Raettig family in England



Raettig family in England


First page biography of Dennis William Raettig with information on other family members. Father was in merchant navy and brothers both served during the war in the navy and air force. Dennis joined Royal Air Force as an engine fitter. Dennis married Joan Wray in 1952 and they had two children. Other documents cover grandfather who was born in Wittenburg Germany 3 February 1864 who became a ships captain. Both his children including Dennis Raettig's father followed in merchant navy. His father served on the Blue Funnel Line in world war one when he was torpedoed. List ships and positions, letters, history of grandfathers dog and a picture of the ship 'Clan Graham'. A letter to Helene and Hertha Rättig in Vienna written in German and a translation sent 7 November 1936 telling history of family in England during world war one and after. A letter from Max Rättig to Alfred Schlingnann talking about his life as a German in England during the First World War and changing his name. Followed by other letters to members of the family in Vienna, and New York and a photographs of the family. Continues with history and biographies of the second, third and forth generations, photographs, letters, list of family and kin and family trees.




This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.





[page break]

Dennis William Raettig
After his general education at the Hull Grammar School Dennis commenced a yearlong course at a commercial college before entering employment in 1936, with M Harland Ltd., Printers, in Manor Street, Hull, in the Estimating Department. Dennis used to travel to work each day from the family home in Anlaby. In September 1939 father, mother Dennis and his two brothers, were together at home when war was declared. Father who as [sic] on leave at the time rejoined his ship. Grandmother came from her home in Hull to stay with in Anlaby. Father’s ship was laid up for repairs near Marseilles and mother together with the two of the officers’ wives went to join their husbands,. During the next few months Max volunteered for Service in the Royal Navy. And brother join [sic] volunteered for the royal [sic] Air Force.
Grandmother died and Dennis had the sad duty to arrange for her funeral.

Dennis joined the RAF and commenced his training as an Engine Fitter at Squiresgate, [sic] near Blackpool. He was billeted in Blackpool and for a short time he was able to meet his brother John who was undertaking his training as a wireless operator.

Dennis was posted to RAF Station Lisset, a bomber station, in East Yorkshire, as an Engine Fitter working on various aircraft, including the :Lancaster.

He married Joan Wray in 1952. They had two children, Susan who was born on May 17, 1953, and Peter who was borne on 16 June 16, 1959. Dennis set up his business as a Printer one of his main jobs was the production of the Jewish Magazine “The Watchman” which he continued with until his retirement in 19**. Both Dennis and Joan were keen gardeners.

[page break]

[underline] THE RAETTIG FAMILY IN ENGLAND [/underline]

[underline] FURTHER THOUGHTS [/underline]

My grandfather, Carl Friedrich [underline] Max [/underline] Rättig was born in Wittenberg (East Prussia), on the 3rd. February, 1864, he had a younger sister, Bertha. Their father Edgar died on the 13th. June, 1871, and their mother Luise died in July 1880. Mac, then aged 16, and Bertha aged 13 went to live with their uncle. It was intended that Max should become an architect or surveyor, he however had other ideas and joined the crew of a sailing ship.

His ship often visited the port of Hull where he met his wife to be, Edith Bell. He took up the trade of fisherman, in small open sailing boats. at [sic] first he sailed witha [sic] skipper named Tognola but he soon gained his Skipper’s Certificate and became a very successful trawlerman with a crew of his own. He fished off the Dogger Bank and the Silver Pit, in the North Sea, sometimes staying at sea for three or four weeks.

Both two eldest sons, Max Edgar (my father) and his brother Ralph, intended to follow a life at sea and attended the Trinity House School in order to learn to be sailors. Grandfather insisted that his eldest son should start his career by signing on as apprentice on a sailing ship. So his first ship was the s.s. “Clan Graham”. The ship had been built at Russells shipyard in 1893 and was sister-ship to the “Clan Galbraith”, the last two members of the Dunlop “Clan Line”. Her length was 282.9 feet, beam 40.4 feet, depth below water 24.6 feet, her gross tonnage was 2,200. She sailed under the British flag for 16 years before being sold to a Norwegian company. It was finally sunk by a U-boat in 1917. A framed painting of the ship that father first sailed in is still a treasured family possession of my brother Max. In 1972 I had a photograph of the “Clan Graham” in port, with bare masts, from this, and with reference to the Register of Shipping, I was able to get a young artist, Michael Bonner, to paint for me an impression of the “Clan Graham” in full sail.

Father gained his Master Mariners Certificate by the age of 20 and sailed through World War 1 with the Blue Funnel Line, his ship was torpedoed by a U-boat, he was decorated for his work in convoys during that war. He joined the Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Company, all its tankers were named after sea shells! I list in alphabetical the ships he served in:-

M.V. “Bullysses”.

Captain 1935 – 1938, Asia & Australia. Whilst Master of this tanker, Capt. Raettig rescued 8 Formosan seamen who had been shipwrecked for 12 days at sea. He received acknowledgement of his “gallant and kind treatment of these men”, from the Japanese Consul General.

M.V. “Cobis”

Chief Officer, 1921, China & East Indies.

M.V. “Conch”


[page break]


M.V. “Elax”

Master, 1946-1950, launched Short Brothers, Belfast.

M.V. “Goldmouth”

Master. 1944 – 46, I stood on the quayside by Smiths Dock, South Shields, to meet my father for the first time since 1939, I saw father on the ship’s bridge as the ship was manoeuvring alongside; the pilot, who was at the starboard lookout, told me to jump aboard. When I went to see father, who by now was at his desk below, he did not recognise me – I was in R.A.F. uniform. The movement of ships was still under the strictest security, so he was very surprised to learn from me that mother was arriving from Durban to Liverpool the next day. I met her at in Liverpool and brought her back to North Shields, this completed my seven day leave and I returned to R.A.F. West Drayton.

M.V. “Liparus”


M.V. “Scalaria”

Master, East Indies.

M.V. “Trocas”


M.V. “Roseshell”

Chief Officer, This was a large corrugated steel plated, motorised oil barge of experimental design. Apparently oil cargo was pumped into the forward tanks and the vessel began to sink by the bows, oil was pumped into the after tanks and the vessel then cracked amidships and sank. Father was dressed in a white tropical uniform, nevertheless he dived overboard and swam ashore!

