ID DJG_NZS Article from Mersea Museum

TitleThe ORARI plaque
Abstract

The article below was written by Douglas Gurton in 1976. The Hope Inn, Tollesbury, closed in 2009. The plaque is now in The Kings Head, Tollesbury.

Hanging on the wall of the Porthole Bar in the "Hope Inn" is a small wooden plaque, evidently made by a seamen, for it embodies the badge of the Merchant Navy, the name "M.V. Orari" and date 1930 - 1958 on a scroll, supported by roundels depicting the house flags of the New Zealand Shipping Company, the whole encircled by a rope carved motif. On seeing it, one immediately thinks "the "badge of a ship', but no ordinary ship, for during its lifetime of 28 years it held more than the proverbial cat's nine lives in the war years of 1939-1945. The whole thrilling story is told in the NZS Co's war-time history book "Ordeal by Sea" along with the accounts, of the exploits of the other ships of their fleet.

What is particularly interesting, so far as this village is concerned, is the fact that during the War M.V. "Orari" was commanded by a Tollesbury man, Captain Nelson Rice, a member of a very old and respected family in the village.

Capt. Rice served his apprenticeship in square rigged sailing ships and was one of the few Tollesbury men to possess a "Square rigged" master's certificate. For many years employed by the New Zealand Shipping Co. until his retirement in 1961 he rose to eminence in the last war when in command of the "Orari" this vessel was subjected to repeated attacks by enemy U boats and aircraft. The first occasion was on the 13th December 1940 when travelling independently from Australia for the 20th time, the vessel was torpedoed 450 miles south west of Ireland, but by taking evasive action was able to avoid further attacks, and although badly holed aft was able to make the "Tail-o-the-Bank" River Clyde, three days later, with a gash 34' x 17' in Nos. 4 and 5 holds on the port side.

One unexploded torpedo landed on No. 4 hatch, and had to be secured by crew members. The epic was captured in a painting by the renowned marine artist Sir Norman Wilkinson, a copy of which was presented to Capt. Rice, who was also presented to H.M. King George VI on the Clyde.

Again on the 10th March 1942 and 4th June 1942 the M.V. Orari was attacked when on convoy to Malta, but by the inspiration and leadership of Capt. Rice the vessel was able to make port although badly damaged. Members of the crew were decorated and commended. Capt. Rice was awarded successively the O.B.E., C.B.E. , and Lloyd's War Medal for his outstanding qualities of leadership, seamanship and navigation.

Capt. Rice passed away sometime ago after a long and painful illness. The plaque was brought to Tollesbury by a former Bo'sun of the ship, Mr. Moxley, who together with two former crew members of the ship, the late Henry Purvis and Lennoxton Leavett, were pleased to present it to "The Hope'' for perpetuity.

The article above was written by Douglas Gurton in 1976. The Hope Inn, Tollesbury, closed in 2009 and the plaque is now in the Public Bar of the nearby Kings Head.

AuthorDouglas J. Gurton
Published14 August 1976
SourceMersea Museum / Cedric Gurton
IDDJG_NZS
Related Images:
 Plaque carved to commemorate MV ORARI of New Zealand Shipping Company 1930 - 1958. The plaque is in the Public Bar of The Kings Head, Tollesbury.
 The ORARI was commanded by a Tollesbury man, Captain Nelson Rice, for several years during World War 2. After Captain Rice had died, the plaque was brought to Tollesbury by a former Bo'sun of the ship, Mr. Moxley, who together with two former crew members of the ship, the late Henry Purvis and Lennoxton Leavett, presented it to The Hope in Tollesbury. It hung on the wall in the Porthole Bar. The Hope public house closed in 2009, but before that the pub had been renovated and the plaque ended up in a skip - from where it was rescued and put in the Kings Head.  PBIB_DJG_001
ImageID:   PBIB_DJG_001
Title: Plaque carved to commemorate MV ORARI of New Zealand Shipping Company 1930 - 1958. The plaque is in the Public Bar of The Kings Head, Tollesbury.
The ORARI was commanded by a Tollesbury man, Captain Nelson Rice, for several years during World War 2. After Captain Rice had died, the plaque was brought to Tollesbury by a former Bo'sun of the ship, Mr. Moxley, who together with two former crew members of the ship, the late Henry Purvis and Lennoxton Leavett, presented it to "The Hope" in Tollesbury. It hung on the wall in the Porthole Bar. The Hope public house closed in 2009, but before that the pub had been renovated and the plaque ended up in a skip - from where it was rescued and put in the Kings Head.
Date:2 December 2007
Source:Mersea Museum / Peter Bibby


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