We fully expected to meet something, but after about two hours run we were recalled.”


From A.W Jose’s History of World War 1914-1918 about the Royal Australian Navy.

Card sent to my father
during W.W.1


(Page 214 – June-Aug. 1915) The first mention of the Psyche is noted - The Admiralty was asked to divert the Orama (then on her way from Chili to dock and refit in Sydney) to examine Christmas Island; when the Admiralty replied that it was too far out of her way, the Encounter was hastily made ready to proceed to Fanning Island. On the 14th July the board was able to report:-

Three destroyers with oiler now near Townsville can be sent to Thursday Island or farther at once. Encounter and Psyche could leave Sydney 16 July if required. (My father was on the Psyche by that time.)

The mention of the Psyche introduces another chain of contemporaneous intrigue. It will be remembered that the schemes of the German General Staff, mentioned earlier in this chapter, included action in Persia and on the north-western frontier of Persia. With this, of course, Australia was not directly concerned, but in the redistribution of British squadron nominally belonging to the Pacific area the old small cruiser Psyche and the survey ship Fantome had been stowed away, so to speak, in Port Jackson. When the situation on the coast of Persia became dangerous, the Admiralty bethought itself of these out of date but not yet useless vessels, and on the 21st June the Board was asked whether it could man them with Australian crews for service in the Persian Gulf.

As usual the reply was prompt. The Psyche should be commissioned on the 1st of July and be ready to leave Sydney on the 15th: her crew must necessarily consist very largely of untrained ratings, but as many trained men as possible to be included. The Fantome at the moment had no guns; by taking two from the Psyche and one from the Gayundah, and using three old British 12-pounders that were still in store, a respectable armament was provided for her, and she was commissioned on the 27th ready for sea on the 7th August (1915).

But the various Maverick (a German Ship) rumours had by the middle of July convinced the Admiralty that the eastern rather than the western approaches to India were the area of greatest danger. Their reply to the board’s message of the 14th July was there to dispatch the Encounter instantly to Suva and Fanning Island, visiting Christmas Island thereafter, while the Psyche was to be kept in Australian waters. Almost at once, however, the situation began to clear up. On the 16th ...

(Page 215 –July – Sept. 1915) news came that the Annie Larsen (a German ship) was on the Oregon coast of United States. On the 21st it was known that the Maverick, in custody of Dutch destroyers, had reached Batavia the day before, and that she carried no munitions. She might, of course, have transferred them to another vessel on the voyage, for not till nearly the end of August was definite information received that the Annie Larsen’s cargo was still in her.

At the beginning of August, it would seem, the Shanghai series of plots came to the knowledge of the Admiralty. On the 6th the Psyche was ordered to Singapore:-

An extensive German conspiracy is on foot to cause a rising in Burma and India, involving smuggling in very large numbers of rifles.

On the same day the Fantome got her sailing orders for the Persian Gulf. Both ships were to proceed via Torres Straits. They left Thursday Island independently on 25th, reached Singapore on the 4th September – and then Fantome found herself equally involved in the eastern troubles and found her Persian Gulf trip vanish into thin air. The Bay of Bengal had become the danger area, and the Andamans its most important centre. Accordingly a system of patrols was established, and to conduct it warships were, it might be said, commandeered from all over the world. The Diana came from the Mediterranean, the Laurentic from the Cape of Good Hope, the Cadmus from China station: the Psyche and Fantome joined them from Australia; the government of India provided small armed steamers and launches from the Royal Indian marine. The launches scouted persistently along the coastline; the armed steamers patrolled out to sea, under (Page 216 July –Sept. 1915) the direction of the Laurientic (based on Calcutta) and Psyche (based on Rangoon). The Cadmus and Fantome carried out a separate patrol of the Adaman and Nicobar groups from a base at Port Blair. The Diana, with the whole bay for her sphere of action, was in general charge of the whole scheme.

HMS “Flora” One of Dad’s cards.

From R.A.N. Appendices (Page 349)

1915 September 4 Patrol Work in Bay of Bengal. HMAS Psyche and Fantome ordered to join the British Light Cruiser Diana, British Auxiliary Merchant Cruiser Laurientis and sloop Cadmus to put down German attempts to land arms and ammunition and cause disaffection in India and an intended raid in the Andamans.

