The adventures of Greeny in the days of the Titanic

Sons of Gentlemen – in the days of the Titanic. The adventures of Greeny, an apprentice in tall ships 1908 to 1912 by Captain T B Greenhalgh is now published on the Kindle.

Here is the blurb:

Thomas Greenhalgh, mate of the barque Gwydr Castle in 1915, three years after finishing his four-year apprenticeship

It was a ‘dog’s life’, he was told, in the sailing ships that killed on average one man every voyage. And ‘Greeny’ soon discovered that you had to eat hard tack teeming with live maggots and weevils, or starve.

Then came the biting cold, scorching heat, gales, doldrums, wild seas, brutish officers (including the captain), a cloud of lethal vapour that enveloped the ship… and appalling deaths. The crew, ignoring superstitions, even slaughtered a majestic albatross for fun.

Yet, floating above all the hardship was the beauty and romance of sail, which enslaved a teenage dreamer for ever.

‘Sons of gentlemen’ were middle-class boys at the beginning of the 20th century who aspired to become Merchant Navy officers – just like the men who commanded RMS Titanic – and would start their careers with a four to five-year apprenticeship in sailing ships.

Thomas Greenhalgh, nicknamed Greeny by his shipmates, was one of those apprentices, serving from 1908 to 1912 in the Standard Oil Company ships ‘Brilliant’, the largest four-masted steel barque ever built, and the more dainty iron barque ‘Drumeltan’.

This previously unpublished story is a true account of his life as an apprentice in those ships.

Boys like Greeny were just 15-years-old, sometimes even younger, when they left the comfort of their homes to embark on the first of many dangerous adventures at sea that often lasted several months at one time and were extreme tests of endurance for everyone on board.

Many steamship officers in the days of RMS Titanic, including some on the fateful liner herself, served apprenticeships in sailing ships just like Greeny. Second officer Charles Herbert Lightoller, who survived after Titanic hit an iceberg in the Atlantic and sank on her maiden voyage in April 1912, said of his own experiences in sail: ‘The conditions men had to endure almost beggar description.’

He would have recognised the adventures of Greeny as a true yarn about how teenage boys were toughened up for a life as officers in Britain’s Merchant Navy.

Includes photographs, extensive notes, appendixes and a glossary of nautical terms.



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