On 21 October 1904, the Gamecock Fleet, which consisted of approximately fifty trawlers, was attacked by the Russian Baltic Fleet in the North Sea off Dogger Bank. Despite signals to call off the attack, the Russians bombarded the trawlers for ten minutes, sinking one ship and damaging five others. As Russia was at war with Japan, it is believed that the British ships were mistaken for enemy vessels.
This black and white transparency image entitled ‘Russian Outrage on Hull Trawlers’ is part of Hull Museums Collections. It shows people gathered at St Andrews Dock after the Gamecock Fleet had returned. Among the crowd there is a Black gentleman dressed in dark clothing. His presence demonstrates the inclusion of men of African descent in the region’s maritime sphere during the early twentieth century. It is possible that one of his friends or relatives were on board the Gamecock Fleet or he was simply on the dock to show his support or hear the latest news.
Thanks to Alec Gill and Nicholas Evans for bringing this image to our attention.
Happy New Year from the African Stories in Hull & East Yorkshire Project!
2017 is set to be a busy and fruitful year for the Africans project as we enter Hull's year of celebrations as the UK's City of Culture. Keep an eye out for all the new research updates and event notifications on our blog and check out our website pages to find out how you can get involved in this exciting project!
Today's update features research into Hull's maritime community. In particular we have been searching for sailors with African heritage who lived in the region. While surviving crew lists have given us an insight into the global endeavours of Black sailors leaving and returning to the port, seaman’s identity cards have supplied fantastic photographs of the sailors alongside physical descriptions. Other documents have demonstrated that many of these men were a pivotal part of the Merchant Marine during the First or Second World War, with some sadly living through both. Together these sources have enabled us to build a picture of the lives of the Black men who contributed to the economic and social fabric of this fantastic port city.
This week we have added some new research leads to the Africans Project website. Firstly, Audrey Dewjee has provided us with some information on West Indian recruits at RAF Hunmanby Moor in Filey in 1944. Below is a photograph taken in June 1944 of the airmen with the congregation at Reighton Chapel ( reprinted in the Filey & Hunmanby Mercury, 25 June, 1994). Click on the photo to go to the page and see if you can help add to the story!
A Jamaican-born sailor in Hull
Another interesting piece of research this week is the addition of the story of Jamaican-born sailor and Hull resident Thomas Henry Biggs. We discovered the lead to Thomas's story while trawling through the Hull Daily Mail archive and came across a couple of stories relating to Thomas and his wife Gertrude. Read this truly fascinating story HERE!
Dr Lauren Darwin