Ronald Henry EDGELLAge: 81 years1921–2003
- Ronald Henry EDGELL
- Given names
- Ronald Henry
|Source||Le Grice, Le Grys et al.|
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Eulogy for Ron Edgell given by Rex Le Grice Aug 2003 Farewell to a thorough gentleman I feel both honoured and humble in being asked to give this Eulogy for Ron Edgell on behalf of Betty and her family. In preparing this Eulogy I have talked to several people about Ron and the words that described him most often were modest, fun and a gentleman. I should first explain to the many people here, just where I fit in. Betty, or Aunty Betty as we used to call her, is my late father Ted's first cousin. As children and as we grew up we had occasional contact with the Edgells and I suppose these family occasions were where I first began to gain impressions of Ron. The Edgells contrasted with my family in that they were very social beings, having many celebrations and get-togethers often including members of the wider Le Grice family. Betty had two brothers, Peter and Jack and they sort of adopted Ron the Pom more as a brother than a brother-in-law, and these three men were a formidable team at the bar, enjoying not only their tipple, but also company, ribbing, jokes, and laughter in equal measure. Ron was very definitely part of their family. But how did Ron get to be here? I'll answer that a little later. Ronald Henry Edgell (from here simply Ron) was born on 6th August, 1921 in Plaistow, Essex, but the county borders changed and Plaistow is now part of West Ham, London. This is just five miles from the Thames and six miles from the heart of British Naval establishment at Greenwich. His father was a boilermaker in the London Docks. Ron had an elder brother Tom who died just eleven months ago. Ron left school at fourteen, but he continued in the local church choir and gained the distinction of becoming a Kings Scout. When King George VI was crowned King Scouts from all over the United Kingdom lined the streets of London for the Coronation Procession. During WWII his group of scouts supplied tea to underground air raid shelters. He told Betty that they used to add Condy's Crystals to the tea to make it stronger. His Scout Pack used to sleep in the crypt under the St Andrews Church, Plaistow, and once, when an incendiary bomb hit it, he climbed into the loft with a few others to put out the flames, but he was typically modest about this small act of heroism. His idol and teacher in those years was a kindly vicar called Father Jack, who not only dealt with his spiritual welfare, by confirming him, but also led the Scouting pack. But that's not all, he also taught them how to be Morris dancers, a sort of traditional English line dancing with origins deep in England's pagan past. With either scouts or Morris Dancing he was able to travel about the country in the weekends. But all this camping and dancing had to be put aside! Reality struck. Ron's first job was with Ingersols, the watch-makers, and the family still have a silver watch and a clock that he bought for his parents with money from his weekly pay of 3/6. At eighteen Ron studied in the evening at Radio school, because he knew he would have to join the forces in some capacity soon. In 1940 he passed his ticket with ease and was consigned to his first ship, a Norwegian Merchant ship plying to and fro across the Atlantic to New York and other ports getting food and essentials. He was the only English speaker on board, so was also the Captain's Secretary. That was the Battle of the Atlantic Another ship he was on during the Invasion of the North African, was torpedoed and sank in the Mediterranean off the North African coast. Without going into what must have been a frightening ordeal he characteristically described it as a 'warm swim in the Med!' His final ship was involved in the Italian Invasion and returned to Norway at Wars end. So it was back to England, another Radio Ticket before joining the NZ Shipping Co ship, S.S. 'Somerset' on its maiden voyage to New Zealand. Little did he know this would be no ordinary maiden voyage! In Auckland visiting sailors were invited to the Mercantile Auxiliary Club to socialise and it is here that Ron met a classy young Kiwi girl called Betty Le Grice. After a whirlwind romance of a whole two weeks the 'Somerset' left New Zealand with sailor Ron on board and Betty on the wharf, both severely pinged by Cupid's arrows, and now blissfully engaged. I don't know if they exist at the bottom of Betty's mountain of important papers, but I'll bet there were some very steamy love letters back and forth for nearly a year, because when the 'Somerset' returned, without wasting a moment, they married in Devonport, Auckland in May 1947. The newlyweds settled in Devonport and built their first home there. Of course when