Tag: Southampton

The Old Contemptibles Plaque (Southampton)

In my meanderings around cemeteries in the UK I sometimes encounter plaques on the graves of the “Old Contemptibles”. Unfortunately they are not that easy to research because it is easier to research a soldier that died in the war than one who survived.

Just what is an Old Contemptible? Legend has it that Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, allegedly issued an order on 19 August 1914 to “exterminate … the treacherous English and walk over General French’s contemptible little army”. Hence, in later years, the survivors of the regular army dubbed themselves “The Old Contemptibles”.

Not too many men from the regular army survived the long slog in the trenches, and the survivors often suffered from the effects of the war for the rest of their lives. The grave markers that I see are from the “Old Contemptibles Association”  that was founded by Captain JP Danny, RA, on 25 June 1925. Membership was limited to veterans of the regular army who had served in the British Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders within range of enemy artillery during the period 5 August to 22 November 1914 and had thus taken part in the desperate early battles and retreats before the advancing German forces, before the tide turned and the allies counterattacked at the Battle of the Marne.  The Association had 178 branches in the UK & 14 overseas branches. It produced its own magazine “The Old Contemptible” & all members were known as “chums”.  The Association’s national organisation was wound up in the 1970s but in London and the South East it continued until 1994. (http://www.surreyinthegreatwar.org.uk/story/the-old-contemptibles-association/)

In Southampton, on the side of the former Docks’ Post Office and Telegraph building at Dock Gate 4, there is a plaque commemorating the men who sailed from the port to make history. Erected on 9 April 1950, it was unveiled by by Admiral Sir Algernon Willis, Naval Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth. 

Former docks post office and telegraph building

 

The poem, by Beatrix Price Miller reads:

OH MIGHTY FORCE THAT STOOD FOR ENGLAND!
THAT, WITH YOUR BODIES FOR A LIVING SHIELD,
GUARDED HER SLOW AWAKING, THAT DEFIED
THE SUDDEN CHALLENGE OF TREMENDOUS ODDS
AND FOUGHT THE RUSHING LEGIONS TO A STAND
THEN STARK GRIM ENDURANCE HELD THE LINE,
OH LITTLE FORCE THAT IN YOUR AGONY
STOOD FAST WHILE ENGLAND GIRT HER ARMOUR ON,
HELD HIGH OUR HONOUR IN YOUR WOUNDED HANDS,
CARRIED OUR HONOUR SAFE WITH BLEEDING FEET
WE HAVE NO GLORY GREAT ENOUGH FOR YOU,
THE VERY SOUL OF BRITAIN KEEPS YOUR DAY!
PROCESSION? – MARCHES FORTH A RACE IN ARMS:
AND FOR THE THUNDER OF A CROWD’S APPLAUSE,
CRASH UPON CRASH THE VOICE OF MONSTROUS GUNS,
FED BY THE SWEAT. SERVED BY THE LIFE OF ENGLAND,
SHOUTING YOUR BATTLE-CRY ACROSS THE WORLD.
OH, LITTLE MIGHTY FORCE YOUR WAY IS OURS,
THIS LAND INVIOLATE YOUR MONUMENT.

Grave markers. 

I have seen some of the markers in the cemeteries I have visited and can only find these in my images, it is possible I have missed seeing more by taking a different path or pausing to look at something else. But, I will keep on looking. Sadly, I expect many of the markers have ended up as scrap metal over the years, so these may be quite rare so many years down the line.

A Bagwell, Gloucester Regt

Gloucester Old Cemetery

E Ellis, Royal Field Artillery

Reading Cemetery

WA Marshall, MM. RVL Berkshire Regt

Reading Cemetery

 

GA Janaway, Royal Hampshire Regt.

