Looking for information on a photo

Discussion in 'History' started by frayedknotarts, Apr 11, 2008.

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  1. Hello, all, from Septicland.

    I'm here to help the son of one of your older shipmates from WW-II who is looking for items relating to his Father's service in the RN.

    His name was Ronald Wellings, a Sailmaker's Mate sunk on HMS Prince of Wales and rescued, then subsequently at Boom Defense, Durban SA aboard HMS Barbourne, which is approximately when this picture was taken (1943):


    Ronald is the young lad to the left of the screen.

    His son, Timothy, wrote to me having seen a picture of the RN Sailmaker's badge on my site enquiring if I had one available. Unfortunately, my picture came from a surfing expedition but I thought that someone here might be able to help him out.

    He's making a "memory cabinet" for his Father's service time so that future members of the family will have something concrete to refer to and so that the memory of his Da's service will not die, rather a worthy enterprise in my book.

    If someone can:
    (a) identify Ronald's mate,

    (b) perhaps give some information on the rather splendid-looking chappie in the headdress (I understand he was a bit of a 'local character' during that time in Durban) or,

    (c) be able to supply Tim with a Sailmaker's Badge (enlisted or Officer's), please write to me and I'll put you in touch with him.

    I figured that if anywhere on the net, here would be the place to post/ask and get a reasonable response.

    Fair Winds to all and thanks for reading.
  2. The African is a ZULU rickshaw puller.

  3. Seaweed

    Seaweed War Hero Book Reviewer

    The last sailmaker I encountered was on board HMS Tiger in 1960. I think entry to the branch had long since stopped. Sailmakers were 'artisans' (along with blacksmiths and some other trades), i.e. somehere between ordinary sailors and artificers, and had a pretty good billet as there was money to be made on the side, everything from running up fancy dress to full blown tailoring depending on skill. In Tiger the sailmaker figured along with the Chief Boatswain's Mate as fixers for the First Lieutenant in his capacity of Mate of the Upper Deck. Sails' main official work was with the heavy grey PVC boat covers and steadily yellowing 'white' PVC covers for the liferafts - canvas by then was on its way out except for the sails for the dinghies and '3-in-1' whalers, which last were seldom sailed after the Cdr(E) discovered that if heeled when sailed hard salt water flooded into the engines.

    As to individuals, first call for NoK is to the UK MoD Vets' Agency website which explains how to send for a person's papers. NB cheque is cashed immediately, results can easily take a year or more to appear.
  4. Thanks, Sulzer and Seaweed! Was that a "standard" costume for the rickshaw-men?

    I can imagine there was PLENTY of work for a sailmaker aboard a major battleship.... tons and tons of awnings to be made and maintained, at the very least.

  5. If you are still looking for the badges of the Sailmaker:


    I occasionally visit many markets that sell bric-a-brac, and usually find old badges through the years of the Royal Navy. If I find one I am more than happy to purchase (pennies only) and send on. I will keep you informed.

    Regards, Chris


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