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ph0ebus

Transatlantic Spies?

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phil@basildon

Daniel, I have been looking at the incoming passenger list for September 1916. Immediately below Albert Bell is a Charles Best described as an Examiner, a colleague perhaps?

Another shell inspector! at bottom of next page, Thomas Lowry, 73yrs, 6 Lincoln Place, Sheffield.

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NigelS
Daniel. I have been looking at another thread on this website and they gave some interesting information. Apparently the Board of Trade reports on marine accidents are held by Southamton Libraries and the person to which you address enquiries to is vicky.green@southampton.gov.uk

I can't, unfortunately add anything, that will help, but as an aside for anyone interested in the BoT Wreck Reports, many (none, as yet, during WW1) are available as downloadable pdf's here: http://www.plimsoll.org/WrecksAndAccidents...rts/default.asp

From an enquiry I made a few years ago I believe the intention was, in the fullness of time and funds permitting, to digitise all the reports that were held. The parent site ( http://www.plimsoll.org/ ) may also be of interest as it gives access to a lot of other nautical information.

With apologies for the interrupting the flow of this fascinating thread; Looking forward to seeing where it eventually leads with eager anticipation.

NigelS

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phil@basildon
Hi Phil,

I have access to Ancestry US, and can see some UK stuff but cannot view original records or download. Can you PM me the links and perhaps next time I get to the NYPL I can use their version of ancestry (which has all the bells and whistles) to download those docs?

A follow-up question: was there any policy (formal or otherwise) as to where munitions were to be stowed on merchant ships carrying passengers, or just on merchant ships in general? I would assume they would be kept amidships, so as to resuce the likelihood of their being detonated in collision involving the fore part of the ship, and not aft to reduce the likelihood of their being detonated by a torpedo strike. I know in the case of the California the stowage plans did not suvive to the present day.

Thanks,

-Dan

Daniel, I have sent the passenger list to you via ancestry (I think, can you confirm?).

The shells were probably empty, it would be a lot safer to transport them that way. Naval guns were not neccessarily of large bore, the naval 6 pounder had a bore of 57mm (2 1/4 inches) for example.

What seems surprising is that Albert Bell must have returned home for only a matter of days! as he returned to the USA the same month. It is possible it was for the birth of his first grandchild but two Atlantic crossings in September 1916 seems to be an enormous risk.

I have worked out the dates of arrival in the UK of the TSS California and even the number of passengers carried (West to East) if you are interested I can post them on the forum. An interesting point is that after the grounding she does not appear to be back in action until late 1915.

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ph0ebus

Hi Phil,

I have via Ellis Island a complete list of all her arrivals, with links to the passenger lists for each. Return trips to the UK is another matter. :)

It did take a long time for her to return to service; the damage from her stranding was very severe...they were lucky to salvage her at all.

In terms of the shells, perhaps some of the divers on this forum could illuminate us about WWI-era wrecks they have dived and let us know if they find just casings, live shells or both? The cargo list I have from the sinking does not say shell casings, it says shells (amongst other things). Maybe it is a semantic difference but my understanding is that live munitions were shipped on occasion. Cartainly Lusinatia was carrying live munitions when she went down...this is now an established fact. Newspapers often heralded which ships were carrying munitions to the war zone, and California was mentioned a few times in this regard.

As an aside, a lead I was chasing via the Treasury Solictor's office for almost a year turned out to be a dead end. One representative thought she had some stuff for me relating to the sinking, then she left, and her replacement (who took forever to find and contact) said, 'No, nothing new for you. Try looking at Kew.' I hate that. :)

