WWI mystery after journey log found at Royal Cornwall Yacht Club

WWI mystery after journey log found at Royal Cornwall Yacht Club

WWI mystery after journey log found at Royal Cornwall Yacht Club

First published in News

Mystery surrounds the log of a voyage taken on the eve of the First World War, which was recently discovered at the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club in Falmouth.

Club member John Pickup found the scrap book, which details a trip through Germany's Kiel Canal in late July 1914, when he was looking through a bookshelf in the conference room of the Greenbank based club.

Among several addresses written in the front of the volume was one for a house named Tresillian on Falmouth's Woodlane, but after asking around John could find no-one who could tell him how it had got to the club.

He said: “It's the sort of thing you don't trip over every day.

“I asked the members if anybody knew how we had acquired the book.

“Nobody has come out to say it's theirs. It's a mystery how it got here.”

The scrapbook, compiled in 1921, contains the log of the yacht Owl on a journey from Harwich in Essex, across to Germany and onto Denmark via the Kiel Canal.

The journey took place almost exactly 100 years ago, with the yacht sailing back into Harwich on July 30 1914, five days before Britain declared war on Germany.

As well as the log the book contains receipts, postcards, an invitation from Kiel Yacht Club, Kaiser Wilhelm had recently had to leave a regatta due to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, and a passport for the author and his two crew which was hand signed by the foreign secretary Sir Edward Grey.

The journey was so close to the outbreak of war that the yachtsman, Nicholas Pentreath Andrew, records the sighting of what John believes would have been a large part of the British naval Grand Fleet - 28 battleships, ten cruisers and 5 men-o-war - on his return towards Harwich on July 30.

He wrote: “The sight of this fleet, its position and direction, made us conscious of coming events.”

John says he intends to scan the document and put it on the yacht club website for everyone to see.

He also hopes the yacht club will be able to get it re-bound, and maybe put it on display, but his main aim right now is to try to solve the mystery of where the book came from.

He said: “The thing is to try and find out why it was here. That should throw up whatever links there are between Nicholas Andrew and Falmouth.”

He added that along with Nicholas Pentreath Andrew, there were four other men aboard the boat whose descendants may have left the book at the club.

They were the skipper Sidney Cotgrove, steward and deckhand Arthur Page, and two guests JF Jellicoe and EA Veale, RNR.

Overall, John said the book was a timely artefact, with the centenary of the outbreak of war. He added it was well written, and echoed the Erskine Childers book The Riddle of the Sands, in which a group of holidaymakers sail to Germany and find signs of rearmament.

He said: “It inspired a few yachtsmen to emulate the journey. I can't say that's why those people went on this trip but it has to be likely.”

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