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Michael Peck

Ramsgate Fishing Smack 'Ophir' 1915.

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Michael Peck

Hi List,

I've recently been looking at a photo I took some time ago at the Sailors Chapel, Ramsgate and have come across something I can't explain, so am hoping a naval man on the list can help.

On 11th November 1915 the Ramsgate Smack 'Ophir' sailed from Padstow and was never heard from again, a short article in the Thanet Advertiser of 27th November seems to indicate the Smack was fishing, rather than some specifically war related job like guarding a port.

A little work on the crew seem to indicate they were:

James Alfred Wales (Skipper and owner). Supposedly born c1881 Dover (but birth not found). Parentage unproven, husband of Emmeline Wales (nee Pritchard) of 3 St Lukes Road, Ramsgate (as 1911). Apprenticed to the fishing industry 1896.

Harry William Moore. Born Preston (next Faversham) 1879, the son of Henry and Charlotte Moore (nee Adams), marries Hannah Penney 1905. Apprenticed to the fishing industry 1895.

Ernest Edward Hales. Born Bapchild 1883, the son of Frederick William and Frances Hales (nee Warden). Apprenticed to the fishing industry 1901.

Percy Shortridge (not Shortbridge as memorial). Born Brompton 1900 the son of James and Elizabeth Shortridge (nee Champion) and in the tender care of the 'Poor Law' by 1911. Apprentice on board.

 

My problem is that I can find no record of any of the deaths on civil record, Sailors Died in the Great War or CWGC. Now I refuse to believe that the Smack can disappear off the edge of the earth taking 4 men with it and nobody notices, so I would guess I am looking in the wrong places. Should any naval expert wish to expose my ignorance to the entire world by pointing out where I'm going wrong I should be grateful!

 

Thanks for any help,

Mike.

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PRC
2 hours ago, Michael Peck said:

My problem is that I can find no record of any of the deaths on civil record, Sailors Died in the Great War or CWGC. Now I refuse to believe that the Smack can disappear off the edge of the earth taking 4 men with it and nobody notices, so I would guess I am looking in the wrong places.

 

Not anywhere near a naval expert, but from a genealogy perspective:-

 

If there are no bodies there is no coroners inquest and so the standard route to inclusion in the General Registrars Office Index of births in England & Wales will not apply.

(Assuming the bodies didn't wash up in Ireland, Wales edit Scotland or the Continent where the deaths would be recorded according to local law).

There would have been a Board of Trade enquiry and through that route there would be a notiice given to the GRO for inclusion in the Register of Deaths at sea. (Never found an online source for that).

 

I can't see any Probate for the skipper and owner James Wales.

 

The CWGC, (or it's predecessor the Imperial War Graves Commission) had no legal obligation in the Great War to record civilian deaths - and if they were on a fishing trip then thats what they seem to have been. Ditto any database relating to Naval men who died at sea.

 

Hope that helps,

Peter

Edited by PRC

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Michael Peck

Thanks for that Peter, I learn a little more every day.

Mike.

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seaJane

If I recall correctly, the death certificate index for "Died at Sea" is in a different file to the usual death certificates - but I'm afraid I don't know what that is...

 

sJ

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Michael Lowrey

Ophir was a 23 nrt ketch built in 1907 in Brixham. Official number: 121372. Managing owner: James A. Webb, 4 Cecilia Road, Ramsgate (per the 1914 Mercantile Navy List).

 

The crew not being listed in the CWGC database is not a surprise — for merchant marine sailors, you effectively need a war-related cause of death or the presumption of such. A ship going down with its entire crew in a storm is not enough — that's a usual risk of being a merchant marine sailor or fisherman. In this case, given where and when the smack went missing, it was apparently presumed that the loss was not war related. I handle much of the WWI material for uboat.net and can't argue with that assumption — there were no German submarines off Padstow at the time.

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PRC
1 hour ago, Michael Peck said:

Thanks for that Peter, I learn a little more every day.