Take care,

-Daniel

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phil@basildon

Daniel, The California eastward journeys arrival dates are:- 1907, Nov 4, Dec 2 and 30 (371 passengers). 1908, Feb 11, Mar 10, Apr 6, May 4, Jun 1, Jun 29, Jul 27, Aug 24, Sep 21, Oct 19, Nov 16, Dec 16.(3679 passengers). 1909 Jan 9, Feb 15, Mar 22, Apr 19, May17, Jun 14, Jul 13, Aug 8, Sep 6, Oct 4, Nov 1, Nov 29, Dec 27, (3752 passengers). 1910 Feb 1/28, Mar 28, Apr 25, May 23, Jun 19, Jul 17, Aug 15, Sep 12, Oct 10, Nov 7, Dec 6, (4350 passengers). 1911 Jan 2, Jan 30, Feb 27, Mar27, Apr 24, May 21, Jun 19, Jul 16, Aug 14, Sep 11, Oct 9, Nov 6, Dec 4, (4153 passengers). 1912 Jan 1, Feb 6, Mar 5, Apr 1/29, May 27, Jun 24, Jul 21, Aug 19, Sep 16, Oct 14, Nov 11, Dec 9, (4405 passengers). 1913 Jan 20, Feb 25, Mar 25, Apr 21, May 19, Jun 16, Jul 14, Aug 11, Sep 8, Oct 6, Nov 3, Dec 1/30, (5238 passengers). 1914 none for Jan/Feb/Mar, Apr 6, May 4, Jun 1/29, (2276 passengers) Nothing recorded for 1915. 1916 Jan 4, Feb 10, Mar 15, Apr 20, May 26, Jun 27, Aug 1, Sep 5, Nov 23, Dec 27, (1501 passengers).

I have put some dates in italics were I am unable to confirm the arrival. You will note that she made the two way crossing of the Atlantic in 28 days, a bit longer after the war started. In all she carried 29,725 passengers eastbound.

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ph0ebus

Hi Phil,

You are a gentleman and a scholar. Many thanks. I also, as fate would have it, got called into back-to-back meetings in midtown Manhattan, which let out early enough to hit NYPL's Genealogy division and allowed time enough to tool around on Ancestry (Library edition, with all the bells and whistles). I was able to locate and snag a copy of the Albert Bell manifest you found from his return trip aboard Saxonia, and you were right, it was a transcription error... it is the right Bell.

I had no other luck though, and struck out in the Microfilm division; I am trying to date a set of ship's plans for the California I acquired and was hoping to locate the business in the historic directories, and had no luck. The search continues...

-Daniel

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phil@basildon

Daniel, try the University of Glasgow, they may have plans. There was a series of postcards on e-bay recently advertised as 'S.S. California interiors' but it turned out to be the 1920's replacement. There were quite detailed reports in the London Times about the grounding (Jun 30 1914) and the sinking (Feb 9 1917) but these are only available to libraries and similar organisations.

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ph0ebus

Hi Phil,

U of G does not have plans or photos, I already checked. I think I am pretty well set in those departments at present, anyway. When 'California' stuff shows up on eBay 99% of the time it is relating to the California III which was sunk in the 1940's. For the precious 1% that is the right ship, it is usually stuff I already have. :) One thing I do want to pick up is a Stevengraph, but those are infrequently listed and often bid up higher than they are worth.

Getting back to AEB, I am looking for his obituary now. No luck yet but who knows what tomorrow (or tonight?) will bring.

Oh, and no nibbles on the Sheffield Forums I posted to. On the up side, AEB's hometown of Sheffield made an appearance on Tony Robinson's 'The Worst Jobs in History' the other night. :)

-Daniel

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ph0ebus
Daniel, try the University of Glasgow, they may have plans. There was a series of postcards on e-bay recently advertised as 'S.S. California interiors' but it turned out to be the 1920's replacement. There were quite detailed reports in the London Times about the grounding (Jun 30 1914) and the sinking (Feb 9 1917) but these are only available to libraries and similar organisations.

Hi Phil,

Got all these articles from NYPL, as well as anything else the London Times ever wrote on this ship.

-Daniel

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sotonmate

Daniel

I took a look in the Southampton Special Collections this morning,but only 40 minutes on the parking meter to search !

Stranding- 28 June 1914 off Tory Island (N Ireland) a couple of pages of detail on the Inquiry in a book entitled "Reports of Inquiries into Wrecks 1914-1920" which also included this and other non-wrecks !

Bad weather and poor visibility colluded to scrape her bottom.

