The Telegraphist of the Beaumaris Castle – George Smith (1924-2016) – personally told me that John Youngman was one of my maternal grandfather’s (Arthur Gibson) best friends aboard the ship!
John Youngman was born in 1914 and was three-years younger than my maternal grandfather – Arthur Gibson! When WWII broke-out in 1939, John would have been 25-years-old!
After the War, John Youngman returned to living in Wells Next to Sea (not far from Lowestoft) in Norfolk. He kept in-touch with Arthur Gibson for many years, and we think this photograph might have been taken in the 1950s. John owned his own fishing boats.
Recently, my mother – Diane Wyles – made contact with people on the internet who provided these pictures of John Youngman. This picture is probably in the 1960s. Although his wife is still alive (and is now 92-years-old) – sadly, we were told that John Youngman was killed in a car-crash in the 1970s. If we find-out any more information we will update this post.
John’s wife – Kath Youngman – gave the following interview (linked above) about the post-WWII years in Wells Next the Sea:
“The old Shipwrights was another good old pub, along the East End there; they had a good piano in there. Someone used to play the piano … Dick Dalliston … He was a lovely fella. Good musician. He played here quite a lot. I played with him quite a bit …” Kath Youngman of Wells also remembers Dick Dalliston’s playing: “He used to play across here (The Shipwrights) … If I knew Dick was over there playin’, we used to go in that little back room when that was a pub. Oh yeah, he could make a piano talk really. He got drowned here, didn’t he?”
Another regular musician in The Shipwrights was Kath’s husband John Youngman, a whelk fisherman, who played accordion, dulcimer and piano, as Kath recalls: “Well, he’d have a go, no doubt, if there was ever any chance. Oh, he used to sometimes get on the piano in The Shipwrights and what he used to say was, “But if I start, there’ll always be somebody come along better … ” Well, he was a character really. He was very much an extrovert anyway. He was a man’s man, sort of thing. He loved being with men and he liked talking, and he loved nature; I mean, I don’t think he hardly ever went up the town. Very, very occasionally went in the town. He was always on the quay … John could never play an instrument like he played the piano; he’d vamp. I mean, I’d never seen anyone do it. He used to go all along the keys with his knuckle …”
A regular visitor to the town and a good friend of the Youngmans was Hingham dulcimer player Billy Cooper. Billy would stay with the Youngmans or with John’s mother and the company would head off to one of the pubs for a night of music. Kath Youngman remembers her brother saying of Billy that “when he’d got a drink or two, his sticks used really go, y’know!” Of these nights, Jacky Jordan remembers: “Yeah, yeah. I danced to him (Billy)…when we went there and had Christmases, we used to stay; we never used to come home; we used to sleep in the pub. Ruby (Cooper – landlady of The Shipwrights) used to bring us a bit of grub in the morning, if we were fit enough to eat it.”
John Youngman had a very ornate dulcimer, an instrument which was acquired and restored for him by Billy Cooper, after he had sold his old one to an American serviceman, as Kath Youngman recalls: “The original went to America, his original dulcimer. He sold to an American. And Billy knew about this one at Kelling. I don’t know who he bought that dulcimer off … it was in a terrible state. Billy said, “I’ll get it for you” … Billy done a lot to it. He painted it all up and everything. He put all those stars what are on it, y’know. He done them all with gold paint. I forget where he got the wire from. Somewhere in Norwich, I expect. He took it home and he re-wired it all up and he brought it here – cause they have a little key to tune it up – and he tightened ’em all up …” The dulcimer is a beautiful example of a typical Norfolk style instrument.
Another dulcimer player in the town was Molly Whittaker, although she seems to have played out in public very rarely, perhaps because her husband didn’t drink and pubs were the main places for performance. Kath Youngman remembers: “But I never did actually see her play only once, and she played in The Bowling Green … I suppose that was about thirty years ago … She was a Rutland before she married. I think they were all a bit musical. Dick Whittaker, who she married; he never did drink and she was in The Bowling Green that particular night and she said, “I shall get ever so told off when I go home.” I don’t think he was very keen on her going in the pubs playing. I mean, she never did drink a lot! She just loved the music.” Molly’s father, James Rutland, had also been a dulcimer player, accompanying the Wells quoits team on their trips to nearby villages, where dancing would follow the matches.
Christmas time was unsurprisingly a time for much music and merriment, as Geoffrey Tuck recalls: “I’ll tell you what, one night we come out of the pub; pubs used to close at ten all them years ago, strict on ten, there weren’t extensions for Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve, even; and we would sing our hearts out until ten o’clock … and we came out of there and we started to sing carols. And in no time we had a hundred people around us, singing. We walked up the Glebe, these people all following us, all singing, around the corner, up Clubbs Lane, round the top of the street, along the top, down Standard Road and onto the quay, and that’s where Bob Youngman lived, John’s father … two or three policemen, even had them joining, walking along with us, singing, Oh Come All Ye Faithful and all that.”
“Howsoever, got to John Youngman’s … went through the gate, and we just disappeared in there and they just went their way. Knocked on the door, sung O Come All Ye Faithful. Bob opened the door; said, “Come on in, my boys. I’ve been waiting for you!” Do you know what, they had a great big dining room … and that was all set out with a Christmas spread. Right across the room. Hams, meats, everything you could think of. That was a wonderful sight! And we stopped and sang, and we kept singing and we kept singing and we kept singing. Some of us fell asleep, some of us woke up. Bob kept going … “Go on, boy, give us another one!” That got daylight, we were still there …”‘