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|John Donald "Don" Albitis
I received an e-mail from a "Sheila" in the Land of Oz (27/11/03) wondering if anyone remembers her family roots, her father Don in particular.
"My Dad is a former Slaggy Islander. He is John Donald Albitis (always known as Don) and he was born at 19 Upper Millbank Street in 1925. He enlisted in 1943/44 (I think), emigrated to Australia in 1947 (I think) and has been here ever since. We live in far northern New South Wales.
His brother Kenneth still lives in Bradford and we keep in touch. My Dad married my Mum, Gwendoline, here in Australia. I am the eldest of two children, born 1950; and my younger sister, Kathleen, born 1952.
Some time ago I managed to find the Teeside site for the marvellous book "Remember When". I purchased a copy of Volumes 2 and 3 (1 is out of print) and he so thoroughly enjoyed them, that recently I purchased Volume 4. He remembers his childhood very well and loves to talk about the places and people he remembers.
Imagine my surprise and delight when, just yesterday, I found "Marlene's Travels" as a part of your Slaggy Island site. I showed it to my Dad this afternoon and he was so thrilled by all of it.
He remembers Upper Millbank Street, most of South Bank, Eston Nab, Roseberry Topping, Napier Street and the Taylor bicycle shop - amongst other things.
He went to St. Peters School and remembers the headmaster of the time, a Mr. A.M. Skillen (not too kindly, I might add). He also remembers his play pals Stanley Moy, 'Digger' Miller, Norm Paterson, and a Watson boy who was killed during WW2. My Dad also used to play with a boy who came from the Rueben Tranter household.
I was hoping, given that the Tranter name comes up on Marlene's Travels, with photos (which my Dad could not identify) that someone may have information on the names I have just given so that my Dad can find out what happened to his old mates; are any of them still alive? Have they had children? I noticed that a Tranter boy has moved to Australia, and wondered if it is possible to contact him. Can help me in locating some of Dad's old chums in the Slaggy Isles.
With many thanks for your wonderful site and many thanks for any information you may be able to provide.
Louise Albitis from across the seas in Australia."
Can anyone help Louise?
Another e-mail from Louise (30/11/03)...
"A little more info from Aus.
Previously, I told you I had purchased Vos 2, 3 and 4 of "Remember When."
Well, in Vol 2, page 27, there is the following quote -
"One-legged Reuben Tranter worked as a cobbler in South Bank for most of the year, but put his disability to good use in the summer months when he was regularly called upon to play the role of Long John Silver in Scarborough."
This is the household mentioned in my first email. The one where a little boy used to play with my Dad. These Tranters lived in Upper Millbank Street at the time, around 1934/35, very near where my Dad and his family were at number 19. I wonder if someone over there could let me know if the 4 Tranter boys from Slaggy are related to this Tranter and if so, then Oz
George Tranter would also be related. It might be nice if we could have his address here in Australia and maybe catch up by phone or email about what he remembers as a child. His memories would be quite different to my Dads, but might explain some of the multitude of changes that have happened to South Bank over the last 55 years. Family knowledge is a great thing.
My Dad really wants to know what has happened to Upper Millbank Street itself as, in checking maps on the Internet, it no longer appears to be there and his memories of the place are quite clear.
Dad has just given me another small snippet of info:
He walked the Black Path from South Bank to Redcar and back when he was a 10 year old (about
1935). At around the same time he was fined 4 shillings for stealing a turnip from a farmer even though he did not steal it. It seems that he
and his playmates came across the turnip patch, they jumped the fence and took some turnips, jumped back over the fence and gave one to my Dad. At which point the farmer came racing out and grabbed one of the boys who 'dobbed in' the others. Dad says he was only guilty of being hungry and receiving a small turnip from a playmate.
I will send you 2 photos of my Dad; one as people may remember him around 1945 and the other much more recently.
It didn't take Michael McLoughlin long to write in and I forwarded his comments:
"I went to school in the 1930's to early 1940's with a Gerald Albitis who lived at that time in Lower Branch Street South Bank. Gerald would be about my age group. Must say - I cannot remember off the cuff any other family by the name of Albitis. Perhaps you would be good enough to relay this message to Louise?
The Samtampa aground off Sker Point, South Wales
More from Louise Albitis:
"Dad just reminded me of some info I have that many of the Slaggy Isle people may remember.
One of my Dad's Aunties married a Daritis and had several children, among whom was Stanley. He died on 23 April 1947, when he was 17 and in the
Merchant Navy. He joined the ship "Samtampa" at Middlesbrough and was setting sail for Liverpool and then America. There were terrible storms
that night and the whole crew perished that evening off the coast of Portcawl, South Wales. Not only did all the crew perish, (most of them from North East England) but the whole crew of the "Mumbles" Lifeboat died trying to rescue them. My Grand Uncle Stanley is one of 12 crew who are buried at the cemetery there. His Grand Niece is my cousin and we are in regular contact. She works for the newspaper that produces the "Remember When" books and she was the one who unveiled the new anchor last year.
