Home to Germany, via New York, Norway - and Bute!

George McKenzie hands over the porcelain plates to Petra from the museum.
George McKenzie hands over the porcelain plates to Petra from the museum.

Three porcelain plates salvaged from a German liner which foundered after striking rocks in 1934, gifted to island resident George McKenzie during his service as a Lieutenant with the Royal Naval Reserve while in Norway, were returned to their home in Selb, Germany, recently.

Here George takes up the story.

In September 1974, I was undertaking my annual sea training as a Lieutenant with the RoyalNaval Reserve serving as Gunnery Officer on our minesweeper HMS Clyde.

We were part of a major NATO exercise but having completed our tasks in the Clyde and Forth estuaries in Scotland we were given a few days stand-off to visit Haugesund, Norway.

Whilst in that port I was responsible for arranging formal receptions and cocktail parties for numerous representatives from the community including members of the local diving club.

Before we sailed for home the president of the diving club came to the ship to thank us for our hospitality and presented me with the gift of three porcelain plates, which he said had been salvaged by club members from a pile of unwashed dishes in the galley of a German liner, which had foundered off the adjacent island of Karmoy but he did not tell me the name of the ship.

The plates were taken to my home in Tobermory, Isle of Mull and in 1975 to our new home in Rothesay, Isle of Bute where the largest plate was displayed but the others were stored in a cupboard.

Over the succeeding years I occasionally wondered about the name of the liner but it was only in the last six months that I decided to do a proper search to solve the mystery, a task made much easier as I acquired a new a new laptop with improved access to the internet.

* To read the full story, see today’s Buteman - on sale now.