THE mystery lives of thousands of Merseyside mariners will be unlocked today.
Records of one million members of the Merchant Navy will go online, including those conscripted into the service as boys and “sea dogs” in their dotage.
Covering the period from 1918 to 1941, the records also feature rarely-seen photographs of mariners.
Not surprisingly, many Liverpudlians feature from a time when the city was the world’s busiest port.
Among them is Sea Cadet Cyril George Killender, born in 1900, and firefighter Edward Abbot, born in Waterloo in 1892.
It was not an all-boys club at sea either – Doris Abbey, from Liverpool, a 5ft 4in manicurist with hazel eyes, brown hair and a medium complexion, was also on the register.
Published by www.findmypast.co.uk
in partnership with the National Archives, the records also show many crews had an international flavour, with seamen coming from such areas as Scandinavia, Japan and the West Indies.
Janet Dempsey, marine and maritime record specialist at the National Archives, said: “The records cover a very significant era in nautical History
commencing at the very peak of the popularity of ocean travel, in the time of the great ocean liners, when overseas tourism meant taking to the seas.
“The years which followed saw the end of this period of prosperity, and the start of the Great Depression.
“For mariners, this was a time when work on board was hard to get and many men were forced to take other work between voyages to make ends meet.
“These newly-digitised records make a fascinating social record as well as a valuable family History
Shipping minister Mike Penning said: “This country has a rich and proud maritime heritage covering many centuries and I am confident this will continue long into the future.
“It is often forgotten more than 20,000 merchant seafarers lost their lives in World War II alone, doing a job which was crucial to the war effort.”
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