Joy Clist, d. 1935

Sidney Clist's album

by Roger Clist

The Rangitane Sidney, Mercy, Mary and George Clist, 1931 Mercy, Tom Bellamy, Joy, Dorothy, Annie, Mary and George Clist, 1931 Ellen Brewer, Will Brewer, Mary Clist, Annie Clist, George Clist (seated), Mercy Clist (NZ) and Joy Clist at the Higher Huntham Farm, North Curry, 1931 Will Brewer at the Higher Huntham Farm, North Curry, 1931

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This page describes a photo album compiled by my grandfather Sidney Clist who, with his wife Mercy, visited the UK (from NZ) in 1931.

To me, the album is much like a jigsaw puzzle, as my grandfather captioned many of the photos but he was very cryptic and terse in his descriptions. So working out just who is whom is like unravelling a mystery. The task is made harder because the photos are small, not necessarily in chronological order, and include other photos not taken on this trip. I have spent many happy hours with magnifying glass exploring this album, and will report some highlights here.

This was Sidney and Mercy's only visit to Sidney's parents George and Mary Clist, who lived at the Ivy Cottage, Shoreditch, Taunton. My father Eric was disappointed not to be included in the visit, as he never ever had an opportunity to meet his grandparents, or any of his aunts and uncles on his father's side.

The visit was timely. Within four years Sidney's parents and youngest sister Joy had passed away.

The Rangitane

My grandparents travelled on board the Rangitane (a Maori name pronounced Rang-ee-tarn-ee), one of three passenger ships built by the New Zealand Shipping Company in 1929 for service on the UK - NZ route. The sister ships were the Rangitiki and the Rangitata, and all three are icons of New Zealand's strong links back to the 'old country'.

My grandmother Mercy told me that it was night when they finally arrived. I suspect that they had disembarked at London or Southhampton and travelled by train to Taunton, and then by taxi to the Ivy Cottage. When Sidney's father heard the footsteps outside, he called out "Zat be ye, Zidney" in the Somerset drawl. What a wonderful reunion it must have been. Mercy said that they were surprised to see that she was white-skinned, because the parents had thought that Sidney had married a Maori (native New Zealander). I suppose they had seen photos, nearly always sepia-toned in those days, and in the photos it does seem that Mercy is quite dark.

Postscript: The Rangitane was attacked and sunk by the Germans on 27 November 1940 with the loss of 16 lives. This was two days after it had left Auckland bound for Liverpool with a cargo of dairy produce, 111 passengers and a crew of approximately 200. She was the largest passenger liner to be sunk by surface raiders during WWII. Offsite sources: Auckland Museum scrapbook , research into sinking .

Under construction