Sent to the Mars

Gordon and I had a meeting yesterday with Angus McKenzie from Stonehaven who had contacted the site on Friday.

 Angus's grandfather, Thomas Hannagan Mckenzie was sent to the Mars on 12th February 1891. Angus had contacted us to say that he had the original letter issued by the Sheriff-Substitute of Forfarshire which sent his grandfather to the Mars. Angus very kindly donated the letter to the site and Gordon is going to give it to the Blyth Hall in Newport, where the Mars records are held. The Blyth Hall have a Mars display running and is well worth a visit for anyone who is interested in the story of the Mars. 


Angus & Dundee Roots Festival 2009

We had a very kind invitation this week to take part in the Angus & Dundee Roots Festival 2009.

October 2nd at the Webster Theatre in Arbroath should see a Mars presence and a talk by author Gordon Douglas about his work regarding the Mars Training ship.

There has also been several emails from ancestors of some of the boys, the follow up will appear on the site through time.

It is always wonderful to hear from ancestors of the "Mars Boys", so please keep the stories coming.

We also have a link from "The Scottish Genealogist" site, which, hopefully will bring more people onboard.

We have also been developing  educational resources for the Mars, which will be available here very soon.


Last Updated ( Saturday, 18 April 2009 01:29 )


Praise indeed

Gordon is still working hard on "Sons of the Mars" and hopefully we will see a result before the end of the year.

We've had a lot of great emails and praise about the site and an excellent book review which suggests that the Mars site is quite pioneering :-

"... There must be many descendants of the 6500 'Mars Boys' for whom this book would be a useful resource for family history. The book does not however, stand alone as it is supplemented by a website on which the author intends to list the details from the admissions records of all the boys who were admitted to the Mars as well as much other information. This is an excellent idea as the author of a book of this sort will invariably have mor information than can comfortably be accommodated in the book and it enables readers to access such of that information as may interest them. Perhaps this is the way forward for many publications in the Family History area where the narrative is in book form and could usefully be supplemented by a website containing more detailed information."
from a book review by Jessie Denholm in The Scottish Genealogist March 2009.

"First of all I want to congratulate you on making such a great and informative website :) I have been researching my family tree for a few years now and was having trouble finding my GGG Grandad ...." emailed by Catriona Stewart.

" is wonderful to see this book and website".  emailed by Alastair Gibbons


Last Updated ( Sunday, 12 April 2009 11:50 )


New emails received

We have received some new emails over the past few days enquiring about some of the Mars Boys.

It's always great to get new enquiries or feedback to the site. Please feel free to contribute. It is your site after all.

Gordon is working hard on the follow up book 'Sons of the Mars' and would like to hear from anyone with a story to tell.


Please let us know

If you have visited the Sons of the Mars website and have found information or have particularly enjoyed any aspect of the site, Please Let Us Know by posting a comment on the blog. I will update the blog so that you do not need to be a registered user to poston the blog.

We would much prefer you to be a registered user as we can keep you updated by email and definitely do not share or pass on your details to any 3rd party.

It's only by receiving feedback that we can guage what we are doing right or wrong. 

Last Updated ( Thursday, 19 March 2009 21:26 )


Very Interesting Email

We had a very interesting email from Alastair Gibbons who told us :-
"My grandfather, George Walker Betsworth, was born on 17th Jan 1877 in the coastguard station Reculver, Kent. His father was Edward Charles Betsworth who joined the Mars in August 1877. Edward was a coastguard at Caistor, Norfolk, in the 1871 census, and I believe is mentioned as being on duty the night the Tay Bridge fell in John Prebble's book of the disaster, though his name is spelt wrongly. My grandfather then lived all his life in Newport until his death in 1940. He was a plumber, served in first world war and suffered gas damage to his lungs, married Jean Duncan in 1919 at age 42, and had one child, my mother Netta in 1925. My mother, who lives now in Kintore, Aberdeenshire and sadly has dementia, has talked with enthusiasm about the Mars ship all her life, so it is wonderful to see this book and website."
Alistair added in a later email that "My Grandfather lived at 27 Gowrie Hill East Newport, until he died in 1940 and his widow Jean lived there until her death in 1969. There are both buried in Vicarsford Cemetery."
Gordon had, the week prior to the email, l found some information on Charles Betsworth and there is now an entry in the Mars stories section for 19th May 1904 about his retiral. We have passed on the details to Alistair and a photograph of his Grandparents gravestone at Vicarsford Cemetery.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 19 March 2009 20:42 )


Mystery of the Mars Figurehead

There is a new article regarding the whereabouts of the Mars' Figurehead and a link to a photograph of it.

Mystery of the Mars Figurehead.

Last Updated ( Monday, 16 February 2009 01:35 )


Bear on the loose in Wellgate

As promised yesterday there is an upload of photographs of former Mars boy Hugh Hart sent in by his Grandson, James Hart.

There are also two new stories, both very funny. The first one is a Dundee story Bear loose in the Wellgate. The second one is neither about Dundee nor the Mars but it is hilariously funny. Gordon found in during his Mars research  Wild Animals take possesion of Ship.


New additions to site

We had a great email from James Hart last night.

I have had regular contact with James and his brother Paul for a while now

regarding their Grandad Hugh Hart who entered Mars service in 1904.

Hugh was a real character and I will put up some photos later in the day 

and also a brief biography, but I think there's more to come.

Also, nothing to do with the Mars, puting on a brilliant Dundee story about

a runaway Russian bear in the Wellgate (the old Wellgate that is. Remember the one

with the steps at the top and the 50 Bob tailors at the bottom!).


Needing to find ............

Janet Brophy (James Slaven) and the gentleman who asked us for details of William Whitelaw from Glasgow.

Since I had serious computer crashes a couple of weeks ago, I lost all my emails and subsequently email address from people who had contacted us.

Regarding William Whitelaw, we now have details of him from the Mars record books.

Please contact me at

Last Updated ( Monday, 09 February 2009 19:54 )


Visit to Wormit Primary School

Gordon paid a visit to Wormit Primary School earlier this month to give a talk and perform some Mars songs to the Primary 2 class.

He received many thank you letters from the children and some brilliant drawings. I thinkAaron has captured Gordon remarkably well.

Here are the letters and two drawings more are to follow.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 07 February 2009 17:17 )


Search Facility Updated

I've now also updated the search facility on this site by referencing

I'm sure that you will find it much more user friendly and clearer. I was never happy with the original one.


New Duplicate Site

We are now running a duplicate Sons of the Mars site at

The Mars Boys search facilty is much improved and until I can change over the search facility it is better to use the one on the new site.

A search is now possible for a boys parents' names and all the records are available to browse.

If you have signed up as a member of you will automatically be a member of

Both sites will continue to simultaneously updated but in the future may become dedicated to the new book when it is finished.


Lost emails. Please help.

Following last Saturdays post re: Computer breakdown.

In the course of managing to get it running again, I lost all the emails and email addresses I have gathered and received since the Mars site went live.

If anyone who has sent me emails and are not a site member could you please contact me at

I would especially like to hear from the gentleman who enquired about Mars boy William Whitelaw as Gordon has discovered quite a lot of information.

Also, if you have recently sent me information and it has not appeared on the site, please contact me.

Sorry about  all this and if anyone needs their computer sorted out cheaply, just give me a call.

Last Updated ( Monday, 09 February 2009 19:55 )

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