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WW1 sailor photographs


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Hello all.


I am currently researching my Great Grandfather Victor Mason  M18430 who died when the HMS Genista sank in 1916 in the Irish sea. 


Can anyone suggest where I might look to try and find a photograph of him. The national archive have advised it wasn't a requirement of the Navy to take a photograph, and apart from family records I'm drawing a blank. His records mention being transferred to the RN so I presume he was a reserve before that.  


Many thanks



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hello Helen


Local newspapers are your best bet. You may be lucky. If you contact the local archives they will often search the newspaper for you for a small fee.



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His RN record as an ERA (M.18430) incorrectly states that he had previous (very brief) RNR service as S.5702.  His correct RNR number as a stoker was S.9085. His RNR record is here :- 

https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D8545291  (free download)


The most likely source of a photograph will be his family. Failing that, try local newspapers for reports of his death.


Edited by horatio2
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The chance of obtaining a photo of a rating is very slim indeed. I have a couple hundred photos of ratings that are unidentified,

their identities being lost forever, which is very unfortunate. 

As Horatio has mentioned your best bet would be his death being mentioned local newspaper(s), & if you get really lucky a grainy photo of him might also be published.



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The WW1 Naval Casualties source shows the next of kin informed of his death as his wife Olive Maud, of 33, Britannia St, Thornaby-on-Tees, Durham. He himself was born Stockton on Tees according to the same source.


So I would start your search there using an online source like the British Newspapers Archive (BNA) or the subscriptions to the likes of Ancestry and FindMyPast that include access to a source like the BNA.


In normal times I'd recommend trying out the BNA at your local library, (if you live in the UK) - most subscribe. Unfortunately while the likes of Ancestry & FMP have in some areas come to arrangements that allow library members to access those services from home computers rather than having to go into a library, the BNA site doesn't appear to want to play ball.


I'd recommend trying those sites, even though the software used to convert the scanned images into readable text is atrocious, because at least you can do a search via the computer. And once you get your head round it you can anticipate some of the likely recurring errors - "Tloomob/" for Thornaby is likely to be one


I suspect anyone who has ever been to physically look at newspapers in the archives - and by that I mean micro-filmed copies - will tell you that they are almost always not indexed and the picture can turn up anywhere, if there is even one to find. Pictures and articles relating to individual service people were normally submitted by family, friends or occasionally a busybody\village gossip\freelancer, so a picture could turn up in connection with practically anything - joining up. home on leave, letter home published, something happening to a sibling, men from an area serving and the not infrequent "family that have 6 sons serving" which sounds impressive \ frightening until you read on to see at least two are son-in-laws! This is just as likely to happen in 1918/1919 as during the last few weeks of 1916.


I did try FindMyPast but all I've been able to find so far was a death notice in the North-Eastern Daily Gazette, (FMP calls it the Daily Gazette for Middlesbrough) in the edition for Thursday, November 2, 1916, that was placed by relatives.



(Image courtesy FindMyPast)


Hope that helps,



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