Hollybrook Cemetery, Southampton

 

H Betterridge, Royal Fusiliers

Streatham Park Cemetery, London

 

Robert W Smith, Grenadier Guards

Gloucester Old Cemetery

   

DRW © 2018. Created 01/02/2018

Updated: 04/06/2018 — 06:21

Hollybrook Memorial: Southampton

The Hollybrook Memorial in Hollybrook Cemetery in Southampton, commemorates by name almost 1,900 servicemen and women of the Commonwealth land and air forces* whose graves are not known, many of whom were lost in transports or other vessels torpedoed or mined in home waters (*Officers and men of the Commonwealth’s navies who have no grave but the sea are commemorated on memorials elsewhere). The memorial also bears the names of those who were lost or buried at sea, or who died at home but whose bodies could not be recovered for burial. Almost one third of the names on the memorial are those of officers and men of the South African Native Labour Corps, who died when the troop transport Mendi sank in the Channel following a collision on 21 February 1917. (Text from Commonwealth War Graves Commission)

Memorial at Hollybrook Cemetery in Southampton

Memorial at Hollybrook Cemetery in Southampton

The memorial makes for very sombre reading, especially when you consider that this is probably one of the only places where so many of these people are remembered. It covers both World Wars (there is also a dedicated WW2 plot in the Cemetery), and the highest ranking person on the memorial is Field Marshall Lord Kitchener, Secretary of State for War, who died when the battle cruiser HMS Hampshire was mined and sunk off Scapa Flow on 5 June 1916, he is mentioned on plaque 01.

Mendi Corner

Mendi Corner (1497×752)

The Men of the Mendi are listed on plaques 3-19. Other ships of interest are the Union Castle ships Glenart and Galway Castle.

There are over 100 plaques on the memorial, testifying once again to the magnitude of the loss of life during the Two World Wars. It is a very thought provoking memorial, and a very special one to me as this is where the Mendi Men are remembered.

© DRW 2013-2018. Created 14/05/2016

Updated: 10/01/2018 — 20:21

Air Transport Auxiliary Monument

This gem we spotted one day while in the area of Hamble-Le-Rice, and I was amazed that it was still in place.

I was entranced by that Spitfire that I forgot to photograph the whole memorial. Fortunately I did manage to get the information plaque. There is more about the ATA at the Wikipedia page devoted to them

© DRW 2015 – 2018. Created 15/03/2015

Updated: 09/01/2018 — 07:49

Southampton Civilian Casualty Memorials

This memorial to Civilians killed during the bombing of the city of Southampton may be found in Hollybrook Cemetery. It is not a very imposing monument either, and if you did not know you would assume it is just a seating area.

It seems as if it was recently repainted, and in the repainting they really made the inscription illegible.

Inscription on the back wall of the monument

Inscription on the back wall of the monument

Inscription text reproduced

Inscription text reproduced

The monument has another inscription on it which advises that the rubble stonework was obtained from bomb damaged buildings in the city.

Many of the casualties from the bombing are buried at Hollybrook, and I heard a rumour that there was a mass grave in the cemetery for unidentified bodies, but was never able to confirm it.

I used to stay in East Street, next door to the Debenhams store which used to be Edwin Jones & Co., and there is an inscription on the building that states it is a replacement for the original building that was destroyed in the bombing.

Plaque outside Debenhams

Post 1959 Queens Building (now Debenhams)

Over the road from Debenhams, in Houndwell Park, there is another plinth with an inscription that very few people are aware of.

And finally, just outside the Bargate there is another memorial to those who died in the city during the bombing.

The bombing also damaged a lot of buildings, and one of the most obvious signs of the damage may be seen on the corner of  St Bernard (St Michael’s), and High Street where the ruins of the Holyrood Church stand.

Plaque at Holy Rood Church

Plaque at Holyrood Church

The ruins of Holy Rood Church

The ruins of Holyrood Church

Across the River Itchen in Woolston, the Supermarine factory used to be and it was targeted by the Luftwaffe, and large parts of the area were devastated too. A plaque commemorates the demise of the community known as “Itchen Ferry”.

Itchen Ferry Plaque

Itchen Ferry Plaque

Up in South Stoneham Cemetery near Southampton Airport is the a Roll of Honour commemorating the men and women killed in a bombing raid on 11 September 1940 at the Cunliffe-Owen Aircraft Ltd works nearby.  52 People were killed and 92 injured. 

