James Joseph Blake may have "jumped ship" from a US Navy vessel during the tour of the Great White Fleet

Hi Mac,

My name is James Blake and I am an Australian journalist who lives and works currently in Moscow Russia.

I have come across your website through a google search and spotted a letter from a lady who said she had a list of deserters from the Great White Fleet (in 1908) in Melbourne.  I was wondering if you have it on your site somewhere or if it would be possible to get a copy in some way.

The reason I ask is that my family (the Blake component at least) comes down from James Joseph Blake. The family legend is that he 'jumped ship' from a US Navy vessel in Australia or New Zealand in 1908. My guess is that its likely to be from the GWF.  We dont know exactly where he jumped ship although my Grandfathers brother was born in Sydney, His Sister in NZ and my Grandfather in Renmark SA (according to his birth certificate - although he always he was born on a ship between Aust and NZ and his birth was simply registered in Renmark). My Great Grandfather was certainly a naval man, and I believe sailed the Australia New Zealand route from the period just before WW1 to just after on merchant vessels. He eventually lived in Melbourne and died in 1948.

If you are/were looking for info on descendants of GWF deserters, I can tell you that My Grandfather Walter Blake served in WW2 (2/2 Pioneer Battalion and became a prisoner of the Japanese) before coming home and playing in a Premiership side with Port Melbourne in the VFA in 1947.

Any advice or assistance you may be able to provide would be greatly appreciated.

Yours sincerely
James Blake


The copy of the list of US Navy deserters is still to come my way, when it finally does, I will send off a copy to you.

Today in Australia is the actual day 100 years ago that the GWF sailed into Sydney Harbour to the plaudits of a crowd of about 600,000, amazing for that time in our development.

Do you find Moscow interesting at this time of Russia's re emergence as a power to be reckoned with? no doubt Putin is still in charge although no longer President. I really did enjoy my two visits to both Moscow, St Petersburg and also to Kiev in the Ukraine.

Very interesting email from you.

All the best,

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