The Start of the Journey

This week we feature the eldest “Roy Boy”,  Edward… given he is the only one who can remember the journey from England to the BVI!

1951 July - Edward - Upavon - they told me grasshoppers were tasty!


His memory is very sharp, so we will have to break this into two segments. Here’s the start of the trip:

“I have no idea what the grand plan was and I’m pretty sure that Mum and Dad had only in inkling of what the future would hold when we set sail for the BVI after Dad retired from the RAF. I was seven, my brother Chris was 4 and Tina was 18 months. Why Mom and Dad would travel all that way by sea with three children of that age is beyond me. I suppose the thought was “how much trouble could they get into anyway within the confines of a ship”. Well, set sail we did from Southampton on January 7, 1958. Off we go to join Granny in the British Virgin Islands.

1951 Rudloe Manor

Now, being that it was some sixty years ago and I am having trouble remembering what I did yesterday, the events of the voyage are somewhat hazy so I will try to recount those times that stand out in memory.


photo credit:

The ship we sailed on was the Ascania, an Italian Liner in the SIOSA lines, (Sicula Oceanica Societa per Azioni) this explains now why Dad referred to it as the Oceanica Sicka since we were seasick most of the voyage. She had the tendency to roll and yaw even in calm seas, and the Atlantic was seldom calm. I do however remember that the spaghetti was magnificent although Dad could not come to terms with his eggs swimming as he called it in olive oil.

~For more pictures of the ship~

    Our first stop was in Lisbon, we all went ashore but we children had to be back aboard early because ‘Tina had to be in bed by six”, in reality I know that the adults did not want us to, try as we may, enjoy the bull fights with them.

1951 March - Betty and Tina - Topcliffe

Onward to Tenerife in the Canary Islands I have no idea what may have happened there, however, having since been back to visit, it would probably have had something to do with Bananas, the major crop. Next stop Madeira. We all piled into a vintage Rolls Royce convertible taxi for the trip up the mountain to the winery, famous for the spirit of the same name, no doubt we kids did not get to imbibe, but I remember stopping to view the harbor from way above and seeing our ship next to one of its sister ships and someone remarking that’s why she was so “sicka” … she was half the width of the other one!

Venezuela was our post Atlantic landfall. Important for us because we arrived in the middle of a revolution, and we were delayed for several days. The army vs Navy and Air-force. No one was allowed off the ship, and the navy personnel stood guard at all points with loaded, as I was later informed, rifles. I mention this because to fill in the time little brother and I were prone to playing cowboys with our cap loaded pistols. I’m sure you can imagine what’s coming. Yes we in our innocent enthusiasm, pistols drawn, approached one of these young fellas to invite him to play with us. I’m sure that he would much rather have joined us but none-the-less we were bundled one under each arm out of sight, probably to be severely dealt with.

1955 Christopher and Edward Roy

We were due to disembark in Antigua where we would catch another ship onward to St. Thomas, however the delay in Venezuela caused the ships itinerary to be changed and Antigua was eliminated so we were dropped in St. Kitts. What! No ships to anywhere near the BVI?! Well what is in harbour? ”

Tune in next week to find out!!



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