Secret messages…and an intriguing mystery

FIRST SECRET MESSAGES… There has been something in the Guardian recently about the hidden/filtered messages on FaceBook.

I followed the instructions given in the article and found a lovely message from the 40 Acts team from 2014 – my first foray into 40 Acts blogging. They’d even posted a little video in French saying Thank You for blogging.

If you haven’t seen this, it might be worth looking yourself – people have posted about finding out about deaths of acquaintances years too late, plus other important (and less important) things.

NEXT, THE INTRIGUING MYSTERY (SOLVED) which is linked to our stay in the south with the cycle club. We had a good time,and here are some pictures:

IMG_2560Mr FD & me at Port Grimaud


Port Grimaud – a slightly “faux” village, built in the 60s (and after) to accommodate rich people and their gin palaces


I rest my case.


a walk in the vineyards


Mr FD arriving at the top of a climb. It doesn’t look very steep, but this is the view frrom the top:


and they climbed from sealevel!!


an ancient olive tree


And this is the mystery – on the Isle de Pourquerolles, a small island off the south coast of France, we discovered 4 Commonwealth war graves. Strangely moved by this, I left a rose on each of the graves – I thought it looked like a poppy!) One grave was for “an unknown British seaman”, and then these three, for three young men, from different regiments, all of whom died on the same day,

Name Rank Service Number Date of Death Age Regiment / Service Service Country Grave /
Memorial Reference
Cemetery / Memorial Name Docs.
MORGAN, E T Private 37096 04/05/1917 Royal Welsh Fusiliers United Kingdom PORQUEROLLES COMMUNAL CEMETERY
SMALLMAN, JAMES Private 36273 04/05/1917 29 The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment United Kingdom PORQUEROLLES COMMUNAL CEMETERY
WATERS, C H Private 41187 04/05/1917 23 Essex Regiment United Kingdom PORQUEROLLES COMMUNAL CEMETERY



We could not help but wonder why these three men died and were buried here. I decided that I would love to find out more, especially as when Mr FD did a quick bit of research over our picnic lunch, we found out that Private Smallman came from Wallasey, just across the River Mersey from Liverpool.

On our return, I read that the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment were fighting in Egypt at some stage, so maybe wondered if their deaths are related to that, and then I found this on the History of Wallasey website:


Mrs. Smallman, of 22, Rosalind Street, Poulton, has received the sad news that
her husband, Pte. James Smallman was drowned on May 4, on his voyage to
Egypt. Twenty nine years of age, he joined the King’s Liverpool Regiment on June
5, 1916, and was transferred to the Loyal North Lancashire Regt. He was drafted
to France on the 17thApril last, and sailed on May 2. He was formerly employed
by the Vacuum Oil Co., Birkenhead, and leaves a widow and one child to mourn him

I guessed that the other two named soldiers, and possibly the seaman too, died in the same torpedo attack.  So I thought I could try following up the other names.

Googling Private Morgan, I find this:

Décédé lors du naufrage du SS Transylvania qui faisant route de Marseille vers Alexandrie, coulé à 10h par le sous-marin U-63 à 2,2 miles au sud de Savona. Dix hommes d’équipage, 29 officiers et 373 soldats perdirent la vie. Si la plupart des victimes furent inhumées dans un carré spécial du cimetière de la ville, d’autres furent enterrées ailleurs en Italie, France, Monaco et Espagne

(Killed during a shpwreck of SS Transylvania which occurred en route from Marseilles to Alexandria, torpedoed at 10h by the submarine U-63 2.2 miles south of Savona. 10 crewmembers, 29 officers and 373 soldiers lost their lives. While most of the victims were buried in a special area of the town’s cemetary, others were buried elsewhere in Italy, France, Monaco and Spain)


The islands you can see just at the very left of the map include (I think) the island of Pourquerolles. Presumably they were buried where their bodies were washed up.

Isn’t it strange how the deaths of four people one knew nothing about beforehand, could affect you so much that you want to find out more like this…


Mr FD does research; Giselle and Albert enjoy their lunch. Cemetary in the background.


The windmill of happiness (really, that’s what it’s called!)




One thought on “Secret messages…and an intriguing mystery

  1. How moving, and fascinating to find out about the occupants of those graves. I’m discovering my own family history and really getting involved in how and when people lived and died. I visited Port Grimaud in the early 70’s with my correspondante whose family kept their boat there. Thems were the days!

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