Scottish author Gordon Douglas, who wrote the book 'We'll Send Ye Tae the Mars', is searching for relatives of 6,500 homeless and destitute boys who served on the Mars Training Ship which was moored on the River Tay, near Dundee, Scotland for sixty years between 1869 and 1929.He has almost completed a second book about the fate of many of the boys, 'Sons of the Mars', and would like to discover and hear from some of the boys' descendants.
In 19th century Scotland, poverty and disease were rife and, although transportation to Australia had stopped in 1857, many children had no option other than to steal to survive and a good number ended up in prison. This could not go on, however, and so the idea of a training ship for Dundee was born. 'We'll Send Ye Tae the Mars' is the fascinating history of how it all happened and how the Mars helped thousands of boys and equipped them to find a new life away from the poverty and crime.
Many of the boys joined the British Royal Navy, Merchant Navy or merely emigrated finding adventure and new lives, some very successful, all over the world.
Gordon said, "We have a website www.sonsofthemars.com which has been in successful in attracting genealogy enquiries from many parts of the globe.However, due to the diversity of locations, worldwide, in which the boys found themselves settling, I think we are only scratching the surface. Although the ship was based near Dundee, the boys were sent from all over Scotland and sometimes further afield, it is possible family genealogy researchers do not immediately see a connection with Dundee.
The first book, 'We'll Send Ye Tae the Mars' is only the beginning of the story." The book can be previewed from the website www.sonsofthemars.com
An interview with Gordon Douglas can be viewed on the BBC's site via the link http://www.sonsofthemars.com .