One night I received an email from a chap called Martin Smith, whose father was aboard Short S45 Solent 2 'Scarborough' when it crossed the Equator at 11.20 am on 25th December 1949 - under the command of Captain L.H. Carey - travelling South. He knew that much as the flying boats name was recorded on a certificate given to his Late Father to celebrate the moment of crossing for the first time. Martin still had the certificate, framed and hung on the wall in his house.
I knew from my family history that the issuance of some forrm of 'certificate' was common practice in the Royal Navy and aboard civilian ocean-going liners, but I never knew of it being done on flying boats before.
Say's Martin, "This much was recorded on a certificate bestowed on my late father by Phoebus Apollo himself which, in addition to confirming the above, initiated him into the Winged Order of Line Shooters. I'm not entirely sure what was the final destination -my father had business connections in both South Africa and Kenya and had by that time made the journey on a number of occasions".
Martin wanted to know more about the actual flying boat his Father had travelled on and, if possible, where it was going and find a picture of it.
I posted his request onto the SEAWINGS Flying Boat Forum and sure enough, the Guys there came up with the answers he wanted.
'Sunderlandnut' (from London) provided two good pictures and some other details, 'TonyR' (from Geneva) confirmed the route it was on and where the destination was likely to have been, and finally 'Pondskater' (from Southern England) provided a classic Short Bros photograph of 'Scarbourough' and scanned it in such high definition that it could be printed, framed and hung on the wall.
For the record, 'TonyR' said, "Passengers for Kenya usually disembarked at Port Bell in Uganda, which is about 1/2 degree north of the Equator. The ceremony of 'crossing the line' was usually held about 50 minutes after take-off from Port Bell, over Lake Victoria, en-route for Victoria Falls, where they landed after lunch. This would fit in nicely with the time on the certificate. If Mr Smith Senior had business interests in South Africa, he would probably have flown on to the 'Springbok Flight's final destination - Vaaldam, south of Johannesburg. Passengers then had a 2 1/2 hour journey to Johannesburg by coach, and any further transfers (Cape Town or Durban for example) could be made by SAA landplane".'Sunderlandnut' added, "This flying boat's surviving records show:-- Serial Number: S.1301 - Coded: G-AHIM - Named: 'Scarborough' - Built: Rochester - C/N S.1301 - C of A issued 24.5.48 - Scrapped Felixstowe 1956 by a Norwich based scrap merchants".
All this information was passed onto Martin, who was delighted with the findings as he had not expected that amount of detail after all this time had passed. But, the best bit was yet to come.........!
In a subsequent email to me, Martin asked if I had ever seen such a certificate as he had on the wall. I replied that I hadn't. Well, the next thing that happen was a large flat package turned up by Special Delivery and inside was the certificate; right off of his wall!!
However, the best bit was saved till last, for when I opened it I was stunned! The certificate was simply the most highly detailed and colourful document I have ever seen!! It was like looking at an explosion in an ink factory.......and this long before the advent of computors and technical drawing programmes. It is about 1" taller than A4 and just slightly wider.