Other ships:-

s.s. “Mary”

Master. 1924. During the Depression, father had been ashore for many months waiting to be given a ship. He was approached by an agent and who asked him to deliver a small Coaster the s.s. “Mary” from Hull to Newcastle. Since most of father’s sailing had been in far eastern waters, he asked his father to assemble a crew and to sail with him as first mate. On its way down the River Humber the “Mary” began to take in more water than the pumps could handle. After a brief consultation with his first mate (his father), the Captain turned the ship back and eventually had to beach her at Paull, just a mile or two east of Hull! It was a “coffin” ship.

[page break]


s.s. “Rhodi”

Master. 1941. this [sic] was a prize passenger ship, captured from the Italians and lying in harbour at Malta. Mother and father had been stranded in Malta at the early part of the war; father’s tanker had broken down with engine trouble. The Navy asked his father to take his crew onto the “Rhodi” with a number of Polish Troops and sail for Egypt. The Navy created a diversion, but the Italian Air Force caught up with the “Rhodi” and sped it on its way with machine-gun and cannon fire. It managed to make its way to Alexandria with no casualties and little damage.

S.T. “Kingston Emerald”

On retirement, he was asked to navigate a trawler. For Skipper Shaugnessy, to a point off Greenland. I drove him to the dock and was troubled to see that all the crew, except the Wireless Operator, were very drunk. By the time they reached their destination all were sober!

Oil Installation.

After delivering the “Rhodi”, father became manager of an Oil Installation at Ras Gharib, providing fuel for tanks and shipping for the war. Later he was given command of another tanker and supplied fuel for the Burma Campaign.

Father was decorated for his work in World War II. He was one of the six senior masters in the then 100 vessel company and was appointed Commodore.

[underline] Grandfather’s Dog. [/underline]

My brother Dennis found a stray dog which he and I took round to give to our grandfather. It was of uncertain breed, black and brown, medium sized, curly tailed, with an uncertain temper. Bonzo became grandfather’s friend and comrade until he died. On One [sic] occasion we visited him at the Riverside Quay, Hull, on the s.s. “Spero”. The ship was high in the water, having no cargo. There were small waves on the water making the ship bump against the quay. Bonzo was at the top of the steep gangway, crouched down and barking at us, as we climbed up he backed away and dropped down into the water. A ladder was lowered down between the ship and the quay to prevent Bonzo being crushed to death, we got a long boat hook around his collar and hauled him up. Grandfather was in tears at the thought that his faithful friend might have been killed.

{page break}



To: The Master
M.V. “Bulyssess”
c/o The Rising Sun Petroleum Co. Ltd.

From:- Shell Petroleum Products
The Asiatic Petroleum Co., (North China) Ltd.,
Shell Building,
No.1 The Bund,

25th. May, 1937.

Dear Sir,

We have been asked by H.B.M. * Consul-General to convey to you the gist of the Japanese Consul-General’s letter regarding the rescue of eight Formosans.

The Japanese Consul-General considers the rescue of these men, who had been hovering between life and death for twelve days, a most gallant act and the men themselves state they received most generous and kind treatment on board the tanker “Bulysses”.

For the heroic work and kindness extended to the Japanese fishermen, the Consul-General for Japan expresses his profound appreciation and gratitude.

We are, dear Sir,
Yours faithfully,


For the Asiatic Petroleum Company.

[underline] [/underline]

* (His Britannic Majesty’s)


The Master of the M.V. “Bulysses” was Captain M.E.Raettig. (J.C.R.)

[page break]

[picture of THE CLAN GRAHAM]

[page break]