(Then A. W. Jose entered extracts from Fantome’s Official narrative detailing day to day operations – "September – November 1915) This one gives insight into some of the conditions." (I have entered these as they would probably have applied to the Psyche as well.)

(Page 217 - 1915) The ship’s company are shaking down very well, and cheerfully accept the discomforts incidental to our patrol work. They are mainly due to the incessant wet weather we have experienced, their cramped quarters, inability to get their clothes dry, continually being (Cont’d on Page 218)

(Page 218 – 1915-1916) - at sea in anything but smooth water etc - It was not life in the trenches. But then it was not, due to the minds of the average Australian crew, fighting at all. It was just pottering about strange jungly islands in the wet, with your clothes never dry and your home for goodness knows how long in the “cramped quarters” of a stuffy, steamy ship that was never designed for either war services or tropical voyages. Most certainly the crews grumbled and belittled their work, and felt ashamed to be there instead of on the Peninsula. Probably there was more discontent than the commanding officer cared to admit officially. But the work was done, and done thoroughly; the plots, which had been very real and dangerous plots, came to nothing; India remained unharmed and tranquil, and the Empire could concentrate its fighting power on the decisive struggle in Europe. The Australians who manned the Fantome and Psyche in 1915-16 most certainly did not like their job; but, now it is all over, they may be reasonably proud of having done it.

Informal group portrait of crew members of HMAS Psyche, with a sign which reads 'hook rope party'. It is the men in this group flake the cable into the cable locker when shortening in or weighing the ship's anchor. A hook rope is a wire or hemp rope, generally from 10 to 15 fathoms long with an iron hook at the end. 2140 Charles Sykes McIntosh Johnston is standing in the back row, far right. Commissioned in 1899 as a light cruiser (Data from the Australian War Memorial)

There is a "pocket version history" of the H.M.A.S. Psyche following the information above that is well worth reading. It is under this picture in the Collections at the Australian War Memorial.

The work of the Psyche differed in details from that of the Fantome, but was essentially of the same nature - work with little recognition but of great responsibility. She was employed, as has been previously mentioned, on patrols of the coast of Burma with a base at Rangoon – ten to twelve day patrols alternating with two to four day stays at the base. Her experience of bay weather was not good; if she went north she ran into extreme heat; if south, into heavy rains; and she was never free of sickness.

Being in charge of this section of the Bay of Bengal, she was responsible for what may be called three “beats” – the Arakan and Lower Burma Coast, the upper Tenasserim coast (Moulmein to Tavoy Island), and the lower Tenasserim coast.

Each “beat” was watched by an armed sea patrol of three or four launches for work close inshore; and the prime raison d’etre of the patrol was the thorough examination of suspicious vessels – that is to say, practically all vessels. As said the orders:-

With the exception of British or Allied vessels known to be employed on local or overseas services, all vessels sighted – whether flying British, Allied, or neutral flags – are to be regarded with suspicion.

Page 219 - 1915-16) Examination was not, of course, the Psyche’s main task: that was left to smaller craft.

(When plots against India collapsed the bay patrols were over.)

... The Fantome was shifted to Sandakan in British Borneo. The Psyche, however having demobilized her “Burma coast patrol” was left in the bay with Port Blair in the Andamans as her base, to be in perpetual readiness to visit any part of the bay, whether under direct orders or on her commander’s own initiative, if he had reason to believe her services were required. Further, periodical patrols of the Sumatran coast must be maintained.

This arrangement, however, did not come immediately into effect, because the Psyche had to be recalled to Singapore for inquiry into a certain lack of discipline which had made itself manifest, and was detailed to escort some Russian transports towards Columbo. On April 4th she handed this convoy over to H.M.S. Venus, and began her task of guarding the bay from Port Blair. This meant, of course, constant cruising over large areas; she was at Penang on the 18th, at Rangoon on May 13th, at Columbo on the 21st. Then for some reason her sphere of operations was changed, and between the middle of June and the middle of October she cruised along the coasts of Annan and southern China, visiting Saigon, and then basing herself on Hong Kong. *At this time sickness was more rife than ever among her crew; at the end of July she had 77 in hospital ashore and 41 more on sick list aboard.

