Booked by royal command

Librarian Royal. Joe Muckells fourth  from the right when serving on HMS Suffolk. PPP-140912-142238001
Librarian Royal. Joe Muckells fourth from the right when serving on HMS Suffolk. PPP-140912-142238001
Here we see British sailors covered in coal dust after coaling ship. How much dust is in their lungs?

NOSTALGIA: In memory of the men who fired the navy around world

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Delving through his late father-in-law’s naval memorabilia, Edwin Amey, of Fareham, chanced upon a Regatta Programme from 1937.

He believes it took place at Wei Hai Wei which was the northern China summer base of the British fleet in the 1920s/30s.

Joe Muckells was serving in HMS Suffolk at that time which was part of a formidable squadron judging by the ships’ names entered in the programme.

For some time in the 1940s Joe was stationed in Durban, South Africa, and was befriended by a local businessman and his family by the name of Gibson. Some years after his return to the UK, the 1947 Royal Tour of South Africa using the battleship HMS Vanguard was announced.

Mr Gibson wrote to George VI and asked if Joe could be included in the ship’s company as he was such a great ambassador for Britain.

The King passed the request to the Admiralty and Joe was duly drafted.

This request with his photo made the national newspapers at the time.

One of his onboard duties involved the ship’s library and as a consequence of this he dealt with King George, Queen Elizabeth and the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret several times.