Photographing war graves I often forget that amongst the many graves in some of these cemeteries there are many civilians who lost their lives in the cities due to the enemy bombing, and I find it sad that there is no real way to tell them apart from normal deaths.  Southampton is a city rich with history, and I often used to walk amongst the old buildings and wonder what it must have looked like before the bombers came. Sadly, the result of the bombers did not necessarily result in a better city, if anything development was stifled somewhat because so much had been destroyed, and the results were missing the unique touch of old Southampton. The city has a number of historical plaques pertaining to its past, and I have some of these on a page all about the plaques in Southampton.

© DRW 2015 – 2018. Created 13/03/2015

Updated: 22/04/2018 — 13:19

The Grave of Wallace Hartley

Article by Peter Farley.

The Titanic disaster made many heroes, some remained below decks, keeping lights burning and steam flowing, others stepped back so that a stranger might live. Many sacrificed their lives on that night, we may never know who they were or how they met their ends, however a small group of men led by example, their efforts calming those around them, their contribution of incalculable value. These were the men of the orchestra of the Titanic.

Wallace Hartley.
W. Theodore Brailey.
Roger Bricoux.
John Frederick P. Clarke.
John Lawe Hume.
Georges Krins.
Percy C. Taylor.
J. Wesley Woodward.

Wallace Hartley Memorial

Wallace Hartley Memorial

Their leader, Wallace Hartley has become a legend in his own right. He was born at 92 Greenfield Road, Colne, Lancashire on the 2nd of June 1878. His father was a choirmaster for 25 years at Bethel Independent Methodist Church, Burnley Road, Colne. Wallace was first introduced to the violin and music as a pupil at George St. Wesleyan School and later gained experience as a member of Colne Orchestral Society. A school friend of his remarked that Wallace seemed `a nice lad, a bit what you might call roughish-a big tom boy. But he was very smart looking, a lad with a sense of fun.’ Wallace and a group of boys learned to play the violin when they were around 12 years of age. His friend recalled that Wallace didn’t show remarkable promise when they were learning but he `seemed to come on remarkably afterwards. At 17 Wallace was employed as a clerk with the Union Bank but in time he managed to persuade his parents to let him take up music as a career. He played at the Kursaal, Harrogate, Yorkshire, considered by many to be quite a privilege, and also led an orchestra in a Leeds cafe. He toured with the Carl Rosa Opera Company for three years and for a period was the leader of the Bridlington Municipal Orchestra.
He then turned his face towards the sea , joining the Cunard company as a bandmaster, crossing the Atlantic nearly 80 times, playing music for passengers and gaining fame and popularity with his fellow bandsmen wherever he played. It was only matter of time before his expertise became known to the White Star Line and he accepted a post to become the leader of the 8 bandsman who made up the Titanic’s orchestra.
History was made on the night of April 14 1912, when Wallace and his fellows picked up their instruments and proceeded to play their last music together as the passengers took to the lifeboats of the ill fated ship. Their last piece is shrouded in legend as the ship sank beneath the waves. It is known that Wallace had said that if he had been on a sinking ship he would do no better than to play “Nearer My God To Thee” or “Oh God Our Help in Ages Past.”
The body of Wallace Hartley was recovered from the Atlantic by the Mackay-Bennett, He was wearing evening dress with green facings and a brown overcoat. Strapped to his body was his music box and in his pockets, amongst other things, was a gold fountain pen with his initials W.H.H. The body was embalmed and returned to Halifax whereafter it was returned to England on board the SS Arabic, arriving on Friday 17 May. It was transported by road on a ten hour journey to Colne, arriving at one o`clock on the morning of May 18th. Later that day the funeral service began. An observer described it as `sombreness personified’. Bethel Chapel, where the funeral service was held was designed to hold 700 people, on that day around a thousand mourners crammed inside. Upwards of 30 000 people lined the streets of Colne, all paying their last respects to a man who had paid the supreme sacrifice. It must have been quite a spectacle and I’m sure the town has seen nothing like it since. What a pity that a young man like Wallace should have been deprived of what seemed such a promising career. But in retrospect, his death left the world with a splendid example of courage, patience and love; a shining light to us all.

Wallace Hartley found his rest in Colne cemetery.


A VISIT TO COLNE.

By Peter Farley.