From books on "Lloyd's War Losses 1914-1918" and "Wrecks of the British Isles (Ireland)" a bit of data on the 7.2.1917 sinking at 51.10.N/9.24.W (which put the event some 38 miles W by S of Fastnet Rock,Southern Ireland. Noted from the book on Wrecks that a file exists at the National Archives Kew under ADM137/2961 and that there is a reference to the event in Lloyds Confidential War Loss Record 1914-1918 (ISBN 1-85044-314-9) which I suspect is held in only a few places,one of which is not the Southampton Library as far as I could see. There would,I imagine,be a copy at the Guildhall Library, London,where they do these things well.

Sotonmate

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phil@basildon

I have just received a reply from the lady who has the Bell family tree on Ancestry, unfortunately she is not a relation of our Albert Edward. The names of her family do not match any of our Bells either.

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ph0ebus
Daniel

I took a look in the Southampton Special Collections this morning,but only 40 minutes on the parking meter to search !

Stranding- 28 June 1914 off Tory Island (N Ireland) a couple of pages of detail on the Inquiry in a book entitled "Reports of Inquiries into Wrecks 1914-1920" which also included this and other non-wrecks !

Bad weather and poor visibility colluded to scrape her bottom.

From books on "Lloyd's War Losses 1914-1918" and "Wrecks of the British Isles (Ireland)" a bit of data on the 7.2.1917 sinking at 51.10.N/9.24.W (which put the event some 38 miles W by S of Fastnet Rock,Southern Ireland. Noted from the book on Wrecks that a file exists at the National Archives Kew under ADM137/2961 and that there is a reference to the event in Lloyds Confidential War Loss Record 1914-1918 (ISBN 1-85044-314-9) which I suspect is held in only a few places,one of which is not the Southampton Library as far as I could see. There would,I imagine,be a copy at the Guildhall Library, London,where they do these things well.

Sotonmate

Hi Sotonmate,

Thanks for the leads...the books you mention I have not seen and will try and locate local copies to have a look at. The Kew stuff I have; it is the sinking statement and the report of the HMS Delphinium who responded immediately after the attack and chased U-85 off. If I have any trouble finding copies on this side of the ocean of the books you mention, I may be in touch... :)

UPDATE/Edit:

I gather "Lloyd's War Losses" "Lloyd's Confidential War Losses" are the same book. I found a copy at...you guessed it...NYPL Research Division. Hooray!

Re: "Reports of Inquiries into Wrecks 1914-1920" I found the following:

Southampton City Libraries Special Collections Library has the full set of Reports of Inquiries into Wrecks Etc. from 1876 onwards. They can supply photocopies to those who cannot visit in person.

Email local.studies@southampton.gov.uk

Website:

http://www.plimsoll.org/StartHere/Partners...ckReports.asp#1

They have a great waterline drawing of the California on there...I am going to give them a try.

Thanks,

-Daniel

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ph0ebus
I have just received a reply from the lady who has the Bell family tree on Ancestry, unfortunately she is not a relation of our Albert Edward. The names of her family do not match any of our Bells either.

Ah, well. C'est la vie. The quest continues.

-Daniel

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sotonmate

Daniel

The very books I looked in ! It only contained the stranding of the vessel on 28 Jun 1914. The books,over several volumes,are date-filed. I looked in the one with the date range 1914-1920 and there was only one reference in the Alpha index for the California,and this was the one I describe above.

It won't stop me looking elsewhere in the Special Collection though, I hope to visit again next week.

Sotonmate

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Robert Dale

There are two people on Genes Reunited who have an Albert Bell (b 1871 in Sheffield) in their trees - a Judith Carroll and a Peter Woodmore. Would they be worth a message?

Robert

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ph0ebus

Hi Robert,

Absolutely! If this is the same chap, they may be very interested in knowing their relation is a 'Hot Topic' on the GWF. :)

Sotonmate, thanks again for the references. I will try and swing by NYPL next week to have a look at Lloyd's and will see what my email to Southampton Libraries gets me (perhaps a scan or a copy of their California materials).

