Three women whose relatives sailed on Glasgow's Tall Ship as young apprentices during the First World War had an emotional meet-up on the historic vessel.

Sue and Pat Grant's father, a Scottish apprentice named Reg Mitchell, joined the ship's company aged just 14 and went on to make his life at sea.

He embarked on his first voyage with Stephanie Champion's grandfather Ernest (Andy) Morrison Andersen in 1916, spending three years on the Glenlee, which was then known as the Islamount.

Glasgow Times: Sue and Pat Grant (left and right) and Stephanie Champion on board the Glenlee Picture: Gordon TerrisSue and Pat Grant (left and right) and Stephanie Champion on board the Glenlee Picture: Gordon Terris (Image: Newsquest)

The two sisters travelled thousands of miles to Glasgow from their homes in New Zealand and Australia to visit the ship for the first time.

Mrs Champion's grandfather documented their experiences navigating a hurricane and life-threatening illness as well as more enjoyable experiences meeting girls in Capetown and visiting the fairground in Coney Island.

Glasgow Times:  Ernest (Andy) Morrison Andersen Ernest (Andy) Morrison Andersen (Image: Family)

A treasure trove of photographs, taken by Mr Mitchell, detail her final voyage as a sailing ship before she was sold to the Spanish navy and fitted out with engines for the first time.

Even though sailing ships were being replaced by steam and later diesel engines, the Glenlee was put to work carrying cargo around the world, and his pictures were taken on a trip between New York and Sydney in Australia where the ship was bound with a cargo of case oil.

The photographs came to light through the diligent research of Elizabeth Allen, of the Clyde Maritime Trust - the organisation which raised the money and arranged for the Glenlee to be brought to Glasgow.

She was able to track down Mr Mitchell's daughter Sue, who was just four-year-old when her father died at the age of 52 and now lives in New Zealand.

"To think that 100 years ago our relatives were working here as young lads, it's incredible," said his daughter, who said she felt "quite sniffy" being on board the ship, which is berthed  at Pointhouse Quay beside Glasgow's Riverside Museum.

Glasgow Times:  Reg Mitchell as a young sailor Reg Mitchell as a young sailor (Image: Family)

"Our dad died in 1952 of a brain tumour and our mother had no intention of bringing up two small children alone in Liverpool.

"She went out to New Zealand and met her husband and we came out here in 1955. We knew very little about Reg Mitchell and so as you get older you get more curious.

"I did a trip back to Liverpool and his sister and his niece were still in Liverpool.

"They gave me this packet of very precious photographs."

Glasgow Times: Glenlee apprentices Joe (left) Reg Mitchell with Ernest (Andy) Andersen Glenlee apprentices Joe (left) Reg Mitchell with Ernest (Andy) Andersen (Image: Family picture)

Her son studied in Glasgow, not knowing the ship his grandfather sailed on was berthed in the city.

"They spent the whole of the First World War on board, without going home again," said Elizabeth Allen, vice chair of the Clyde Maritime Trust, which owns the vessel, now one of Glasgow's most popular tourist attractions.

"I suppose it was a choice of down the mines or off to the factory.

"They didn't get paid for the work and the idea was they could sit their exams when they had done three or four years."

 "I sort of knew that my grandfather had been on a sailing journey but when my mother passed away five years ago I was going through her things I found a typed transcript of the log," said Mrs Champion, who travelled from her home in Wales to meet the siblings. She gave the transcript of the log to the Trust and it formed the basis of an exhibition last year.

The crew encountered a hurricane leaving Australia and one entry details Mr Andersen's desire to take a photograph to send home to his mother.

Glasgow Times: Crew on the Islamount Crew on the Islamount (Image: Family)

"As well as the log I also have 100 letters that he wrote," she added. "They are full of stories of the other apprentices, the other crew members and what they did on shore when they were allowed off and how the food was awful."

"There is a lovely episode in Andy's log book where he suddenly realises it's his birthday - because time doesn't really mean anything - and the only person who gives him a present is Reg and he gives him one cigarette and it means an awful lot," said Lauren Henning, the Glenlee's learning and museums manager. 

"What has been so wonderful is that we have the logbooks and we have the informal pictures too," she said.

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"There is such a tendency to think of people from that time as staid. We see the picture of Reg with a cat on his head and  it just brings so much personality to the ship and those who were on it."

An excerpt from the nautical journal Sea Breezes written by one of the sailors encapsulates the sailors' plight as they were left fearing for their lives.

It says: "The wind suddenly increased to hurricane force, our topsails were blown from their bolt ropes, the vessel heeled over, the cargo shifted and thus she remained on her beam ends.

"All hands were hanging on to the poop [deck] where we remained for the rest of the night in a very miserable plight wit the roaring wind and wet through with the lashing rain awaiting every moment for the old Islamount to go down as she was completely out of control at the mercy of the high and terrific seas."

Luckily, the storm abated the next day and the ship was able to lift into port with no lives lost.

But things were just as bad on the return journey. The ship reached Capetown, South Africa, in November 1918 just in time for the crew to hear of the Armistice which ended the First World War, and then sailed for Indonesia, where fever was rife.

The sickness swept through the crew days later when they were at sea, almost claiming the life of the captain and carrying off one of the sailors, who was buried at sea.

Eventually, the ship returned to South Africa and berthed at Durban, where medical aid was available.

Built in Port Glasgow in 1896, the steel-hulled, three-masted Glenlee was made on the orders of a Glasgow company.

Built on the River Clyde at the Bay Yard in Port Glasgow Anderson Rodger and Co she is one of five Clydebuilt steel sailing ships still afloat and is now the only one in the UK. 

The ship was found abandoned in Seville damaged by fire and there were plans for her to be sold by the Spanish Navy but in 1993, the then 92-year-old founder trustee Hamish Hardie, an Olympian yachtsman, began a mission to save her and bring her home to Glasgow.

The Glenlee marked its 125th birthday in 2021.