Kopie einer handschriftlich Brief von:- Max Rättig
(Mathew Reckitt)
62, English Street,
Hull (Eng.)
Nov. 7 (1936)
Nach H. u. H. Rättig, Wein,
Liebe Helene,
Liebe Hertha!
Euer Lieber Brief vom 29. Okt. hat mich zu gleicher zeit sehr überrasscht und auch betrübt. Betrübt zu hören, dass meine arme Schwester Bertha eure Mutter, nach so schwerem Leiden gestorbe ist. So bin ich nun der einzige der Wittenberger Familie Rättig der noch am Leben ist, und meine zeit ist sehr Kurz – ich bin ja schon 73 Jahre alt am 3. Februar und fortwährend kränklich mit Herzleiden, dass ich glücklich bin, wenn das Ende kommt.
Es ist wunderbar, wie euer Brief überhaupt in meine Hände gekommen ist und ich muss meine Geschickte vor dem Kreige anfangen. Est ist so viele Jahre hier, seit ich einen deutschen Brief geschreiben habe, dass es mir schwierig wird, ordentlich auszudrücken und ich hoffe, ihr werdet die Fehler verzeihen. Ich spreche ja immer englisch und habe keine Gelengenheit, deutsch zu sprechen.
Gerade vor dem Kriege 1912-1914 wohnte ich in Hessle, wie ihr wisst. Wir hatten 7 Kinder, Max, Ralph, Bertha, John, Agnes, Eva und Edith, ihr Alter ungefähr 23-21-20-18-7-5-2. Ich war schon 4 Jahre Kapitän auf einer Hull-Rhederei und stand mich sehr gut, ich verdiente ins jedem Jahre etwas mehr Geld, ich war, wie man das heir nent, ein glücklicher Mann. Da kam der Krieg. es quälte mich nicht viel, denn ich war ja schon seit vielen Jahren ein englischer Bürger. Ich hatte, wie ich in meinem Wahnsinn dachte, keinen Feind in der Welt, - wie schnell ich ausfinden musste, dass ich benahe keinen Freund hatte! Max hatte gerade sein Kapitäns Examen bestanden, Ralph seines als 2 ter Steuermann, beide gingen weg; Max als 1. Steuermann, Ralph als 3 ter. Bertha war in einem Geschäft, ich glaube es heisst Posamentier in deutsch. John war in der Lehre bei einem Baumeister. So fing der Krieg an. Zuerst war es nicht so schlimm, die leutchen in Hessle hatten nicht zu viel gegen uns. Als aber die deutsche Armeen nicht ausrissen, wenn die Engländer sich zeigten, und immer mehr und mehr Soldaten, Volontüre gefordet wurden, wurde es ungemütlich für uns. Auf einmal kam der erste Schlag, der Direktor meiner Rhederei nahm mich bei Seite und sagte, es tat ihm sehr leid, aber ich müsste gehen, er verspracht mir ja, hätte ich während des Kriegs Hilfe notig, ruhig zu ihm zu kommen und sie würden mich durchsetzen, ich wäre ja ihr bester Kapitän.
So war ich also ohne Arbeit und wenig Geld. Zur Marine taugte ich nicht, war auch zu alt schon und ein geb. Deutscher. Schliesslich nach ein paar Monaten, wenn meine liebe Frau mir ziemlich deutlich zu verstehen gab, dass si Geld nötig hatte, kam ich auf einer kleinen Schiffswerft als Arbeiter an, Gehalt 21 sh. pro Woche.
[page break]
Die Vorgesetzten waren mir gut, ich konnte ja arbeiten, aber die Leute, jeden Tag Schimpswörter – verfluchter Deutscher u.s.w., bis schliesslich nach einigen Wochen die Geschicte zu schlimm wurde und ich ging ab. So hatte ich wieder keine Arbeit. Da hat mich mein Schwager Albert, der Vorsteher eines Arbeitsbüros war, eingeladen, ihn zu besuchen in Goole, einem kleinen Hafen oberhalb Hull. Ich ging, und kam auf den Gedanken, unter einem anderen Namen auf See zugehen. Ich rasierete mich ganz glatt und ich war ein neuer Mann: Mathew Reckitt, Matrose. Meine Sprache war gut genug, um als geb. Englander zu passieren. Seeleute waren knapp und ich bekam sofort ein Schiff als Matrose. Nur eine Reise und der zweite Schlag traf uns: Deutchland fing an englische Städte mit Luftschiffen zu bombardieren und Hull wurde nicht verschont. Die Wut und Entrüstung der Leute war furchtbar und meine arme Familie mussste von der Polizei beschutzen, wir müssten weg. Aber wohin? Einige Damen in Hesskle kamen sogar mit einem offenen Scheck, um Edith zu helfen, wegzukommen, aber sie war zu wütend oder stolz und sagte ihnen, sie brauche keine Helfe. Schliesslich ging sie nach Grimsby – Cleethorpes (?) seitdem gewohnt. Die beiden Städte sind verbunden wie Hamburg – Altona. Sie hat ein grosses Haus und nimmt in Sommer Badegäste. C1. ist an der Mündung der Humber. Das schlecte ist, das ich in Grimsby nicht bekannt und seit 1917-1929 war ich auf einem Dampfer als Bootsmann, zuerst 8 Monate als Matrose, höher konnte ich nicht, mein Zeugnis is nur für Fischerei. Schliesslich 1929 mussste ich an Land kommen, ich war 66 Jahre alt, schon 2 Jahre über die bestimmte Zeite und die Rhederie gab mir Arbeit als Schiffs-Wächter d.h. wenn die Mannschaft, alle Hull-Leute abends an Land gehen, bin ich allein auf dem Schiff mit meinem Hündschen Bonzo, mein treuer Kamerad und ein guter Wächter; wehe dem Kerl, der seinem geliebten Herrn anfasst.
So, dies is die Lage. Edith wohnt in Cleethorpes allein, ich in Hull in einem möblierten Zimmer, koche mein Essen, wasche mein Zug und flicke es. Ich bezahle meiner Wirtin jede Woche 10 sh. und habe da Privilegium jede Woch meiner lieben Frau one Pound zu schicken. Mein Gehalt ist nich sicher, mitunter habe ich nur 12 sh. für die Wöche, mitunter 48, 6 sh. die Nacht, aber mitunter machen die Schiffe kurze, mitunter lange Reise, je nach dem Wetter.
Nun aber wird es Zeit, über die Kinder zu sprechen.
Max, jetz 45 Jahre alt, is Käpitan auf einem grossen ö1-Damfer (M.V. “Bulysses”) fährt von Singapore nach China, Japan, Australien und Neuseeland, ist immer auf 3 Jahre fort, nach dem haben 3 Monate Ferien zu Hause, Reisegeld bezhalt und Gehalt. Er is verheiratet, seine Familie wohnte in Hull und hat 3 Jungen, 19, 17, and 15.
John unser jüngster Sohn ging in die Feldartillerie 1915 und fiel vor Ypres am 17 März 1916. Dies war das erste, was Edith gegen mich setze. Ralph, unser zweiter Sohn, heiratete 1916 ein Hessle – Mädchen und was 1917 2ter. Steuermann auf dem englischen Dampfer “Elve”, ich wollte als Matrose mit ihm gehen, als auf der letzten Minute die Rhederei eine chinesische Mannschaft nahm, glücklich für mich.
[page break]
Ich ging am 20 Aug. auf den Hull-Dampfer “Albano” und schon während der ersten Reise kamen unsichere Nachrichten dass Ralph’s Schiff überfällig sie und schlliesslich mussten wir annehmen, dass es ungefähr am 11 Okt. an der Portugiesischen Küste mit Mann und Maus untergegangen. Torpediert von meinen Landsleuten! Nun war Edith mit mir fertig. Von Liebe is keine Rede, kein Vertauen, nichts. Gott sei Dank, die Kinder sind treu und besuchen mich wenn möglich. Ein trauriges Ding ist, dass Ralph’s Witwe einen kleinen Sohn hatte, 4 Monate nach dem er vershollen war; sie nannte ihn auch Ralph und auch er, jetz 18 Jahre, geht zur See. Die Witwe heiratete wie der nach 4 Jahre, ich Weiss nicht mal ihren neuen Namen.
Bertha heiratete nach dem Krieg einen Reissenden, der in Hull und Umbebung für Armour travelled. Sie wohnen ausserhalb Hull.
Agnes heiratete ein Kaufman (Fehilfe), hatte einen kleinen Sobn, jetz 19 Jahre alt. Ihr Mann ist nach kurzen Ehe (2-3 J.) an Schwindsucht gestorben. Nun in Jahre 1935 heiratete sie einen Mann, der Farbe farbriziert und dir hatte einen kleinen Jungen am 15 Juni d.J. beide Jungen haben Gerburtstag am selben Tage. Sie wohnen in Grimsby, so sehe ich sie nur selten.
Eva heiratete zu Weinachten einen Mann, der Motoren zu verkaufen sucht. Er hat sein Geschäft in Croydon (bei London); sie wollte eine Krankenpfleger in werden und es kostete mich einen Haufen Geld, sie war im Hospital in Birmingham, schliesslich wurde sie kranke hatte ein Operation am Ohre, aber ohne Erfolg, und musste ihre Stelle wegen Taubheit verlassen.
