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ph0ebus

Transatlantic Spies?

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phil@basildon
Dazzle painting was not intoduced until 1916 so not the Dardanelles. Many cargo ships not just troop carriers were painted in it.

Edit. In 1917 some 4,000 merchant ships were painted in dazzle (and 400 warships) (source The Tate, Art Culture and Camoflage)

Do you have the precise date that dazzle painting was introduced?

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phil@basildon
Hi all,

Given he was 44 at the time of his sailing (1916), that would put his DOB around 1872-ish. The 1871 DOBs are still in the ballpark. So, what do we think of him? Once I read the bit about the dark complexion and scar above the eye, I just had to smile. FYI, there were a few others on board the same trip also destined for the British Consulate. Phil W, your comment about his being on a purchasing mission for the British Governement caught my attention...can you say a bit more about how that worked? How did the Consulate tie in?

-Daniel

Daniel, those few others you spoke about destined for the British Consulate have you any way of finding out what their occupations were. Even better if we knew the details the same as our subject we may be able to find out what was going on.

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grantowi

Heres the listing from FMP:

Name: Albert BELL

Date of departure: 25 March 1916

Port of departure: Liverpool

Passenger destination port: New York, USA

Passenger destination: New York, USA

Date of Birth: 1872 (calculated from age)

Age: 44

Marital status:

Sex: Male

Occupation: Admiralty Skilled Labourer

Passenger recorded on: Page 3 of 16

Ship: CALIFORNIA

Official Number: 129599

Master's name: John L Henderson

Steamship Line: Cunard

Where bound: New York, USA

Square feet: 5545

Registered tonnage: 5335

Passengers on voyage: 160

Here he's listed as an Admiralty Skilled Labourer, Why would a Labourer, even an admiralty one be sent to a consulate ?

Grant

Edit - He was traveling with a party of 6 other Skilled Labourers (aging from 21 to 57) and all had indicated that the USA was to be their "Intended future permanent residence"

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grantowi

Further sleuthing revels that a Albert E BELL (no age given) left Liverpool on the 19th March 1910 enroute to New York, also travelling 3rd class with a party of 12 other labourers (all with individual tickets - in the previous post they are all on one ticket)

Name of the ship - LUSITANIA

Grant

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ph0ebus

Hi all,

I am fairly confident the California never saw a dazzle paint scheme. She was used for CEF transport duty in 1915-1916 but only on 3 occasions, and those were interspersed with regular civilian duty. I think Mr. Bell was in disguise, not the ship. Of course, just because I have never encountered a picture of her in dazzle does not mean it did not happen.

BTW, I struck out on Ellis Island's web site...no more ID'd trips for Mr. Bell. I left the search wide open to all incoming passengers named Bell and the only spot-on match was the one I already have. The rest were way off either in age, nationality or both. This, of course means that either:

1) Bell came to the US via a port other than New York on his other trip(s), or

2) Bell came to the US using a different name, or

3) Ellis Island biffed the relevant record when transcribing, making it difficult if not impossible to locate, or

4) Bell lied about being in the US before

The plot thickens...

-Daniel

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ph0ebus
Further sleuthing revels that a Albert E BELL (no age given) left Liverpool on the 19th March 1910 enroute to New York, also travelling 3rd class with a party of 12 other labourers (all with individual tickets - in the previous post they are all on one ticket)

Name of the ship - LUSITANIA

Grant

Hi Grant...

How odd. I am in Ellis Island's website right now, and entering just his last name 'Bell', ship name 'Lusitania' and arrival year '1910' I get no Albert E Bell. If I search 'Albert Bell' and the year I still get nothing.

-Daniel

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grantowi

Daniel,

Name: Albert E BELL

Date of departure: 19 March 1910

Port of departure: Liverpool

Passenger destination port: New York, USA

Passenger destination: New York, USA

Date of Birth:

Age: Adult

Marital status: Single

Sex: Male

Occupation: Labr

Passenger recorded on: Page 6 of 50

Ship: LUSITANIA

Official Number: 124682

Master's name: J T W Charles

Steamship Line: Cunard

Where bound: New York, USA

Square feet: 21485

Registered tonnage: 9145

Passengers on voyage: 1844

I'm not telling porkies, honest :-)

Grant

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ph0ebus
Daniel, those few others you spoke about destined for the British Consulate have you any way of finding out what their occupations were. Even better if we knew the details the same as our subject we may be able to find out what was going on.

