Summer 2014

It is a while since I added to this page and quite a bit has happened over the last 12 months.  Our eldest son is now a married man living in America.  Our Navy doesn't have an aircraft carrier or any planes for him to fly so he has been posted to the USA to fly their jets.  It has all been very exciting as they planned for the wedding in April then prepared for their move in August.

Our youngest son has also moved.  He was working for Warwick University Students' Union but he moved back to Chester to be with his girlfriend.  He now works for Chester University and is much happier as he has his social life back!
He has recently started a car website, Motorsport Review, where he reviews all the motor shows he enjoys visiting in his free time.

The lady in pink is my 92 year old mother.

Our Lads

Our eldest was 14 when he decided he wanted to
learn to fly.  I told him I didn't think that was possible due to his age but he made a couple of phone calls and informed me nine year olds are allowed to learn to fly!

He had booked a lesson.  It was going to cost £85 so I asked him where the money was coming from. He made a few more phone calls and asked for a lift to a pub in the next village.  They set him on as a pot washer two evenings a week.  I was watching him make his first solo flight at 16 and he was awarded his Private Pilot's Licence a couple of months later.

He is now a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy training to be a fast jet pilot. 

He never met his Great Grandfather but his career move would have made Thomas Hynes a happy man.  Here is a photo of Thomas taken during the First World War when he was a member of the Royal Flying Corps:

 (Thomas is seated)

Our younger son took the university route and graduated with a 2:1.    He was elected Vice President of the Students' Union for a year but enjoyed it so much he stood again and was elected for a second term.  He then moved to Warwick Students' Union as the Campaigns and Policy Co-odinator.  

While his brother adores planes this son loves cars.  He spends pounds and hours rebuilding, painting and polishing whatever model he owns at the moment.  I have lost count of the number of vehicles he has owned.  The 'best' one was an orange VW Beetle that he had for less than fifteen minutes as it broke down on the way home so he took it back for a refund!

I know we are very lucky to have two such happy, intelligent lads.


Titanic Connection

William Swan, my Great Uncle was on the Titanic.  He was employed as a First Class Steward earning £3.15s a month.  One of three brothers, he was born in Ballymena, Northern Ireland in 1865.  The family owned the White Swan pub on Bridge Street for a number of years and were staunch Orange Men.  The men left Ireland suddenly and split up when they arrived in England leaving us to think they had something to hide in Ireland!  Robert, my grandfather, moved to Scotland; William remained in Liverpool for a while where he married and Andrew Swan moved to the Midlands.

William had served under Captain Edward John Smith before on the RMS Olympic, again as a First Class Steward.  When the Titanic sailed William was 47 years old.  The crew had to sign on in Belfast and again in Southampton.  Interestingly he stated he was born in Liverpool and signed his name as Gwann in Belfast; he gave the correct details in Southampton.  Was he ensuring no-one recognised him in Ireland or was he just careless? 
Only a handful of stewards survived that night.  William Swan was not one of them.  He left a wife and son in Southampton.

Some years ago I posted on the Titanic website and a lady in America contacted me to say she was related to William through his wife's side of the family.  More recently we have been contacted by Andrew's family from the Midlands. 

My Great Grandparents - Robert and Francis Annie Swan (Robert and William were brothers).

Here is an addendum from Andrew's great grandson:
Hi, just a few comments. From Irish records, the brothers father William Swan lived in Bridge St, Ballymena from at least 1852 to 1880, his trade during this time was either listed as Spirit Dealer or publican. Looks like he held onto the pub after the brothers left Ireland. He passed away 25 March 1889. From the letter of Administration his worldly goods were passed to his widow Rosanna (of Ballymena).

William married Mary Elizabeth Caldwell July 1888 in Liverpool, they had one son William. His trade on the marriage certificate was sea mariner. His family stayed in Liverpool whilst he went to sea. On 1st April 1912, he signed onto Titanic in Belfast. Due to bad weather the ship started sea trials in the morning 2nd April before proceeding to Southampton. William then re-signed onto the Titanic on 4th April and lodged temporarily in Southampton before re-boarding the ship as first class bedroom steward on 10th April. After his death, the Titanic Mansion House fund paid a regular allowance to his dependents including his widow, son (until 16 years) and his mother Rosanna.

Andrew lived with his brother for a time in Liverpool, he appears on the 1890 UK census living with Williams family, his trade was Corn van driver. We don't know what happened to him after this date.

The Hollywood Connection

Meet Thomas (sometimes Tam or Jock) Hynes ... my Grandfather. 

In his younger days he worked as a projectionist in a cinema.  This was during the Twenties when the Talkies were just being introduced and cinemas were the place to go.  Being a projectionist was regarded as a good job; it paid quite well, you got to see the latest films and you could chat up the young usherettes.   Tam was married with four children.  My Grandmother apparently sent the kids to spy on him at the end of the shows to check he came straight home.  He was a sharp dresser and drove a Morgan  .... I have the impression he would have been a bit of a lad in his day!  The marriage didn't last.

