WW1 and WW2 Merchant Navy Medal Group OBE and Mention Alfred Meek



WW1 and WW2 Merchant Navy Medal Group OBE and Mention Alfred Meek

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A fantastic and extensive WW1 and WW2 Merchant Navy Medal Group. To an Alfred James Meek OBE who Served both in the First World War and the Second.

The group includes the following:

Mercantile Marine Medal and War Medal named to Alfred J Meek. With all original boxes, envelope and paper work.

Letter from Ministry of Transport regarding publication of name in the London Gazette for Bravery

Letter mentioning the appointment as an Officer of the Order of The British Empire, civil division.

Letter stating entitlement to the Bronze Oak Leaf for Brave conduct in the Merchant Navy.

Letter from Buckingham Palace regarding OBE.

Document: Authority to Wear War Medals for The Mercantile Marine.

A photo album containing numerous documents, newspaper clippings, indentures, certificates and photo's from the time line of Alfred Meek's career.

A scale model of the NOVELIST

A commissioned oil painting of the NOVELIST Les Cowle signed in lower left. Famous painter of maritime images.

Numerous documents and facsimiles pertaining to his career. To much to list here!

His book of Common Prayer

Death Certificate

Safe deposit box dated 1944 with details of owner A J Meek

Numerous family photographs some late Victorian.

A brief history of his career. Copied from one of the documents:

CAPTAIN ALFRED JAMES MEEK, O.B.E. In response to your telephone call last week I have researched your father's career with Harrison Line, and append the main details below.
According to our records, Alfred James Meek was born at Hereford on 22' October, 1881, and went to sea as an Apprentice in sail in 1898. His early career may be summarised as follows:
S. Wakeham & Son (Sail)
Aus.S.N.Co. (On coast) Houlder Middleton & Co.(Steam) C.T.Bowring & Co (Steam)
Apprentice 3yrs 9mos. 2' Mate 2 8 3rd Mate 8 'A 7" Mate 4 '//2 2' Mate 71/2
8 1 Y2
On 6th June, 1906, he joined Harrison Line, and was appointed 3rd Officer of s.s. CHANCELLOR (Capt. W.H. Waldron). He also served in s.s.WAYFARER before being promoted to ri Officer of s.s.D1CTATOR (Capt.W.J.Harris) on 28th December 1909. He served as 2" Officer in 10 other ships, viz: STUDENT, COMEDIAN. CUSTODIAN, WAYFARER. INVENTOR, MERCHANT, COLLEGIAN ( )• CIVILIAN, INKOSI, and DEFENDER. He was serving in COLLEGIAN, built in Glasgow in 1899, when that ship was attacked by a German U-Boat on 14'1' June 1917. However, on that occasion, the torpedoes missed their target, and the ship reached port safely. Unfortunately, she was not so lucky four months later when, on 20th October 1917, she was again attacked , this time by UB 48 (Oberleutnant Wolfgang Steinhauer) in the Mediterranean, about 100 miles northwest trout Alexandria. The ship sank. but the crew were saved, and landed safely in Alex. After the War, Mr Meek was promoted to Chief Officer of the MER(21.1AN-1' (Capt.R.Watson), but due to trade fluctuations the promotion was and he served intermittently as 2' Officer of the DEFENDER and INVENTOR before his new rank became permanent upon his appointment to s.s.STUDENT (Capt.J.M.McCallum) on 2I" July 1920. He then served as Chief Officer in various other vessels (CENTURION, DIRECTOR, DRAMATIST, AUTHOR, STATESMAN) until he was appointed to his first command, on 10th December 1927, as Master of s.s.STUDENT. There followed a succession of commands, including DRAMATIST, TACTICIAN, EXPLORER, COLONIAL, CRAFTSMAN, INVENTOR, COLLEGIAN (3), and finally, NOVELIST.
By the way, it was while he was Master of the DRAMATIST that he met my uncle, John Cubbin, who was the Chief Engineer. Some years later Captain Meek moved to the NOVELIST, where another John Cubbin (son of the Chief Engineer) was a Junior Third Officer.
Captain Meek was appointed to the NOVELIST on 1st June 1941, and there he remained until his retirement in January 1947. In March that year, the ship had been bombed and almost destroyed during bombing raids on the Port of Manchester, and when he joined she had just been re-commissioned after completing repairs. She had also been fitted out as a C.A.M.ship (Catapult Armed Merchant ship). Convoys were often stalked by long-range Focke-Wulf Kondor reconnaissance aircraft, which relayed priceless information to lurking U-Boats. The ships, well beyond air cover, retaliated by launching a fighter aircraft, usually a Hurricane, from the CAM ship, to engage and dispose of the Kondor. The pilots were very brave men, and had great faith in their Naval colleagues. For once they had left the catapult in billowing clouds of smoke and flame there was no going back - they simply had to ditch their expendable aircraft, and wait for a boat's crew to come and pick them up out of the water!
In December 1942, NOVELIST was lying in the Algerian port of Bone (now Annaba) discharging stores, munitions and equipment for the Army in North Africa. The cruiser HMS AJAX was berthed alongside her. Day after day, the port was the target for frequent Axis air-raids, and NOVELIST's spirited response undoubtedly contributed to the award of the O.B.E. to Captain Meek. Situated in the port wing of the bridge was an Oerlikon 20mm cannon, and this was generally acknowledged to be the "Old Man's own Gun", one which he fought with ferocious enthusiasm whenever the opportunity arose! And when a flying splinter wounded his cheek, a bloodstained bandage only served to enhance the Ramboesque image engraved in the minds of all who witnessed his exploits. On New Year's Day 1943, the port was hit by a particularly heavy raid. AJAX and NOVELIST combined to put up a furious barrage, but a bomb exploded between the two ships, damaging both. AJAX remained afloat, and managed to pull clear, but NOVELIST, with her engine room and bunker spaces flooded, but with her guns still blazing, settled on the bottom.

During the next few days, strenuous efforts were made by the ship's crew. aided by a Naval salvage team, to repair the damage, and pump out the flooded areas. NOVELIST completed unloading her precious cargo, and sailed for Gibraltar on 25th January 1943.
Captain Meek (and the NOVELIST) survived the War, and he retired on 31' January 1947. He died on 13th October 1956, nine days short of his 75th birthday.
That is about as much as I can tell you about Captain A.J.Meek, but if there are any points on which you need further clarification, let me know, and I'll do what I can. I first went to sea in 1940, but never met your father, an omission which, I feel, was my misfortune.

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