In October, she resumed her bay patrols, showing the flag at Penang, Port Blair, Rangoon, Calcutta, Madras and Columbo; and so the perpetual weary round went on in what are almost the hottest waters of the world.

Sickness had reduced the number of stokers available for work just when the weather was at its worst and the need of high efficiency in the stokehold most urgent. The consequent discontent led to foolish and regrettable displays of indiscipline. At one time the shortage of stokers was so great that – following a custom of the China station – 15 natives had to be temporarily enrolled as an “ash and coal trimming party”. They were kept quite apart from the rest of the ship’s company, and discharged as soon as other ratings became available.

If my father was a stoker (as affirmed by my brother) he had to endure some dreadful working conditions below deck but I do not remember him complaining about it. He did however say that he had many bouts of seasickness, some of them quite severe. This complaint was no excuse for not reporting to their posts if ‘Action Stations’ was sounded.

(Page 220 - 1916-17) Lists duties from the Psyche’s diary from 15 Feb. – 2 May 1917.

The insertion of this bald statement from the Psyche’s official diary has its purpose. It is typical and therefore instructive. This was the war from the navy’s side. One set battle in 5 years: perhaps half-a-dozen minor engagements, involving from one to half-a-dozen ships on each side: and this cruising, cruising, conveying, patrolling from one year’s end in all Seven Seas, as wearisome as persistent and as essential in the bitterest North Sea winter as in the steam-heat of the Bay of Bengal and the Persian Gulf. Years of it, and nothing to show for it: but on its persistent efficiency the whole fabric of the war in France rested.

Early in 1917 the Naval Board – which was responsible for providing relief, but had at this time no other control over her- suggested to the Commander-in Chief, China Squadron, that for many reasons it might be well to send her back to Australia. But he was reluctant to do so.

H.M.A.S. Psyche is most useful to meet raider or submarine threats in the Bay of Bengal. Consider bay should not be left without such safeguard, and have no other ship to spare for the duty.

Three months later, however, when the United States had entered the war and the need of small British cruisers in the Atlantic had lessened, the Admiralty decided to send H.M.S. Suffolk to China Station. The ship reached Singapore on 11th of August, and at the end of the month the Australian warship was at last headed home. Slowly – for her bottom was so foul that she could only maintain 75% of her normal speed – she made her way to Timor, and Thursday Island, and Townsville; and on the 28th of (P221- 1915-16) September – two years and forty-three days after she left Sydney for her patrol within the tropics – she dropped anchor in Part Jackson and went out of service.

(Page 226 - 1916) ... A memorandum laid out before the board early February 1916 pointed out that :-

... the attack on shipping in the neighbourhood of the Canary Islands shows that the Germans have again taken to attacks on trade routes in Australian waters might well decide the Germans to attempt an attack in these waters

... The principal danger now appears to be from craft, either minelayers or armed merchant vessels, escaping from Germany, or being fitted out on the coast of North or South America. It might therefore be wise, the memorandum went on, to ask that the Australian warships in Malaysia and off East Africa should be sent back to Australia,

... and that we should put in force for a time a trade route protection scheme. If this were done at once we should probably be ready by the time the attack took place. If no attack came, our preparedness would be known and have good effect, and we should have gained very useful experience.

These extracts suffice to show that the Board’s advisers were wide-awake and far-sighted; they were a year ahead of German plans, but it is a virtue to have foreseen the Wolf even so far ahead.”

The Board adopted the Memorandum and, through the Prime Minister, asked the Admiralty to let them have back the Encounter, Pioneer, Psyche, Fantome, and destroyers and (Page 227 - 1916) to lend them to the Otranto, which was at the moment in Port Jackson. On the 8th February the Admiralty gave what on the whole was a favourable reply;-

... Encounter will be returned to Australia. Pioneer will be sent to Australia to pay off and turn her crew over to Brisbane, which will for the present remain in Australian waters; and Otranto will also be allowed to do so

... Admiralty do not consider Pioneer, Psyche and Fantome suitable to operate against German raider now at large, as their guns would, it is believed, be much outranged. As for the destroyers, it was hoped that Japan would take over the control of the Malacca Straits, and so set the Australian ships free.

