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The Bibb & Bermuda Sky Queen
Michael W. Dolman's Photographs

The Ocean Station Charlie Page   |  Article from "The Quarterdeck Log" on the Bibb & Bermuda Sky Queen 

Photo of some of the rescued.  Taken through a window - thus the reflections.

Date:  Fri, 11 Oct 2002 20:45:20 +0100
From:  "richarddolman" <richarddolman@supanet.com>
Dear Sir,
My father Michael W. Dolman was on the Sky Queen on that ill fated flight.  He was one of three ex Merchant Seaman aboard, and I think he was one of the three ex Merchant men that left the aircraft early on "To test the method of getting Off" I have also found a few (but sadly poor) photographs my father took during the rescue, He had an old camara and the photographs were either poor as taken into  the sun or during poor light late evening or early morning. These photographs were never developed (or the prints were lost years ago) but today I have scanned them from the original negatives and one or two give some idea of the conditions. One is a photograph of a small group of men and young women taken through the window of a wet glass pane so there are reflections, it shows this group wearing clothes that must have been supplied by the ships company.
regards, best wishes
Richard Dolman (son) now aged 65 - Dad was born October 9th 1910 - died Dec 22 1986, from of all things, the result of injuries received in a car crash!!!!

Fri, 11 Oct 2002 22:04:36 +0100
From:  "richarddolman" <richarddolman@supanet.com>
Dear Mr Morris,
Corrections to my first email...  Note the last one I have left larger as I have found that using the computer I enlarged and enlarged and found that I got, although a blurred image, a picture of the Sky Queen with a rescue boat near its nose. I expect this photo was taken in the morning after the seas had calmed somewhat.
     I note from your article on the website that you had contact earlier this year from one of the survivors (then aged 3 1/2) I don't know if you have his address and can give him mine as I would like to know more about this rescue, maybe he might care to contact me? My father told me that he was sitting on the floor at the rear of the aircraft playing poker with 2 or 3 other men, Why on the floor I don't know, from my memory he said there weren't enough seats for everyone!!! Anyway as an ex Merchant Seaman, (he was trained by Siemans as a Ships Wireless operator back in 1927/28 and was at sea until 1933 when he came ashore to marry - my mother ) he didn't get seasick, and was going round the aircraft with a couple of other ex seaman mopping up and helping out as best they could. Whether this part of his story is correct or I have got it wrong through faulty memory, he told me that as he was ex M. Navy and wasn't getting seasick, he and two other guys were picked to try out getting off the aircraft using rubber dingies, which they managed to do; so they were almost the first off........ Dad was on board the Bibb as others came off so was able to take these photographs.
Very best wishes,
Richard Dolman.

 Lowering a whale boat, and on to the rescue!

One of the rescued coming aboard the BIBB.

There's no way to know, but wouldn't it be great if this was a photo of A. Edgar Ritchie!?

Dear Ted,
Thank you for your kind comments regarding my father. I don't think my father regarded himself in the hero role that night, he never talked about the rescue much, but talked more about the funny side of things instead.  Dad told me stories about afterwards, and from memory I can tell them to you as I remember them; so allowances must be made for my lapse in memory and the possibility that Dad liked to tell a tale and may have embroidered it for the telling.
      After they were landed, in I think was Boston, Dad and another man were taken in by a wealthy Bostonian family into their large Mansion type house. They had little luggage (their luggage went down with the plane, sunk by the Bibb's guns you remember) only what they stood up in plus what the BIbb crew had given them in the way of sweaters**, socks etc. After a stay in this large house and getting kitted out with new clothes etc. they were due to leave to make their way on to where ever they were due to go, Dad and the other man pooled what little cash they had to give to the staff of their hosts. As they were due to leave the staff lined up in the hall of this house, a fair number of staff it had too, and Dad approached the Butler; and in the best old world English understatement he could conjure quietly handed the Butler their pooled small token of appreciation: without looking at this gift, the Butler quietly pocketed it and said " Thank you sir, the staff and I appreciate this, and in return, the staff and I have had a whip round and would be grateful if you would accept this and we hope this will assist you on your way." Dad thanked him and he too without looking put this gift into his pocket for later. After thanking their host the pair of them got in a Taxi and left. In the Taxi he opened the envelope given him by the butler and on dividing what was in the envelope found that between them they had a couple of hundred dollars. The generous American way!!!