Colne, a small textile town, is situated in a fertile green valley, flanked on either side by roaming hills. The diesel locomotive stops at Colne , it’s the end of the line. Up the long, straight road, climbing through the centre of the town. Part way along my journey, there is a monument set back from the road, in pleasant gardens and next to the municipal building. Etched into the face of it’s marble base is the following inscription:

“WALLACE HARTLEY-BANDMASTER OF THE R.M.S. TITANIC WHO PERISHED IN THE FOUNDERING OF THE VESSEL-APRIL 15TH 1912. ERECTED BY VOLUNTARY CONTRIBUTIONS TO COMMEMORATE THE HEROISM OF A NATIVE OF THIS TOWN.”

Entering the town’s huge central cemetery. Rows of vertical pieces of stone stand like erect soldiers on a parade ground. Each gravestone had some difference to its immediate neighbour; some extra blob of stone, perched on high, or some geometrical shape carved by the mason’s tools, all served to create an individual identity.

Wallace Hartley Grave

Wallace Hartley Grave

A strange peacefulness pervades the air, a peace which only seems to be present on a vacated battlefield or as now, in a graveyard. The ground sloped steeply down the hillside and I picked my way down the tarred pathway, so as to not slip. I noticed the earth around the graves was sodden, a result of recently thawed snow. Thoughts started to fill my mind. How cold that Atlantic water must have been, which claimed the life of this Lancastrian musician. My mind told me I was walking down the same path on which the coffin bearers had trod so many years ago. On that day thousands of people had turned out to witness the funeral cortege of Wallace Hartley. Prominent people of the town, policemen, townsfolk, friends and his parents had all paid their respects, today there was only me, having traveled over 6000 kilometres to do the same.
I walked up and down the pathway and around the tombs, looking for the elusive resting place of the Titanic hero, but to no avail. I almost gave up looking, then, as I turned to walk up the path for the last time, there it was; a tall carved piece of granite stone with a replica of a violin carved at its base. I stood with excited admiration as I read the words;

“IN LOVING MEMORY OF WALLACE HARTLEY, THE BELOVED SON OF ALBION AND ELIZABETH HARTLEY, FORMERLY OF COLNE, WHO LOST HIS LIFE IN THE S.S. TITANIC DISASTER OF APRIL 15TH 1912 AGED 33 YEARS AND WAS INTERRED ON MAY 18TH 1912.”

The tributes to Wallace and his fellow bandsman have continued since. There are many memorials erected in their honour, the furtherest being in a town called Broken Hill in Australia. Even the house where Wallace lived at 52 West Park Street Dewsbury also proudly proclaims its heritage. Southampton has two Musicians Memorials: the first is on the junction of London Road, Bedford Place and Brunswick Place. The other may be found in St Marys Cathedral.

THE BAND PLAYED?

The question of the last music that was played on the Titanic has been one of contention since the disaster. The most popular thought is that it was the hymn “Nearer My God To Thee”, however, this hymn, written by Sarah F. Adams, may be played to the tune “Horbury”, (as used in the movie “a Night To Remember”, composed by J.B. Dykes.), “Bethany” (composed by Lowell Mason) or “Propior Deo”. So not everyone may have been familiar with it as different versions are used in American And Britain. Another contender is the ragtime tune “Songe d’Automne,” a popular piece of music at the time it may have been familiar to many passengers. And yet another is the Episcopal hymn “Autumn.” However, it appears that this little known hymn was more a case of mistaken identity. The fact is that many people heard many things that night but only 8 people could really say with any certainty what was played. A point was also raised that the prefix SS (Steamship) used on the stone was also incorrect, and that RMS (Royal Mail Steamer) should have been used on the inscription instead.

With thanks to Peter Farley for the article and photograph. Acknowledgements to Jack Greenwood and the British Titanic Society.

Updated: 09/11/2014 — 09:59

South African Connections to the Titanic

The recent on-line access to the Titanic’s passenger list has revived interest in this tragic event. Some of the Titanic’s passengers had connections to South Africa. The following are a few of them. There may be other passengers with South African connections, as yet undiscovered. This list is reproduced with permission, and special thanks must go to Anne Lehmkuhl for permission to use it.