At the bottom of that page is the following notation :-

“At the end of April, 1916 the Commander-in-chief China Station asked the Australian Naval Board for assistance in manning river gunboats on his station. The Commonwealth Government agreed, offering the crews of Psyche and Fantome and 400 trainees of the Royal Australian Naval Brigade...”

(Page 231 - 1916-17) Nevertheless it is hardly surprising that that the Fantome’s official message at the commencement of the third year of the war ran:-

We would all wish for a more active share in operations, and are keeping fit in the hope that such may be the case.

From RAN Appendices (Page 351)

Feb. 15. Malay Archipelago and Indian Ocean. Psyche cruised Mergui Archipelago
Feb. 19. Malay Archipelago and Indian Ocean. Psyche patrolling north entrance to Malacca Straits.
Feb. 26. Malay Archipelago and Indian Ocean. Psyche proceeded on a cruise in search of raiders or enemy bases in Nicobar and Andamas Islands. Mar. 20. Malay Archipelago and Indian Ocean. Psyche from Rangoon proceeded to Penang. Escorted military transport to Calcutta.
April 8. Malay Archipelago and Bay of Bengal. Psyche escorted military transport from India to Burma.
April 16. Malay Archipelago and Bay of Bengal. Psyche conducted cruise of examination in Andoman and Nicobar Islands.

May 2. Malay Archipelago and Bay of Bengal. Psyche resumed escort of military transports between Rangoon and Calcutta.

The arrival of Huon and Torrens at Sandakan allowed the Fantome to proceed to Hong Kong for a refit in October; but she remained in Sandakan base patrol till the end of Aug. 1917 and did not reach Port Jackson till 27th of Sept. just ahead of the Psyche.

From R.A.N. Appendices (Page 353)

Sept. 28. Psyche returned to Port Jackson after Malaysian and Bombay patrols and sent out of service.

Studio group portrait of crew members of HMAS Psyche and a Japanese sailor. Ordinary Seaman 2140 Charles Sykes McIntosh Johnston is seated far left. The other men are unidentified. The Japanese sailor's uniform includes a cap with a tally band which reads 'Dai-Nippon Dai-ni-Kuchiku-tai', meaning he is serving with a destroyer in 'Japan No 2 Military Group'.
(Data from the Australian War Memorial)


From R.A.N. Appendices (Page 354)

April 14: North Sea. Melbourne took aboard her flying officer Flight-Lieutenant Gibson.
April 29:North Sea. 2nd Light cruiser Squadron (Sydney and Melbourne) helped. 1st Battle Squadron (Revenge, Resolution, Royal Oak, Royal Sovereign, Ramilles and Canada) to escort to Norway a convoy of 9 vessels.
May 10 : North Sea. Melbourne's 1st Flying Experiment

On the way to Italy he was very ill while in the Arabian Gulf or Red Sea because of the food on board and lack of refrigeration. I do not remember him speaking of bad conditions or food whilst on the ‘Psyche’ but it was evidently not good, while he was in the tropics, according to Jose. He travelled from some port in Italy (possibly Brindisi) in open cattle trucks in winter to France and then by ship or ferry to the Depot in London.

This ship, the 'Huon' travelled from Singapore to Brindisi in Italy on the date that Dad was shown as being on the Training ship ‘Tingira’ (paper posting). As the ‘Psyche’ was returning to Australia for an overhaul, he may have been considered as not necessary in the crew and needed in Europe as a replacement.



His next ship was the H.M.A.S. Melbourne (12 Apl. 1918) which was then part of the 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron – of the Grand Fleet north of Scotland (mentioned briefly on P181). This ship had previously been in the Caribbean. Their work was protecting east and westbound Scandinavian convoys and with other ships covering/supporting minelayers. They tried without success to lure the Germans into the open.

(Page 304 – 1917-18)
... incidents from this period the diary already quoted (H.M.A.S. Sydney) notes of several attempts of the Grand Fleet to lure the Germans into the open. We are off to Heligoland. (Noted in entry for 1 February)

... letting rip with a 6-inch gun to let Fritz know we were there. The Grand Fleet was only about 12 miles off. Fritz was not having any.”