He had six older sisters who all worshipped him and our family's first Hollywood connection is one of them.
She was known in Hollywood as Sally Shepherd. although her real name was Sally Tweer.  The International Movie Database (IMDb) lists her as appearing in twelve films between 1944 and 1949.  Her biggest parts were in two Sherlock Holmes films with Basil Rathbone.  The others were probably non-speaking parts as her name wasn't listed on the credits.

As a child I was aware we had a rich aunt in America.  Parcels would arrive every so often with outlandish clothes (a purple satin blouse sticks in my mind) and the dressing-up box was replenished each time.  She married a film producer (Gus Tweer), made lots of money and lived in a mansion just off Sunset Boulevard.  I imagined a really beautiful, stylish actress so it came as a bit of a shock when I first saw her in 'The Woman in Green'.  There she was a middle-aged, dour Scottish woman.  It didn't fit my childish imaginings!

In 1949 she appeared in The Snake Pit with Olivia de Havilland.  Aunt Sally played the part of a nurse. The film was nominated for six Oscars (won one for the sound recording) and it is one of the 1001 Films to See Before You Die.

She plays the part of  Crandon, a lady's maid, in 'The Woman in Green'.

We found a reference to Sally's husband, Gustav Tweer, showing he was an understudy in Gielgud's Hamlet on Broadway in the 1930s.

The Hollywood Connection you might actually have heard of is my husband's Uncle Bill, better known as William Hootkins .... WHO? I can hear you cry!  But you probably have seen him without noticing ... even though he was a large chap!  Here he is appearing as Porkins, Red Six, in Star Wars.

He was in Flash Gordon; Raiders of the Lost Ark; The Pink Panther; Black Adder; Superman IV; Batman; A River Runs Through it and The West Wing to name but a few.  He was described as "a superbly talented, versatile and exuberant character actor".  He died in 2005.


In searching for Gustav Tweer on the internet I came across a road by that name in Germany!  Obviously I was puzzled and dug further. 

 A young man by the name of Gustav Tweer was born in Germany in 1893.  He was fascinated by aviation and by the age of 18 he was designing planes and performing daring aviation shows in Flying Circus routines.   One of his planes had two sets of wheels so he could land it upside down!

When the First World War broke out he volunteered and was sent to the Western Front for a time.  His flying talent was recognised though and he was sent to work as a test pilot for the new planes being developed.  He was engaged to be married by 1916 when one of the new planes developed technical problems and caught fire.  He had to jump before it landed and exploded.  He didn't survive the fall.  He was only 23.
I know our Gustav Tweer cannot possibly be the same man BUT both men were German so perhaps he is some sort of relative!
On the other hand another Gustav W Tweer was prosecuted in America in 1928 for passing a dude cheque .... do I want to claim a connection to him as well??


  1. Glad I came across this post. I spent 20 years in the Fleet Air Arm. 3 years flight deck crew on HMS Eagle, 7 onboard the old Ark Royal of which 2 was Watch P.O. running the flight deck. 2 onboard HMS Illustrious running the flight deck. Air Operations onboard HMS Hermes. Flight deck crew onboard HMS Fearless + lots of other Air Arm stuff. Always kept my feet on the ground though, mostly. Claim to fame was Launching Prince Charles from the last steam catapult from HMS Ark Royal. (In an aircraft of course) Buccaneer bomber.

    1. Our eldest spent a few weeks on HMS Illustrious and on HMS Ark Royal. He's finishing his training on Anglesey at the moment. Be a couple of years until he will be landing on an aircraft carrier unless he gets posted to America!
      You must have seen a few countries in your time then!

    2. Good luck to your eldest with the training. The yanks have certainly got the right idea using carrier task forces, unlike us. It was a sad day when the last CVS carrier went for scrap, but that was NATO policy back in the seventies. I've visited lots of countries all around the world. My favourites were far east, Australia, USA, the Greek Islands. The Arctic areas were awesome. I'm planning some traveling again in a couple of years time to a few places I haven't been to yet, probably China and Russia.

  2. Hi my name is Patricia Berry and my father wa William Douglas Swan son of William Swan who went down in the Titanic. I am the youngest of his children. I know my nephew Alan has been in touch with you as he is doing an ancestry chart.
    I was just clearing some old emails and I saw an email he had sent me with the info you had given him and I found your family info which gave more details of my father's relations. All my family are now dead and I do not have any info on my grandfather's family which I found it very interesting so I just thought I would let you know. regards Pat

  3. Hello,
    Gustav Tweer (the WW1 Pilot) was a real stunt pilot: the papers called him "Sturz & Schleifenflieger" (he made a looping as one of the first germans). He died in 1916, yes.
    But: he had an brother that went to the USA, the brother had a son called Gustav like his uncle... Maybe your man!
    Best reguards,

  4. Hi, Could you please contact me with regards to your relative that was on aboard the Titanic?

    Thank you