Thomas William Solomon Brown

Thomas William Solomon Brown (60), his wife Elizabeth Catherine (née Ford) and their daughter, Edith Eileen, were from Worcester. Thomas was the son of Thomas William Brown and was baptised in Cape Town on the 25th August 1851. Thomas registered various mortgage bonds at the Cape between 1884 and 1904, while Elizabeth registered one in 1904. Thomas was a successful hotel owner but business had declined, so he decided to start again in Seattle, USA, where Elizabeth’s sister, Josephine, lived with her husband Edward Acton. Elizabeth was much younger than Thomas, and was his second wife. His first wife, Isabella Gracilla/Greceilda (née Willoughby) died at the Cape in 1889. Elizabeth was born in 1872 at the Cape. Thomas’s first marriage produced 4 children – Lilian Henrietta (later married to Woolf), Harriet (later married to Bosman), Thomas Ralph and Ernest. The second marriage produced two daughters, but one, Dorothy Beatrice, died at the age of eight, from diphtheria. Edith was born on the 27th October 1896.

The family were 2nd Class passengers. Elizabeth and Edith were rescued by the Carpathia. They stayed in New York for a few days before going to stay with Josephine in Seattle. Soon afterwards, mother and daughter returned to South Africa. Elizabeth married a Mr Parrott and moved to Rhodesia, where she died on the 29th June 1925.

Edith married Frederick Thankful Haisman, an architectural engineer, in South Africa on the 30th June 1917. They had 10 children, including Dorothy (married to Mr. Kendall) and David. David later served as a lookout on the White Star Lines and wrote a book, I’ll See You in New York: Titanic – the Courage of a Survivor. Edith was an honorary member of the Titanic Society of South Africa and the oldest Titanic survivor until her death on the 20th January 1997 at the age of 100 at a nursing home in Southampton. She appeared in the 1994 TV movie, Titanic: The Legend Lives On, as herself, as well as in Titanic: Secrets Revealed (1998). In 1993 Edith was presented with the gold watch that her father was wearing when the ship went down. RMS Titanic Inc of New York City, a salvaging company, found the blackened watch. Her life story was published as A lifetime on the Titanic – the biography of Edith Haisman.

Charles Henry Chapman

Charles Henry Chapman was born in Cape Town. He was the son of James Chapman (explorer) and Catherine Cecelia Roome (daughter of Capt. William Roome and Catherine Cecelia Bushnell). Catherine was born in Virginia, USA, and her father was a sea captain who settled in Nova Scotia, Canada. Charles was an exporter and lived in the Bronx, New York. He was 52 years old when he died on the Titanic, as a 2nd Class passenger. He had the Bushnell family Bible with him. His body was recovered and in his suit pockets, the following were found: silver cigarette case, garnet tie-pin, garnet ring, papers, gold mounted cuff-links, $200, gold studs, fountain pen, knife and pipe. JJ Griffin of New York City claimed his body. Charles was buried at the Woodlawn Cemetery, in the Bronx.

Nathan Goldsmith

Nathan Goldsmith was a boot maker in Cape Town (possibly also Johannesburg) before the Anglo-Boer War. He was originally from Russia. After the war, he moved to Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, USA. He was married and had two children. Nathan was 41 years old and a 3rd Class passenger when he died on the Titanic. At the time of his death, his family was living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Sydney Samuel Jacobsohn

In 1902 Sydney Samuel Jacobsohn was an attorney in Cape Town, living at 16 Wale Street. He registered mortgage bonds in 1898 and 1906. He later moved to London. He married Amy Frances Christy Cohen on 6th September 1910. She was born in London. They boarded the Titanic as 2nd Class passengers, on their way to Montreal, Canada. Sydney (42) did not survive. Amy (24) was rescued by the Carpathia. She returned to England onboard the Megantic.

Samuel Beard Risien

Samuel Beard Risien and his wife Emma, from Texas, USA, were on their way home, after spending about 14 months in Durban, visiting relatives. They were 3rd Class passengers and did not survive. After the death of his first wife, Mary Louise Lellyet, Samuel married her sister Emma, of Durban, South Africa. There were no children of the second marriage.