I remember my father speaking of the bitter cold winds off the Skagarack, Scarpa Flow and Jutland.)

The next mention of the Melbourne (Page 304 – 1917-18) gives details of taking on board a Flight Lieutenant and experiments with an aeroplane on board the ship. There are further details of what would happen if the German battleships could be tempted out of hiding.

(Page 305 - 1 June 1918) Some German aeroplanes flew direct for the British fleet dropping 5 bombs in the neighbourhood and planes from the Sydney and Melbourne were put in the air.

From R.A.N. Appendices (Page 354)

June 1: North Sea. Sydney and Melbourne took part in a raid in force into the Heliogoland bight on German mine-sweeping force and with 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron and four destroyers, aeroplane carriers Courageous and Glorious and their destroyers the 1st battle Cruiser Squadron led by Lion with HM.A.S. Champion and 9 destroyers. Aeroplanes from Australia and Sydney drove off German air scouts before these were able to achieve their object - and to discover whether the Grand fleet was out.

(Page 307 June-Sept. 1918) Lists some daily work carried out by the Melbourne.The last entry (mentioned previously) reads” September 30th Left with Squadron, but had only gone a short way outside when recalled.” The Sydney took part in the last-mentioned operation, and the diary notes it thus:

The Fleet got a sudden spasm; we coaled ship

... and proceeded to sea with coal on our decks...

We fully expected to meet something but after about two hours run we were recalled. * See TALL TALES

(Page 318 - 1917-18) Mentioned at the bottom of the page are notes of a seaman newly joined from the Tingira (the training ship in Australia) and his coolness in the face of action.

(Page 330 – Nov. 1918) Covers the end of the Germans High Seas Fleet, which because of mutiny was incapable of the final effort for which their masters had been saving them and surrendered to the Grand Fleet.

(The German Navy capitulated on 21 November l918, ten days after the army stopped fighting in France and that was a great relief to both sides.)

From R.A.N. Appendices (Page 355)

Nov. 21: North Sea. German High Fleet steamed into the Firth of Forth and passed into the custody of the Grand Fleet. The Grand fleet - 33 battleships, 9 battle-cruisers, 32 light cruisers, more than 100 destroyers went to meet them. Australia at the head of her squadron led the capital ships of the port line. Australia was given charge of the Hindenberg, Melbourne, the Nurnberg and the Sydney the Emden (built during the war). The captured German vessels were escorted to Scarpa Flow on 22nd.

H.M.A.S Melbourne Sailing out from Scotland to meet the German Fleet. 1918 AWM.
My father was on the ship at that time.

The Melbourne and Sydney were in their normal place in the Light Cruiser Squadron and (Page 331 – 1918-19 – from A. W. Jose) the Melbourne was given charge of the Nurnberg. After searches by the guarding ships, the fleet was escorted into the Firth of Forth. In December the question of the return of Australian ships to their home waters was seriously considered. (The Melbourne taking some destroyers with her was to leave England in February but they did not leave March 6th, (P332 – Jan. –June 1919) arriving in Malta on the 13th (March). Other ships joined them there and 17 left for Port Said (arriving 20th), Aden (25th), Colombo (2nd to 10th April), Malacca, Singapore (15th April) and Port Darwin (26th)

From R.A.N. Appendices (Page 356)

April 26: Swan, Yarra, Parramatta, Huon, Torrens, Warrego, Melbourne reached Darwin.

There was some delay at Darwin and Dad and some of his friends were very homesick. He wanted to get home and deserted on 20 June 1919. How he got home to Sydney from there I do not know, as I have no memory of him speaking about that part of it. He always thought that he would have been listed as a deserter but can see no evidence of it on his papers.


(Page 337 – Dec. 1916 – Mch. 1918) The Psyche is mentioned with other ships as being continuously employed, chiefly in the Dutch East Indies under the Commander-in-Chief, China Station.

(Page 350 – Sept. 1917) A.W. Jose writes of the raider Wolf and their sighting of a ship (possibly Psyche)

Now I catch sight of her (writes Captain Witschetzky, gunner officer of the Wolf). She too had darkened ship – a low smooth hull, two smooth thin funnels, two masts – an English cruiser of the Juno class. She is unmistakable.

