While the family was in Hong Kong, news was received of the catastrophic collapse of the share market, following the announcement to remove the control exercised by the Gold Standard. This financial crash became known as 'Black Friday' and was on 16th June, 1937. Arthur Freemantle, his brother, sent a cable reporting this crisis and requesting their immediate return to Johannesburg. Although prior to their departure Eric had taken all precautions to safeguard his clients during his absence and this, in fact, stood them in very good stead at this time of panic selling, he felt it was necessary to return home promptly.
In those days there were far fewer controls when travelling but this change of plan still required considerable reorganisation as the children's names needed to be removed from Eric's passport and included on his wife's, so that he could fly back to South Africa, whilst she took the rest of the party home by ship. Also, a medical examination was required. The Chinese doctor signed all the medical certificates for the various members of the family and for Mabel, the nurse in addition, after simply placing his stethoscope over the lapel of Eric's jacket!
His homeward journey took six days of flying, hopping from one city to the next because, at that time, the airlines avoided flying over the ocean wherever possible and this meant landing, for instance, in India and Central Africa, before flying south to Johannesburg. The rest of the party returned to South Africa by ship.
As far as I remember, during this round-the-world trip, one of the ships we travelled on was American liner called "S.S. President Polk" and this carried a good number of American passengers as well as a few other people. My parents seemed to have a lot of fun with the Americans, playing the usual deck sports, but also many word games to keep themselves entertained. They found the Americans very quick-witted over this and one game was a contest in which they collected between them all a number of word pairs, which although both in English, had different meanings in America from the English usage we were accustomed to understand. Some I recall were 'dummy' , 'comforter' and 'eiderdown' which would then be strung together with their contrasting meanings. A second ship was registered in Holland, probably a cargo vessel and called the ' Houtman' on which we children sailed from Hong Kong, with only my mother and Mabel, the twins nanny. The captain of this vessel, a Dutchman, was very taken with the lively three-year old twins, so he indulged them (and, consequently me) a great deal. For instance, in the hot weather, ordering one of the crew to lay out the hose usually used to swab the decks and allow us to run through the water while the sailor sprayed it about for us.