Nun bleibt meine jüngste Tochter Edith. Sie hatte eine brillante Schulgeit und ging nach London ins Lehrer-Collegium auf 2 Jahre und bekam auch sofort eine Stelle als Lehrerin in Birmingham. Wieder kamen meine Erspasnisse un Studium, aber es war es wert sie ist versorgt und ich klage nicht. Nun wirds aber Zeit, aufzuhoren. Ich freue mich sehr, dass ihr beide selbständig seid. Um Himmels willen, lasst Heiraten sein. Hier bin ich verheiratet und schon seit 21 Jahren allein, immer krank diese letzen 2 Jahre und kein Hoffn8ng bis sum Ende. Adieu, bitt, wenn ihr Zeit machen könnt, schreibt wider so abld wie möglich. Die address ist:
Mr M. Reckitt,
62, English Street,
[page break]
Translation of letter written by:-
Max Rättig
(Matthew Reckitt)
26, English Street,
Hull (Eng.)
Nov, 7th. (1936)
To:- H. & H. Rättig in Vienna,
his cousins as well as nieces as follows:- (Copy routed to me thru’ A.S. in Berlin, forwarded to my brother Alvin, to be returned.
Dear Helene!
Dear Hertha!
I received your kind letter of the 29th. October which both surprised and saddened me. I was very sad to hear that my poor sister Bertha, your mother, has died after great suffering. I am now the only one of the Wittenberg Rättig family, who is left and I am getting old. I will be 73 on the 3rd. February, and am permanently ill with heart trouble, so shall welcome the end as a happy release.
It is remarkable that your letter reached me and I will tell you the story of what happened to me before the Great War began. It is so many years since I have written a letter in German, that I am having great difficulty in putting my thoughts on paper, so please forgive my mistakes. I only speak in English and never have chance to speak German at all.
Immediately before the War in 1913-1914, I lived in Hessle, as you know. We had 7 children – Max, Ralph, Bertha, John, Agnes, Eva, and Edith, and their ages at that time were about 23, 21, 20, 18. 7. 5. 2. I had been a well established Skipper with a Hull Trawling Company, and earned very good money in those years. I was, as you might say, a very happy man. Then the War started. It didn’t worry me much, as I had been an English citizen for many years. I thought I hadn’t an enemy in the world, but I was deluding myself, as I soon found that I had almost no friends.
Max had already gained his Master’s Certificate, Ralph had his 2nd. Mate’s Certificate and they were both working – Max as 1st. Mate and Ralph as 3rd. Mate. Bertha was working in what I think is called, a haberdashers shop. John was an architects pupil. When the War first started things weren’t too bad, as the people in Hessle had nothing against us. It was pointed out to us that the Germans had not yet advanced but if they did things would become more and more uncomfortable for us. The first blow fell when the Director of my Trawling Company took me on one side and told me that, much to his regret, I would have to leave, promising me that he would take me on again at the end of the war, he said I was probably his best captain.
So I was without work and had very little money. I was too old for the Navy (as well as being born a German). After a few months I went to work in a small shipyard, as my dear wife had let me know in no uncertain terms that she needed money.
[page break]
My wage was 21s. per week and I got on very well with the boss as I was a good worker, but the other workers cursed me every day – damned German etc., which I stood for for [sic] a few weeks until the stories about me got worse and I had to leave. So again I was without work, then my brother-in-law, Albert, who was the Manager of a labour exchange, suggested that I went to Goole, a small port up-river from Hull. When I got there I decided to try to go to sea again under another name. I changed my identity to – Mathew Reckitt, seaman. My accent was not too bad for me to pass as an Englishman. Sailors were scares and I got signed on a ship at once.
The second blow fell, after only one voyage, when Germany sent Zepplins over to bomb English towns:- amongst which was Hull. The rage and indignation of the people was terrible and my poor family had to have police protection. The police finally said that there were too many Germans in Hessle, for them to be able to protect, so my family had to leave. But where were they to go to? Some Hessle women brought an open cheque to Edith to help her get established somewhere else, but she was either too furious or too proud to accept it and said she needed no help. Eventually she went to Grimsby, where she had two sisters living, and she settled at Cleethorpes, near Grimsby, where she has been ever since. The two towns are joined similar to Hamburg and Altana. She has a large house and takes in guests during the summer. Cleethorpes is a resort near the mouth of the River Humber. It is a pity that I couldn’t live over there but there was no work for me in Grimsby. I had work in Hull from 1917 – 1929 as a bosun on a steamship (s.s. ”Albano”), after 8 months as a seaman, I could not rise higher because I had only a Trawler Skipper’s Certificate. I had to leave the sea in 1929 as I was 66 years old and already two years over the maximum permitted age, and the Shipping Company gave me a job as a ship’s watchman i.e. when the crew, who are all Hull men, go ashore each night I am left in charge with only my little dog, Bonzo, for company. He is a true friend to me and a good watchdog who threatens to attack anyone who approaches his beloved master.
So this is the situation we are in at the moment. Edith lives alone in Cleethorpes and I am in hull [sic] in a furnished room where I cook, wash and patch me own clothes, and pay my landlady 10s. per week, and am able to send my wife one Pound per week. I don’t have a steady wage and sometimes have only 12s. for a week, sometimes 48s. (i.e. 6s per night) depending on whether the ship makes a long or short voyage – depending upon the weather.
Now I will tell you about the children. Max, now 45 years old, is the captain of a large oil tanker (M.V. “Bulysses”) voyaging between Singapore and China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. He is always away for 3 years and then comes home for a three months leave on full pay. He is married and his family, which consists of 3 boys 19, 17, & 15, lives in Hull.
John our youngest son, joined the Field Artillery in 1915 and was killed at Ypres on 17th. March 1916. This was the first tragedy that Edith blamed me for.
[page break]
Ralph, our second son, married a Hessle girl in 1916 and in 1917 was the 2nd Officer on an English ship s.s. “Elve” on which I had intended to sign as a seaman to voyage with him. At the last minute, luckily for me, they signed on a Chinese crew. I left Hull on the 20th. August on the s.s. “Albano” and soon after I heard a rumour that Ralph’s ship had been lost, eventually we got the news that it sank with all hands off the Portugese [sic] coast on the 11th. October. Torpedoes by my countrymen!! Edith finished with me completely after this, so from being someone who was loved, I was cut off and isolated. Thank God the children are loyal and visit me when they can. The sad thing is that Ralph’s widow had a baby son 4 months after she lost her husband, and called him Ralph, after his father. He is now 18 years old and also goes to sea. The widow married again after 4 years but I don’t know the name of her new husband.