marriage happens to sailors, most of them quickly adapt to the early joys of married life, and Ron promptly 'swallowed the anchor', became a landlubber with a mortgage and the proud father of a couple of bouncing boys. To support his growing brood, Ron took a job with the Auckland Harbour Board for a couple of years. His heart was not really in it, and when the opportunity presented itself, he bought the lease of the Oxford Hotel opposite the old Ghandi Hall in Victoria St West, Auckland, and found his vocation! Now I've always thought of Ron as an excellent 'Mine host'. When visiting the Edgell home, I knew that even if I was talking to Betty, often about Family History, Ron would silently offer me a drink of this or that by a little twist of the wrist, a skill honed to perfection in his many years in the Hospitality industry. But the young family was growing and a city pub was not easy to have and spend what we now call quality time with the family, so the lease was not renewed and Ron and Betty bought the old Hot Springs Hotel at Waingaro, west of Ngaruwahia and Hamilton. It was hard work to serve at the bars and operate the hotel part, but Ron and Betty gave it their all. In talking to Michael and Randell, they loved the freedom of it, doing all sorts of things such as blocking off the main Raglan road in a futile attempt to help guide customers to the hotel. Its no wonder they were sent off to boarding school. Our family visited Waingaro several times and its family atmosphere and hot pools are pleasant memories that I hold. So after eight years it was back to Auckland and 5 day a week work with firstly Reids as a Rep, then General Manager of Corban's Wines in Hobson St. Somewhere during this time a late addition called Melody came along to complete the family. Ron never quite lost the lure of the sea, and with his launch 'Moehau'many a fine holiday was had. The family reports quite seriously that the food to booze ratio was seriously out of kilter! 'Moehau' is called by the family, Ron's other love, and the boys had to love it also. He would cunningly get them down to the slips beside the Devonport Yacht Club, set them sanding, scraping and painting Moehou's bottom and varnish, then, pleading thirst, would nip across the road to the Masonic Hotel and watch the sweated child labour at work from the window. Michael was perhaps influenced by all this nautical stuff, is a good yachtsman and had a boat insurance business for a while Another fond memory I have is going fishing just once with Ron, Peter and Jack on Jack's launch, the 'Lazy Days'. It was called fishing, but I don't think they found the right spot that day, so after a few cool long-necked bottles of beer from the bilge, we went back to Milford Marina, and I was drunk, sunburned, without fish and with new ideas about what fishing trips are all about. The trip home on my motorbike was very dodgy. As a family man Ron provided, generally speaking, a fine role model for his children and grandchildren. That restrained gentlemanly English way, blended with a few Kiwi characteristics, reflects well, on Michael, Randell and Melody, and seems to rub off on their spouses as well. Mind you, Melody would probably still be single, if Ron hadn't casually introduced her to his protegee at work, Mike Aislabie, although apparently he was horrified when he started to take her out. Mind you, when he saw a positive side to this he relented. After his retirement, this semi dynastic marriage ensured at least for a few years, the continuation of supplies of Moet et Chandon for the family celebrations. If there was an argument, his redeeming quality was that it was all forgotten very quickly, even if others took a bit longer to get over it As Pop or Poppie he was always proud of any success, large or small of all of the grandchildren, and often supported their endeavours enthusiastically from the sideline Ron retired in 1982, but he could not really give up being mine host, helping out at first the soccer club bar, and more latterly at the Mayfair Village Bar But much more significantly he developed a new hobby. Both Ron and Betty developed excellent Genealogical research skills, and for about twenty years, spent time and money piecing together the Edgell and Le Grice family trees, learning a range of new skills as they went, including geriatric computing way beyond the ability of many people half their age. My son Justin, an IT specialist marvels at their skills. These family studies over two or three trips took them to Australia, Canada and England meeting distant relatives and sharing information. I must also mention Ron and Betty's homes, especially those around Lake Pupuke, which seemed to me to be oasis of calm and order. But also the house at Mayfair of which Ron was very proud. On a more personal nature, Betty, you