Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

Hamiemu

Carmelo Galea, Royal Navy

Recommended Posts

Hamiemu

My Maltese grandfather (Carmelo Galea) served with the Royal Navy during WWI, and the information I have is that he served on HMS Egmont.  I know that this ship had several other different names, and eventually it was allocated to a base ship in Malta.  I tried to find information on his naval service (probably 2/3 years), even engaging a research company in England, but had no success.  I also read somewhere that a lot of WWI records were destroyed during the German bombings on London during WWII.  I heard that this vessel was apparently torpedoed by a German U-boat on the way out or on the way in from Valletta grand harbour (Malta).  I would love to find out about my grandfather's service, but at least I am looking at finding a photo of HMS Egmont, with a permission to reproduce the photo in a family history that I am writing.  Some time back I found a picture of HMS Egmont (enclosed herewith) apparently at www.naval-history.net, but I could not find the same photo again to ask for permission to use the photo.  Any information as to where I can write for my grandfather's service, or at least a photo of HMS Egmont (and details as to where I can ask for permission to use it) will be greatly appreciated.  My sincere thanks.

HMS Hibernia (renamed Egmont in 1916).jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
horatio2
Posted (edited)

Six ratings named Carmelo GALEA qualified for medals during WW1: one was an able seamnan, one was a stoker, three were officers' stewards 3rd Class and one was a boy servant. The stoker deserted and fotfeited his one medal. The stewards and the boy servant all enlisted on non-continuous service (NCS) engagements. When they were not serving at sea they would, as normal with all disembarked Maltese ratings, have been borne on the books of HMS EGMONT. EGMONT was a shore establishment based in Fort St Angelo. Each shore establishment had to have (in those days) a 'nominal ship' in commission and for EGMONT this was the former HMS FIREFLY, an old (1877) gunboat. It is unlikely that your GF ever set foot in her. If you want an image of HMS EGMONT, use a picture of Fort St Angelo. The image in your post is not EGMONT. It may be the battleship HMS RUSSELL, mined off Malta in April 1916, or her sister HMS CORNWALLIS, torpedoed in January 1917

 

With so many men of the same name, it would be helpful to know your GF's d.o.b., p.o.b. and official number (if you have it - it probably has a prefix 'L').

Edited by horatio2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Malcolm12hl

The ship in the photograph is one of the KING EDWARD VII class, readily distinguished by their beam 9.2 inch turrets.  It might be possible to identify which of the eight sisters it is by her funnel bands, but one way or the other, the two 1916-17 Mediterranean casualties, H.M.S. RUSSELL or H.M.S. CORNWALLIS are not candidates.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hamiemu

Thank you horatio2 and Malcolm12hl.

 

Further to your kind responses, and I would like to add, and would kindly ask for your comments, for which my thanks:

 

1. My grandfather Carmelo Galea was born at Floriana, Malta, on 26 September 1893 (died 08 Feb 1977) - I do not have his service number.

2. If the ship in the photo is HMS Hibernia (previous name of Egmont as far as I know), then could my grandfather have served on it, and then transferred to shore base HMS Egmont (Fort St Angelo) ?

3. Some other information I have (his sons and writing on a photo) is:

     a.  Apparently he served in what was then known as Salonika.

     b. The ship he was on was torpedoed (see my original post) - perhaps it was the Hibernia then that was torpedoed ? - if it was, it might seem that no damage was sustained perhaps ?

4. He was awarded 3/4 medals as repeatedly told to me by several of his children (now all deceased), but medals had been lost a long time.  I read somewhere that they are not doing anymore duplicates, but would love to have perhaps at least a photo of what medals he would have been probably given, if at all possible.

5. As mentioned in my original post, I even engaged a UK company to try to find information for me with no success [many records destroyed by fire during WWII by German bombings].

6. If my grandfather was perhaps on Hibernia [and his service was only for a few years - released from his job in Malta to serve in the RN - job back on his return], would you have any idea what could have been his years of service [I would think perhaps 3 (not more than 4) years].

 

I am very grateful for the information you have given me, and look forward to perhaps some more insight about my grandfather's RN service during WWI.

 

Kind regards,

Carmelo Galea

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
horatio2
Posted (edited)

Carmelo

Thank you for the additional detail. I am afraid I shall have to disappoint you. Your grandfather did not serve as a Royal Navy rating. His (and your) Maltese names are qute common and a search of the records of RN ratings identifies nine men who enlisted between 1894 and about 1919. Of these ratings, only six were awarded medals for service in WW1. Only one rating qualified for three medals, an able seaman born 13 March 1873 in Vittoriosa. None of the nine matches the p.o.b. and d.o.b. you have given. So, he was not an RN rating.