-Daniel

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phil@basildon

A bit more about the shell/shell cases. They were transported both full and empty to the UK, being quite safe without the detonators, which would be carried separately. Even if torpedoed they would be unlikely to explode but immersion in sea water can make certain types of explosive unstable so few if any attempts would be made of recovery. A good example is the WW2 Liberty ship the 'Richard Montgomery' that ran aground in the Thames Estuary in 1944 carrying bombs destined for the USAAF, about half the cargo was recovered before she began to break up, but what is left if it did explode would wipe the town of Sheerness of the map. Albert Bell was involved with the steel industry and would probably be inspecting the shell cases.

Explosives themselves were manufactured in the USA by firms such as Dupont principally gun cotton which was used as a propellant. Gun cotton became unstable when wet and would have been stowed in such a way on board ship that it could not become wet, and away from the sides of a ship in case of a torpedo attack.

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Greg

I have been following this with great interest and one aspect which has not yet been discussed is Bell's work in munitions.

A check of Minstry of Munitions files in the catalogue of the British National Archives shows some of relevance- it appears that US supplies were of great interest in 1915-1916.

The following references from the Ministry of Munitions might be of interest and I have not been through all the files listed;

MUN 5/122/900/19 Note on history and work of Inspection Department under Ministry of Munitions 1916 Aug. 31

MUN 5/360/1000/5 Correspondence and report by Sir Ernest Moir on his work at the Ministry of Munitions 1917 Feb.-1919 Mar. 24

MUN 5/137/1010/27 Minutes of meetings of representatives of French and British Ministries of Munitions on supply questions 1916 Sept.24-7

MUN 5/147/1122/73 Pamphlet. Regulations of the Ammunition Factories under the Ministry of Munitions, not including Royal Factories 1915 Nov.16

MUN 5/370/1141/1 Work of Ministry of Munitions in U.S.A. in 1916 1917 Feb.

MUN 5/173/1142/41 Pamphlet. Ministry of Munitions of War. Imperial Munitions Board (Canada) and Inspection Department (Canada). List of Staff and Distribution of Duties 1917 Apr. 1

MUN 5/174/1142/20 Cables from War Office and Ministry of Munitions to Canadian government 1915 Sept. 9-1916 Jan.

MUN 7/97 Arrangements between Mr. E. Moir, Ministry of Munitions representative in U.S.A., and J.P. Morgan and Co., commercial agents for British Government in U.S.A. 1916 Mar 7-9

Regards

Greg

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ph0ebus

Hi all,

Found a bit of a disconnect between CWGC's info on John Richard Bell and some information found in the Australian Imperial Force website. The state that John Richard Bell did not fight for the Durham Light Infantry, but rather for the AIF:

Regimental number 3315

Religion Church of England

Occupation Engineer

Address Redfern, Sydney, New South Wales

Marital status Single

Age at embarkation 23

Next of kin Father, Albert Bell, 220 City Road, Sheffield, England

Enlistment date 3 November 1916

Rank on enlistment Private

Unit name 1st Pioneer Battalion, 8th Reinforcement

AWM Embarkation Roll number 14/13/4

Embarkation details Unit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A72 Beltana on 25 November 1916

Rank from Nominal Roll Private

Unit from Nominal Roll 1st Australian Pioneers

Date of death 29 March 1918

Age at death from cemetery records 24

Place of burial La Clytte Military Cemetery (Plot IV, Row A, Grave No. 16), Reninghelst, Belgium

Panel number, Roll of Honour,

Australian War Memorial 171

Miscellaneous information from

cemetery records Parents: Albert Edward and Lillian BELL, 123 Shire Green Lane, Sheffield, England

Other details War service: Western Front

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal

You can read this here:

http://www.aif.adfa.edu.au:8080/showPerson?pid=19237

So, it would appear John has a known grave.

This info is mirrored on the web site for Crookes Cemetery in Sheffield, burial place for Lilian and location of a memorial stone for John:

BELL. In affectionate remembrance of Lilian Alberta May, the dearly beloved and only daughter of Albert Edward and Lilian Bell, who departed this life Septr 4th, 1911, aged 4 years and 8 months.