Austin Blyler van Billiard

Austin Blyler van Billiard (35) and his sons, James William (10) and Walter John (9), were 3rd Class passengers on their way to South Wales, Pennsylvania, USA. None survived. Austin was a part owner of a diamond mine. He left Cape Town for England, with his wife Maude and children – James William (born 20th Aug 1901 in France), Walter John (born 28 Feb 1903 in France), Dorothy Jane and Donald. He had several diamonds cut in Amsterdam and decided to go to New York where he might get a better price. His father and brother, Monroe, lived in South Wales, Pennsylvania. Maude became ill and it was decided that she remain in England with the youngest children, until she was well enough to travel. Austin’s body (found with 12 diamonds in the pockets) and Walter’s body were found and buried at Union Cemetery, Zion Lutheran Church, Flourtown, Pennsylvania.

Austin was born on the 9th February 1877, the only son of James V van Billiard, a successful marble merchant. He moved to England where he met Maude Ellen Murray and married her on the 3rd November 1900. The family spent 10 years in South Africa. In 1906, Austin applied for letters of patent at the Cape, for his invention – a mechanical suspension conveyancer. In 1912, he decided to return to the USA. Maude eventually moved to South Wales, Pennsylvania, with her two remaining children. She never remarried and died in a nursing home on the 17 January 1968, aged 94.

Henry Sutehall

Henry (aka Harry) Sutehall was born on the 23rd July 1883 in England. He started a round-the-world trip on the 1st January 1910 and purposefully waited to return home to the USA on the Titanic’s maiden voyage. His family had immigrated to the USA in 1895 where they settled in Buffalo, New York. Henry became a trimmer, installing and repairing upholstery in carriages and early cars. He met Howard Irwin at work and they decided to do a world tour, while working wherever they could find employment. During 1910, they travelled all over the USA. In mid-1911, they left for Australia. While in Sydney, Henry won a sweepstakes that helped fund the rest of their trip. The two friends wanted to visit different places and at this stage, they each went their own way. They met up again in Durban and made plans to meet in England early in 1912 to conclude the voyage home together. While in Durban, they entered a talent contest and won a trip. Henry played the violin and Howard played the clarinet. Howard most likely used the prize to fund his travels, arriving in England a week before Henry.

On the day of their departure from Southampton, Howard did not show up. Henry already had put Howard’s steamer trunk onboard the ship, but Howard never showed up. Henry did not survive the voyage. In 1993, during recovery efforts at the wreck site by RMS Titanic, Inc. Howard’s steamer trunk was found. Among the contents was a diary that Howard kept for 1910. The diary and several of Howard’s possessions can be seen in museums in St. Petersburg and Boston. Howard Irwin died in 1953.

Henry Forbes Julian

Henry Forbes Julian was born on the 9th May 1861 in Cork, Co Cork, Ireland. He became a metallurgical engineer and in October 1886 travelled to Natal. He became a consulting engineer and mine manager in Natal, Barberton, Johannesburg and Kimberley. Henry stayed in South Africa for seven years, during which time he invented and patented an extracting apparatus for the mines. In 1893 he moved to Germany. By 1902, he was living in Torquay. He was booked to travel to the USA on another ship but because of the coal strike he was transferred to the Titanic. Henry was to attend a meeting in San Francisco. His wife, Hester Pengally, stayed home as she had influenza. He did not survive.

Herbert Gifford Harvey

Herbert Gifford Harvey was born on the 3rd February 1878 in Belfast, Ireland. He volunteered to serve in the Anglo-Boer War and joined the 46th Company Imperial Yeomanry. He earned the Queen’s Medal with three clasps and the King’s Medal with one clasp. After his return, he joined Harland & Wolff and later went to sea as an engineer with Lowther, Latta & Co before leaving to join the White Star Line. He lived in Southampton. Junior Assistant Second Engineer Harvey did not survive.

William Jeffery Ware

William Jeffery Ware was born in 1889 in Gunnislake, Cornwall, to Samuel Ware and Ann / Annie Louisa (formerly Witheridge). Samuel was a blacksmith at one of the copper mines near Gunnislake. William became a blacksmith and married Cecilia. Six weeks prior to sailing on the Titanic, he had been in South Africa visiting his father. He was a 2nd Class passenger on his way to Butte, Montana, but did not survive.