Hi Phil,

I was able to find three on the same manifest as Mr. Bell. They are:

Charles Glossop, Skilled Labor, Age 57 from Sheffield

Charles George Holdsworth, Skilled Labor, Age 21 from Sheffield

Ernest Richardson, Skilled Labor, Age 47 from Manchester

Do you need more? If so, let me know and I will 'consult the oracle'. :)

-Daniel

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grantowi

The Albert E BELL that Phil has identified in #5 has "manufactures Clerk" for an occupation in 1891.

Could this be him in 1910 on the CELTIC bound for New York ?

Name: Mr A E BELL

Date of departure: 2 July 1910

Port of departure: Liverpool

Passenger destination port: New York, USA

Passenger destination: New York, USA

Date of Birth:

Age: Adult

Marital status: Single

Sex: Male

Occupation: Clerk

As for the others on the CALIFORNIA, they are all "Admiralty Skilled Labourers" according to FMP ranging in age from 21 to 57 and all have indicated they intend to make the USA home

Grant

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ph0ebus
Daniel,

Name: Albert E BELL

Date of departure: 19 March 1910

Port of departure: Liverpool

Passenger destination port: New York, USA

Passenger destination: New York, USA

Date of Birth:

Age: Adult

Marital status: Single

Sex: Male

Occupation: Labr

Passenger recorded on: Page 6 of 50

Ship: LUSITANIA

Official Number: 124682

Master's name: J T W Charles

Steamship Line: Cunard

Where bound: New York, USA

Square feet: 21485

Registered tonnage: 9145

Passengers on voyage: 1844

I'm not telling porkies, honest :-)

Grant

I don't doubt you...there is no record of his arrival on that ship on that date viewable via Ellis Island's web site. I have the March 19th Manifest up on my screen and there are only 2 Bells on it: William Bell and Francis S Bell. Just to be thorough I checked the list for those who boarded at Queendstown and he's not there either.

Argh.

-Daniel

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grantowi

There is no Francis S BELL on FMP only Wm.

Possable transcribing error ?

Are you able to look at the original passenger sheets ? FMP has Albert listed on page 6

Grant

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ph0ebus

Hi Grant, all...

Doesn't this whole business strike you as a bit odd? Here are several Admiralty Skilled Labourers all deciding to emigrate together in the thick of the War to America? Around this time things still had not hit the tipping point, so why leave Britain now? Given the wide span in ages, certainly they were not all retiring. And why leave their spouses and families behind?

Also, re: the manifest pages, I will scroll through and have another look the old fashioned way for Albert. Francis S Bell must be a transcribing error as I saw his hand-written entry with my own eyes just moments ago. Albert E is not on page 6. I'll keep looking, but just so you know, the Lucy Manifest is 85 pages long!

-Daniel

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grantowi

Daniel,

Sorry for the delay, this forum furns to treacle at the 3.30 / 4.30 AM and it takes forever to upload stuff.

According to the FMP site the LUSITANIA list is 50 pages long and Albert is on page 6 - post# 32 is a cut and paste from their site.

Have you found the Albert in post# 34 yet, this is the chap that Phil has found in the census's

He started as a Clerk (1891 census and 1910 CELTIC) and then evolved into a commercial traveller (1901 census), then into a Labourer (1910 LUSITANIA) and finally into a skilled labourer (1916 CALIFORNIA)

Maybe that is his disguise - traveller and when war starts to loom as a labourer

Grant

PM me your email and I'll send a scan of the LUSITANIA page - just so that you'll belive me :-)

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phil@basildon
The Albert E BELL that Phil has identified in #5 has "manufactures Clerk" for an occupation in 1891.

Could this be him in 1910 on the CELTIC bound for New York ?

Name: Mr A E BELL

Date of departure: 2 July 1910

Port of departure: Liverpool

Passenger destination port: New York, USA

Passenger destination: New York, USA

Date of Birth:

Age: Adult

Marital status: Single

Sex: Male

Occupation: Clerk

As for the others on the CALIFORNIA, they are all "Admiralty Skilled Labourers" according to FMP ranging in age from 21 to 57 and all have indicated they intend to make the USA home

Grant

Not the one I'm Afraid, Our Albert Bell was married with eight kids at the time.

