Royal Navy. 


The Von Trapp Family.

JX 113661 Chief Petty Officer T.G.M. Campbell - 1940's


Von Trapp Family.   

Robert and Alice Whitehead had seven children - their third son - James, married the daughter (Agathe) of Viscount Middleton, a Minister in the British Government. James eventually became Ambassador to the Court of Austria and he and Agathe in turn had seven children, the youngest of whom was a very pretty young lady called Frances.

In 1912, Frances was asked to undertake the christening of one of Austria's new submarines, and there she met and fell in love with the handsome submarine commander, Captain Von Trapp. They married and had two children before Von Trapp was called away to fight in the Great War (1914-18), where he distinguished himself as a courageous submariner, winning many medals, and being raised to the Austrian nobility.

With the war over, Austria was left without a navy, and so had no use for Naval officers. A disappointed Von Trapp (pictured left), turned to business and by 1924 he and Frances had produced five more children. Tragically, poor Frances then died of Scarlet Fever and Von Trapp was desolate. He moved his family to Saltzburg (pictured right), but, without a mother, the children became troublesome and unruly. In desperation, Von Trapp engaged a novice from the nearby Benedictine Nunnery - Maria Augusta Kutschera, who bought joy and happiness to the household. The children grew to love her and Von Trapp eventually married her. Maria taught the children to sing and soon they became famous as the Von Trapp Singers, performing all over Europe.

The Von Trapp children.In 1938, Germany annexed Austria, and rather than betray their beliefs, the Von Trapps made a hazardous journey to escape over the mountains into Switzerland. They went to America, settled in Vermont, reformed their singing group and once again became famous. Von Trapp died in 1947, but the story of his musical children, great grandchildren of Robert Whitehead, builder of Ferry Bridge Works, Wykes Regis, home of the famous Whitehead torpedoes, lived on in the beautiful musical "The Sound Of Music."

It is reported that Rogers and Hammerstein (who produced The Sound Of Music) made a 'few' changes to the facts of the real Von Trapps.

  • Captain Von Trapp was decorated at the young age of 18 for his services in the Boxer rebellion in China.

  • Maria was sent from the convent to care for only one child. The daughter was weak from Scarlet Fever - the same illness which killed their mother. The child could not attend school.

  • Maria arrived at least twelve years before the Nazis came to power.

  • The Von Trapp family were already singing three part harmony lieder with their father before Maria arrived.

  • Von Trapp himself was an affectionate father - well loved by the children. He sometimes used a boson's pipe to call them if they were far from the house.

  • The Von Trapp wealth had dissipated by the European depression during the 1930's. They began singing out of necessity and received high honours at the Saltzburg Music Festival in 1936.

  • Maria had three children with the Captain - the youngest born in the USA.



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