HMS Andes

This is part of a series of essays about the First World War casualties commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in New York.

Able Seaman Thomas Drinkwater, Royal Navy
Leading Seaman William Stephen Charles Henry Fenton, Royal Navy
Scullion William Bertram Parr, Mercantile Marine Reserve
(and Private Reginald Francis Farley, Royal Marine Light Infantry)

HMS Andes
HMS Andes

In October 1918 two armed merchant cruisers—HMS Andes and HMS Alsatian—came alongside within days of each other and tied up at Pier 95 on the Hudson River near 55th Street. One crewman from HMS Alsatian had died as she approached the United States and a Marine in HMS Andes would die as she left United States waters. While the ships were in New York, five other crewmen died. All were victims of influenza. Continue reading

Leading Seaman William Charles John Geeves

This is part of a series of essays about the First World War casualties commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in New York.

The grave of Leading Seaman William Charles John Geeves
The grave of Leading Seaman William Charles John Geeves

Leading Seaman Geeves survived 3½ years as a gunner on defensively armed merchant ships, including the sinking of the cargo streamer SS Betty by U-61, only to succumb to influenza in New York.

William Charles John Geeves was born in London on 3 December 1889 the second son and second of the seven children of Charles and Eliza Geeves.[1] The family lived at New Beckton, Woolwich, where his father, who was born in Kingstown (now Dún Laoghaire) in Ireland, worked as a dock labourer. William Geeves became a merchant seaman.

On 15 April 1915, William Geeves enrolled in the Royal Naval Reserve and was allocated the number 8052A. After a period of training at HMS Pembroke in Chatham he joined SS Tuskar, a small, defensively armed cargo ship, on 19 May. Continue reading

A Stranger in a Strange Land ‘

That old phrase describes the seaman who dies in New York, who lies alone in the hospital, or sometimes in the Institute. He turns to us when the end is near, confident that to us he is not a stranger, that what is left when he no longer can worry or arrange, will be reverently cared for.’[1]

Seamen's Church Institute Plot, The Evergreens Cemetery, BrooklynThe Seamen’s Church Institute plot in the Evergreens Cemetery, Brooklyn, has the second largest number of First World War CWGC graves in a single plot in the United States—the largest, with 10 men of the Royal Flying Corps and one from the Royal Air Force, being in Greenwood Memorial Park, Fort Worth, Texas.[2]

There are nine CWGC burials in the plot:

Trimmer Walter John Joseph Bowles, Mercantile Marine Reserve
Able Seaman Thomas Drinkwater, Royal Navy
Private William Richard Eveleigh, Royal Marine Light Infantry
Leading Seaman William Charles John Geeves, Royal Naval Reserve
Trimmer Percy Samuel Tomas Hyett, Mercantile Marine Reserve
Able Seaman Patrick McDonagh, Royal Naval Reserve
Stoker 1st Class Henry John Gardner Miller, Royal Navy
Scullion William Bertram Parr, Mercantile Marine Reserve
Stoker 1st Class Alfred Weeden, Royal Navy

The history of ministries serving the needs of merchant sailors on the eastern seaboard of the United States began in Boston in the period after the war of 1812 with the founding of the Boston Society for the Religious and Moral Improvement of Seamen. Similar ministries were founded in New York—the Marine Bible Society in 1817, and the New York Port Society in 1818. Continue reading

Engineer Sub-Lieutenant John Gemmell

This essay is about the single First World War casualty commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Hawaii.

The grave of Engineer Sub-Lieutenant John Gemmell
The grave of Engineer Sub-Lieutenant John Gemmell

Engineer Sub-Lieutenant John Gemmell is the most westerly of the First World War casualties commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in the United States. He died of pneumonia in Hawaii and is buried in O’ahu Cemetery. Continue reading

Leading Seaman Peter Beatty

This is part of a series of essays about the First World War casualties commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Louisiana.

Editor’s Note: Some details about Leading Seaman Beatty were incorrectly recorded by the CWGC. His online record now reflects his correct date of death, service and ship and his gravestone will be replaced.

The war memorial at Chester Cathedral
The war memorial at Chester Cathedral

When the war memorial was unveiled at Chester Cathedral on 24 May 1922, two mothers played a central role in the ceremony—Mrs Lydia Sheriff Roberts had lost three sons in the war and Mrs Mary Beatty had lost four.[1]

Continue reading

Leading Seaman Joseph Thompson Clark

This is part of a series of essays about the First World War casualties commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Maryland.

The grave of Acting Leading Seaman Joseph Thompson Clark
The grave of Acting Leading Seaman Joseph Thompson Clark

Joseph Thompson Clark was nearby when HMS Natal  blew up in Cromarty Firth in 1915, was present at the Battle of Jutland, and survived being torpedoed in the Mediterranean only to drown in a swimming accident in Baltimore harbour in 1917.

He was born on 26 August 1896 at Cowpen, near Blyth, an industrial town in Northumberland, one of the three children of Fergus and Mary Ann Clark.[1] His father had worked variously as a miner, a boiler fireman and as a crane driver; Joseph, like his older brother, worked in a sawmill.

Just after the outbreak of war, Clark enlisted on 21 August 1914 Continue reading