Bertha married after the War. Her husband is a commercial traveller for Armour’s canned foods. His area is Hull and district and they also live in Hull.
Agnes married a shop assistant and had a son who is now 19 years old. Her husband died of T.B. after they had only been married for 2 or 3 years. She remarried in 1935 to a man who is a colour mixer in a paint factory, and they had a son on the 15th. June this year, the same date as her first son’s birthday, but they live in Grimsby so I don’t see them very often.
Eva got married last Christmas. Her husband sells motor cars and has a business in Croydon, near London. She was a nursing orderly, which cost me a lot of money, and was working in a Birmingham hospital until she became ill and had to have an operation on her ears which left her deaf on one side. That leaves my youngest daughter Edith, she is a brilliant scholar and went to a teacher training college in London for 2 years, before taking up a post in a Birmingham school. All my savings went on her studies, but it was worth it as she is taken care of, so I am not complaining.
I must finish off now. I am pleased that you are both independent and marriage is in the lap of the gods. Here I am, married but on my own for 21 years, ill for all of the past 2 years and no hope of better things to come. Goodbye! Write again when you have time and it is convenient. The address is:-
Mr. M. Reckitt, 62, English Street, Hull.
[page break]
Kopie eindander handschriftlich Brief von Max Rättig
(Mathew Reckitt)
November 1936.
Nach Alfred Schlingmann
(seiner Vetter in Britain)
Dear Alfred.
Your letter, received this morning has given me the greatest pleasure imaginable. Do I remember you? Don’t I remember how we, as schoolboys used to wander about in Berlin.
(Some pages missing J.C.R.)
shorework and very little hope of getting work of [underlined] any [/underlined] kind as soon as people found out my identity. For a few weeks at the beginning of 1915 I got work as a labourer at a small shipyard in Hessle at One Pound a week. (I had earned 1 to 2 pounds a day at sea) but after a few weeks there I had to be discharged there too. Then my brother-in-law invited me to spend a few weeks with them and I went. While there I got in conversation with a neighbour, who advised me to go in cargo boats, because they were wanting men badly and my brother-in-law and I discussed the matter and came to the conclusion to change my name and try. As soon as I could I got a ship and went as able seaman (Matrose). As usual, I got on alright with the Captain and mates and everything went well again. My wife came to see me now and then when the ship was in port and we stopped at her brother’s house. She told me several times that she had a very unhappy time among the people at Hessle, but she carried on. The worst trouble began after the air-raids began over Hull and the people became very bitter against us. One report was that we had mines hidden in the house and the police had to search the house to satisfy the people. It got so bad at the finish that the owner of the house, no doubt inspired by the police, gave Edith notice to quit. Poor woman she had 3 little childdren [sic], 2,5,7 years old and nowhere to go, at the finish, after a visit to her sister at Grimsby (also a fishery Captain’s wife) Edith decided to go and live there, and she has done so ever since. My oldest son Max made his Captains Examination in Oct. 1914 and went as first mate in the steamer “Queen Elizabeth” and she was away nearly two years. He kept the old name and does so now. About 15 years ago he joined the Shell Company and is now Capt. of a tank steamer “Bulysses” sailing between Singapore and Australian ports. He comes on leave next year, 3 months on pay. Ralph my second son made his exam. 2nd. Mate in 1914 and joined a firm of tankers as 3rd. Mate, got his 1st Mates Certificate in Shanghai and in 2 years came home Chief Mate of the same ship. Also both had a record to be proud of. John the 3rd. boy, joined the Artillery in 1915 (volunteer) and after a short training in England was sent to France. He fell before Ypres on 17th. March 1916. Ralph married in 1916, a Hessle girl and joined the Blue Funnel Line (Alfred Holt of Liverpool) and was torpedoed and lost with all hands off the Portugese [sic] Coast about Oct 11. 1917.
[page break]
But that is enough of my family affairs and if they interest you at all I will tell you more in my next.
Of myself I cannot say much. I went to sea until I was 66 and then [underlined] had [/underlined] to leave the sea but the Firm gave me a job as Ships Watchman and without boasting, I may say it is the best watching job they have. I get 6 shillings p. night, and am employed 6 nights one week and 7 the next. Besides that I have the State Old Age Pension 10sh. p.w; also the Trinity House, (a Corporation of People that have to do with the sea) a pension of 12 Pounds a year, and from the Sailors and Firemens [sic] Union 5 sh. per week. Also (ich glaube dass er meint auch – z.B. nämlich. (J.R.) One pound a week and 10 sh. p.w. for my room here. My health is very poor, chiefly, heart trouble and the least exertion puts me out of breath but I live very close to the Dock and once I get on the ship I am all right. I thank you for your offers of help, but indeed I manage quite well if not in Luxury, at least I can live as long as I work.
I should like to come to Berlin, but my health forbids that no. So does the rate of exchange. I am sorry to have to close now but you have a glimpse of my life., I will tell you more another time. With a thousand greetings, your old cousin.
Max R.
Please convey my best wishes to Helene.
Are you aware if the Fischer Family is still alive.
[page break]
Letter from Helene, Vienna to Adele, New York.
Vienna, January, 15th. 1937
My Dear Cousin Adele!
Since a long time we did not hear anything from one another – the old year is over and has brought us no good things. At first my mother’s death very painfully and cutting in for my sister and me. Then in spring I was sick for five months – I had a great fever and inflammation of my joints. That was very difficult also for Hertha who was taking care of me besides her office and the home-works. And also for my own office this illness was bad – you can understand. I was missing my dear mother too much.
In Autumn I received a letter from our uncle Max in England who was unknown for more than twenty years. But the informations [sic] were not delightful. He is old and sick and quite alone in his age. His wife left him because he was a German – two sonS’s [sic] had fallen against their father’s country and she was not loving him enough to forget it. Now, we write to one another very often and I am corresponding with his youngest daughter Edith who is a teacher in Birmingham.
I have the wish to see my uncle once more and – if I remain well – I shall travel to England in April this year. This is the reason why I am learning English – you see – you will find many mistakes, but it will be better and better, I hope.
Uncle Max has changed his name – you will have heard it from Uncle Alfred in Berlin, have you? And how do you do and your brothers family, my dearest cousin? Uncle Alfred was sending me a gigantic family-tree with more than four hundred of Rättigs, I am near to be haughty to be of such a famous family. But I am a little sad; nobody of the descendants of our old German family who are residing in foreign countries has maintained the German language besides you.
