Captain Pritchard's memoirs | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Captain Pritchard's memoirs

Book type: 
Dates of events covered by this document: 
Sun, 1893-01-01 to Thu, 1944-08-10

Capt, Thomas Pritchard, Commander R.D. R.N.R

Born at Bryn Coch Farm, Abererch Nr. Pwllheli, Carnarvonshire, N.Wales on September 24th 1877.

He wrote these memoirs whilst interned at Stanley Camp Hong Kong Dec 1941 - Aug 1944. He died in Stanley Camp.

His original notes were brought back by Capt. Albert Jones, "Mathan“, Pwllheli, friend and fellow internee.



I forwarded a copy of the memoirs to local maritime expert Dr Stephen Davies, and he replies:

The memoirs are indeed interesting. By the by, Captain Evans came from a small property called Y Gegin, Abererch, Pwlleheli now in Gwynedd but then, I think, Caernarvonshire - the manuscript was probably ill punctuated. Ditto for Captain Williams, who was from Clogwyn Bach, Trefor, Caernarvonshire. Basically what we are seeing is the way in Wales people, many, many of whom share a family name, are distinguished either by where they live/come from (as with the Captains) or what they do (as in Evans the Bread).

There are a number of things like this which could perhaps benefit from some editing - q.v. Port Germein in Australia, not Port Germain, Kirkcudbrightshire, not Kerchubreshire, Talcahuano, not Talcuano, Caleta Bueno, not Caleto Bueno and so on. For example there’s a right royal muddle as to where the good captain did his studying for his 2nd mate’s ticket (and presumably his other tickets up to his master’s in 1902) - this was the school in Limehouse founded by Captain Alfred Edward Nicholls in 1894, which in 1904 was moved to the new British Sailors’ Society premises on East India Dock Road (correct name) and became known as the King Edward VII Nautical School. Captain Nicholls died in 1907. The timings aren’t clear (my rough count of the voyaging, given a start in 1893, would be around 1899-1900 for the first visit without sufficient sea time for his 2nd mate’s) but the school would seem likely to still have been that of Captain Nicholls and in its original premises the exact location of which I am not sure of, save that it was in Limehouse.

Captain Nicholls, by the by, was the author of Nicholls's Concise Guide to the Navigation Examinations, first published in 1902, now in its 12th edition and still in print (though much revised!)!

There’s a heap more possibly interesting editing work - the background to his ships and voyages, the trades, the other personnel - which might serve to locate the narrative more firmly. 

Do we know whether the eccentric spelling is the good captain’s, or is it that of the transcriber? The Welsh hymn has been misremembered or mistranscribed - the opening two lines are "O fryniau Caersalem ceir gweled/Holl daith yr anialwch i gyd" (among many translations, "From Salem's fair heights we shall witness/Our way through the desert of life”).

Terrific, thank you very much. The ending is extremely poignant and moving.

Dr Stephen Davies

I've added the spelling corrections into the main text, using the format:
"((StephenD: Port Germein))"

Thanks very much for these comments Dr Davies. I am Captain Pritchard's grandson (on my father's side) and I originally typed up the handwrtten memoirs about 50 years ago. Forgive the miunderstandings and mis-types.

I think that the original manuscript is in Gwynedd Archives, Caernarfon. I mean to go over there one day and take a look at it, so if there's anyting particaulr you'd like me to check, please let me know.


Huw Pritchard