User:Robinca/Alice and Claude Askew - a biography

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Askew
Leake
Year range
1865 - 1917

A biography of my grandparents:—


Alice and Claude Askew
.
co-authors of "a large number of novels and serial stories"
who also served and died together in the First World War.
.
—by Robin Cary Askew

Introductory Note

As my paternal grandperents had both died long before I was born, I never got to meet them. And I always wished I had learned more about them from my father, Geoffrey Askew. But he died when I was just seventeen. And unfortunately neither had he volunteered much about them to me nor had I thought to ask him about what he remembered of them. And he was only sixteen when they both died. They had in fact died in the same place at the very same time. That was early in the morning of the 6th of October in 1917, when they both drowned following the sinking (by torpedo attack) of the ship they were travelling on during the First World War. This tragic incident will be described in some detail below.

Fortunately there is a fair amount of information 'out there' on both Alice and Claude Askew, who were—back then—well known British authors of novels, short stories and serials. They also wrote one non-fiction book, as well as numerous articles for newspapers and journals.

And as it happens—back in November of 2012—I came across a Wikipedia page that had been created for Alice Askew. And I saw that the creator of that page was wondering if there should be another created (with similar information) for her husband Claude Askew. I then proposed a single page for both of them. And this we did. Since then I have added a good deal of text and photographs to it:- 'Alice and Claude Askew' on Wikipedia. But I also wanted to write a fuller biography of their lives, with much more detail than would be appropriate on a Wikipedia page. So this is it. As almost all of the photographs accompamying the Wikipedia article are those which I put there - and also are the only ones I have or have found for them, I will add them here too.

Besides contributing to the Wikipedia article, I have also been writing a photo-journal of a trip I made to visit the location of where Alice Askew was buried - and to be there on the centenary of their deaths. Her husband Claude's body was never recovered. I have given this photo-journal the title: Rome to Korčula (via the 'City of Bari') 100 Years Later. Thus my 'commemorative' journey began in Rome, from where I travelled to the port city of Bari, from where (a few days later) I took an overnight ferry to Dubrovnik, and from there (also a few days later) another ferry to the Croatian island of Korčula. My grandparents' final journey together had also begun—one hundred years before—in Rome. But it ended in the Ionian Sea, where their ship—the Italian postal steamer Città di Bari ('City of Bari')—sank not very far from its planned destination, the Greek island of Corfu. After which, Alice's body must have been carried by the sea currents all the way north to fetch up, some weeks later, in a cove of the small island of Zvirinovik - just off the coast of the much larger Korčula island - and very close to a fishing village called Karbuni, where she was then buried.

From that time the cove, where she was found, has been marked on maps with the name: 'U. Bok.' And I have since learned that is actually short for: Bok od Engležiće. The letter U stands for uliva meaning 'cove' or 'inlet' and bok means either 'hello' or 'goodbye' - while od engležiće means 'from English lady.' So the name, translated into English, could well read: Hello from English lady! And possibly also: Bye-bye!

Their Beginnings

Claude was born on 27 November 1865 at the house of his parents, No. 4 Holland Park, Notting Hill in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London, England. He was the second son and youngest of five children of Fanny Georgiana Charlotte Askew, née Browne (1830–1900) and her husband, the Rev. John Askew, M.A. (1804–1881). His birth was registered, in the district of Kensington, with the names: Claude Arthur Cary. One might presume that his father, being a 'Clerk in Holy Orders' (as given in that register) - and until not long before, the Anglican 'perpetual curate' of the parish church of Ashchurch, Gloucestershire (1844-1863), would also have had his son baptised. But no record of that has yet been found. Claude's three older sisters and one older brother were all baptised. The sisters were all born and baptised at Ashchurch. Amy Ellen Cary Askew (born 10 June 1857) was baptised 15 July 1857. Isabel Emily Florence Askew (born 16 November 1858) was baptised 18 January 1859. Mabel Fanny Mary Askew (born 23 February 1861) was baptised 22 May 1861. And Hugh Henry John Percy Cary Askew (born 18 September 1862 at Montague House, Dulwich Wood, Camberwell, Surrey) was baptised 10 April 1863 at St. Bartholomew's, Sydenham, Kent.

Alice was born on 18 June 1874 at No. 3 Westbourne Street, near Hyde Park in London, England; and baptised Alice Jane de Courcy on 5 August 1874 at the church of St. Michael and All Angels in Paddington, London. She was the eldest daughter of Jane Leake, née Dashwood (1844–1912) and her husband, Lt-Col Henry Leake (1829–1899), who following his retirement from the British army, was granted the honorary rank of Lt-Colonel. At the time of her birth he was a Captain, on half pay, late of the 70th Regiment of Foot. She had two younger siblings: Henry Dashwood Stucley Leake (17 Feb 1876 – 2 June 1970), and Frances Beatrice Levine Leake (27 May 1878 – 29 Aug 1884).

.... to be continued