The man in the boat, 1922 Oct 6, Hull Daily Mail

Walter Ford - The man in the boat - 1922SIR,—Having spent a weekend in Belgium, I have just arrived home. I went out in the N.E.R. Wilson liner s.s. Hull, Capt. Ford, who is one of our most experienced continental traders, and a navigator you feel safe to take a sea trip with. During our passage back to Hull, Captain W. Ford told me that he and all his crew were made prisoners of war along with the ship, and he and the crew spent four years at Rhuleban camp, which turned out to be a hell hole. Their sufferings were fearful, but there is no occasion for me to enumerate in detail, for we all know too well.

Antwerp, with its large docks and about six miles of river-side quay, seemed to me from keen observation to be in a busy state of activity, both on the river and in the docks, and with about the same population as our own city. I was surprised to find no street corner men and unemployed hanging about, but was informed that there a lot of men are out of work for all that, but people seemed to be pushing ahead, while we seem to be going astern. It is quite obvious there is a reason—England will have to wake up.

To my mind the British public do not reflect upon their indebtedness, to the “man in the boat” for the thousand and one commodities placed upon the common tables in our home, which they would not get were it not for our merchant seamen. I mean there is no reciprocity. They don’t get anything in return for the many sacrifices they make. I venture to say that there ought to be reciprocation in some tangible way by our Government, and I would suggest the following, viz:—

There ought to be formed a British Merchant Seamen’s National Pension Association so that British Seamen of all ranks have one (“why not.”) I would like to ask all the voices of Hull, in their various divisions, to ask each of our Members of Parliament to take this most deserving matter up as soon as possible before another General Election takes place, and I would urge the wives of our seamen to attend the meetings when our M.P’s are addressing their constituents in their divisions, and to place before them what I have suggested, and not only to place it before them but to see to it that they are not going to let the matter drop or rest until it becomes an accomplished fact.

Trusting someone interested in the “man in the boat” will do his or their best to get them a Government Service Pension, according to age, rank and sea service.—I am, Sir, etc.,


Hull, 5th October, 1922



Leave a Reply