Francesco Celotti

Francesco Celotti was a sailor from Cape Town. He was a 3rd Class passenger and did not survive. He applied for a passport at the Cape and was granted one on the 16th February 1911. He was originally from Italy and was age 24 when he boarded the Titanic at Southampton.

Robert Hichens

Robert Hichens (possibly also spelt as Hitchens) was born in Newlyn, Cownwall, on the 16th September 1882, son of Philip Hichens and Rebecca Wood. On the 23rd October 1906, he married Florence Mortimore in Manaton, Devon. He worked aboard mail boats and liners of the Union Castle line. Prior to sailing on the Titanic, he was living in Southampton with his wife and two children. He was one of six Quartermasters on the ship. Robert was at the wheel when the warning came from the lookout that an iceberg had been spotted ahead. He swung the wheel as far as possible. Later that night he was relieved by another Quartermaster and he was put in charge of Lifeboat 6. He testified at the US inquiry into the accident. Afterwards, he returned to England and testified in the English inquiry.

It is claimed that he became a harbour master in Cape Town, according to one Henry Blum in a letter to a Thomas Garvey. Henry was an acquaintance of Robert, and was a Quartermaster on a British ship that docked in Cape Town in 1914. According to him, the harbour master who met the ship was Robert Hichens. Henry claimed that he and Robert had a talk in which he was told that Robert had been set up in South Africa in return for his secrecy regarding the Titanic. So far, no research has found this part of the story to be true. His family members stated that he did spend some time in Durban and Johannesburg.

Robert’s brother, William, lived in Johannesburg in 1915. William returned to England in 1918 and married Penelope Rouffignac Cotton in Newlyn. They had 2 children, Penelope and William, in South Africa. Penelope died in Johannesburg in 1959.

Robert served in the Royal Naval Reserve in the First World War In 1919 he was working as a Third Officer on a small vessel out of Hull. In the late 1920s, he was living in Torquay, Devon, where he did boat chartering. In 1931, the family moved to Southampton. Robert had a run-in with the law and was released from prison in 1937. His wife lived in Southampton until her death in the early 1960s. The couple had six children – Edna Florence, Frances, Phyllis May, Robert, Ivy Doreen and Fred. He is buried Trinity Cemetery in Aberdeen after dying of heart failure on the English Trader vessel near Aberdeen on 23rd September 1940.

Samuel Emest Hemming

Lamp trimmer Samuel Ernest Hemming lived in Southampton. He was married to Elizabeth Emily Browning on the 4th June 1903, and they had several children. He was picked up by Lifeboat 4. He died in Southampton on 12 April 1928, age 59, at the Blighmont Nursing Home, of cancer. Two or three of Samuel’s brothers had immigrated to South Africa, where they started a law firm.

Mary Griffin

Mary Griffin (née Webber) is buried at Braamfontein Cemetery in Johannesburg. She was from Kea, Cornwall. Mary was 33 years old when she married the widower, James Griffin on the 5th November 1863. They moved to South Africa. Mary died on the 17th June 1897 in Johannesburg. Her brother, James was on the Titanic on his way back to his home in San Francisco, to the USA. He was 62 years old and did not survive. In 1914 a Mr J Griffin of Kenwyn Cottage in Port Elizabeth purchased the private rights to Mary’s grave and a stone was erected commemorating Mary and James. James’ estate was left to Harriet Julian, wife of Edmund Julian.

William Bull

Margaret Charlesworth of Lyndhurst, Johannesburg, found that her grandfather, William Bull (37), worked in the Titanic’s kitchens. He did not survive. William was born in Hampshire. He married Margaret’s grandmother, Edith, and is commemorated on her grave stone. Edith later married a Mr Skeats. She died in 1937. In 1912, William was living in Southampton.

The following South African connections have not been proven:

A man, who became the Bishop of George circa 1950s/1960s, spent his honeymoon on the Titanic. Different lifeboats picked up the newly-wed couple and they were separated for three weeks, neither knowing that the other was alive.

WH Welch was an assistant cook on the Titanic. He had a brother who settled in South Africa.

According to Frans van Wyk, author of Riversdal 150 Jaar, a resident of the town was on the Titanic and did not survive.

