James Stevens LINKLATER Nelson Valdemar LINKLATER Elsie May SOUNDY Valdemar McLelland LINKLATER Mary Flint LINKLATER Edward James LINKLATER Adelaide Jeanette LINKLATER James Ernest LINKLATER Amelia Agnes BELL tree

Arthur David LINKLATER 1879-1955

Usually known as Dum

8th Jul 1879

Born in Leith

Captain Arthur David Linklater

9th Jun 1917

Married Elsie May SOUNDY in Bombay


15th Aug 1918

Birth of son Nelson Valdemar LINKLATER in Bombay


6th Feb 1955

Died in Maidenhead


There is a whole separate section devoted to Dum; see Arthur David LINKLATER This is the whistle-stop tour.

EVELEYN: Arthur was Amelia's eldest child. He was only 12 years older than mother and they were very fond of one another. I believe he used to play truant from school and was found at Leith docks with the ships. Uncle James then sent him to sea, and I think he had a very rough time in sailing ships in those days. He became a Captain and ultimately a surveyor of the Hoogli River in India. He married Elsie - whose maiden name I do not remember, nor the name of her first husband. She divorced the latter who was a German, by whom she had had three children.

Arthur took a job as manager to a Parsee called Dhungibhoy a very rich man. He had a wonderful place at Windsor - race horses and everything - and ultimately Arthur came there as his steward or agent. When D. died Arthur had to find something else, and during the war he worked for some sailors' concern in Liverpool. He was singularly handsome and a nice person. He died In, I think, 1955 of cancer. Elsie is still living with her son by Arthur, Nelson Linklater - called Dick, and his wife Peggy. Elsie was an odd person: slim, dark and attractive when she was younger, an excellent cook and a clever woman in all domestic matters. She was born in India and never left it till she and Arthur came to England.

Dum was born (at 10.15 a.m!) in Leith and died at Maidenhead. He was a Master Mariner.

Just why my grandfather was called ‘Dum’ I don't know; it was certainly not a reflection on his mental acuity. Anyone who can correct a ships chronometer by lunar observation is not dumb. I asked my father but he did not know either, even though he also called him Dum rather than ‘father’, whereas his cousins, Naena and Evelyn Roxburgh referred to him as Arthur. Arthur signed most of his letters to his only son, my father, as ‘Dum’ Perhaps it is an Indian word? or term of endearment? Dum referred to his wife, Elsie Soundy, whom he met and married on 9 June 1917 in Bombay, in letters to her etc in rather quaint terms of endearment such as ‘Peach Blossom.’ On the marriage certificate Elsie is named as Elsie May Harris "unmarried" but Harris was the name her first husband, Jules Leonard Schaumberg, took at the outbreak of the Great War, Harris being his mother's maiden name. Elsie had three children, Doris Bruce and Dudley, by her first husband, from whom she separated. Doris in her turn had three sons and they all referred to Arthur as ‘Pops’. So take your pick! but as I only knew Arthur David as Dum that is how I will refer to him in the main.

Play truant as Evelyn mentioned he certainly did. The story as I remember it was that he and another friend would leave home ostensibly for school but in reality go to the docks, leave their school books and so on with the harbour master and spend the day skulking about looking at the ships. To avoid being missed they hit upon the admirable scheme of forging letters to the head master purporting to be from their parents. ‘Dear Headmaster, Wee Arthur has the mumps and will not be in school for the next two months. Yours etc.’ That type of stuff. All went well although apparently going very ill, and they worked their way through chicken pox, German measles, measles, scarlet fever, gastrointestinal disorders of various sorts, green monkey fever, bubonic plague, in-growing toenails - until one fine day they ran out of diseases.