I believe, however, that your grandfather may have served in the Malta Royal Naval Reserve.(RNR). These men were mobiilised from their civilian occupations to serve in WW1 and three such ratings were named Carmelo Galea. All three were rated as 'fireman' (= stoker RN) and all three qualified for the 1914-15 Star, the Victory Medal and the British War Medal. I have only been able to trace these men through the Admiralty Medal Rolls and the additional information given there is that all three men claimed their medals and they were issued to them in about 1920. There are no personal details which would identify your grandfather but their Malta RNR Official Numbers are given as F.631, F.670 and F.777. There are no details of dates of service or ships served in.

It is my understanding that the records of the Malta RNR ratings were kept at Malta and you may be correct in thinking they were lost in the WW1 bombing of Malta. Their records are certainly not among the RNR ratings' records kept in the UK National Archives.

HMS HIBERNIA was the Malta base ship with that name only from 1902 to 1904 when she was re-named EGMONT. It is possible that your GF was in the RNR between those dates and would, therefore, have been borne, as a reservist, on the books of HIBERNIA (later EGMONT). However,  that is not the ship in the image you posted, which is a later ship launched in 1905. I very much doubt that he served in the battleship HIBERNIA (1905). She only called at Malta to coal ship for three days in November 1915 and was back in UK by February 1916. She was not torpedoed,

I am afraid your only hope is any surviving records of the Malta RNR held in Maltese archives. You might try the following contact - Dr Charles Farrugia, CEO and National Archivist at the National Archives of Malta.

For information on the medals he earned please follow this link - 

 https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/soldiers/how-to-research-a-soldier/campaign-medal-records/the-british-campaign-medals-for-the-great-war/

Edited by horatio2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hamiemu

Thank you, Sir [horatio2], for your latest response.  It looks like I am getting somewhere after all the enquiries I made, including spending money engaging two British research companies which proved fruitless.  Your responses, though understandably do not give definite information, do however give much information as to possibilities.

 

With all due respect, I am not yet convinced that my grandfather did not actually serve in the RN, though your information that the Malta RNR were mobilized from their civilian occupations makes much sense, as he did enlist having been granted leave of absence from his civilian job.

 

I now submit some further information, including comments on responses I got:

 

New Information:

1     I am enclosing a photo of my GF in the Navy uniform (RN or Malta RNR).

       Question: Does the uniform actually tell whether it is RN or RNR ? 

2     In my first response (3a) to you, following your first posting, I mentioned that my GF apparently served in Salonika, and I hinted at a photo with some writing on it. The photo (c. late 1918), has writing (in Maltese) at the back, hinting that my GF was going to Greece (Salonika) - one of my GF's sons (now deceased) confirmed to me the writing to be my GF's wife.  I see this as some proof that my GF probably did serve in Greece.  A snippet of information I have is there were 1300 Maltese serving in Salonika (does not know whether Navy or Army).

       Question:  What is your opinion about this ?

 

Comments on previous postings:

1     As I mentioned in my first response to you, one (actually more than one) of my uncles did tell me that my GF was awarded 3 or 4 medals - and this corresponds to what you mentioned in your last response.  I noticed that with The 1914-15 Star medal, it states that, "if a man did not qualify for a 1914-15 Star, he did not see service in a theatre of war before 1916".  This poses another question for me:

       Question:  Assuming that my GF was the recipient of three medals (and what some of his children told me it looks like this is a fact), does this mean, then, that he actually served in a theatre of war before 1916 ?  If your answer is yes, would be then have actually served in the RN ?

I thank you for the picture of the three medals in question.

       Question:  Do you know whether ordering duplicate medals of WWI is really no longer possible ?

2     My comment about WWI records destroyed by fire was relating to the London WWII German bombings.

3     My GF would not have served on the base ship Hibernia between 1902 and 1904, as he would have been too young (c.11 - born 1893).

 

Conclusion:

I hope you will forgive my insistence on this matter, though the first paragraph of your last response is quite convincing, but then the award of three medals to my GF comes into question (you say only one rating [dob not my GF] qualified for the three medals).  Repeatedly I was told by my GF's siblings (3/4 of them) that the existence of the three medals was a fact.

 

I thank you, Sir, for your illuminative responses, which do give some real insights into what could or could not have been.  I look forward to your response, at your convenience, for which my sincere thanks and appreciation.