The Wolf altered course as the ship was ordered not to take action (unless signalled to stop) ... the Germans were itching to fire, but the vessel passed without a sign that she saw them – the Germans suspected that her attention was concentrated upon a brightly lighted passenger steamer which was for some time visible on the horizon astern of the Wolf.

That night the Australian Cruiser Psyche was emerging from the Karimata Strait on her way home to pay off. She passed many craft in these waters, but none that aroused her suspicion. Her position was somewhat too southerly to fit in easily with Nerger’s (the German Captain) account but no other British cruiser was in that area. If she was the ship seen, the Australians escaped a most formidable fight, for the Wolf’s armament was much heavier.

(Page 354 – Aug. 1917) At the end of a long paragraph is the following sentence

... In Torres Straits the patrol work was intensified, in case the enemy should attempt to escape that route, and the Fantome and Psyche – which were due to return to Australia were dispatched from Singapore on 31st to reach Thursday Island via the Arafura Sea.

(Page 369 – 1915-16)

... the Psyche, re-commissioned on 20 November, took up patrol on the coast of Queensland; and thus, with very inadequate means, Australia guarded her own Pacific trade-routes with her own ships.


My father had wonderful stamina and endurance, was physically strong and that helped him through his Navy Service and the extremely hard work on his Soldiers’ Settlers Farm at Rankin’s Springs in New South Wales and on other labouring jobs later.

He had to build accommodation, chop down trees, dig out many very stubborn mallee roots, lift wheat bags on to drays to be taken to the silos and put up miles of fencing. He lost this property because of three years drought and then the depression.

From that time on, until we came to Sydney in 1938 - 39, he worked on farms at Rankin’s Springs, Erigolia, Shellharbour and Camden and sometimes on the roads for the dole in the winter and at the wheat silos in the summer time. All of these were back-breaking jobs but if he complained, I do not recall it.

He tried for a position at Garden Island Naval Dockyard some time before W.W.2 because ex-sailors were given preference but he was sure he would be rejected because of his desertion but that did not happen. His Service Documents showed on all reports that he was of Very Good Character and his ability was Satisfactory and nothing mentioned about his absence from Duty except the dates 5.1.14-20.4.14 and the words Run SC filed (whatever that means). He was employed as a painter and docker.

He had to join the Union but never been in this position before that date. He quickly learnt that you put your hand up and kept your mouth shut, if the Union bosses wanted to strike and the consequences of not doing that were not pleasant. I have no idea what it is like there today. This was his first permanent work after leaving the Navy and work on the land (finances very irregular). The regular pay packet was a welcome change and he did not want to lose his job. Providing for his family was very important to him.

He was upset over the many one day or short strikes over trivial matters, as he lost money and that made our lives difficult. If Melbourne Cup Day or other Public Holidays were looming, it was a sign of a possible strike. One time, there was a strike for six weeks and he and Mum were disgusted when a Union member arrived one day with a pumpkin to help my parents cope. My mother said that was typical and what a joke with six people in the home! One time, when Dad was out shopping, they gave my mother a very hard time and really frightened her with searching questions about his whereabouts. She was a very shy nervous person and became very distressed.

Luckily, sometime before this, they had received some money that had been owing to them and that strike used up the whole lot. They had felt so happy at time of that windfall for a rainy day and it just dwindled away. They were very sorry for many of the other people, who had such a dreadful time over that period.

He was at Garden Island throughout the war and had tried to enlist in the three services but was rejected because of ill health. He worked long hours with lot of overtime that took a great toll on his medical problems.

Dad’s Farewell at Garden Island
(2nd from left in front row)

31 May, 1942. He was working below decks on a ship, when the Japanese midget submarine sank the ferry "Kuttabul" on which 21 sailors were killed or drowned (alongside) in Sydney Harbour. The torpedo was aimed at the USS Chicago but it missed. There was no way of knowing whether the ship he was working on had been hit. He felt there had been a broadside movement and if his ship had been damaged, he could have drowned in that tank in the darkness. I do not know if he was alone but he knew he was unable to do anything to help himself. The lights went out and he had to just sit there, until they came on again. I believe that his previous Navy training stopped him panicking. He had been working on the "Kuttabul" the day before, so felt he had a lucky escape. Perhaps my brother and I heard it incorrectly when he said he was working on the "ship" next to the Kuttabul. I have been told that all sea going craft are called ships. However, I have no way of knowing but do not believe it was the "Mirimar", as mentioned below.

