The 2018 Balchin Family Gathering was held at Alfold Village Hall, Alfold, Cranleigh, Surrey GU6 8JB on Sunday 9th September.
Dr Sean Kingsley gave an illustrated talk titled “Voices From The Deep – Lost Mail from the SS Gairsoppa” – The Battle of the Atlantic was raging when the SS Gairsoppa, a British India steamer, left Calcutta in December 1940 carrying goods for London desperately needed for the war effort. Alongside was a secret cargo of three million ounces of silver. Three days from home a German submarine struck. The Gairsoppa sank fast southwest of Ireland. After 70 years her remains were discovered 4,700 metres beneath the waves.
From deep in the hold 700 letters were recovered. The largest collection of lost mail from any shipwreck worldwide gives voice to the daily lives, fears and dreams of British soldiers, officers’ wives, businessmen and missionaries writing home to loved ones in England, Scotland and America as Christmas 1940 approached. Their words are a remarkable echo of World War II India and Britain from the front line to the fireplace.
The “Voices from the Deep” is currently an exhibition at The Postal Museum until 30th June 2019. More information can be found by following the link https://www.postalmuseum.org/discover/attractions/voices-from-the-deep/
The programme included a (short!) AGM, along with other speakers, and included morning and afternoon refreshments and a sit down lunch!
A more detailed report will be included in the next edition of the Balchin Family Newsletter in January 2019.