Mick Overall ~
His Final Voyage and Retirement

Company policy dictated that he should retire at his 60th birthday or as soon as possible thereafter.  He turned sixty on 7 July 1968 aboard RMS Ruahine, itself making her last trip in the colours of the NZSCo/Federal Steamship Navigation Co. She was sold from fleet to the C.Y. Tung Group and was given the new name Oriental Rio.  She too was later broken up for scrap.



To celebrate the occasion of Mick's retirement, his friends in Auckland arranged a retirement dinner party in his honour. His final trip from New Zealand was to be the Ruahine's last trip in NZSCo/Federal colours, lending a special air of poignancy to the whole business.  Some of the people who signed the card were people I knew in England growing up - indeed two friends of mine and their wives were at the party, only three signing.  Many of the other names were very familiar to me,  my having heard mention of them many times during conversations between my parents when Dad was  at home, and I always thought that one day I, too, would travel to New Zealand and meet them all.

Alas, it was not to be, and now many of these folk have also passed on.

Legend has it that at a separate function, the NZ Customs Service and local Police held a different kind of celebration in Dad's honour, liberally lubricated with quantities of certain confiscated adult beverages.



I had never considered Dad a religious man - the only times I can ever recollect his being in the presence of a minister of the church were at my first  wedding in Holland and at his own funeral service in Worthing, Sussex and, of course his own wedding in 1932.  I had for years known that he was a Freemason ~ his Lodge being No. 410 Grove Lodge in (I believe) Sutton, Surrey. We boys had seen apron  tucked  away in a drawer and had questioned Mum about it.  She said he belonged  to this somewhat secretive association, that dad wasn't allowed to talk  about it, but it's members tended to look after each other in difficult circumstances.  Later ~ in my early teens ~ I learned about secret  handshakes and strange  initiation rituals, and bizarre ceremonies ~ all from so-called knowledgeable friends.  Years later I learned much more  about the  Freemasons movement from Masons in the U.S. who tend to be more liberal than those in Britain. To maintain the other participants' anonymity, I have painted over their  names, leaving their Lodges identified; I hope I have not incurred the  wrath of this "secretive association." nn

And, no ~ Dad never discuss this with me, nor did he ever invite me to become a member.

June 1968

Photograph taken by Dr. John Happs,
a passenger.
(I have added a lot of light to this image in order to bring out some more of the detail against the strongly sunlit background.  I had
 hoped to be able to see if  'King Neptune' could be identified, but
alas, the shadow is just too dark.)


Notes from the correspondence with Dr. Happs:

08MAR04 - "Although I cannot place him (Mick Overall) after all this time, it is almost certain that I would have met him on that voyage since the Ruahine was a small passenger-cargo ship, and consequently it was relatively easy to meet with the crew.  I remember one evening quite clearly, when the Head Chef had a birthday and all the cooks made a fantastic array of pastries and cakes.  These were displayed on deck prior to [our] eating them and we chatted with all the people from the kitchen.  No doubt Mick was one among the group.  We often had meals served on deck and the chefs were always around then."

09MAR04 - "I think you are correct about the display and party on deck being for your Dad - but there is more.  I found some slides and one of them is of the "Crossing of the Line Ceremony."  I am sure that one of the ship's cooks (Chefs) acted as King Neptune and without knowing for sure, this picture (above) could feature your Dad as King Neptune.

"Captain Hollingdale (in white) has his back to the camera.  He was scheduled to retire after the voyage.

"I believe the lady with grey hair (partially visible behind the captain) is the Chief Stewardess, Mrs. Jacques, and the guy with the gown and mortar board is the ship's Purser." 

Blowing up the image of King Neptune, I have been able to determine that the good monarch of the sea is wearing the same kind of semi-rimless spectacles that Dad wore.  But his sticky-out left ear is definitely not dad's natural ear.  Another riddle to be solved (Probably now solved ~ see below).

A note from Tony Taylor (Deck Boy 1966): 

I don't think your father is the King Neptune in the photo.  The Bosun's Mate, Ken ?????, usually had that role. 