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phil@basildon
Hi Grant, all...

Doesn't this whole business strike you as a bit odd? Here are several Admiralty Skilled Labourers all deciding to emigrate together in the thick of the War to America? Around this time things still had not hit the tipping point, so why leave Britain now? Given the wide span in ages, certainly they were not all retiring. And why leave their spouses and families behind?

Also, re: the manifest pages, I will scroll through and have another look the old fashioned way for Albert. Francis S Bell must be a transcribing error as I saw his hand-written entry with my own eyes just moments ago. Albert E is not on page 6. I'll keep looking, but just so you know, the Lucy Manifest is 85 pages long!

-Daniel

The British Government were buying a lot of war materials from the USA at the time. This could be something to do with this. I wish I knew a source of information on what was acquired from the States during the Great War. It appears to be some sort of Naval equipment by the nature of the people sent abroad, perhaps to advise or check specifications?

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phil@basildon

I have tried to find out a bit more information on American supplies to the UK without much luck. Its knowing were to look in the first place!

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phil@basildon
Hi all,

I am fairly confident the California never saw a dazzle paint scheme. She was used for CEF transport duty in 1915-1916 but only on 3 occasions, and those were interspersed with regular civilian duty. I think Mr. Bell was in disguise, not the ship. Of course, just because I have never encountered a picture of her in dazzle does not mean it did not happen.

BTW, I struck out on Ellis Island's web site...no more ID'd trips for Mr. Bell. I left the search wide open to all incoming passengers named Bell and the only spot-on match was the one I already have. The rest were way off either in age, nationality or both. This, of course means that either:

1) Bell came to the US via a port other than New York on his other trip(s), or

2) Bell came to the US using a different name, or

3) Ellis Island biffed the relevant record when transcribing, making it difficult if not impossible to locate, or

4) Bell lied about being in the US before

The plot thickens...

-Daniel

He may well have entered the United States through Canada. This would be the most likely scenario if he wanted to enter the US without German agents knowing. By the time of this visit the USA was still neutral but the spy hysteria of the early war years had died down in the UK.

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Greg

I am inclined to agree with Kath that the wording suggests that the ship was disguised rather than Mr Bell. I also wonder whether the Embassy was simply a 'post restante'- a point of contact rather than an employer. I have also noted the terms consulate and embassy . The difference is important . Up until 1914, if I remember correctly the consulates and embassies were different services ie they were manned by quite distinct bodies of personnel. The Foreign Office did not like espionage and it was often carried on through consulates. Embassies were much grander places.

There was an intelligence operation in New York- it was started to watch the Irish but its role widened during the war I am trying to think what I saw this in-I have a feeling it was in an article by Nicholas Hiley on British Intelligence. Richard Popplewell also makes some comments on intelligence operationsin the USA which were used to watch militant Indians. British intelligence also released the Zimmerman telegram which had an important impact on bringing the US into the war. This was I think intercepted in Mexico.

I do not think you would get much information from the British Embassy in Washington - it is highly unlikely it would hold records for so long -they would have been returned to the Foreign Office and then those considered useful retained and released later toteh Public Records Office. Worth looking for files on the Washington Embassy in the Foreign Office section of the National Archives- the catalogue is available online.

Greg

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phil@basildon

It could be a purchasing mission. As our subject is involved with the steel industry and some of the others hail from Sheffield suggests that they would be involved in acquiring steel products. The word Admiralty implies this would be for the navy. This implies that they were involved in purchasing material or even complete vessels. I do not know of any Royal Navy vessels acquired from the US at this time but it is possible that construction of merchant vessels was required to make up for U-boat losses.

Whatever the circumstances the description "skilled labourer" does seem to have been used to hide the true purpose of their mission.

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phil@basildon

I have found the departure details for Albert Bell and those who travelled with him from the passenger list of the TSS California.

Beckly Stephen 50

Bell Albert 44

Walker Fred R. 41

Holdsworth Chas. 21

Richardson Ernest 47

Glassop Chas. 57

They are all described as skilled labourers (Admiralty) and they all travelled on the same ticket No. 14450! And they all travelled 2nd class.

Albert Bell also made a subsequent Journey later that same year departing Liverpool on the 23rd September 1916 on the American vessel Philadelphia bound for New York, only this time apparently alone and travelling first class!