I hope the journey will be cheaper this year on account for the coronation of the new king. I am looking forward with great pleasure and expectation indeed.
I am awaiting your answer soon, my lovely cousin, and remain with many greetings for your brother’s family
Yours faithfully,
P.S. From our Uncle Alfred to Berlin I received your letter with a photo of your brother Alvin – and so I read something about you after a long time. Also heartiest gsreeting [sic] from my sister Hertha to you and Alvin. If Iyou [sic] will come to us, we shall play “Schach” all evening, as you like it.
[page break]
[underlined] THE RAETTIG FAMILY IN ENGLAND [/underlined]
MAX RATTIG 1864 – 1939
German Cousins – Elisabeth Raettig (1862 – 1922)
Carl-August Rattig II (1867 – 19 )
American Cousins – Melitta Raettig (1883 – 1887)
Alvin Ernst Raettig (1886 – 1953)
Herman William Raettig (1887 – 1898)
Adele Sophie Raettig (1889 - )
[photograph of the Raettig family]
Back Row
Ralph, Bertha, Max Edgar, John, Eva
Agnes, Max, Edith (with baby Edith on knee)
Max’s mother, the widow of a government surveyor in Wittenberge, Germany, died in July, 1880, leaving two orphans – Max and his sister Bertha. It was decided that they should go and live with their Uncle August (D131212), and that Max, then age 16, should continue his studies to become an architect or surveyor.
[page break]
At about the age of twenty, he decided to leave Wittenberge, he planned to avoid conscription by becoming a sailor. He joined the crew of a sailing ship which made dregular [sic] voyages between Hamburg and Hull. A shipmate, who had lodgings in Hull, invited Max to stay with him whenever they were in port. Long ago, in 1843, a fleet of Brixham fishing boats were blown off course in a storm in the North Sea; they discovered the richest fishing grounds off the British coast – the “Silver Pit”. This lead to the development of the fishing industry in Hull; many families came from Brixham to live in Hull, including the father of Edith Bell whom Max met and married on the 26th. September, 1888. During their married life they lived at various addresses in Hull and district and he subsequently took out naturalisation papers, thus began the Raettigs in England! They had seven children – Max Edgar, Ralph, Bertha, John, Agnes, Eva, and Edith.
Max sailed as a fisherman for many years, and later as a merchant seaman with the Ellerman Wilson Line, travelling between Hull and Gothenburg and Hamburg. Eventually he became too old for an active sea-going life and continued to work as a ship’s watchman until shortly before his death on the 22nd. February, 1939, aged 75 years. His widow Edith, died on the 11th March, 1946.
His sister Bertha married Theodore Heinrich Rattig in Vienna on the 25th. August, 1896.
[underlined] THE SECOND GENERATION IN ENGLAND [/underlined]
IN ENGLAND:- Max Edgar, Ralph, John, Agnes, Eva, Edith.
IN GERMANY:- Carl Theodora Elisabeth, Gottfried Johannes, Liselotte
IN AMERICA:- Eleanor Mae, Alvin Ernest.
[underlined] MAX EDGAR RAETTIG [/underlined]. (1891 – 1955)
Max was the eldest son of Max and Edith Raettig, and was born in Hull. He was educated at the Trinity House School which specialised in preparing its pupils for seagoing careers. As soon as his schooldays were over he became an apprentice on a four masted barque, the s.s. “Clan Graham”, owned by the Dunlop Line. By the age of 19 he had transferred to steamships with the Blue Funnel Line and had taken his Master Mariners ticket. During the First World War his ship was torpedoed by a U-boat, but he survived, thank God. He married Doris Jackson, who lived in Hull, they had three sons Max Donald (1917), John Charles (1919) and Dennis (1920).
Max and Doris Raettig (1947)
After the War, Max sailed as Chief Officer on an oil tanker owned by the Anglo Saxon Petroleum Company. His voyages were mainly in the far East, he came home on leave every three years. At the time of the Depression in the Nineteen Twenties he at home for many months, unable to get a ship. At home for many months, unable to get a ship. [sic] He was approached by a ship owner who wanted him to recruit a crew and to sail a small coastal steamship from Hull to Newcastle. He set sail, with his father as First Officer, - the s.s. “Mary” began to leak water while still steaming down the River Humber and it had to be beached before it sank! After the Depression he was back with the Anglo Saxon tanker fleet and quickly became a captain; he remained with that Company until he retired with the rank of Commodore Captain. He was a self-taught musician, a keen card player, golfer, and gardener. He died on the 26th. September, 1955.
[page break]
[underlined] RALPH RAETTIG [/underlined] (1893 – 1917)
Ralph was also educated at the Trinity House School, in Hull. He served an apprenticeship as a ships officer and sailed with the Blue Funnel Line. He married Molly Appleton in 1916, his ship the s.s. “Elve” was torpedoed in 1917, and he was drowned. His son Ralph was born shortly after his father’s death. Molly died on the 25th. June 1989.
[underlined] JOHN RAETTIG [/underlined] (1893 – 1917)
John had left school only four years before the outbreak of World War I. He joined the Royal Artillery Corps in 1914 and was killed in the battle of Ypres in 1917.
[underlined] BERTHA RAETTIG [/underlined] (1897 – 1972)
Bertha was the eldest daughter of Max and Edith Raettig. When she left school she worked as a shop assistant. She married Frederick Britton in 1920. They had two children. John, who became a professor of Mathematics, and Kathleen who became a lecturer in Food & Hygiene. Fred worked as a representative for a company of sweet manufacturers and later for a company who imported canned fruit. Bertha and Fred led a happy married life and were well-loved by their relations. John married Katherine M. Stewart and they had three daughters – Anne Katherine, Christine Mary, and Mary Kathleen. John’s sister Kathleen married Peter Clark on the 16th. July, 1955.
[underlined] AGNES RAETTIG [/underlined] (1907 – 1944)
Agnes lived with her mother in Cleethorpes and worked as a waitress. She married William Jackson, a fisherman, they had one son – Billy Jackson who later became a surveyor. Agnes became a widow and later married Harold Gibson, a paint blender, they had three children – Paul Gibson, Trevor Gibson, and Ian Gibson. Agnes died in 1944.
[underlined] EVA RAETIGG [/underlined]. (1909 – 1968)
After leaving School Eva became a student nurse. She married Tom Burns, a garage owner, in 1953, they lived at Sanderstead near Croydon, Surrey. They had two children, Richard who now manages the garage business, and Nita who teaches music. Eva died in 1968 and Tom died in 1988.
[underlined] EDITH RAETTIG [/underlined]
Edith is the only surviving member of the second generation. She trained as a school teacher and taught school in Birmingham. Her first husband was killed in a road accident, she had twin children, Jeremy who has a degree in chemistry and works for a firm of food manufacturers, and Jane who is married and has a small family. Sometime after the death of her sister Eva, Edith married Tom Burns, she continues to live at Sanderstead.
[page break]
[underlined] THE THIRD GENERATION IN ENGLAND [/underlined]
IN ENGLAND:- Max Donald, John, Dennis, - Ralph II.
IN GERMANY:- Bernfried, Elisabeth, Rosmarie, Gunhild, Hans-Jorg, Dorothea.
IN AMERICA:- Susan Mae, Edward Ernest, Steven Francis, Leslie Ellen