No problem; ‘Dear Headmaster, Puir wee Arthur is vera sick with an unco serious condition which defies the doctors to even name and will, in consequence, be off school indefinitely. Yours etc.’ And even that would have been ok had it not been for a chance encounter between Dum's father, James Stevens Linklater, and the headmaster at some social occasion. It was only to be expected that the headmaster would commiserate over the sad state of ill health of his absent pupil and similarly it was only to be expected that James Stevens Linklater would express profound astonishment that anyone could possibly consider his strapping lad as poorly.

All was revealed and both the boys were summarily packed off to sea aged about 16. I am not certain of the identity of the other boy but from the outset Dum's journal makes frequent reference to a boy name Skuse.

Having served his five year apprenticeship in sail aboard the British Princess Dum spent all the rest of his 'sailing' career in steam vessels finally becoming a Master Mariner and Hooghly Pilot working for the Calcutta Port Authority. A Family story credits him with being awarded an Iron Cross by Crown Prince Wilhelm for a feat of noteworthy navigation; the first complete passage up to Calcutta by night. However, some exaggeration or inaccuracy seems to have crept in here. The Hooghly River, about which there is a great deal more information in the DUM section, is a notoriously treacherous river, being the principal tributary of the Ganges flowing through Calcutta in to the Bay of Bengal and has innumerable constantly shifting sand banks in its course making its safe navigation extremely hazardous. I wrote to the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany querying the likelihood of a military medal being presented on such an occasion and had the following letter back from C M Clausen, Commander FGN, dated 29 Nov 1995.

Thank you for your letter inquiring about the possible award of the Iron Cross to one of your ancestors. I have contacted the appropriate military archives in Germany in order to find some answers to your questions.

Crown Prince Wilhelm was indeed in India on board SMS (standing for HMS) GNEISENAU in the years 1910/ 1911. SMS GNEISENAU was a battle cruiser classed ship. However the Crown Prince left the ship before she sailed to CALCUTTA. Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that an Iron Cross would have been awarded because this medal is a wartime decoration. If your ancestor did get a medal it most certainly would have been a medal from the House of Hohenzollern, the ruling royal family of Prussia at the time. It is also impossible to go back to any records of this kind. Archives were bombed in the last war, records do not exist any more.

Whether any medal ever existed and what it might have been will I suspect never be known. As to why it was not around to be examined, apparently Dum's wife, my grandmother, gave it to a friend of hers who was about to undergo an operation as a good-luck charm! Now that's dumb!

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I only know of one shipping ‘disaster’ story. Dum got involved in shipping timber. Being India this was principally teak plus ancillary equipment, i.e. elephants. I do not know what place it was but they had to off-load somewhere without a quay, common enough in those days. The only way the elephants could be got ashore was to winch them overboard onto rafts. However, the elephants took great exception to being winched over the edge of the ship into what looked like deep water - because in fact it was deep water. I don't know if the family can take credit for this idea or not, but someone had the bright idea of making four holes in the raft, having the raft on deck; having the elephants step ‘onto’ the raft but with their feet through the holes - thus elephant happy as still firmly on deck; then winching the whole contraption overboard and towing it ashore.

History does not relate what the elephants felt about all this - certainly the camels in the photos (taken from Dick's album) look less than amused. However, all went well with the elephants until the first raft got sufficiently close to the shore for the elephant to feel terra firma under foot and with a loud “hurrrrumph“ which is Elephant for ‘bugger this for a game of sailors’ lifted up its skirts and made a dash for freedom and sanity. Before this happened the place where they were unloading was a relatively prosperous coastal trading town. Five minutes later most of the high street was in ruins as a ton and a half of elephant complete with another ton and a half of raft still attached went swaying and careering off towards the hinterland. I think it must have been back to the drawing board on this one.

