The World at War - Wirral's memories endure

The German raider Moewe

The German raider Moewe

First published in News by , Geoff Barnes

GRAPHIC stories of how local people – both servicemen and civilians – stood up to the horrors and heartaches of World War 1 will feature in a special exhibition in Wirral.

Archivist Dean Johnson, who is gathering material for the centenary exhibition, said: "These are the memories of ordinary people involved in extra-ordinary situations.

"The stories contributed are extremely detailed and contain some fascinating facts. Every single one of them is important."

The exhibition – to be launched next Tuesday at the Wilfred Own Story in Argyle Street, Birkenhead – will feature more than 50 recollections from elderly people with stories to tell about family involvement in the war.

Said Dean: "Many old folk who don't have access to email want to tell us their stories face to face. We will take their details down and transcribe them ourselves for the exhibition."

Ex Wallasey paratrooper John Steedman related the story of his father's ill-fated voyage aboard the T.J. Harrison ship Dramatist which was sunk by the German raider Moewe in December 1916.

The Dramatist was sailing from San Francisco to Britain with 7,200 tons of citrus fruit and food stuffs when the Moewe – an armed merchant ship - struck.

Mr Steedman, who saw service as a paratrooper in Palastine after World War 11, wrote to Dean: "My father (John Sydney Steedman) said the commander of the Moewe was a very stern military Prussian type officer, but very correct in everything, as were the German guards and crew, who treated them as fellow merchant seamen.

"The Moewe sank some more ships but conditions were getting bad on board – too many prisoners and not enough guards or crew to look after them.

"So the commander stopped a Japanese ship, the Hudson Maru, (Japan was neutral) on January 16 1917, loaded all the 250 prisoners onto the ship and told the captain to continue his voyage to Pernambuco in South America.

"The Japanese captain complied with this order – after all he was famous having been stopped and released by the Moewe."

Mr Steedman went on: "All the prisoners were made to sign an agreement that they would not take any further part in the war against Germany – if they did and were caught they would be shot."

"The prisoners were released in South America and sent back to England. My father arrived back in Liverpool with his signed agreement and T.J. Harrison gave him a franchise to supply Harrison ships with supplies when they were in Liverpool."

Mr Steedman senior went back to sea – complete with his signed agreement – and saw out the war without bumping into the Moewe again.

The exhibition will last for four years – the length of The Great War.

Comments (4)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

11:52am Sat 4 Jan 14

Lurkinhead says...

To be honest, I'm surprised the Globe managed to get to the second paragraph before mentioning Dean Johnson in this article!

Mr Marles, you have long protested that you have no connection with this man (although you haven't been so forthcoming as regards whether any of your reporters may have a link to him), but please, can I ask you this: How many articles has The Globe run over the last three years either directly promoting Dean Johnson's business interests, or alternatively providing the man with a platform to parade his campaigns linked to his business interests, and therefore indirectly promote them?

My personal belief is that the amount of publicity is wholly disproportionate to the man's relevance, but for whatever reason, The Globe has willingly provided a platform for his self-publicity.

By the way, for the avoidance of doubt, I am absolutely in agreement that the horrors of the Great War should be highlighted, and the bravery and sacrifices of the Fallen should be honoured, on the 100th anniversary of the outbreak .

However, what I object to is one man seemingly hijacking the memory for his own commercial interests. This was not Dean Johnson's war, and I believe the Globe's penchant for deeming the man to be synonymous with this conflict is disrespectful to the memory of the Fallen.
To be honest, I'm surprised the Globe managed to get to the second paragraph before mentioning Dean Johnson in this article! Mr Marles, you have long protested that you have no connection with this man (although you haven't been so forthcoming as regards whether any of your reporters may have a link to him), but please, can I ask you this: How many articles has The Globe run over the last three years either directly promoting Dean Johnson's business interests, or alternatively providing the man with a platform to parade his campaigns linked to his business interests, and therefore indirectly promote them? My personal belief is that the amount of publicity is wholly disproportionate to the man's relevance, but for whatever reason, The Globe has willingly provided a platform for his self-publicity. By the way, for the avoidance of doubt, I am absolutely in agreement that the horrors of the Great War should be highlighted, and the bravery and sacrifices of the Fallen should be honoured, on the 100th anniversary of the outbreak . However, what I object to is one man seemingly hijacking the memory for his own commercial interests. This was not Dean Johnson's war, and I believe the Globe's penchant for deeming the man to be synonymous with this conflict is disrespectful to the memory of the Fallen. Lurkinhead
  • Score: 3