I contacted Ron Mapplebeck from Tees Ships and he sent the following reply mentioning four Websites:
"A well known one - mainly for the sad circumstances of her loss. Lot of Teesside crew lost. One of our Ship Society members, sadly now deceased, campaigned for years to get appropriate memorials erected, etc.
Details of ship, etc., at:
http://www.porttalbot-coastguard.co.uk/KENFIG.html (towards bottom of page also newspaper at top of page)
http://www.theft-alerts.com/theftalerts.html?x=%7C43%7C%7C48%7C (stolen memorial!!)
http://archiver.rootsweb.com/th/read/UK-NORTHEAST/2002-01/1011740291 (list extracted from Gazette with names, ages, addresses, of crew)
I thought that somewhere on the 'net there would be a decent photo, but
have not found one! Sorry."
The following is taken from the first site that Ron mentions
1947 THE SAMTAMPA AND THE MUMBLES LIFEBOAT THE EDWARD PRINCE OF WALES.
On April 23rd 1947, the Samtampa, a wartime liberty ship built in the United States was bound for Newport from Middlesborough. In a strong westerly gale she dropped anchors in Swansea Bay, but both cables parted. The weather had by then deteriorated into a hurricane.Oil was found on the windows of homes as far away as Cefn Cribwr Within twenty minutes the Samtampa was aground on the rocky ledges off Sker Point. She radioed that she was breaking up, pounded mercilessly by the waves. All efforts to reach her by rocket apparatus failed, and she was soon a total wreck.
The Mumbles lifeboat Edward Prince of Wales was launched and the crew drove on into the darkness of the bay.She had to return for more information as to the postion of the Samtampa as there was no radioman on board, she then set back out this was the last time they were seen alive.
The following morning the Samtampa had broken into several pieces, and the lifeboat was found, bottom up, on the rocks not far away. The steamer had a crew of 39, the lifeboat eight, all were lost.
Between 1924 - 1947 the lifeboat had saved 129 lives
Samtampa Memorial Theft
Stolen Memorial - How low can you get?
Description: Carved white marble or stone ANCHOR, entwined with rope, approx 39ins long. (Memorial to seamen lost when the Middlesborough ship Samtampa foundered on Sker Point, Porthcawl in 1947. SN209)
Stolen from Porthcawl, South Wales on November 2000
Crime Ref no: FA0010109
Please contact: South Wales Police. Tel 01656 655555
SalvoWEB reg date: 23/11/2000
ID no: ta2091
Status: Cemetery theft alert
Samtampa Crew Members
Taken from the fourth website:
Subject: [UK-NE] Crews of the Samtampa and the Mumbles lifeboat drowned April 23rd 1947
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2002 17:58:11 EST
"Whilst checking some details of a family member who drowned in this tragedy, I was reading a copy of the Evening Gazette, Thursday 24th April 1947 and I noted the names of the following men from the North East who lost their lives that night.
Twenty five North East men were among the crew of 39 who were drowned when the 7,219 ton Liberty ship Samtampa was wrecked in last night's gale in the treacherous Sker Bay, Glamorganshire. Eight men, the crew of the Mumbles lifeboat, also perished in the mountainous gale-lashed seas when making a gallant effort to rescue the Samtampa's crew.
Ten of the men were from Middlesbrough, four from Whitby, two each from Stockton, Redcar and Staithes and one each from South Bank, Skelton, Bishop Auckland, West Hartlepool and Thornaby.
WILLIAM MENSWORTH (35) ship's fireman, son of Mrs. M. Mensworth of Hardwick St., Blackhall, served in the war on a munition ship torpedoed in a Russian convoy.
R. WEATHERILL (29), donkeyman of 6 Sayers yard, Whitby, married with two children, served in Royal Navy during war as a petty officer.
ARTHUR CALLIGHAN (30), donkeyman greaser, of 27 Tunstall Street, North Ormesby was in the Merchant Navy from the beginning of the war.
RALPH CHESTER (17)a deck boy of 59 Pallister Avenue, Brambles Farm, M'bro.,was on his third trip since joining the Merchant Navy. He was at home for his 17th birthday and his brother's wedding on Easter Monday.
JOSEPH GRIFFITHS (24), assistant cook, of 96 Berwick Hills, M'bro., was on his second trip since his return to the Merchant Navy. He married a South Bank girl only seven weeks ago and had been a prisoner of war in Japan for three and a half years.
