About the book:
“The story of little ships coasting out of Singapore and Penang in peace and war.” It is a Story of the Straits Steamship Company.
From the preface:
I find pleasure in writing this footnote to history because I have voyaged in the little ships whose house-flag of the Straits Steamship Company is my subject. I have messed with their men. Their officers are from the home country, with Malays on deck and Chinese in the engine-room. I should like to say that a European who fancies his superiority to a seasoned Malay sailor, or a Chinese craftsman, has yet to learn his place in life. I found it a select and cheerful community, the crew of a little ship, in which a man’s only worth was his fitness for his task….
When I landed at Singapore for the first time, I had no reason that an accountant would pass for being there. Nothing better than an old dream was having its way with me. It was Alfred Russel Wallace and his Malay Archipelago that had drawn me out, which is a long way from common sense. It but serves to prove what a dream can manage in the long run; for I was a boy when I read that book. There I was, on my way to the fabulous Moluccas at last. So in this story of the Malayan coasting ships, remembering fondly the smells, the light, and the colours, I have attempted to picture the background to their voyaging.
The Straits of Malacca
Morning in Singapore
The Straits Steamship Company
War Comes to the Tropics
About the author:
Henry Major Tomlinson (21 June 1873 – 5 February 1958) was a British writer and journalist. He was known for anti-war and travel writing, novels and short stories, especially of life at sea. He was born and died in London.