Mike.

 

Sorry - typed Wales, meant Scotland. Less haste, more speed, etc, etc. Original response edited.

 

Date of Probate would have given you some feel for the timeline - I've got it in my head that legally in England treating someone "missing" as dead could take up to 7 years but can't offhand find anything to back that up. And until the courts accepted the person concerned was dead you couldn't start probate \ administration proceedings. But the Board of Trade would have sat well before then and reached a conclusion.

 

Another timeline check as to when he was declared dead would have been if his widow remarried. Emmeline Wales, nee Pritchard was aged 26 and born Ramsgate on the 1911 Census of England and Wales. Most likely birth was registered in the July to September quarter, (Q3), of 1884 in the Thanet District of Kent. There is an Emmeline Wales who married a Teddie Hart in Q1 of 1925 in the Holborn District of London, but I can't find an Emmeline Hart who died and of an age to have been born circa 1884. But there are lots of possible reasons for that.

 

There is also an Emmeline Wales, born 16th June 1884, who died in the Shrewsbury District of Shropshire in Q2 of 1969. Given that you had 42 days after the event to register the birth, a child born on the 16th June 1884 could well have been registered in Q3 1884. Again not seeing any likely probate for her. Depending on how far you want to follow this, it might be worthwhile looking for her entry on the 1939 National Register, available on Ancestry and FindMyPast.

 

Both my main local fishing ports, Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth have similar Seamans memorial - in the case of Lowestoft its just outside a chapel of remembrance to the Great War fallen, so I have to admit I was confused at first why the names of some of those "lost at sea" from the 1914 to 1918 period were recorded on both and some weren't - so that was my steep learning curve :)

 

Cheers,

Peter

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Michael Peck

My thanks to SJ, Michael and Peter. Even at my age I have proved I know abysmally little, but my education improves thanks to the list. Once again, thanks to all three!

 

Mike.

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Michael Peck

I must now also thank 'Little Bob' who replied directly to me, his interest is appreciated. I now know more about what I'm talking about (something my wife will never believe).

 

Mike.

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Kath

Mike,

here is the link to FMPast British Armed Forces And Overseas Deaths And Burials for Harry William Moore:

https://search.findmypast.co.uk/record?id=BMD%2FMTM%2FBT334%2F0065%2F001-213&parentid=BMD%2FD%2FMARITIME%2F478734

 

Here is the transcription:

First name(s)    Harry William
Last name    Moore
Age    36
Birth year    1879
Birth date    1879
Birth place    Faversham
Death year    1915
Death date    12 Nov 1915
Death place    Bristol Channel
Place    Ophir
Country    Great Britain
Type    At Sea
Vessel name    Ophir
Departure port    -
War    -
Source    Deaths At Sea 1891 – 1972
Archive reference    BT 334
Box    0065
Page    18
Archive    
The National Archives
Record set    British Armed Forces And Overseas Deaths And Burials
Category    Birth, Marriage, Death & Parish Records
Subcategory    Civil Deaths & Burials
Collections from    Great Britain, UK None

 

Kath.

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Michael Peck

Thank you, Kath, your help is appreciated.

 

Mike.

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Terence Munson

Mike,

Just to add to Kath's reply, albeit late (searching and typing hampered by a dislocated right shoulder in a cycling mishap!). 

All four of the crew are listed in the BT 334 archive as follows (note the different spelling of Hales/Hayles):

 

Deaths At Sea 1891 – 1972 The National Archives

Date: Supposed 12 Nov. 1915 Ship Missing in the Bristol Channel

Fishing Vessel "Ophir" O.N. 121372. 22 nrt. Port Registered: Ramsgate.

 

HAYLES, Ernest (32) Second Hand b.1883 Faversham.

Last Place of Abode: Ramsgate. Supposed drowned

Archive ref: BT 334, Box 0065, Page 12

 

MOORE, Harry William (36) Third Hand b.1879 Faversham.