Was there any Royal Navy ships in any USA ports for repair?

Their place of residence on all the lists was given as USA, as was everyone else on the passenger lists (or Canada) despite the majority being British citizens. Perhaps this was only to differentiate between people going to either the USA or Canada.

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phil@basildon
Hi all,

BTW, I struck out on Ellis Island's web site...no more ID'd trips for Mr. Bell. I left the search wide open to all incoming passengers named Bell and the only spot-on match was the one I already have. The rest were way off either in age, nationality or both. This, of course means that either:

1) Bell came to the US via a port other than New York on his other trip(s), or

2) Bell came to the US using a different name, or

3) Ellis Island biffed the relevant record when transcribing, making it difficult if not impossible to locate, or

4) Bell lied about being in the US before

The plot thickens...

-Daniel

Daniel, I have found a possible arrival for Albert Bell, in 1900 when he was only 19 years old. He arrived in New York on Aug 05 1900 aboard the American Line vessel New York. I have been unable to find a passenger list for this voyage.

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phil@basildon

The SS New York and the SS Philadelphia were actually sister ships. The SS New York was built as The City of New York in 1888. The SS Philadelphia was built as the City of Paris in 1889. Both vessels were built in Glasgow for the Inman and International Steam Navigation Co. of London.

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ph0ebus
I am inclined to agree with Kath that the wording suggests that the ship was disguised rather than Mr Bell. I also wonder whether the Embassy was simply a 'post restante'- a point of contact rather than an employer. I have also noted the terms consulate and embassy . The difference is important . Up until 1914, if I remember correctly the consulates and embassies were different services ie they were manned by quite distinct bodies of personnel. The Foreign Office did not like espionage and it was often carried on through consulates. Embassies were much grander places.

There was an intelligence operation in New York- it was started to watch the Irish but its role widened during the war I am trying to think what I saw this in-I have a feeling it was in an article by Nicholas Hiley on British Intelligence. Richard Popplewell also makes some comments on intelligence operationsin the USA which were used to watch militant Indians. British intelligence also released the Zimmerman telegram which had an important impact on bringing the US into the war. This was I think intercepted in Mexico.

I do not think you would get much information from the British Embassy in Washington - it is highly unlikely it would hold records for so long -they would have been returned to the Foreign Office and then those considered useful retained and released later toteh Public Records Office. Worth looking for files on the Washington Embassy in the Foreign Office section of the National Archives- the catalogue is available online.

Greg

Hi Greg, all...

In nearly nine years of active research into this ship I have not come across a single mention or photo of the California in Dazzle. However, as I had said before, just because I haven't come across it doesn't necessarily signify anything...perhaps I am looking in the wrong places? FYI...the postcard the message was written on was their stock postcard, pictured below:

post-32240-1238897439.jpg

Perhaps someone else on the forum with a penchant for Dazzle-painted ships might tackle this aspect of this line of inquiry?

It looks like a trip back to the PRO for me...will let everyone know if I find anything of note.

Phil, re: the Albert Bell from the New York manifest...the year of birth is off. That Albert would have been born in 1881, whereas the Albert Bell we're looking at was born in 1871, give or take a year...sorry!

I did however get a promising hit on Ancestry: Albert Bell - Entry at New York from Liverpool on Umbria May 25 1891 - his stated DOB was about 1872, which is in the right range. Anyone think this might be the same chap? His occupation on this manifest is 'Labourer'. :)

-Daniel

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phil@basildon

Daniel, Sorry about that :wacko: I have just realised my mistake. I will go and stand in the corner with my Dunces cap on.

I will try to find the passenger list for the Umbria.

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phil@basildon
I did however get a promising hit on Ancestry: Albert Bell - Entry at New York from Liverpool on Umbria May 25 1891 - his stated DOB was about 1872, which is in the right range. Anyone think this might be the same chap? His occupation on this manifest is 'Labourer'. :)

-Daniel

I can not find any passenger list for the date with A Bell. This is possibly a different person as the 1891 census in which he was described as a manufacturers clerk took place only a month prior to this sailing. I am checking the passport applications that are available (1874 to 1903) but this will take a little time and it is only a list of names.

The person we are looking at his birth was registered in the second quarter (April-June) 1871 as he is not on the census for that year which took place on 2nd April that narrows his date of birth down to April-June 1871.

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