Capt. Arthur David LINKLATER

Captain Arthur David LINKLATER 1879 - 1955

His Life Afloat and Ashore: Adventures (iii)

I cannot rest

This is pretty typical of all the ‘Annual’ entries. Most years have a dozen or so entries. Some years only had one or two entries. He often recorded his own weight [from a little over 11 stone to a little over 12] and occasionally that of W.P. - who hovered around the 10 stone mark. Mind you, I think they weighed themselves clothed! In 1944 Dum recorded Aug 1st 11 st. 7 with coat then underneath in pencil, and possibly written by Elsie, is Aug 15th 10.12 without coat or underwear. Most years Christmas gets a special mention and often who was there and what there was in the way of festive cheer - usually not very much, and of particular regret the scarcity of drink especially whisky. All the entries tend to be elliptical as if merely an aide mémoire, but why Dum felt he needed one and what purpose, if any, these notes were intended to serve I do not know.

Dum's main preoccupation was that he was jobless and living off capital, of which he did not have very much; and the little that he had had, had1 been dwindling for some time; in his negotiations over pay with Dhunjibhoy back in 1919 he confessed he had been spending his capital. What he seems to have done in 1923 to staunch the flow was invest in property, but what he really wanted was full-time employment with reasonable pay and some prospect of a pension. In fact a Mr Sandeman, the Bombay Manager of the Scindia Steam Navigation Co., had written to him the previous year on 29th August 1922. Your name has been mentioned to me privately by our London representatives - Devitt and Moore Ltd - as being probably open to take a post as Marine Superintendent & Supply Engineer. If this is so, perhaps you would kindly make it convenient to call round here & see me some time soon. I think Dum took the matter a step further as on the back of the letter, in his hand writing, is written Sept. 4th 4 p.m. but I have no record as to what happened thereafter. It is also quite possible that as Mr Sandeman had heard that Dum had itchy feet then so too had Dhunjibhoy. By coincidence, the school I went to, Pangbourne Nautical College, was established by Devitt and Moore as a place to train seamen for their ships. They sailed mainly to Australia and were prominent in the wool trade. As a further coincidence, the houses at Pangbourne were named after Devitt and Moore ships, mine being Hesperus. One of the lightships in the Bay of Bengal that Dum had serviced while working for the Calcutta Port Commissioners, the ‘Lower Gaspar’, was also called Hesperus. I got very excited thinking it might even be the hulk of the old Devitt and Moore ship but it was not.

Dum was actively seeking employment from April 1923 if not before. There is a letter from him dated the 23rd to the Crown Agents for the Colonies giving a brief synopsis of his work for B.I.S.N.Co., the Calcutta Port Commissioners and Bomanji Dhunjibhoy. What it does not say is why he is seeking employment or even what position exactly he is interested in, but merely opens “At present I am on six months’ leave from India having left there on March 16th.” Maybe word of this approach got back to Dhunjibhoy? or maybe the writing was already on the wall. A reference supporting Dum's application suggests that he was in fact applying for a position in Singapore but I have no more information than that.

The plum job he seems to have sought was that of Marine Superintendent under the Forth Conservancy Board. This opening was brought to Dum's notice by Robin Roxburgh. Dum went to considerable trouble to present himself in as good a light as possible, amassing large numbers of references, having them all neatly typed out on cartridge paper, providing a list of more than two dozen U.K. residents, ‘big hitters’ - knights of the realm, DSOs etc - who could vouch for him, plus his C.V. - in all a document of 24 pps. The Forth Conservancy Board wrote to him on 25th September 1923 I have to inform you that your name has been placed on the short list of applicants for the post of Marine Superintendent under the Forth Conservancy Board, and I have been asked to request your attendance at a meeting of the Board...on Wednesday, 10th October, 1923, at 11.30 a.m. Hence his entry for October 2nd - Left Barmouth for Scotland and his return to Barmouth on October 13th.

Unfortunately he did not get the post, being passed over in favour of an ex-naval man. Writing the following year, Dum notes; In August last The Forth Conservancy Board advertised for a Marine Superintendent to act as full time executive officer of the Board. Out of over three hundred applicants my name was placed on the short leet, 2 and I succeeded in getting into the second place at the voting of the full Board of thirty two members. The appointment went to a Capt. Jones R.N. who had been Commander of the Tiger and Lion during the war. And married to a rump-fed ronyon no doubt!3 They repaid his travelling expenses of £4-19-0

The only actual employment of which I have any record seems to have been in 1924 when a diary entry for 26 February reads Accepted offer of Wire Rope Coy. £200 A subsequent, related entry for 17 November 1924 reads Finished with Wembley. A letter from The Caledonian Wire Rope Coy. of Airdrie dated 20th November 1924 is all I have that sheds any further light on this. From your letter of 17th inst., I notice your work at Wembley has come to an end. Daily attendance at the Exhibition must have been fatiguing and trying at times. You might readily be excused I think if you had a feeling of “Well, thank goodness it is finished.”
I should like to take this opportunity of thanking you on behalf of the Company and myself for the services rendered as Exhibition representative, which gave every satisfaction.
If it is not inconvenient for you, your expenses, along with full month's salary, will be paid at the end of the month.
I should think it was very convenient, especially if £200 was a month's salary; if so, then in one month he would have earned what Dhunjibhoy was to pay him for six month's work 13 years later after nearly 250% inflation.

As noted above, much of his energy seems to have been directed into property development. I have no details on the winding up of his affairs in India other than those already quoted. However, on 8 January 1924 Children arrived Paddington As it's plural, could this be Doris, Bruce and Dudley? If so, they would have been 16, 15, and 12 years old respectively. What they thought of the weather is anybody's guess! especially as Dum noted that on 15th February it was snowing hard. This must have been their first visit to the motherland - just as it was Elsie's, their mother.

  1. Couldn't resist going for the triple there.
  2. Leet: inter alia a selected list of candidates or nominees. See Warrack.
  3. A bit of frivolity - Macbeth 1.iii

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