Last Place of Abode: Faversham. Supposed drowned.

Archive ref: BT 334, Box 0065, Page 18

 

SHORTRIDGE, Percy (15) Apprentice & Cook, b.1900 British.

Last Place of Abode: Ramsgate. Supposed drowned.

Archive ref: BT 334, Box 0065, Page 24

 

WALES, James (34) Skipper, b.1881 British.

Last Place of Abode: Ramsgate. Supposed drowned.

Archive ref: BT 334, Box 0065, Page 28

 

Terry

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Michael Peck

Thank you, Terry.

Mike.

And speaking as an old ex-cyclist you have my sympathy, every cyclist has been there!

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owen4256

Mike

 

The Thanet Advertiser of 1 January 1916 has a picture of Ernest Hales but sheds no further light on the loss of the Ophir

 

Regards

 

Clive

Edited by owen4256

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owen4256

Image attached

image.jpeg

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Michael Peck

Thanks Owen, always nice to see what they looked like, isn't it. Appreciate your interest.

 

Mike.

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Hyacinth1326

I cannot find any reference in German records to a KDM interception.  A mine from one of the UC I class might have been responsible.

Edited by Hyacinth1326

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Michael Peck

Thank you, Hyacinth. You may well be right, I know that orders were laid that kept boats out of some areas because of mines, but one report also mentions a gale so I guess we will never know. And being 'dragged up' in Hull makes you realise that fishing was never the safest industry in the world, and that weather has always killed.

 

Mike.

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sadbrewer

This might be helpful...courtesy of the British Newspaper Archive. 

Screenshot_20191201-141848.jpg

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Michael Lowrey
20 hours ago, Hyacinth1326 said:

I cannot find any reference in German records to a KDM interception.  A mine from one of the UC I class might have been responsible.

 

UCis did not lay mines off Padstow. There's no German threat that can reasonably account for this loss.

 

If you look at the weather charts for November 12, 1915 the cause of loss is readily apparent though: The was a very strong storm over the British Isles, which undoubtedly accounted for Ophir

 

See: https://www.wetterzentrale.de/reanalysis.php?jaar=1915&maand=11&dag=12&uur=1200&var=1&map=1&model=noaa

 

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Hyacinth1326

Good source.  I didn't even know it existed. Thanks

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Michael Peck

My thanks to Sadbrewer and especially to Michael for a source that, like Hyacinch, I never knew existed. Surely it deserves to be more widely known?

 

Mike.

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Hyacinth1326

Can't pretend I understand how to read it mind.

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Michael Lowrey

There's a good description of the basics of these sorts of maps here: http://www.theweatherprediction.com/habyhints2/410/

 

It states in part:

 

Quote

Maps that show pressure adjusted to sea level are called isobaric maps. The isobars connect points of equal pressure. Where the isobars are close together the wind is stronger.

The English units of air pressure are inches of mercury. The metric version is millibars. The average sea level pressure is 29.92 inches of mercury and 1013 millibars. Using these average values it can be determined whether the pressure is above, significantly above, below or significantly below the average value. A few sea level pressure benchmark values follow:

1086 mb (32.08 inches of mercury): Highest Ever Recorded
1030 mb (30.42 inches of mercury): Strong High Pressure System
1013 mb (29.92 inches of mercury): Average Sea Level Pressure
1000 mb (29.54 inches of mercury): Typical Low Pressure System
980 mb (28.95 inches of mercury): CAT 1 Hurricane or a very intense mid-latitude cyclone
950 mb (28.06 inches of mercury): CAT 3 Hurricane
870 mb (25.70 inches of mercury): Lowest Ever Recorded (not including tornadoes)

 

The map for November 12, 1915, shows areas as low as 965 millibars — Ophir got hit by a storm of hurricane force.

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Michael Peck

Thank you, Michael. That actually makes sense.

 

Mike.

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