Stories of and from George Rebbeck R. N.
The Orange from the Rajah's garden
The Business of the Beard
Another Beard Anecdote
A Whale of a Story
The Last Story
A Matter of History
There is not much in this story but the ships company had assisted a Rajah in a crisis and he had rewarded the crew with oranges from his garden. That must have been a real treat as naval food became very boring and unappetising during a long voyage but George did not eat all he was given one he preserved. It is still kept safely, in his stud-box along with the tartan handkerchief embroidered "Frae Bonnie Scotland" that he gave to Helen Eliza.
The Captain said, "George, you can't cut your beard but regulations are regulations and the Admiral is going to inspect the Ships company. You must be there so what are we going to do?"The Admiral came and the Admiral went and George Rebbecks beard was still as long as ever. "How did you manage it, George?" asked the Captain"I rolled it up, tucked in my chin and hoped no one would speak to me, Sir!".As far as we know he never did cut his beard to the regulation length although he remained a long time in the Service. Certainly in his old age he had a beard that would have served Father Christmas admirably. Did the Admiral know all about the ruse and turn a blind eye? Or did George simply use the same ruse and tucked it up under his chin. Read on.
The conversation went on in the same fashion for hours and Elsie said she could never understand why they just didn't state their ages or birth dates and be done with it. They finally did decide who was older. I believe the result was that our George was the eldest, but not by much,Sir George continued to visit regularly and usually brought a plug of naval tobacco (a tight roll of tobacco mixed with molasses. The tobacco was shaved off the plug ). Kathleen believes a quarter bottle of navy rum was also presented to Gram on these occasions.Admiral: "I am older than you, George"
The last story was related by Elsie Brenton Hale and confirmed by Kathleen. The family was woken at midnight one March night in 1935 by a sound like a shriek from Georges black marble French Mantle clock in a downstairs room. They could find nothing wrong except that the clock had stopped at midnight. George Rebbeck died 12 hours later at midday and the clock never worked again. The best clockmaker, a Mr Hext, in Ringwood could not understand why the clock had stopped at all or why it should make such a sound but his best endeavours could not make it work.
What we must consider is few retired C.P.O. s have Admirals, retired or otherwise, come for home visits. There is a lot we will never know about George Rebbeck RN. A couple of truths come to mind. First, his son Edgar was in serious trouble in World War I with a charge of desertion brought against him and this was a Capital offence. George "pulled strings" and the charges were dropped which means he must have had some very influential contacts. Second; Sydney was sickly as a child and the doctor advocated a sea trip to "strengthen his chest" so George arranged for his son to accompany him on one of his tours of duty - not a common occurrence even in those days. The boy was washed overboard during a storm at one stage, but remarkably was rescued. George was a colourful character, to say the least, and a very, very, dark horse. It has been suggested that George was offered a commission at some stage in his naval career. The reason he did not take it was simple economics - The mess bills would have swallowed any increase in salary. The picture on the front page has been questioned. There is no doubt that this is a picture of George Rebbeck, the family likeness is too strong, but the uniform is that of an officer, Lieutenant in fact. Did George take that commission and then refuse it? Did he take the commission and then lose it? We know he could "pull strings" for he prevented his youngest son from being executed for desertion. Perhaps he had "strings pulled" on his own behalf. Maybe we shall never know but someone, somewhere may know more.
Next Page:- Timeline of personal and world events during the lives of George and Helen Eliza
Page last amended January 2004