(Photograph courtesy of Dr. John Happs)

(Photograph courtesy of Dr. John Happs)

Ashtead, Surrey 1968

Mum and Dad visiting the new grandson,
Roger Philip Overall, at our modest home
in Ashtead, Surrey.  Roger's sister Imogen was
 still over a year away.

The leg on the left is mine, and the cat was Jennie,
a good cat but not a great cat.

   A Puzzle ~ but not quite what it was (see Update Notes below)

I cannot for the life of me remember what the event was, but clearly this this photograph shows a gathering of old comrades from the New Zealand Shipping Company.  Perhaps all ten of these gentlemen were at some time engaged upon the Rangitiki.
Dad is third from left, and is plainly comfortable with the gentlemen either side of him ~ note the linked arms and hand on shoulder. 

For a while I thought this may have been taken on the Ruahine, sometime after his final trip ~ a retirement celebration, but I have been advised that the colour of the lifeboat precludes  that theory (see below).  Also, Dad looks to be in about his 65th. year in this picture, which would place this at about 1973, or possibly 1974 after his first heart attack in May of that year.

I was tickled pink to see Mick Overall's photo.  I saw Mick every day around 10 a.m. when I came up from E Deck to get the menus for the day including next day's breakfast.  He was a good chap to work with and (he) ran a tight no-nonsense galley.  On the group photo, I at first only recognised Mick but then I realised the tall guy, 3rd, from right, was the Bosun all during my time.  Name alas forgotten, but he was a character.    
David Webber
Ship's Printer            


The gentleman third from right has been identified as Ron Smith, a seaman for fifty years, and Bosun of the Rangitiki for ten of those years, and the Ruahine for six.  He was also a survivor of the sinking of the Rangitane and subsequent internment by the Germans.
The cutting to be found by clicking on Ron Smith's name above was sent to me by Mr. Ray Jones, quartermaster on the
Ruahine's last trip in Federal/NZSCo colours, and Dad's last voyage ever. 
Mr. Jones was one of two correspondents
(now three) who identified Mr. Smith.  Thank you, gentlemen.

Since writing the above notes Ray Jones has supplied me with the following hypothesis regarding the ship's identity:

"The picture taken is obviously a reunion of a group of NZSCo. Pensioners probably from Rangitiki taken in 1969 or early Seventies.
"The ship is one of the company’s cargo ships (it would hardly have held a reunion aboard a ship of another Company).
"The only ships with red-painted lifeboats in the NZSCo. fleet were three T Class ships,  Taupo built 1966, Tekoa built 1966 and Tongariro built 1967, and two M Class ships, both built in 1968, Manapouri and Mataura.
"Looking at pictures of both classes I have ruled out the T Class ships because of the position of the lifeboats with reference to the accommodation block; therefore I suggest that the picture was taken aboard either
Manapouri or Mataura. "

4 October 2005 ~ Early in August I received an email message from Ken Larsen who was with the NZSCo. from 1949 to 1975, both at sea and in the Catering Department Personnel Office at the Albert Dock.  Mr. Larsen made two trips with the Rangitiki in 1949/50.  Regarding the photograph above, Mr. Larsen writes that the above group were at a luncheon given by the Company on a Cargo ship in Albert Dock.  Alas, the year escapes memory.
However, Mr. Larsen is able to identify a number of the gathered old hands as follows
(From Left): 1. Charley Hickey (Donkeyman) 2. ??  3. Mick Overall  4.  ??  5. 'Chippy' Newlyn (Carpenter)  6. Alfred Cain (Engine Room)  7.  ??  8. Ron Smith (Bosun)  9. Roddy McKinnon (Bosun)  10. Bill Waters (Bosun)
Leaving just three to be named.  The term "Cargo ship"  goes some way to verifying Ray Jones' speculation as to which ship hosted this gathering.

If you can place the event, the ship, the year and/or any of the other men in this group,
please email me at