Reginald Hardwick,  Husband of Elsie S. Cobb (formerly Hardwick), of 22, Railway Avenue, Creswell. Born Pietermaritzburg, Natal, South Africa. Survived the sinking of The Titanic. Served as a kitchen porter on The Titanic. Hardwick was rescued (possibly in lifeboat 13). This may however be a case of an assumed identity as there are a number of contradictions in this case.

Sources:
National Archives of South Africa
Titanic Society of South Africa
Official list of Titanic passengers and crew:
http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/
http://hometown.aol.co.uk/houghian/myhomepage/brown.html (no longer active)
http://www.titanic-titanic.com/

Anne Lehmkuhl was born on the island of Madeira, and immigrated to South Africa at the age of two years. In the early 1980s, she started tracing her family history. In later years she has been the editor and/or publisher of family history newsletters and has written two e-books on South African genealogy. She has been a professional genealogist since the 1990s, specialising in South African genealogical and historical research.

Updated: 07/01/2015 — 14:09

Millvina Dean Memorial Garden

I stumbled on this small quiet spot on my way home one day, it is situated on the corner of Havelock and West Park Roads, close to the SeaCity Museum. A path bisects the park, and it is quite a pleasant place to spend some time in. Millvina Dean, the youngest survivor of the Titanic, passed away on 31 May 2009. She was the last living survivor of the disaster. Google Earth co-ordinates for the park are: 50.908640°, -1.407979

Dedication stone

Dedication stone

Millvina Dean Memorial Garden

Millvina Dean Memorial Garden (1493×531)

© DRW 2013-2018. Recreated 25/10/2014

Updated: 08/01/2018 — 07:45

Titanic Memorial Fountain

The remains of the Holy Rood Church in Southampton are all that is left of one of the original five churches serving the old walled town of Southampton, England. Built in 1320, the church was destroyed by enemy bombing during the blitz in November 1940. In 1957 the shell of the church was dedicated as a memorial to the sailors of the Merchant Navy.
The Titanic Memorial is in the area under the tower. The memorial used to stand in Southampton Common, but was moved to Holy Rood during the 70’s. Google Earth co-ordinates for the Holy Rood Church are: 50.899619°, -1.403559°.   The inscription reads.

This Memorial fountain
was erected in memory of the crew,
stewards, sailors and firemen,
who lost their lives in the SS Titanic disaster.
April 15th, 1912.
It was subscribed for by the
widows, mothers, and friends of the crew
Alderman Henry Powyer. Mayor 1912-1913.

Interestingly enough, the name Powyer is incorrect, it should read Bowyer. Alderman Bowyer is buried in Southampton Old Cemetery

Titanic Memorial Fountain

Titanic Memorial Fountain

Inscription

Inscription

Inscription

Inscription

Old postcard view of the Memorial Fountain in its original setting

Old postcard view of the Memorial Fountain in its original setting

Holy Rood Church 2013

Holy Rood Church 2013

© DRW 2013-2018. Recreated 25/10/2014

Updated: 08/01/2018 — 07:46

Titanic Musicians Memorial (2)

The Memorial to the Titanic Musicians may be found on the junction of London Road, Bedford Place and Brunswick Place. It is not immediately to be seen though, having probably been relocated when the existing building was built. Just across the road, in East (Andrews) Park is the Titanic Engineers Memorial. Google Earth co-ordinates are: 50.910548°, -1.405266°

Musicians Memorial

Musicians Memorial

Musicians Memorial

Musicians Memorial

© DRW 2013-2018. Recreated 25/10/2014

Updated: 08/01/2018 — 07:46

Titanic Engineers Memorial

Probably the most famous and visible of the Titanic Memorials in Southampton, it can be found at the corner of East (Andrews) Park in Southampton. Just across from it is the Memorial to the Titanic Musicians. Google Earth co-ordinates are: 50.910190°, -1.404603°

Titanic Engineers Memorial

Titanic Engineers Memorial

Titanic Engineers Memorial

Titanic Engineers Memorial

Dedication

Dedication

The Titanic Engineers

The Titanic Engineers

© DRW 2013-2018. Recreated 25/10/2014

Updated: 08/01/2018 — 07:46
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