Brian W Hollman
In March 2016 Brian wrote to Roy Vaughan to exchange notes about the various Masters and Mates that they had sailed with during their times with Clan Line.
Brian now lives in Sunningdale, South Africa
The following is extracted from that letter:
I was looking through my Discharge Book to see how my list of Masters compared with yours.
Like you, some of the signatures are unreadable. Here’s the list and I’ve added the Mates where I can remember them.
Clan MacLennan - 1 voyage as Junior Cadet and then 2 voyages as senior cadet. The master Was Capt T A Watkinson and the Mate was Norman Stewart (from the Isle of Arran). Capt Watkinson was replaced by Capt J J Miller.
Clan Sutherland - Senior Cadet. The Master was Capt H J Anchor (Commodore RNR plus Blue Ensign). The Mate was Lawrence Gibbins (keen on cricket) the sea beds around Africa must be littered with rope yarn cricket balls which we seemed to spend all our time making.
Clan MacAulay - 4th Officer. The Master was Capt A J Starkey (ex Hain SS Co)
Clan Alpine - 3rd Officer. The Master was Capt T O Marr RNR. He had served out of Liverpool with Capt. Walker’s famous anti-submarine patrols. His nerves had gone and I’m afraid they were replaced by alcohol. Cannot remember the Mate’s name but the second mate (Rodney Kenyon) called him a “supercilious southern bastard”. Very appropriate and stuck in my mind! Tommy Marr was absent from Suez to Colombo. No sign of him, so the Mate had to take the Alpine in and out of Aden. In Colombo was a RN (Town Class) cruiser which Tommy visited in full uniform plus sword. Then it was a few more days before we saw him again. A sad case really.
Clan Davidson - 3rd Officer. Capt T A Watkinson (again). By this time he also liked his drinks. The Mate committed suicide after ship’s arrival in Tilbury as wife had discovered he had a girl friend in Calcutta. Very sad.
Clan Urquhart - 3rd Officer. Capt C M Powell (maybe Hain SS Co). The Mate was Jones, Welsh and liked his bottle. Short & stout!
Clan Kenneth - 3rd then 2nd Officer. Capt Pogson. Mate Jim Raich. I think Poggy was worried at first as both the Mate and I were first voyagers in our new ranks! He could never understand why the Mate and I would always be drinking cocoa in the Red Sea. He was also short and stout and had a broad Yorkshire accent. Gave me a fare few tips about navigation.
Clan Buchanan - 2nd Officer. Capt Paddy Booth. A staunch Protestant Ulsterman. People would commiserate with us for having to sail with him, but I always got on very well with him. I was married in East London on my last voyage. On arrival I was called to his cabin where there was the Port Captain (ex Clan Line) and the agent. Paddy explained the circumstances and asked them to ensure that we had two nights in port. Result was that we only worked one hatch at a time! Imagine that sort of thing happening these days.
On arrival home I sat my Master’s ticket. After that I only relieved as 2nd Officer before coming ashore so didn’t really get to know any of the Masters.
King Edgar - Liverpool dockers asked me if she had been laid up as she was so filthy. I think she was in King Line colours. Story going around was that in the last trip in South America she had rammed a jetty when the engines were put ahead instead of astern as the telegraph indicated.
Clan MacAulay - Capt Banks
Clan Chattan - Capt Watkinson (yet again)
By this time I had had enough of the Tilbury, Northern Europe, Glasgow and Birkenhead run in winter - looking for unlit buoys as we followed the mine-free channels round the North Sea. Lucky when there wasn’t fog. Anyway after the Chattan I left Clan Line to go and study for Extra Master. Although I enjoyed the studying unfortunately the money ran out and there was now an extra member of the family to look after, which was why I eventually ended up being a computer programmer with Littlewoods.
I had a letter a couple of weeks back from Robert Fullarton. He was about four or five years senior to me and no doubt you have seen his articles in Sea Breezes. Talking about Capt Gibbins, he said that he had been Chief Officer to Gibbins on Clan Finlay and had to take over command at the Liverpool Bar and had taken the ship all the way to KGV in Glasgow as Gibbins had been so drunk. He heard later that that he had been retired “due to ill health” after coasting another ship from Belfast to Glasgow and had been reported by the Belfast pilot. Another very sad story and we must be generous and put it down to the War catching up with him. Maybe his nerves just gave in with the extra responsibility.