I have been informed by a Naval Historian that (his quote) "The vessel alongside HMAS Kuttabul on 31 May 1942 when the Japanese Midget Submarine attack occurred in Sydney Harbour was the Dutch submarine K-9 (or K-IX). K-9 was undergoing repairs in Sydney ahead of her commissioning into the RAN later in the year. Just astern of Kuttabul was the Coastal Patrol Boat, Miramar. Miramar was a 75 foot motor launch which was requisitioned for naval service in May 1941."

He remained at Garden Island until he retired. He was a good, loving father and grandfather and I never had any indication that his war experiences made him bitter or angry. He was very patriotic and always marched on Anzac Day in Sydney, until he was no longer able to participate.
My son informed me that my father never wore his medals on Anzac Day. He felt guilty because my mother’s four brothers all fought in battles in the Middle East and France and were awarded medals for their bravery. One was killed in action. He did not seem to realise that he had always been in danger, especially in the Far East with the German raider ‘Wolf’ responsible for sinking many ships. Also, his ship, the Psyche was not built for the terrible storms in the area and could have turned over and sunk with all on board. The worst storm was off Hong Kong, when the ship sailed into a terrible storm (the usual action) that continued for 3 days and nights and the ship hardly moved forward.. It limped back into Hong Kong with the engines just about burnt out. That is the story that my father told us but I have been unable to confirm it. Many Chinese fishermen drowned because they tried to make it back into port.

My father was always very particular about cleanliness and tidiness. He liked his children to have polished shoes, clean nails and ears and no creepy crawlies in our hair. This was a ‘legacy’ from his life in the Navy and did us no harm. He had a hard job trying to instil in me as a child that my room should be kept neat and tidy. Often, he told me that I would not have lasted long in the Navy. I did not worry because at that time the thought of females in any of the service was absolutely something that had never been considered. However, he left any discipline to my mother but that did not alter my behaviour.

The Second World War started in 1939 but it was not until about 1941-2 that it was decided to accept women volunteers to serve in the three forces. This would release some men for other more Active Service. I decided to enlist in the W.A.A.A.F. and was called up just after my 18th birthday. I then learned very, very quickly to obey the rules with no delay or arguments.

Mardi c. 1942

Cupboards, beds and my small living area in the hut, had to be kept spick and span at all times and after a short period and I found life was easier and I could locate items quickly. I served for three years at Nowra NSW, Coolangatta, Brisbane and Macrossan in Queensland. My initial training was at Bradfield Park NSW and I attended a training course at Laverton in Victoria.

In Loving Memory of my father. Mardi








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Burma - Chief Court

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Burmese Festival Cart

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The Pegu Pagoda

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Hpoongyees in tram car returning with alms collected

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Mandalay - Shrine of Gaudamas Tooth

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Mogok - Ruby Mines

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Pagan - Thatbyinngu Pagoda

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Rangoon Cathedral Church

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Rangoon – Burmese at Football

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Rangoon – Moulmein River View

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Rangoon – Cantonment Gardens

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Rangoon – General Hospital – Nurses’ Quarters

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Rangoon - General Hospital

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Rangoon - S.S. Arankola in Harbour

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Rangoon – Royal Lakes

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Rangoon – Royal Lakes

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Rangoon - Shrines, Shwe Dragon Pagoda

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Rangoon – The Strand


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Madras – Government House

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Madras – The Senate & Marina Road

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Madras - The Old & New Lighthouse & High Court Buildings
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Madras – Central Station& Bridge

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Madras – South Indian Railway Station, Egmae

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Madras – The Chepauk Palace

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Madras – Neil’s Statue & Corner of Spencer’s Buildings

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Madras – Victoria Memorial Hall & Moore Market

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Madras – St. George Cathedral

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Madras – St. Mary’s Church, Fort St George

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Neylapore - Joppa Tank

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Adyar – Boat House


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Penang – Northam Rd

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Penang – Water Supply Reservoir


