Mick Overall ~
His Life at Sea and Ashore
(Mostly ashore)

The following images and anecdotes perhaps sum up my Dad far better than I possibly could.  All the following items help me and others to know Mick Overall, and perhaps help others, anxiously looking for their fathers who went to sea, to understand the kind of lives these men led

*According to the Maori Club journal's entry (see below) Mick Overall joined P&O in 1927.
*This puzzles me as that year he would only have been 19 years old.  Prior to this he was at the Westminster School of Cookery, followed by a stint at the world-renowned Savoy Hotel on The Strand, and at Kettner's, in London.  Say two years  at each establishment, then he would have left school at fifteen years of age, perhaps fourteen.  At present I have no knowledge of his early years, so cannot  confirm this sequence of events. 
*What mostly puzzles me though, is what did he do when employed by P&O?  Did he go to sea?  Did he receive some kind of supplementary training ashore?  If so, where?  And in what capacity?
*Kettner's remained one of Mum and Dad's favourite restaurants in London, and I can remember at least two occasions dining there with either one or both of my parents.
*Yet another facet of this colourful man's life to research.


On the lighter side

This is an undated photograph among the few things left behind in Mum's old memory box. 

Mick Overall on the left, but who are those other  two gentlemen? 

One wonders if this picture is as late as 1939 when Mick became Head Chef.  I think the hat says it is.


circa 1949

Mum caught in a shot by Dad on the footpath across Bradley's Farm, Dorking on a rather blustery day.  The dog is their beloved Stafforshire bull terrier, Brindyne Bill who was as gentle a dog as any I've ever experienced, although he might run right through you when in playful mood.

The footpath is now gone ~ indeed Bradley's Farm is gone, having been replaced by, of all things, a vineyard and winery.  Strange, but it sure beats a retail complex or "fashionable" residences.


Mick with Mr. W.A.E.  Clode, Head Baker

The clipping to the right is presumably from a Wellington, New Zealand newspaper from about 1950.  The clipping is another emailed to me by J.T. Beardow from Ontario, Canada, and I am indebted to her for her generosity in encouraging me to share these old news items with any and all who are interested.

To view a legible version, please click on the image to the right.



One of Mick's creations

He loved roses and developed a hobby making all sorts of rose blooms ~ floribunda, hybrid-T's ~ in all
colors,  singly or in bouquets or other arrangements. The blooms, leaves and, if I remember correctly,
 the stems on certain decorations, were all made with sugar and food colourings. These would find their
way onto birthday cakes, in vases and bowls, on trays and in many other suitable settings.
                               Photograph courtesy of Ms. Ann Withers, Ship's Nurse

A Special Dinner Party

Well, now ~ 1957 presents something of a puzzle as the harbour logs for both Auckland and Wellington have no record of the Rangitiki either entering or leaving either port during the entire year.  I suspect that this was partially due to another refit.  However, Viscount Cobham, the penultimate British Governor General of New Zealand is known to have travelled there with his family on the Rangitiki early that year.  The photograph (below left), taken by David Webber (Ship's Printer at the time) shows Viscount Cobham (later Lord Lyttleton) and his Viscountess in the company of Captain Lettington.

The menu (centre and right below) has been in the family's possession ever since Dad returned from this trip, and I have since learned that his lordship, wishing to hold a special dinner party at Government House and not too convinced as to the resident kitchen staff, "borrowed" Dad for the event.  Her ladyship, having enjoyed the "repast" so much, was moved to give her compliments to the Chef in writing. 

As Wednesday, 8th April didn't occur until 1959, I suppose that the party took place in that year.

Bournemouth, Hampshire
On Holiday, 1957

This must have been the year of the motorcycle
accident.  A friend had left his 'bike at the house
in Epsom for the weekend with dire warnings not
to attempt to ride it.  Yeah, like a sixteen year old
is going to let the 'bike sit there, unridden, for 48
hours whilst parents are a hundred miles away
supping their evening wine.
I wrecked the 'bike right outside the neighbour's
house.  Confession was not good for this soul on
that occasion.



On 7 June 1958, a letter, marked "Prime Minister" and "Private and Confidential" was received at the Overall household, then in Epsom, Surrey.

Mick was at sea, so Mum opened it to reveal that Dad was to be awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM), and this would be announced in the forthcoming (1959) New Years Honours List.

The medal was eventually presented to Dad by Willy How of the New Zealand Shipping Co. and the story (below) which was accompanied by the photograph (left) was carried in a later edition of the Maori Club journal.

Neither Mum nor Dad knew for sure that son No.2 had
given himself a preview of the news by steaming the  envelope open, although the ever-astute Mum did guess the truth.



Mick's Medals  

The Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal
Although there is an undated letter from
Buckingham Palace in my possession, I cannot
recollect Dad ever mentioning this award to me.
It was just among his things I retrieved after Mum died.

The British Empire Medal.
As far as I know, Dad never had occasion to wear these medals.  He seemed quite bemused that they were awarded to him in the first place.


At work

This photograph was taken in his office on board the Rangitiki at Wellington, New Zealand just prior to her final sailing from New Zealand. One of his many duties was to prepare the next day's menus by 10:00 o'-clock in the morning ready for the Ship's Printer to pick up.  It is easy enough to imagine his being caught in such a task by the photographer.


Two Girls and a Guy

I suspect the girls on the left are the same young ladies as on the right, with (presumably) their dad, but a little more grown up.  Neither the event, nor the girls nor the other fellow ring any bells in my memory.  As the photos were among Mum's possession, she probably knew who, when and why.
Should the viewer recognise anyone, please eMail me at