Face to face with Welsh mariners who served during the Great War
Recently, the Royal Commission’s Maritime Officer, Deanna Groom, had the privilege of reviewing a sample of the early record cards of the Central Index Register of the Merchant Seaman now conserved by Southampton Archives. The small, printed CR10 cards contain information about our seafaring ancestors and the ships they served upon, some actually during the Great War.
The CR10 register cards tell us a seaman’s name, date and place of birth, his rating and the certificates of competency held. Sometimes even a physical description, including height, hair and eye colour, and the details of tattoos.
All tiers of a ship’s crew are represented, from captain to cabin steward, from engineer to deck crew. On the back of some cards, there are small passport sized photographs – a montage of some of these photographs is shown below.
The record cards include one for Arthur Claude Evans, quartermaster, who served on the White Star Line’s CORINTHIC after it was taken over under the Liner Requisition Scheme in 1917. Arthur Evans came from Cardigan and left the ship in October 1918.
Another reveals that Edward Richard Ellis, from Welshpool, served on another requisitioned White Star liner, the ADRIATIC. The ADRIATIC was used as a British troopship – luckily without incident.
And yet another card notes that Ben Idris Evans, from Bargoed, served on the Cardiff-owned Neale & West steam trawler HATANO in the last months of the war. He was just 17 years old.
‘To come face to face with mariners who lived with the U-boat threat every day of their working lives is quite a humbling experience”, said maritime officer Deanna Groom. ‘For our project – Commemorating the Forgotten U-boat War around the Welsh Coast 1914-18 – it really brings home to you that, for each lost ship, there is compelling story for every crew member and the Welsh communities they came from.’
To learn more about the Central Index Register of the Merchant Seaman, please follow these links to Southampton Archives:
The Royal Commission in partnership with the School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University and the Nautical Archaeology Society are presently working on the development of a commemoration project focusing on the 170 vessel lost due to enemy action during the Great War around the Welsh coast. The development phase has been kindly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Remembering those who gave their lives for their country, but who have no grave but the sea.