Arthur Bayliss, the fifth child of Herbert Bayliss and his wife Esther, was born at 9 Hampden Road, Upper Holloway, London N19 on 21 February 1912. So far, I have found no record of the family living at that address beyond Arthur's birth certificate. Less than a year before the family was living in Fairbridge Road and soon after that date they were in Cottenham Road. Of course, given just how many times Herbert and his family moved it is really no surprise to find another address popping up in their story. Hampden Road still exists, or rather a few yards of it, just east of Upper Holloway railway station. None of the buildings survive, having been demolished to make way for The Whittington Park.
I admit that, as with many of his brothers and sisters, I know little of Arthur's younger years beyond one dramatic incident that happened while the family were living in Cottenham Road. I had heard a rather different version of this story but the one I am going to tell here is the one Arthur himself told to his daughter. One day while playing in the kitchen young Arthur reached up when his mother wasn't looking and grabbed the handle of a saucepan and pulled it down on top of himself. The pan was full of boiling water. One of his sisters (Esther) told me that it was only the quick thinking of his elder sister, Florence, in putting his arm under a cold tap that stopped things being worse than they were (the old wives remedy of putting grease or butter on a scald was totally the wrong thing to do). Arthur remembered his mother massaging the scalded flesh on his arm. As it was Arthur would carry the result s of this accident for the rest of his life - a prematurely receding hairline, a noticeable scar on his forehead where the hot pan hit him and a badly scarred arm - the latter can just be seen in the picture at the head of this post.
|Arthur with his and brother Charlie's friend Mark.|
Arthur, like his older brother Charles, was particularly friendly with a young man named Mark and he appears in several early photographs such as the one of the three of them in fancy dress that appeared in a previous post and the one below. In November 1930 the eighteen year old Arthur was offered a job with a certain Mr. Morton. I am told that the job was driving a small van for W.S. Morton Fishmongers in Junction Road opposite Highgate (later Archway) Underground Station. Arthur was soon promoted to the position of chauffeur/gardener for Mr. Morton. I have tried to find out something about Mr.Morton without much success. No W.S.Morton appears on the electoral role. When the "W.S.Morton Ltd" was finally liquidated in 1977 the registered office was an address in Queens Avenue, Muswell Hill. Arthur's daughter, Alva has told me that it was John Morton that her father worked for and that he lived in Highgate. I have searched the electoral register for the whole period of Arthur's employment and can find no Morton at all, let alone John Morton that fits the bill. The fish shop was to play a very important part in Arthur's life. In 1934 Arthur was living at 720 Holloway Road with his mother and step-father.
|This picture of Arthur and Phyllis is one|
of my personal favourites
It was probably soon after the began working for Mr. Morton that Arthur met Phyllis May Brown. Phyllis, born 9 May 1911 and Arthur Bayliss were married 3 January 1935 at Islington Register Office in Liverpool Road. Their first home was at 56 St.John's Villas, Upper Holloway. By 1938 Arthur and Phyllis were living at Waterlow Road (formerly Bismark Road). Phyllis's family are particularly interesting and will be the subject of a follow-up post.
|Arthur as a constable in the Police Wartime Reserve|
When war broke out with Germany in 1939 Arthur, like his brothers Herbert and Charles joined the Wartime Police Reserve. According to Arthur's daughter Alva her brother Alvin used to tell her he remembered his father coming down the street in his uniform. This seems rather unlikely as Arthur resigned from the police on 2 November 1943 when Alvin was only a few months old. The reason for Arthur's resignation from the police was because he wanted to join the Royal Navy.
|Arthur (centre) probably during his training days.|
Arthur entered the Royal Navy on 3 November 1943 and would serve until his demob on 19 May 1946, but was still at home on 23 July of that year to see the birth of his son, Alvin Richard.
|Arthur proudly holds baby Alvin for a photo.|
Arthur's war service is particularly interesting. After training he was assigned to HMS Lothian, a converted merchant ship that was refitted for "special duties" as part of a Royal Navy Landing Force designated "Force X". In August 1944 Force X set sail from Greenock in Scotland to help the Americans in the Pacific. The voyage would take then across the Atlantic to New York then to Balboa in Panama and through the Panama Canal into the Pacific. Unfortunately HMS Lothian was not a happy ship. It was badly equipped, overcrowded and unsanitary and the food was poor quality. Conditions on board was so bad that on 1 September 1944 in Balboa a proportion of the crew decided to mutiny - furthermore it was an armed mutiny. So serious was the act of mutiny the Admiral issued an order for marines to open fire on the mutineers. Thankfully the order was disobeyed by a Lieutenant-Commander who decided to try reason instead. He would later pay for his humanity by becoming the official scapegoat and having his naval career ended. The mutiny failed and when HMS Lothian and the rest of Force X reached Bora Bora in the Pacific the ringleaders were tried by court martial. The sentences were surprisingly lenient - considering that mutiny in the Royal Navy was still punishable by hanging.
One of the reasons for this was undoubtedly the embarrassment of the Royal Navy that this had happened in full view of their American allies who were already showing their contempt for the whole Force X project. When the flotilla finally reached Australia the help of Force X was ignominiously and humiliatingly rejected by the Americans. The whole sad story of Force X would probably have been forgotten (the Royal Navy certainly tried to bury the evidence) were it not for journalist Bill Glenton who, as luck would have it, was one of the mutineers and ideally suited to tell the story from the inside. His book MUTINY IN FORCE X was published by Hodder and Stoughton in 1986 and makes for compelling reading. I have cousin Alvin to thank for bringing the story and the book to my attention.
|Arthur in his "Whites" in Sydney Australia|
It is almost certain that Arthur played no part in the mutiny but he was certainly on board during these dramatic events. It would have been wonderful to hear his personal memories. Alvin has reason to believe that Bill Glenton tried to contact Arthur at the time he was writing the book but nothing ever came of it.
|The ill-starred HMS Lothian|
In part two of Arthur's story we will learn about how he became the manager of W.S.Morton's Fishmongers. This article on Arthur would have not been possible without the memories and photographs belonging to Alva and Alvin.