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Leather handle from sea chest used by George Perryman

Date: 1912
Overall: 130 x 85 x 35 mm, 15.8 g
Medium: Leather
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Faye Dooley
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Handle
Object No: 00048183
Related Place:England, Australia,

User Terms

    This wooden sea chest with domed lid, and metal bindings, hinges and latch, was used by George Perryman when he migrated from England to Australia in 1912.
    SignificanceTrunks and chests have always been an evocative symbol of the long sea voyages taken by millions of migrants and travellers in the 20th century. This sea chest is typical of those used in the early 1900s.
    HistoryGeorge Perryman was born on 26 June 1882 at Tuero, Cornwall. After his parents William Perryman and Maria Jane Sinfield divorced, George went to live with his aunt and then to a training ship in the UK. He joined the Royal Navy and first went to sea during the Boer War, when his ship carried prisoners from South Africa to the UK.

    George migrated to Australia in 1912. He married Daisy Hoyle in 1915 and they lived at Kirribilli.

    George served as a boatswain on SS MATUNGA, which was captured by the German raider SMS WOLF en route from Sydney to Rabaul, New Britain on 6 August 1917. The Germans sunk MATUNGA and took its crew prisoner onboard WOLF. George was taken to a POW camp at Gustrow, Germany, where he was forced to put on concerts for the Germans. He gave 'cheek' and had his legs slashed with bayonets. George managed to escape the POW camp and travelled through the Black Forest. He found a wharf, talked his way onto a boat and made his way back to London.

    George returned to Australia after World War I and worked on trading ships around Papua New Guinea. He was a member of several maritime unions including the National Sailors & Fireman's Union in the UK, Australasian Federated Seaman's Union, Federal Seaman's Union and Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union of Australia. With his compensation from the Navy for the MATUNGA incident, George bought a house at 41 Whaling Road in North Sydney.

    After his twins were born in 1926/1927, George ceased going to sea to help with his large family. George's daughter Doreen remembers him hosing the verandah and sandstone under their house everyday as if he was still onboard a ship. George established a fruit shop in Coonanbarra Road, Wahroonga, which he ran for about 15 years.

    During World War II George worked as a rigger at Garden Island. He suffered a serious head injury at Garden Island when he was about 65 years old. George Perryman died on 15 August 1964, aged 82.

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