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Shanghaied out of Frisco in the Nineties by Hiram P Bailey – part 7

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The dramatic final chapters of Shanghaied in which the hated crimpers come aboard, sing and play melodeons and finally our hero makes his escape.

‘And thus they volleyed up cunningly, persuasively to our men. The spiders and the flies.

‘Yes apparently Molly Fortune ashore waited feverishly to kiss their dry and salt-cracked lips. (She would kiss them for one night perhaps, and then poor Jack, Shanghaied again, with his fabulously-paid shore job yet ahead, and the night as dark as Erebus, would awaken to find the relentless arms of Father Neptune once more closely entwined about him; sans bag, sans money, sans respect, sans everything. Done again! Doped again – his sole posession “a dead horse”!)’

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For the rest of this series of posts:
Shanghaied out of Frisco in the Nineties by Hiram P Bailey – part 1

Shanghaied out of Frisco in the Nineties by Hiram P Bailey – part 2

Shanghaied out of Frisco in the Nineties by Hiram P Bailey – part 3

Shanghaied out of Frisco in the Nineties by Hiram P Bailey – part 4

Shanghaied out of Frisco in the Nineties by Hiram P Bailey – part 5

Shanghaied out of Frisco in the Nineties by Hiram P Bailey – part 6

Shanghaied out of Frisco in the Nineties by Hiram P Bailey – part 7

More on the book Cockleshell Canoes by Quentin Rees

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Mark 7 military canoes. Photos supplied by Quentin Rees
and published with permission

Quentin Rees’s recent book Cockleshell Canoes is a thoroughly researched and well illustrated celebration of a group of people who have become part of canoe history.

Some, such as Blondie Hasler and the team of commandos who took part in the daring Operation Frankton are already well known. Commemorated in a major film titled Cockleshell Heroes, it was an attack by ten commandos in canoes on Bordeaux Harbour in occupied France during December 1942. British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill believed the mission shortened World War II by six months, and Admiral the Earl Mountbatten deemed it as the ‘most courageous and imaginative of all the raids ever carried out by the men of Combined Operations Commands‘.

Sadly, most of the brave individuals involved were eventually captured and shot by the Germans, who at that time regarded commandos as equivalent to spies.

However, the roles of many others have previously remained unsung. In this book Rees has weaved together real-life testimonies from the stories of the courageous soldiers who used the canoes, their military commanders, and the canoes’ inventors and designers, and tells of an epic journey of progress that took canoe development took from Cornwall, all along the Southern English Coast and beyond – even to the tropical island of Ceylon.

The canoes proved to be valuable in many of the theatres of WWII, and thousands of the various models were sent worldwide, often being used by the various Special Forces, including by the the espionage specialists of Special Operations Executive (SOE).

Click here to buy a copy from Amazon – The Cockleshell Canoes: British Military Canoes of World War Two Cockleshell Hero canoes at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall.

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The proper proportion of salt in his veins that a British boy ought to have

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The sort of dinghy we’re told a boy should have. Now
that part seems fair enough!

Have you got the proper proportion of salt in your veins?

These days they say too much salt in your veins causes osmotic pressure leading to raised blood pressure, which leads ultimately to end-organ damage. But it wasn’t always like this, and certainly not when they were busy bringing up the breed that led men into the dreadful battles of World War 1.

I’ve been reading The Complete Yachtsman by B Heckstall-Smith and E Du Boulay, first published in 1912. Much of what it has to say is sensible and reasonable. For example, there’s a great section on the draftsmanship involved in yacht designing. All in all, I’m pleased I invested in a copy.

Nevertheless, there are some bits that bear all the hallmarks of 1912. Take this priceless paragraph on teaching a boy to row, for example:

‘If a boy is of the right sort, with the proper proportion of salt in his veins that a British boy ought to have, he will soon get to love his little craft and a steady development in his character and improvement in his health will be visible to all who know and watch him; for there is no sport in the world that brings out all that is best in a man like that of learning to use the sea for his playground; judgement, courage, and especially self-reliance, are learned there as they can be nowhere else. In all other branches of sport, when a lad or a man feels he has had enough of it he can generally retire. Not so at sea; if he should be caught out in a squall he must fight his way back himself, using his brain to set one force of nature against another to his advantage, and not until the fight is over, and the boat is safe in some shelteredwater, can he rest or retire. This is why the sea so often makes men of boys, and heroes of men.’

Can’t you just smell the tanned leather, liniment and pipe-smoke in that voice? Pass the port Heckstall-Smith, and damn and blast the foreigners.

Copies of The Complete Yachtsman may be obtainable via ABE Books – I’ve been told there are lots around in second-hand bookshops, but the one I have is the first I can recall having seen.

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