"A priceless jewel in God's eternal crown. Requiescat in Pace."

John Richard Bell, 1st Pioneer Batn, AIF, 2nd twin son of the above, killed in action France, March 29th 1918, aged 24 years and 8 months.

[John Richard Bell appears identical with Private, 3315, 1st Australian Pioneers, died Friday 29th March 1918, age 24. Son of Albert Edward & Lillian Bell, of 123 Shire Green Lane, Sheffield. Memorial IV.A.16, La Clytte Military Cemetery, Heuvelland, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.]

You can see that info, here:

http://www.chrishobbs.com/sheffield2/crook...terywardead.htm

So, does CWGC have it wrong?

-Daniel

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phil@basildon

Daniel, I had my doubts about the John Bell origionally quoted, I wondered if it was the same John Bell. I have found John Richard Bell on the CWGC under the Australian section.

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ph0ebus
Daniel, I had my doubts about the John Bell origionally quoted, I wondered if it was the same John Bell. I have found John Richard Bell on the CWGC under the Australian section.

Hi Phil,

Luckily the wrong John Bell did not lead me too far astray. How odd that two men with the same name and who were the same age died on the same day in the same country, fighting on two different forces, yet were both Englishmen? For the sake of convenience, you can see his listing on CWGC here:

http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_detail...casualty=438160

Now it is becoming apparent there is a strong Australian connection for this family...one other Bell ended up dying late in life in Sydney. Any thoughts as to why John would have opted to join the AIF and not one of this home regiments in England?

Martin, thanks for the lead on the service record. Now I have something to read on my commute in. :)

-Daniel

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phil@basildon

I remember seeing on another thread recently that Canadians were British citizens until 1947 so the same probably applied to Australians. John Bell would have signed up at his 'local' recruiting office.

It would be interesting to find out whether he emigrated on his own or with other members of his family. Martin do you have access to the relevent information?

I notice that his parents address in Sheffield changed between the date he 'signed up' and the date of his death. The surname 'Bell' is quite common particularily in Sheffield so it is not surprising that we have been led astray.

On the subject of shells, from the book I am reading on the Lusitania it is clear that explosives were not carried on passenger vessels but empty shell cases were. The Lusitania was carrying 3.3 inch shrapnel shells when she was sunk but it was proved beyond doubt that they were not filled with explosives. It was against both British and US regulations to carry explosives on passenger vessels.

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ph0ebus

Hi all,

Read John's file, and it was a sad read indeed. I was not sure how to interpret his how his injuries were described, though. It reads 'SW abdomen (penet) knee & head' or 'shell wounds abdomen penetrating knee and head' depending on what part of the file you look at. I read this as John received fatal shrapnel wounds from a shell burst that penetrated his abdomen, knee and head.

There is a note that raised a question for me; it appears he had 14 days of military service prior to attesting for the AIF (page 1, line 11 - it says he was with the C M 4 or 7...do folks know what that means?

The file also contained a card upon with Albert signed for his son's personal possessions after his death; the signature is a spot-on match to the postcard I have, complete with the periods after each word and each part of the date (page 12 of the file). Sadly, other than the change in address Phil mentioned, there is no more new information about Albert to be gleaned from the file.

Phil, re: shells they recently found live munitions on the Lusitania's wreck...see:

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/irelan...2724598718.html

-Daniel

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phil@basildon

The Lusitania was carrying munitions, but nothing that contributed to the sinking. The ammunition carried was rifle ammunition which was not able to cause any seriouse damage if it exploded. The shells carried did not have any explosive charge this was proved in Justice Mayers enquiry. The explosive charge that would be in the shells weighed about 4lb per shell, the difference in weight over several thousand shells confirmed that they had not been filled. The second explosion after the torpedo hit was due to coal dust in the bunkers, this was confirmed by Bob Ballard when he dove on the wreck.

I also read John's file, I wonder if his diary survives. The gravestone information is incomplete, it makes no mention of Albert jnr. who was John's twin it would be an idea to find out what else there is.

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