|...and this is HOW...
...I came to compile this website, and how I came across much of the material contained herein.
|A few years ago, my son Roger, who is a
talented writer and photographer mentioned that he'd like to collaborate
with me on a book dedicated to his grandfather and RMS Rangitiki.
I was somewhat taken aback as Roger could only have somewhat dim and vague
memories of his grandad as he was only seven years old when Mick Overall
died. But on reflection it makes perfect sense - I was in possession
of a few things (birth, death and marriage certificates, a few photographs
and the medals shown on another page) that I had taken into my care when
my mother, Grace Overall, died in 1986.
Once in a while, Roger and I looked at these few things when he was visiting and mused as to the kind of man Mick Overall had been.
Then Roger started his own business, which I shall shamelessly promote elsewhere within these pages, got married and moved to Ireland with his bride, Anne O'Leary (below), and in February 2005 presented me with my second grandaughter. So, putting the book idea to one side for the time being, I decided that a wider audience could probably be reached in a far more immediate fashion with a website dedicated to the same principal characters as the book idea. Well, that's not strictly true - I first decided that I needed to find out more about both the ship and the man before I could do anything, so I started a collection of whatever I could find about both. Thank heavens for the internet...
eBay was my first stop and, surprisingly, I found some items for sale from the souvenir shop aboard the Rangitiki. I also lucked onto a New Zealand auction site where I found the 1929 colour picture of the ship. A Google search of the Internet threw out a couple of the most invaluable sites for finding out more about the ship and Mick Overall. These websites were www.merchant-navy.net and The History of New Zealand Shipping section of Australiatrade.com.au where the link to its "History of New Zealand Shipping" revealed yet more good stuff. Both places have message board/forum sections where I was able to post my message describing my mission, and from which a surprisingly significant number of good people with connections to, and stories of, either the Rangitiki, Mick Overall or both. A visit to the Links page on this website will show a number of other sites that have provided great information.
One such person was Stan Dingwall, a twenty-something waiter (or, more accurately 'winger') of the First Class Dining Room in the late fifties and early sixties, contacted me to volunteer information and pictures. Although he could not recollect my father, he could remember a lot about the organisation of the dining room, the interaction of passengers and crew - a lot of it frowned upon, I'm sure - and some of the more colourful characters. More importantly, Stan gave me the address, email address, telephone number and procedure for contacting the wonderful folk at the Maritime History Archive (MHA) at the Newfoundland Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland. The
Archive holds about 70% of the old (British) Merchant Navy records, with the Public Recor Office (PRO) (now The National Archives) in Kew, Surrey holding much of the remainder, including the Second World War years, with the National Maritime Museum (NMM) in Greenwich east of London holding about ten percent of the surviving records. From the MHA, Newfoundland I was able to obtain a copy of the complete Crew List and Ship's Official Log Book for her final voyage (No.87 to/from New Zealand 1962). The Crew List has given me my Dad's Discharge Book number, this information apparently being the key to further records at PRO, Kew. Upon acquiring any further information there, I shall expand this section and all other relevant sections on this website.
In the meantime, I have obtained the Auckland Harbour Daily Logs from the New Zealand Maritime Museum in Auckland, NZ and now am in possession of the Wellington equivalents, obtained from the Museum of Wellington - City and Sea. Passenger Lists, advertising material and other ephemera (usually obtained from on-line auctions and dealers) also provide much useful data. If I could find copies of the London, Tilbury, Southampton, Panama, Curacao, Liverpool, Miami, New York, Sydney, etc., etc. records for the years 1929 ~ 1962, I'd probably have a complete record of all the Rangitiki's voyages. A reference to the Story of Ernie Pyle by Lee G. Miller on the website of Florida's St. Pertersburg Times led me on a search for the book, eventually purchased through eBay. Sure enough, there are three references to the 'Tiki in the book I allude to elsewhere in these pages. Other specialised books such as Ordeal by Sea, Crossed Flags, Ships in Focus - the New Zealand and Federal Lines, and others, have yielded much information and technical data.
Whilst hunting for information on the Doxford Engines I stumbled across the site that holds the 1962 Engineering and Deck Officer Training Manual (see Links page). The on-line copy of issue No.1 of Maritime News came about the same way when seeking Sulzer engine data. The 'Egg Book' that my old friend, Robert Collins, sent to me revealed the name of the hotel (Bar au Lac) that Dad took supplementary training at in Switzerland; and a Shooting Sportsman on-line forum friend, Erik Koik, pointed out that it is in fact the Hotel Baur au Lac and is one of his favourite places in the world.
Another special mention should be made of Brian Probetts and Jeffrey Shaw, two fine webmasters and great supporters of mine, and also George Brigenshaw whom I met on a couple of occasions in (I think) 1961 or 1962, and who introduced me to the joys of The Prospect of Whitby on Wapping Steps when it was a fun place to be.
My mission appears to have taken on a life of its own, and I am glad. I have found my father and can at last properly grieve his passing. More importantly, I can now celebrate his life and share some of the previously unknown and vaguely suspected aspects of of his personality. Best of all, I have discovered that I truly like him, and am proud to call him Dad, and me his son.