[photograph of Dennis, Max, John, - 1986]
[underlined] MAX DONALD RAETTIG [/underlined]
The eldest son of Max Edgar, born in Hull. After leaving the Hull Grammar School, he became an articled clerk in a firm of accountants, R.E. Moss & Co.. During the Second World War he served as a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy and took part in the North Africa Landings. After the war he resumed his career as a Chartered Accountant, and is a past-president of the regional branch of his professional society. He married Marjorie Robinson during the war and they have one daughter who married Peter Clarke. Margaret and Peter at present live and work in Spain and have two children – daughter Natalie and son David.
[underlined] JOHN CHARLES RAETTIG [/underlined] (b.1.11.1919)
The second son of Max Edgar. After education at the Hull Grammar School and the College of Commerce, commenced work with a firm of consulting engineers. During the war he serviced in the Royal Air Force as a Wireless Operator/Mechanic, working on the installation, maintenance and development of electronic equipment. After the war he joined the training staff of Blackburn Aircraft Company., (now part of British Aerospace P.L.C.) he became Apprentice Supervisor (over 300 apprentices) and later deputy training manager. He married Brenda Took and is the father of Michael, Gillian, Carol and Penelope. His first marriage failed and he married Susan Jarvis in 1979 and has one stepson – Guy Bernard Jarvis.
[page break]
[underlined] DENNIS WILLIAM RAETTIG [/underlined] (B.16.12.1920)
The third son of Max Edgar. After education at the Hull Grammar School and commercial college, he joined M. Harland Ltd., Printers, Hull. He served in the Royal Air Force as a Flight Mechanic (engines) maintaining mainly Halifax bombers. After the war he set up his own small firm of printers. He married Joan Wray and they have two children, Peter and Susan. Susan married Colin Burn – they have three children, Jennifer, Oliver, and Victoria.
[underlined] RALPH RAETTIG [/underlined] (b.7.11.1918)
Ralph was the only son of Ralph Raettig. He was educated at the Nautical School, Hull, and joined the Blue Funnel Line as an apprentice deck officer. He later sailed as an officer in the Ellerman Hall Line in the “City” boats. He then joined a company of ocean going tugboats and was in fact Towing Master responsible for the delivery of the floating drydock to Rotterdam. He married Stella Booth, they had one son Christopher. Ralph and Stella bought a grocers [sic] shop in Scarborough which they owned until he died in February, 1973.
[page break]
[underlined] THE FOURTH GENERATION IN ENGLAND [/underlined]
[underlined] IN ENGLAND [/underlined]:- Margaret; Michael, Gillian , Carol, Penelope; Susan, Peter; Christopher.
[underlined] IN GERMANY [/underlined:- Kerstin, Thorn, Leif.
[underlined] IN AMERICA [/underlined]:- Alexander Steven; Michelle Leigh, Mathew Edward.
[underlined] MARGARET ANN RAETTIG [/underlined]. (b.5.3.1952)
Daughter of Max and Marjorie Raettig, educated at the Rise Roman Catholic School, married Peter Clarke in 1975. Margaret and her husband have worked in various places in hotel and restaurant management and at present own a restaurant and bar in Spain. They have two children, Natalie (b.14.6.1976) and David Paul (b.24.5.1981), both attend school in Spain.
[underlined] MICHAEL ANTHONY RAETTIG [/underlined]. (b.5.1.1951)
The son of John Charles Raettig, he was educated at the Hull Grammar School and trained as an Aeronautical Engineer with Hawker Siddeley Aviation. He has remained with the company which is now part of British Aerospace and is managing the section of the Design Facility responsible for the design of the Hawk aircraft, as flown by the “Red Arrows”. He married Joyce Cooling in 1975. They have three children Nicola Jane (b.16.6.1976), Christopher James (b.5.3.1979), and Paul Andrew (b.23.12.1981). The family are living in Market Weighton, Yorkshire.
[underlined] GILLIAN ELIZABETH RAETTIG [/underlined]. (B.1.12.1952)
Eldest daughter of John Charles, was educated at the Newland High School for Girls, Hull. Attended the Medical School of Leeds University and graduated in Medicine and Surgery, specialising in obstetrics and gynaecology. She married Robert Scothern who trained with Hawker Siddeley Aviation and graduated as a Mechanical Engineer at the University of Loughborough, he is now a Chartered Engineer and works for British Rail Engineering Limited, Derby. They have four children, David Peter (b.25.11.1982), Miriam Anne (b.29.5.1984), Ruth Elizabeth (b.8.5.1986), and Rachel Esther (b.1.8.1988). At present they live in Leicester.
[underlined] CAROL ELAINE RAETTIG [/underlined]. (b.15.12.1953)
The second daughter of John Charles, was educated at the Newland High School for Girls, Hull. She worked as a child care officer for the Hull City Council, and later worked with the German evangelist, Anton Schulter, at Neues Leben, Altenkirchen, Germany. She returned to England and took a degree course in Hotel Management and Catering at the Leeds Polytechnic. She has worked in several hotels including the Hilton, Munich. She is currently Restaurant Manageress at the Parkway Hotel, Leeds.
[underlined] PENELOPE JANE RAETTIG [/underlined] (b.20.12.1961)
The youngest daughter of John Charles, educated at Kingussie School, near Aviemoor [sic], Scotland. Graduated in Veterinary Medicine and Surgery at Glasgow University, July 1986. Took up a post as Veterinary Officer with the Peoples Dispensary for Sick Animals, Hull. She married Donald Campbell in December, 1988, and went to live and work as a veterinary officer in Glasgow.
[page break]
[underlined] SUSAN PATRICIA RAETTIG. [/underlined] (b.17.3.1953)
Daughter of Dennis and Joan Raettig, was educated at the Newland High School for Girls, Hull. Trained as a teacher at the Margaret Macmillan Teacher Training College, Bradford. Married Colin Burn a graduate electronics engineer, on the 13th. August, 1977. They live at Coopers Hill, Gloucestershire, and have three children, Jennifer (b.3.8.1981), Oliver Michael (b.19.7.1983), and Victoria (b.1.1.1987).
[underlined] PETER MAX RAETTIG [/underlined]. (b.14.6.1959)
Son of Dennis and Joan Raettig, was educated at the Kelvin High School, Hull. He graduated in Computer Sciences at the Leeds Polytechnic and is working on computerised printing systems for a company that manufactures equipment for publishers., He married Nicole Thrush on the 25th. August, 1986, and live at Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire. They have a son Thomas Michael Max (b.4.5.1989)
[underlined] CHRISTOPHER RAETTIG [/underlined] (29.8.1944)
Christopher, the son of Ralph and Stella Raettig, was educated at the Scarborough Boys’ High School and later studied for and obtained his Ordinary and Higher National Certificates in Engineering at the Hull Technical College. He served an apprenticeship as an Aeronautical Engineer at Blackburn Aircraft Ltd., and worked there for some years as a Design Draughtsman. He later joined Slingsby Aviation at Pickering, Yorkshire and at present holds the post of Chief Draughtsman – Production Support.
He married Coral Kirkham on the 18th. October, 1969. They have two sons, Steven (b.26.12.1972) and Jonathon (b.16.8.1975). The family live in Pickering, Yorkshire.
[underlined] Hull.2nd. August, 1989 [/underlined]
[page break]
[family photograph]
[page break]
[photograph of a couple]
[page break]
[postage stamp]

