Something ere the end, some work of noble note, may yet be done.
Come 1939, the greater emergency of World War II breaking out did not find Dum wanting. It must have seemed to offer him the chance of one final roll of the dice, especially when he spotted - and carefully preserved - this notice. It is not a newspaper cutting and there is no indication of the source.
Section 6 of the Bill empowers the Board to purchase by agreement any British vessel, with a view to creating a reserve of merchant ships, a sum not exceeding £2,000,000 being provided for buying and maintaining such ships. At the same time, a Merchant Ship Reserve Fund is to be set up into which can be paid any receipts arising from the sale for demolition of any vessel in the Reserve, and out of which, as far as possible, maintenance expenses may be defrayed. No vessel in the Reserve may be sold for any purpose other than demolition. Further powers are given to the Board of Trade by section 7, which authorizes the Board to make regulations requiring that vessels of any class specified by it shall not cease to be registered in the United Kingdom except with its consent.
If the Board of Trade withhold their consent in any case they must offer to buy the ship on terms to be settled by agreement, or, failing agreement, by an arbitrator appointed by the Lord Chancellor. In the latter event, the price to be paid for the ship will be assessed at the amount which it might be expected to realise if sold in the open market by a willing seller on the terms of sale determined by the arbitrator.
It has been decided that the most suitable vessels for inclusion in the reserve will be tramps and cargo liners of between 3,000 and 8,000 tons gross. After survey and purchase, the vessels will be registered in the name of the Board of Trade and placed in the hands of ship owners who, acting as agents of the Board of Trade, will undertake the safe custody and maintenance of the ships at approved ports or places.
All sections of the Bill provide that the costs of administration shall be defrayed from the sums made available for the various subsidies and funds. The administrative costs are estimated as follows:
|Tramp shipping subsidy||£10,000||per annum|
|Shipbuilding loans||£4,000||,, ,,|
|Shipbuilding grants||£61,500||,, ,,|
|Liner Service Defence||£10,000||,, ,,|
|Merchant Ship Reserve||£3,500||,, ,,|
|Total estimated administrative costs||£29,000||,, ,,|
The Merchant Navy Reserve wrote to him
on 12 July 1939; I have pleasure in forwarding herewith
your 32664 Registration Certificate which requires your signature and
should be carefully preserved. It was, and continues to be! Whether
this was something he applied for or whether he was contacted automatically
as a mariner registered through the Board of Trade is unclear, but in
a letter dated July 1939 they wrote; ...it is desired
to make a detailed record of former Officers who may have special qualifications
or experience, in order that the best possible use may be made in an
emergency of all available personnel.
Accordingly I shall be much obliged if you will be good enough to complete the enclosed Questionnaire... Which he presumably did, but if so I have no record of it, nor, so far as I am aware, did anything come of it. Just what special “qualifications or experience” were required I am not sure unless it was simply the ability to steer a boat across the Atlantic. Of course merchant seamen were required to take boats to many places but their lives were expended in vast numbers - some 30,000 or more - in the strategically crucial Atlantic convoys. But as far as Arthur was concerned, truth was, apart from his age, his health was not good and even cut short his time as manager of a seamen's refuge - if that is what he actually was.