will now learn how to live without Ron at your side. Much will be strange for a while, but you are blessed with an inner strength that will pull you through your time of loss. Also you have a marvelous family who I can tell, will not stop showing their love for you by being there if you need them. And Ron wherever you are, keep that twinkling eye on this special family and care for them from where you are. The Edgell family motto is Que sera, sera which means What will be, will be. So Ron, from the Edgell family, and me I say farewell to a thorough gentleman. Further notes Ron Edgell, after starting work at Ingersolls (Clock and watchmaking firm)went to Radio College and after obtaining his ticket joined the Merchant Navy. He served in the 2 W.War on Norwegian Ships, being torpedoed in the Med.Afterthe War he joined the N.Z. Shipping Co. sailing on S.S. Somerset for Aucklandin 1946.. Somerset was on her Maiden Voyage. He met his wife Betty May LeGrice, who was a Hostess at the Merchant Navy Auxillary Club. They were married on his next trip to N.Z. After two years he left the sea, spent some time working for the Auckland Harbour Board, before taking over a 2 year lease of the Oxford Hotel, in Victoria St. W. in Auckland City. Then the family bought the Freehold of a Country Hotel, at Hot Springs Waingaro, where both Betty and Ron remained for 8 years. Their two sons Michael and Randell, after spending a short while at the small country school, were enrolled at Southwell School in Hamilton, as boarders, because it was thought that the education and sporting interests they would have in the Country were inadequate.When the family gave up the Hotel trade,. they returned to Auckland, Ron remaining with the Liquor Industry, firstly working for John Reid Ltd as a Rep, and then joining A.A Corbin's, staying on to become Manager of the Governor's Liquor Market when there was an amalgamation. Ron remained with them until he retired at 60.He then worked part-time for another Wholesale Liquor outlet, and is currently Bar Manager for the Takapuna Soccer Club.
Akabahra Final Fate - 1943: Captain Marcus Grepne. Akabahra served as military transport for Operation Torch. On Jan. 7-1943 she was in station 45 (54?) of Convoy KMS 6, on a voyage from Algiers to Bone, having departed Algiers that same morning with a cargo of railroad tracks and crossties as well as misc. food stuffs. That afternoon the convoy was attacked by around 15 aircraft, and she was hit by a torpedo on the port side, probably in the boiler room, and started to sink right away (37 07N 04 38E). The port lifeboat was destroyed in the explosion, but the starboard boat was successfully launched, while 4-5 crew members jumped overboard and were later picked up by this boat. An attempt to get one of the rafts out failed as it got caught, but the aft raft was put on the water with 9 men. The captain placed himself in the motor lifeboat which floated free as the ship sank after about 10-12 minutes. All 25 survived and were picked up by the escort vessel HMS Bicester (S.W.F.B. Bennets) which also picked up some of the survivors from the British Benalbanach, a victim of the same attack with great loss of life (follow the link to KMS 6 for details). They were landed in Bone on Jan. 8. According to a personal story I've found, the survivors were placed in a military camp for a few days (location not named) before being sent "across the mountains" by train to Algiers, where they were given lodgings at a school. They were later sent to England. Crew List: Norwegian, unless otherwise noted * Gunnar Knudsen had previously served on M/T Skaraas (from 1939), M/T Nortind (paid off just a few days before she embarked on her last voyage), M/T Polarsol, then Akabahra. After the loss of the latter he signed on D/S Knoll, and later took part in the Normandie invasion with Skarv. Today he spends his time accompanying school groups to former concentration camps, and has taken part in 77 such trips with over 6000 young students. A book has been written about his war experiences, entitled "Krigsseiler og tidsvitne" (by Oddvar Schjølberg), which he recently kindly sent me as a gift. Captain Marcus Grepne 1st Mate Einar Fuhr 2nd Mate Sigurd Lauritsen Radio Operator Ron Edgell (British) Boatswain Toralf Gundersen Able Seaman Birger Berentsen Able Seaman Olse Solstad Able Seaman Willy Bodin Able Seaman Karsten Tønnesen Able Seaman John Nilsen 1st Engineer Einar Ellingsen 2nd Engineer Jørgen Myrvang 3rd Engineer Haakon Liverød Donkeyman Jesus Lopez (from Uruguay) Stoker Arthur Thomson Stoker Folke Svendson Stoker Jean Piven (Russian) Oiler Kevin Best (British) Trimmer Kenneth Crowther (British) Steward Helge Gustavsen Cook Gunnar Knudsen* Mess Boy Dennis Berry (British) Gunner Peder Jakobsen Gunner Jakob Espeland Gunner ? Jackson (British).