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Canton British Settlement – Chinese Houses

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Hong Kong – Supreme Court

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Hong Kong – The Peak

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Hong Kong – Bowen Road

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Hong Kong – Bowen Road

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Hong Kong – Cemetery

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Hong Kong – Entrance, Public Garden

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Hong Kong – Garden Road

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Hong Kong – Garrison Parade Ground

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Hong Kong Harbour and Kowloon

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Hong Kong – Married Quarter, Kennedy Road

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Hong Kong – North Point

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Hong Kong – Queen’s Road East

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Hong Kong Racecourse

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Hong Kong Racecourse

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Hong Kong – Sedan Chair and Rickshaw

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Hong Kong – Statue Pier

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Hong Kong – Wellington Barracks

Transcription –

Kismas chop chop come Massa cumshaw large sum
Year luck mysmnamo so drink New Year good pidgin bring
This time blong jolly day cuss?mgood thing say
My chin joos jolly alla long Making you happy and strong
Large chance make dollar too much
Alla true talk No blong joke.


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The Court of Administrative Litigation

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The Police Headquarters

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Raffles Square

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Cricket Club

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Robinson Road

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Selangoon Road

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King Street

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Chinese Temple

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Cavanagh Bridge

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Johnsons Pier & Collyer Quay

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Malay Hawker


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Jamieson Bridge Glasgow

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Dad’s Message to a friend 10-12-18

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Dad’s Message to Sister Effie - same picture card as above 10-12-18

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Buchanan Street, Glasgow

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Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow

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Waterfall –Rouken Glen, Glasgow

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The Lovers’ Walk, Rouken Glen, Glasgow

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Stonehaven – view of Harbour from Bervie Braes - N/E Scotland

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Spey – North Scotland


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Dublin – Bank of Ireland & Dame Street

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Dublin St. Stephen’s Green Park

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Dublin – Entrance to St. Stephen’s Green Park

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Dublin- College Green, Showing Bank of Ireland & Trinity College

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Dublin – O’Connell Statue

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Dublin – Parnell’s Grave. Glasnevin

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Dublin – Grafton Street

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Dublin – Sackville Street from Westmoreland Street


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Eddystone Lighthouse in English Channel off Plymouth

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Plymouth – The Hoe Promenade

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Plymouth – View from Smeaton Tower

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Royal Albert Bridge between Plymouth and Saltash




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The Galleries

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Alameda Grand Parade

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Rosia Bay

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Europa Point and Light House

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Assembly Rooms

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The Market

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Road to the Spanish Lines


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Port Said – Plan of the Suez Canal

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Port Said – View of Canal

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Port Said – General View and the Light House

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Port Said – The Lighthouse

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Port Said- Ferdinand de Lesseps Statue

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Port Said – Monument of Ferdinand de Lesseps Statue

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Port Said – General view of the Quay

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Port Said – Panoramic View of the Quay

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Dad’s Message to Sister Effie from Port Said --Undated

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Port Said – The Harbour

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Port Said – The Port

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Port Said – The Port and Office of the Suez Canal Co.

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Port Said – Office of the Canal Suez Co.

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Port Said – Main Street

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Port Said - General View of the Main Street

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Port Said - Main Street

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Port Said – Post Office Street

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Port Said - Market Place

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Port Said - Railway Station

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Port Said – The Casino

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Port Said - Abbas Mosque


These cards below sent by Dad’s cousin Charles William McIntosh (aka MacIntosh)

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Stonehenge - England

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Charlie’s message to Dad’s sister Effie 24-4-17

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Le Treport - France

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Charlie’s message to Dad’s sister Effie 30-10-17

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Le Treport France

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Charlie’s message to Dad’s Aunt Jessie 30-10-17

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The MacIntosh

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Charlie’s message to family 14-11-18


The two cards below were sent by Alexander (Alex) Charles McIntosh (Dad’s Uncle)

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Fortrose - Scotland

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Alex message to his sister Jessie 2-5-17

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Culloden Field - Scotland

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Alex message to his mother 4-5-17

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George Square, showing Municipal Buildings and G.P.O. Glasgow

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The University, Glasgow

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Mill of Tommore Ballindalloch

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Craigellachie Bridge

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