Thomas Morgan

Thomas Morgan was my father.He served aboard the Leeds city and the Bradford City as a Deck apprentice to Sir William Reardon Smith Shipping company
October 1927 to June 1929. He had to leave the company because he had an accident chopping wood and was told his eyesight was not any longer good enough.
Sadly this problem disappeared within a few years and he joined the RN to go on with an full Naval career. He served in many ships and in the latter part of the war was sent to Germany by the Foreign office to Undertake intelligence work. He transfered 'on loan' to the royal Australian Navy after the war.
I am writing a book on my fathers life and the chapter on his merchant navy service is to be an important one as it was a particularly significant time for my father.
Can anyone help me in finding our the destination of the voyages of the Leeds City 26 October 1927 to !st June 1928, and The Bradford City 2/6/28 to 3/5/29.
Any help would be very much appreciated. Chris Brangwin.

Re: Thomas Morgan

March 19 2012, 11:24 PM 

Chris, thank you for your posting; that’s a fascinating history about your father, and I am sure you are very proud of his achievements. Not surprising, then that you plan to write a book about him.
Finding the kind of voyage data that you seek, can be a difficult task indeed, and it is one that we, at Reardon Smith Ships, regularly come up against as we continue to profile the company’s earlier vessels.
It would seem that Thomas Morgan was somewhat favoured when he joined the Leeds City (3) on 26th October 1927, as the ship had only been launched six weeks earlier in Sunderland. Seemingly then, he sailed upon her maiden voyage, and likely will have seen something of the fitting out procedures beforehand. At that time, the Leeds City (3) was in the ownership of the St Just Steamship Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of William Reardon Smith, and yet to come under the full mantle of Reardon Smith Line Ltd: this would be shortly after Thomas left the Ship on 1st June 1928.
From the dates you give, which I presume you have retrieved either from his discharge book (apprentices did not always have one) or his indentures, it would appear that he was transferred to the Bradford City (2), since his time there began on 2nd June. Do you have any port notations in his records that accompany those dates? That might give a small insight as to the vessel’s movements.
Unlike the Leeds City (3), the Bradford City (2), was already ten years old, and was a utility “War” class ship that had been laid down at the end of WW1, as War Fox II. It was in 1929, that she was sold to the French company, Cie Chargeurs Reunis, and renamed Fort Medine. So, ironically, Thomas began his two ship stay in the company on a new build, and most likely finished it aboard a ship on her final voyage.
I suspect, Chris, that you may already have most of the above data, and I am sorry that I am unable to offer you anything more specific, though other members may be able to come up with something. You could direct your enquiries to the several museums and archives that hold old ship documents, including Official Log Books that contain ports of call detail.
The Memorial University of Newfoundland hold the greatest number of documents for the period of your concern:

The National Archives (UK) has about a 10% sample, and sometimes you can be lucky within the small collections held in Liverpool, Cardiff, and Southampton etc. Australia, too, have collections relating to vessels that called there.
The Leeds City (3), was a relatively fortunate vessel for the company, and gave good service for almost 25 years, before being sold to Japan in 1951; sadly, a year later her luck ran out and she broke her back in the River Hooghly.
There was some irony for the company with the Bradford City (2). After the capitulation of France, in 1940, the Fort Medine was seized and taken over by the MOWT who in turn, handed her back to Reardon Smiths to operate for them. In 1941,after loading ore in Canada for Port Talbot, and having successfully negotiated the Atlantic, she hit a mine off Swansea and sank. Reputedly, there are still some of her remains there today, so close to home!
Incidentally, she is often, and amazingly shown photographically as Bradford City (4), built in 1943! I have given up telling certain sites about this error. The World Ship Library has a good photo of her, displaying the Utility derricks of a “War “class vessel . MikeJones.

March 2012.