12:07pm Sat 4 Jan 14

Lurkinhead says...

http://www.wirralglo
be.co.uk/news/107723
18.Relics_of_First_W
orld_War_on_display_
at_Wirral_museum/

http://www.wirralglo
be.co.uk/news/108281
22.Sri_Lankan_teenag
er_tells_tale_of_Wil
fred_Owen_s_wartime_
friendship/

http://www.wirralglo
be.co.uk/news/108695
28.Digging_for_YMCA_
Wirral_s_war_history
/

http://www.wirralglo
be.co.uk/news/108761
57.Wirral_families_i
nvited_to_share_trea
sured_mementos_of_Fi
rst_World_War/?ref=v
ar_0

Here are four examples, just from the last couple of months, where the Globe has seen fit to promote either Dean Johnson himself, or his business interests.

I haven't looked back any further, but perhaps Mr Marles could enlighten Globe readers as to how many similar articles have appeared in the paper over the last three years?
http://www.wirralglo be.co.uk/news/107723 18.Relics_of_First_W orld_War_on_display_ at_Wirral_museum/ http://www.wirralglo be.co.uk/news/108281 22.Sri_Lankan_teenag er_tells_tale_of_Wil fred_Owen_s_wartime_ friendship/ http://www.wirralglo be.co.uk/news/108695 28.Digging_for_YMCA_ Wirral_s_war_history / http://www.wirralglo be.co.uk/news/108761 57.Wirral_families_i nvited_to_share_trea sured_mementos_of_Fi rst_World_War/?ref=v ar_0 Here are four examples, just from the last couple of months, where the Globe has seen fit to promote either Dean Johnson himself, or his business interests. I haven't looked back any further, but perhaps Mr Marles could enlighten Globe readers as to how many similar articles have appeared in the paper over the last three years? Lurkinhead
  • Score: 0

3:04pm Sat 4 Jan 14

Dantealighieri says...

I doubt if many Globe readers give a toss about how many times Dean Johnson has appeared or not appeared in the Globe. One can soon pick up the vibes of any article, and if it offends by content or personality, move on. I have reached a certain expertise in that practise. For instance when I see some heading in the Globe saying Council Leader says whatever, I don't bother reading it because I know it will be crap. War doesn't indeed belong to Mr Johnson, nor to any broadcaster, author, or journalist, or to any organiser of an exhibition, but those who take it upon themselves to set down the record of conflicts, big and small, need to be applauded. If you doubt the motives of such people then don't watch it, don't listen to it , don't read it, don't buy it, and don't go to it .
I doubt if many Globe readers give a toss about how many times Dean Johnson has appeared or not appeared in the Globe. One can soon pick up the vibes of any article, and if it offends by content or personality, move on. I have reached a certain expertise in that practise. For instance when I see some heading in the Globe saying Council Leader says whatever, I don't bother reading it because I know it will be crap. War doesn't indeed belong to Mr Johnson, nor to any broadcaster, author, or journalist, or to any organiser of an exhibition, but those who take it upon themselves to set down the record of conflicts, big and small, need to be applauded. If you doubt the motives of such people then don't watch it, don't listen to it , don't read it, don't buy it, and don't go to it . Dantealighieri
  • Score: 5

9:49am Sun 5 Jan 14

Jack Boot says...

It would also be interesting to know how many times some have attacked/complained about Mr Johnson's activities when reported in the Wirral Globe. If one were to analyse the negativity some might come to the conclusion that certain individuals have an unhealthy obsession. I can only observe good in Mr Johnson's projects. How can some people describe promoting Wilfred Owen, trying to save Ingleborough from being covered in concrete for profit and gathering and sharing the horrific experiences WW1 of those few who are still alive as business interests?
It would also be interesting to know how many times some have attacked/complained about Mr Johnson's activities when reported in the Wirral Globe. If one were to analyse the negativity some might come to the conclusion that certain individuals have an unhealthy obsession. I can only observe good in Mr Johnson's projects. How can some people describe promoting Wilfred Owen, trying to save Ingleborough from being covered in concrete for profit and gathering and sharing the horrific experiences WW1 of those few who are still alive as business interests? Jack Boot
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree