Pursuing the ‘prison ship’ line of enquiry, I looked for the naval officer who requisitioned Cormorant and stored prisoners aboard for one night – 1 May 1916. Signatures are often hard to decipher, which is why many people print their names beneath their scrawl. The letter I showed in June from the ‘Captain in Charge’ of the Kingstown Naval Base, saying ‘thank you for the loan of Cormorant, you can have her back now’, had no printed name beneath the scrawl (Photo 1041).
His appointment also proved difficult as the man in charge of the base at that time was no less than Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly – rather more elevated than a Captain. I am sure my naval readers will be able to explain that apparent anomaly.
So, concentrating on the signature I searched the National Archives, first trying J Aplin, then H Aplin and scored a hit – Henry F Aplin, born 9 June 1862; commissioned as a Sub-Lieutenant 22 March 1882; Commander 31 December 1897; and retired as Captain 23 June 1908. I thought I had reached a dead end. Well it cost me £3.30 to download his service record but it was worth it. He was recalled, as many retired officers were, when war loomed and was posted to ‘Boadicea II’ (Kingstown Naval Base) in December 1915, which puts him at the right place at the right time to do that bit of requisitioning (Photo 1042).
Aplin is not a common name, so if anyone out there knows the family, perhaps enquiries could be made to see if Captain Aplin left any memoires. He passed away in 1927 and his brothers Charles and Stephen were appointed executors. The address at that time was in the Kilburn area of London.
Great news (at last!). The second ‘hanger-on’ has been moved to another mooring after 18 months of asking. Pumping out the hold and using a bigger tug obviously worked. The shore view on the starboard side was blocked (Photo 1043)
and is now uninterrupted (Photo 1044).
Simon reports that he cannot stop looking out of the kitchen, sorry galley, window (Photo 1045).
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