Trust celebrates International Day of the Seafarer

| 17/07/2014

(CNS): As a part of the National Trust’s bi-monthly Speaker’s Series the environmental protection NGO recently hosted “Tales from the High Seas” in celebration of the International Day of the Seafarer in partnership with the Seafarers’ Association. A panel at the event, held at the Seafarers Hall, included Bob Soto and Clifton Bodden, both seafarers and members of the Home Guard during WWII, Ora Hollebon and National Trust employees Denise Bodden and Karie Bounds. Ivan Farrington recalled how his father, Lawrence Edwin "Eddie" Farrington, had been capture by the Germans during WWII and learned how to make shoes while being held in a German camp. 

Historic Education and Development Manager at the National Trust Denise Bodden highlighted several Trust owned properties which have ties to Cayman’s Seafaring heritage, such as the Eldemire House in the Brac, Mission House in Bodden Town and Fort George, which was utilized from the late 1700’s through World War II as a maritime fortification.

Soto and Clifton Bodden shared several educational details of their training and work during the Home Guard years and of their lives at sea. Their recollection included events at Fort George, during WWII as well as the heroic Caymanian rescue of the crew from the Comayagua, which was torpedoed off our shores in May 1942. 

Ora Hollebon shared facts and stories of a little vessel named The Gravina, which was owned and operated by her father Captain William Crosby Ebanks for about a decade between the late 1930 and 1940's. The Gravina served as a lifeline between the Cayman Islands and Cuba carrying people needing medical attention to Cuba and transporting various goods, including wine from Cuba and Soto's bicycle from Cayman. 

Many of the 50 people in attendance also shared their own seafaring experiences with the audience.

“As a granddaughter, daughter and a niece of seafarers I feel proud of our seafaring heritage as those seafarers left home with so little, but returned with a wealth of experience, knowledge and funds to better the lives of their families" said Denise Bodden, “Supporting the historic properties owned by the National Trust continues to allow our seafaring heritage to have a physical presence in modern-day Cayman.”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Several years ago I suggested to the late Consuelo Ebanks (of blessed memory) that the Seafearers Association could/should orgainize (in association with the CNCF) a series of social gatherings of seamen and record their experiences (or the recollection of relatives as told to them). The coffee-table book "The Southwell Years" was a valiant and well-received start but many stories remain undocumented. Seems like the idea is still valid but the surviving seamen won't be around forever. I also posed the idea to a local musical duo to do a fundraising event to assist with the costs.

  2. Abrana says:

    There were several Caymanian men who were POW, including my uncle Robert Lee Smith. That was a part of his life that he never liked to share…..the memories were so bad.

  3. Watson says:

    I would love to hear more about Eddie Farrington -how on earth did a Cayman man end up in a German POW cage?  All I have ever been told is that Cayman men served at sea.  Did we have footsoldiers in harms way as well

    • Anonymous says:

      Several Caymanian men ended up in POW camps. 1 in 26 mariners serving aboard merchant ships in World WW II died in the line of duty, suffering a greater percentage of war-related deaths than all other U.S. services. Casualties were kept secret during the War to keep information about their success from the enemy and to attract and keep mariners at sea.

    • Fuzzy says:

           13:50.I suspect that he was a survivor from a merchant marine vessel sunk by the Germans.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes. We even had a decorated airman killed in WW1. Caymanians fought as British, and so no separate record was kept.