Dear Mrs Gilthorpe,
I feel some-what guilty for not writing to you in reply to your interesting letter last August. Although I did ring my cousin Kate, who as you no doubt know – lives next door to your cousin Edith Burns (our Aunt), and I believe you are now in touch.
I am enclosing a copy of an old photograph which I hope will be of interest to you. You will notice that ‘baby Edith’ is on her Mothers knee – so I assume that the original is about 90 years ago. I have continued the documentation so that you can understand the photo better, which my elder brother John, compiled some years ago. As far as I am aware, we each (my two brothers and I) have a copy of the family tree going back to the middle 1600,s [sic]. It was produced by one of our Austrian relations in 1936 and sent to my grandfather.
Wishing you a Happy New Year,
Yours etc.
[page break]
[family photograph]
[page break]
[kinship of Dennis William Raettig]
[page break]
[relationship with Dennis Raettig]
[page break]
[relationship with Dennis Raettig]
[page break]
[relationship with Dennis Raettig]
[page break]

Dear Mr. Raettig,
My cousin and godmother was Edith Burns. In her last letter to me she mentioned a visit to her nephew in Hull.
I wonder if you are that same nephew – or a relative? I have traced your address from the telephone Directory.
The reason for this letter is that I am researching the BELL family. Edith Bell (formerly EALES, [inserted] her mother – Erina – [/inserted]) was my grandmother’s sister. I have very little information on Edith & family so far.
If there is a link with you would you mind if I write with further questions?
[page break]
[descendants of BELL and BARTON – family tree]
[page break]
[descendants of EALES and POWLESLAND – family tree]
[descendants of John Wilcox – family tree]
[page break]
[descendants of Georg Rattig – family tree]
[page break]
[descendants of August Herman Theodor Bothe Rattig – family tree]
[page break]
[descendants of August Herman Theodor Bothe Rattig – family tree]
[page break]
[descendants of Wilhelm Edgar Rattig – family tree]
[page break]
[descendants of Wilhelm Edgar Rattig – family tree]
[page break]
[descendants of Carl E Theophil Raettig – family tree]
[page break]
[descendants of Theodore Heinrich Arthur Rattig – family tree]



“Raettig family in England,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 30, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/8279.

Item Relations

This item has no relations.