Author Honors Skipper of Ship Named Conan Doyle

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Author Honors Skipper of Ship Named Conan Doyle is an article written by Hayden Church published in The Boston Post on 14 april 1920.

The article is about the Hull steam trawler Conan Doyle H240 named after the British author, her battle against a German U-boat, and the correspondence and exchange of gifts between Arthur Conan Doyle and the skipper William Addy.

See detailed report of the battle here: Sir Conan Doyle's Gift (The Daily Mail (Hull), 9 february 1920).

Author Honors Skipper of Ship Named Conan Doyle

The Boston Post (11 april 1920, p. 46)

The plucky skipper of a British trawler that is named after Sir Arthur Conan Doyle recently was made even a prouder and happier man than he previously had been by unexpectedly receiving from the famous creator of Sherlock Holmes a handsome cigarette case bearing the following inscription:

"To Skipper William Addy, D. S. C., from Arthur Conan Doyle. In memory of June 20th, 1918."

Sir Arthur, in his turn, is soon to be presented by Skipper Addy with an historic souvenir — the ship's bell of the Conan Doyle, bearing the honored name that is hers and his.

No doubt this bell, recalling as it does as dogged a fight as perhaps ever was put up at sea, will have a place of honor among the many mementoes and relics of widely differing kinds which Sir Arthur takes pride in showing to distinguished American and other visitors to "Windlesham," his home at Crowborough, in Sussex.

This exchange of compliments between the distinguished author and the master of Sir Arthur's maritime name-sake is a sequel to an exceptionally lovely incident of the war in which both the "Conan Doyle" and her skipper covered themselves with glory.

It took the form of a fight between the "Conan Doyle" and a big German submarine in which, after a running battle lasting over four hours, the trawler emerged victorious, sinking the U-boat with all hands by means of a direct hit just below the conning tower.

For his gallant conduct in this action — conduct which undoubtedly saved a whole convoy of Hull trawlers from destruction, Skipper Addy received the Distinguished Service Cross, and the episode, when, months afterwards, it became publicly known, made him a local if not a national hero.

Now Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has added to the skipper's renown and incidentally to that of the craft which bears the famous author's name by his graceful act in commemoration of the part that ship and Master played in a truly Homeric combat.

It was only recently that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle heard of the "fisherman's fight" in which his namesake gave so good an account of herself.

A few days later Skipper Addy received the silver cigarette case which he prizes so highly, accompanied by a letter in which Sir Arthur paid tribute to "the splendid action in which my namesake under your command did such glorious work."

"I should like to congratulate you and the crew," Sir Arthur added, "and so, how proud I am to be in any way associated with you."

"I have had some splendid letters from Sir Arthur since then," said the skipper, "and a while ago he sent me 29 of his books, among them his 'British Campaign in France' in six volumes. I'm sure they will prove mighty interesting reading.

"I wrote recently and asked Sir Arthur if he would accept the bell from the 'Conan Doyle' as a souvenir, and he has written to say how pleased he would be with it. So we are having it all fixed up for him. I thought nothing would be more suitable than something off the 'Conan Doyle,' and suggested the ship's bell because it bears his name."