HARRY GARSIDE (23) youngest son in a family of five, was on his first voyage in the Merchant navy less than a year after leaving the Royal Navy, he was married but no children.
JOHN STRANGEWAY (22) assistant steward of 42 Hunter Street, Middlesbrough had been at sea since he was 15.
L.F. DAVIDSON (24) able seaman of 15 Abbots Road, Whitby, a single man, he had been in the Merchant Navy since he was 15.
DONALD HILL (26) able seaman of 7 Wards Yard, Whitby, during the war he served for six years in the Royal Navy and was in the first flotilla of minesweepers which swept the way for the invasion force on D-day.
CHARLES FREDERICK SHINNER (20) of 74 West Dyke Road, Redcar was on his fifth voyage, previously he had worked at Dorman Long's and taken a prominent part in local athletics.
H. LEES (24) of 16 High Street, Skelton comes from a seafaring family, his home was formerly at Birkenhead, he was married with two children.
PATRICK McKENNA (47) of 169 Marton Road Middlesbrough went back to sea after an absence of 20 years because he could not get over his wife's death, it was his first voyage.
GEORGE WEBSTER (21) fireman of Lancaster Road, Linthorpe, M'bro. made his first sea trip to Normandy on D-day.
JOSEPH GILRAINE (22) of Ernest Street, Middlesbrough had just recovered from yellow jaundice and his widowed mother did not want him to make the trip.
FRANCIS CANNON (30) donkeyman greaser of Feversham Street, Middlesbrough is the son of a sailor. His father, at present on a voyage, lost another son at sea during the war.
ARNOLD NICHOLSON(19) galley boy of 32 Thrush Road, Redcar had been at sea for nearly four years. He was a well known member of Redcar Literary Institute and this was his fourth trip.
JOSEPH CROFT (19) assistant steward went to sea almost straight from school, his mother thought he would give it up after the war but 'it was in his blood.'
JAMES JOHN BELL (29) boatswain of 3 Lane Ends, Staithes lost two brothers also at sea in the war.
ISAAC LONGSTER (35) able seaman of Church Street, Staithes also lost two brothers at sea during the war.
J. THOMPSON (32) of 21 Anne Street, Middlesbrough.
JOHN T. SOUTER Jnr. Ordinary seaman, of 69 Redcar Road, Thornaby on Tees.
K.K. RICHARDSON, second engineer of 2 Westbrooke Grove, West Hartlepool.
STANLEY DARITIS (19) ordinary seaman of 37 Station Road, South Bank, M'bro.
WILLIAM JOHN DAVIS (53) able seaman of 83 Durham Street, Middlesbrough.
C. JACKSON (32) ship's carpenter, Upgang Lane, Whitby.
The names of the other men who were not signed on in Middlesbrough were:
CAPT. H. N. SHERWELL
D. LOWE, first officer
G. L. MURRAY, second officer
P. MARSHALL, third officer
W.E. THOMPSON, radio officer
W.A. ATKINSON, chief engineer
J. RILEY, third engineer
B. McDONALD, fourth engineer
Other members of the crew were: P. ALLAM, chief steward; R.N.LYTHEL, second steward; B. JONES, chief cook.
Apprentices: J.ELLIS, P.FERNS, J.WILSON.
Hope this may be of interest to some (sorry it's so long)!
Pauline Gregg (York UK)
Researching: Brown, Searle, Olvanhill, Gregory, Huskinson (all Middlesbrough area)
[UK-NE] Crews of the Samtampa and the Mumbles lifeboat drowned April 23rd 1947 by Pollygregg@aol.com "
I find this site interesting, not least because of her ending comment on the names she is researching. My friend Tommy Searle has relatives called Brown and Holvanhill. I'll have to ask him if there is a Merchant Navy connection!
A letter from Ged O'Neill
|3rd South Bank St.Peters cubs, 1938.
Photo from Ged O'Neill
I received this email from Ged with the photo:
"Sent: Monday, February 23, 2004 5:43 PM
Subject: Louise Albitis-Stan Deritus
I have just read your account of the loss of the Samptampa and the connection with Louise Albitis. Here is a picture of Stan Daritus as a small boy circa 1938. He is the one holding the cup in the centre. It was on the occasion of the area cub sports which the team from the 3rd South Bank St
Peter's won. Venue was Redcar Beach.I forwarded the Picture to Remember When and it is in one of the back issues.
Back Row: John Ginty(County Councillor and Prospective MP), Vin McKenna,Johnny Murphy,Vin Carr, Rob Redford(Chief Supt.MiddlesbroughCID), Peter Lawson, George McSorley (Ballou).
Middle Row: Arty Farrell, ?Ward, Stan Daritis, Syd Carney, ?Simpson.
Front Row: John Copeland, Ged O'Neill."