 

Kindest regards,

Carmelo

        

 

       

Carmelo Galea (c.1918).jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
horatio2
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Hamiemu said:

 Question: Does the uniform actually tell whether it is RN or RNR ? 

The photo shows a rating in 'square-rig' uniform, identical whether RN or RNR or RNVR. Please note that I did not say that he did not serve in the RN but that he was not an RN rating (possibly as an RNR (Malta) rating).

 

1 hour ago, Hamiemu said:

Question:  What is your opinion about this  [Salonika]?

The land forces in the Salonika Campaign (1915-18) were supported throughout by numerous warships and support ships of the Mediterranean Fleet. Your GF, mobilised from the reserve (Malta RNR), may well have served in one ior more of those ships. As an RNR (Malta) naval rating iin one of those ships, it is unlikely that he was ashore at Salonika for any significant period of time.  "I see this as some proof that my GF probably did serve in Greece." is probably stretching the point. "...there were 1300 Maltese serving in Salonika (does not know whether Navy or Army)." This may well be the case for all Maltese in ships and ashore. The Maltese Labour Corps provided many hundreds of men at Salonika. See - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maltese_Labour_Corps

 

1 hour ago, Hamiemu said:

Question:  Assuming that my GF was the recipient of three medals (and what some of his children told me it looks like this is a fact), does this mean, then, that he actually served in a theatre of war before 1916 ?  If your answer is yes, would be then have actually served in the RN ?

Ther answer is yes (see conditions for award of 1914-15 Star). If he qualifed for the Star then he would have served in the RN (possibly from very early in WW1 (but not as an RN rating, as previously explained). In the absence of a service record all is, however, conjecture.

 

1 hour ago, Hamiemu said:

Question:  Do you know whether ordering duplicate medals of WWI is really no longer possible ?

Duplicate WW1 medals are not now issued by the UK Ministry of Defence. However, replica medals can be purchased from several companies. I have used, and can recommend,  this company -   https://www.worcmedals.com/

 

"Repeatedly I was told by my GF's siblings (3/4 of them) that the existence of the three medals was a fact." If he was one of the three RNR (Malta) ratings, as suspected, then, as previously noted, he was issued with the three WW1 medals. 550 ratings of the RNR (Malta) qualified for one or more WW1 campaign medals per the medal roll.

 

And one question for you, Carmelo:  all three RNR (Malta) ratings were enlisted as firemen (stokers). What was your GF's civilian employment before the war?

 

I hope all the above helps.

 

 

Edited by horatio2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hamiemu

Thank you for responding so quickly.  I read briefly your response, and although you mention, quite rightly, that all this is conjecture, it does gives me a very good picture as to my GF involvement in the RN and/or RNR.  I think from what you told me, and it is a lot, I can draw a relatively clear picture of a good probability about my GF's service.  Now to come to your question as to my GF's civilian employment before the war.  My dad, who was the eldest, would have known quite a bit I would say, but he passed away long before I got interested in our family history.  However, two of my GF's sons, who were still alive at the time, told me that he was a 'messenger', working at The Palace, Valletta [Malta] - that makes it, as far as I can tell, a government job.  If you think his civilian job could strengthen your assumptions (enlisted as stoker), kindly let me know, at your convenience.

 

By the way, you could be right that I am "stretching the point" about service in Salonika. I also did read about the Maltese Labour Corps.

 

All in all, as I mentioned, I can now perhaps draw a good narrative about my GF's service probability, but I will wait for your response about my GF's civilian employment, then I will write to you again, perhaps for the last time about this matter.  I thank you for your patience and understanding.  I notice that you hold (used to hold) a high rank in the service you were in - I only attained a L/Cpl rank during my time with the Band of the Kings Own Malta Regiment, between 1967-70.  As you might have gathered, I now live in Victoria, Australia.

 

May I thank you again, Sir, for your time, your responses, and the amount of information you gave me - it is very much appreciated.  Perhaps one day I will be able to return the favour, somehow !

 

Kindest regards,

Carm.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
KizmeRD
Posted (edited)

Judging by the casualty statistics it would appear that during WW1 the majority of Maltese Naval Reserve ratings served either as firemen, trimmers or stokers, with a smaller contingent serving as seamen and also in the category of ‘domestics’ (stewards). 

There isn’t a lot written about the history of the Maltese RNR but it could well be that this unit very slightly pre-dates the formation of the RNVR in the UK.