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As Evelyn wrote (see above) my grandfather got to know a very rich Parsee, with large timber interests (among other things) called Dhunjibhoy Bomanji who later became Sir Dhunjibhoy Bomanji by making a sufficiently generous donation to the War Widows Fund. Dum became Sir Dhunjibhoy's general factotum, agent, right hand man etc. The large house that Evelyn referred to was called The Willows, Bray, near Windsor. This had extensive grounds with numerous walks ornamented with larger-than-life, busty carved stone statues of females in varying states of undress. Dum was at pains to employ as many seamen as possible, perhaps disabled or too old to make the grade. At any rate, there were a number of such on the staff at The Willows and my father remembers seeing the old lags on scrubbing duty on the statuary to keep the algae at bay. Apparently there was never a hint of algal growth about the bosoms or nethers of these statues.

Apparently Dum could easily have ‘taken advantage’ to carve himself out a fortune but would not. Indeed, he seems to have lost most of what he had in the great stock market crash of 1928/9?. I think that 'Swedish matches' were particular offenders. Sir Dhunjibhoy must have died around 1937.

For Dum's later history there is quite an enlightening letter from Lady ‘Bom’ - as Sir Dhunjibhoy's relict was always referred to, although her proper handle was Lady Frainy Dhunjibhoy Bomanji. She wrote (5 March 1955) to Dick - or rather “my dear Nelson“ as she always called him - on hearing of Dum's death. A full transcript can be seen here.

I have only two impressions of Dum, both at Longwaters, the house at Dorney near Windsor where Dum and 'Granny Links' came to live with my parents. We were only there from about 1952/3 till 1957 or so before moving into King's road, Windsor. Dum died in 1955 while we were still at Longwaters.

Longwaters had a big garden going down to the Thames. There were a number of large trees from one of which Dick planned to hang a swing, but was evidently either unsure what knot to use or had forgotten how it should be tied. I can clearly remember Dum giving a quick demonstration of a bowline (or similar!) tied over the corner of the workroom door. The only other thing I can remember of him is his pacing up and down the lawn at the back of the house very much as if he were once more on the quarter deck, with a green plastic eye shade. He was bothered by bright light and became partially sighted if not actually blind. I seem to remember a white stick being sported. One Christmas at Longwaters, he had his Christmas pud put in front of him, which he was about to tackle quite unaware of the fact that it was still ablaze with brandy!

Apparently he did not speak with a noticeabe Scots accent. I remember asking my father about this when I first read Dum's Journal; I wanted to know what sort of voice I should have in my mind's ear. Unfortunately it never occured to me then to ask the questions that I ask myself now about his Journal! I have two of his sailing books; Norie's ‘Nautical Tables’ (1907) and ‘Hydrographic Surveying’ by Wharton and Field (1909) both uniformly bound in half calf presumably on Dum's orders as the Norie's has some notes on the end papers in his hand writing which have been somewhat cropped in the rebinding. He had evidently read and inwardly digested this second fearsomely tedious 'Hydrographic Surveying' as there are penciled under linings and notes in his hand writing throughout. I also have another book bound uniformly with the two above nautical books, but this one is ‘A Manual of Family Medicine for India’ by W.J.Moore (London, Calcutta and Bombay 1883 4th ed.) It falls open - in fact the binding is cracked - at 319 whose two paragraphs have the following headlines in bold capitals; “PRIVATE PARTS, FEMALE, DISCHARGE FROM THE.” and “PRIVATE PARTS, MALE, DISCHARGE FROM THE.” The immediately succeeding pages deal with “PILES” The book was presumably acquired second hand as it has “Long Sand Station. July 8th 1883” inscribed on the fly-leaf, when the more alert reader will realise Dum was a mere 4 years old. There are some astounding remedies given. Here is a useful tip to try for snake bite (“although no antidote has yet been discovered...”)

“Or, if nothing of the kind can be done” [i.e. suction, cutting the affected part out, cauterising with “a live coal or stick, a red-hot iron wire, or a drop of nitric or carbolic acid ...passed into the wounded part”] then “a pinch of gunpowder may be placed in the wound and flashed.” Whether any of these treatments might have proved efficacious against piles is not recorded. Dum died in Maidenhead Hospital on 6th February 1955.