* *This sweater was a very heavy white sweater, later both my brother and I wore it on different occasions (of course) during cold weather as we grew up. After my father died I cleared his house, and I am afraid the sweater went in the house clearance. The last of the momentos from the Bibb. He also had an armrest cover from the aircraft, used it to mop up the people who had been seasick he said, put it in my pocket and forgot about it he said.- Long lost too!!!
     Another short tale. Some time way back before the war, Dad was given a silver flute from an elderly relative; Dad was not much of a player of this instrument but as a child I remember him at weekends sitting quietly playing the odd tune, by ear as he didn't read sheet music. Well on the trip out to the States on the ill fated Sky Queen this flute was packed in his luggage in the hold of the aircraft so sadly it went down with the plane to the bottom of the sea. Many years later on his return to the UK he decided to buy a replacement for this lost flute. While in London he went into a Pawn Brokers as they had one for sale in their window. He presented this replacement flute to the daughter of this relative (in fact his brother's wife, my aunt Mary, she later told me about this event as follows), "Michael" she said, "I don't play the flute and Dad can't anymore - please keep it" my dad answered, "I wasn't any good playing the flute anyway, and this one is a devil to play, nothing like the old one".
     Well my Aunt kept this flute on display in her sitting room for many, many years, until one day they had a guest stay with them. This guest was a flautist with a baroque orchestra from Holland: "You know" he said, "that flute you have, does anyone play it?" "no" answered my Aunt "My brother in law gave it to me as a replacement for the one he lost, and he said he couldn't play it as it was too difficult to get on with". "Well" answered her guest, "its a baroque flute more than a hundred years old and a beautiful one as well!" My aunt then decided to give it to her guest, as she thought that at least it would be appreciated and cared for. The flute is to this day played regularly in this Dutch Orchestra........and I hope the sounds it makes is appreciated by all, and the sound it makes must be so much better than the sounds or lack of them that my father could conjure up from it. A lovely twist to the sad loss of  another flute lying on the floor of the Atlantic back in 1947.
Finally. A thumb nail sketch of my father.
Educated in a private school in England, son of a Clergyman. On leaving school went to Seimans in London and trained as a Merchant Navy wireless officer. Spent some time on trawlers fishing the Artic Ocean and off Iceland and way up to the White Sea in Russia. Later on Cargo ships round the world. He liked to drink, which you could say caused him problems abroad. On one visit to Texas (has a seaport somewhere?) he was put in a police cell over  Christmas night, found wandering the city streets singing Christmas Carols while under the influence of alcohol, so put in a cell to sleep it off as the authorities could not discover where he was from!!! Came ashore in 1933, was trained in Hotel Catering Management 1933 to 36. Married Sybil Hunter-Bailey (my mother) 1936. I was born 1938 (so 64 not 65, sorry) in 1939 the family went to Pointe a Pierre, Trinidad as father was working for Oil Company. That job ended 1947, so we returned to the UK. Dad next got a job with Shell in Lagunillas, Venezuela. He left on the Sky Queen to take up this job. We know what happened on this journey! We followed dad out to Venezuela in 1948. This job ended 1951 so the family returned to the UK. Dad after a few up and down jobs became a Sales Manager for a Building firm and worked with them until he was 66 then retired. From 1967 lived in a small village Aldbourne, Wiltshire. Many Americans stationed here during the war before the invasion of D Day - a recent film, "A Band of Brothers" the village featured in this film. Here in Aldbourne  my mother died in 1978 aged 66; from a brain tumour, then in December 1986, dad was involved in a car accident and died a week later from injuries from the accident. Both of my parents are buried in the churchyard of this village.
     The end of quite an adventure filled life. While at sea dad was shipwrecked twice and rescued, on one journey to Australia the Lascars aboard his ship had the plague and many died so he and the ship was anchored in quarantine off the Australian coast for 3 months before he came ashore. He came ashore to some small town on the coast of Australia and was lodged with the local clergyman. While there the clergyman suggested that they drive across the outback, in a model T ford, as the English cricket team was due to play a test match in one of the cities. They camped in the open overnight, and during the night the clergyman made advances towards my father in a manner which was a bit obvious: my father said "I had to make it very obvious that I was  not of that persuasion" the clergyman got the message and the rest of the time spent together was friendly and cordial, and they never got to see the test match either!!!!!! Hope you enjoyed this background to my father's life and times.

     It adds something I hope to the story of those who were on the aircraft that night and does not leave them as just a number of survivors with no names who came and went on their way, unknown and forgotten. So very many thanks from me and my brother and sister too, for including my father on your website. For us it is a nice memorial to a much loved man and father,
Thank you
Regards, from
Richard, Peter and Sally Dolman - Michaels children.
PS I have added a photograph of Dad taken around 1947 or not long after.......



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