 

A trio of medals for a Fireman Carmelo Galeo RNR were sold on eBay a while back, but can’t say for sure whether or not they belonged to our man.

 

If he wasn’t RNR, then another possible alternative might be that he served as a MMR rating aboard an armed merchant cruiser or a requisitioned trawler (as a number of Maltese were employed in this way).

Edited by KizmeRD

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
horatio2
Posted (edited)

Carmelo

It has been a pleasure to help you, However, I must tell you that the Lieut-General 'rank' attached to my tag is an honorific (and totally spurious) one granted by the Great War Forum - there are thousands of 'colonels' and 'generals'. I have to tell you I have never served in the Arrmy so, in that regard, you out-rank me!

 

It appears that you GF's job as a messenger does not read across into naval trades and certainly not as a fireman/stoker. Such men often (but not always) had a similar civilian job.

 

1 hour ago, KizmeRD said:

Judging by the casualty statistics it would appear that during WW1 the majority of Maltese Naval Reserve ratings served either as firemen, trimmers or stokers, with a smaller contingent serving as seamen and also in the category of ‘domestics’ (stewards). 

The RNR (Malta) medal roll shows that the majority of the 550 ratings were Firemen (Official Numbers F and G) with a significant minority (c.20-25%) Seamen (Official Numbers A and B). There were no other RNR (Malta) trades and Maltese domestics were almost all RN Non-Continuous Service ratings (Official Numbers L).

 

1 hour ago, KizmeRD said:

another possible alternative might be that he served as a MMR rating

Unlikely in this case as he was not a merchant seaman.

However, the Mercantile Marine Reserve medal roll does include a Fireman Carmelo GALEA MMR. He qualified for just the Victory and British war Medals (no 1914-15 Star) in HMS PRINCESS ENA (a Q-Ship).

 

 

Edited by horatio2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Keith_history_buff

I have found this to be an interesting read.

I have read on another forum where a post has been commenced by a person with Maltese RNR medals who is trying to determine if there are surviving service records. Their rightful place would be the Maltese National Archives at Rabat. Two other persons commented that they had not been able to find any surviving records when researching ratings of the Maltese RNR. The fire in London is a misnomer, as whilst it is well documented that more army service records from WW1 were destroyed than saved, it only affected army records and this has no bearing on Admiralty records that were kept elsewhere.

Could it be that your grandfather served aboard HMS Louvain when it was torpedoed in Greek waters after leaving Malta?
https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/Malta-s-worst-naval-disaster.662328

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
KizmeRD
Posted (edited)

Just a short note concerning the formation of the Maltese RNR, I have found a Newspaper cutting from April 1902 stating as follows:

 

THE BRITISH NAVY - A MALTESE RESERVE - LONDON, Feb. 4.
A naval reserve is being formed by the British authorities from the inhabitants of the island of Malta. The conditions under which the force is being formed are promising.
[The population of Malta in 1900 was 183,000. The Maltese are a sober, thrifty, and industrious people, and, as they multiply beyond the means of subsistence in their small island, many thousands of them have emigrated, and are to be found throughout the Levant.]

 

Edited by KizmeRD

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
horatio2
Posted (edited)

The LOUVAIN suggestion is a good one. Some 10% of the 224 lives lost were RNR (Malta) ratings. If 10% of the survivors were also RNR (Malta) they could number another 28, It is certainly a high concentration (50+ = 9% of all RNR (Malta) ratings) in one ship.

Another torpedoed (but not sunk) RN warship possibility is the cruiser HMS DARTMOUTH, hit by UC-25 on 14/15 May 1917 off Brindisi. She certainly carried RNR (Malta) firemen.stokers

 

If the RNR (Malta) followed RNR precedent, men would have enrolled for 5-year periods. This would mean that for seamen, the first five years they would have an A suffix and B for their second five years. Similarly F and G for firemen. We see no ratings on the medal roll with C and H numbers, which means no men in their third period pre-war.

 

 

Edited by horatio2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
KizmeRD
Posted (edited)

I was looking at a survivors list for HMS Louvain yesterday (see below) however there is no Fireman named C. Galea. There is certainly a lot of confusion regarding the numbers involved in the sinking (I guess not all onboard were permanent ships company). As can be seen, a number of surviving Maltese firemen on the Louvain were MMR. There was also a Fireman Spiridioni Galea, service no. 789F who perished (any relation?)

 

2B7388E0-DF70-4921-9710-CF13B394EBDE.jpeg.e581137e59f58a0eff85a48e28b2ba36.jpeg

 

Edited by KizmeRD

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...