Wednesday 11th October was a day much awaited by The Tall Ship Glenlee family.
It was a day that had been in the making for 107 years, indeed since April 1916 when two young boys signed their apprentice indenture papers in Liverpool. Ernest Andersen (Andy) and Reg Mitchell joined the crew of Islamount (the ship’s name at the time) within days of each other and soon set off on an adventure that would last 1,269 days, circumnavigating the globe twice while sailing through storms, enduring illness and other hardships.
Joe Hodgson, Andy and Reg onboard Islamount c.1917 - courtesy of Sue and Pat Grant
While life on Islamount was hard, it is clear that there were moments when the lads had fun and made the most of this opportunity to see the world. We can see this through the letters that Andy wrote home to his family, the logbook he kept and the photographs from that voyage that the two families have shared. These words and pictures have been lovingly preserved by the families of Reg and Andy for over a century and the ship has been privileged to use these sources in our recent exhibitions, interpretation and other engagement activities since the diligent research of our Vice Chair Elizabeth Allen connected us with both families. Pat and Sue Grant traveled all the way from Australia and New Zealand to connect with family and visit the ship that their father had sailed on so long ago. We were also joined by Stephanie Champion, the granddaughter of Ernest Andersen (Andy) whose generosity has led to our onboard exhibition 'The Apprentice's Tale' centered on Andy's logbook.
Pat, Stephanie and Sue onboard Glenlee, October 2023
The day of the visit passed in a flash. The women shared their stories with a journalist and had photos taken by a photographer. We recreated the photos of Reg and Andy as Pat, Sue and Stephanie stood in the same locations. Looking back over the pictures taken that day, and comparing them to the originals, you can see Reg’s grin flickering across Pat’s face as the sisters smile at the camera while Stephanie’s face is the spit of her granddad's at the right angle.
Over multiple cups of tea, they looked over photos and letters, shared stories and memories, and gave each other glimpses into the life of these boys from so long ago. The current Glenlee crew shared their experiences climbing the masts of the ship, so the experiences of Reg and Andy could be more vividly imagined.
The day culminated in the incredibly generous donation by Pat and Sue of Reg’s indenture certificate and his reference written by the captain of Islamount in 1919 when the apprentices left the ship for the final time.
We cannot thank all three enough for their generosity in sharing this special day with all at Glenlee.
A friendship that started in April 1916 is alive and well with these families.