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Remembered Today:

Lieut. J.S.G. REID, D.S.C. R.N.R.


kenmorrison
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John Stewart Gilchrist Reid, Distinguished Service Cross – age 33 – Lieutenant, H.M. Submarine L.55. Royal Naval Reserve died on 4 June 1919 when the "L55" was sunk by Bolshevik naval forces in the Baltic.

Can anyone tell me when he joined the Submarine Service and what his role on the L55 might have been.

There are a couple of servicer records at the National Archives - one giving some info on his RNR career but the other simply records that he drowned.

As far as I can figure out he became a midshipman in the Naval Reserve in September 1906. He obtained his Second Mate Certificate in the Merchant Navy in 1907 and his Masters in 1913 and between these two dates he served in the South Pacific. He was promoted to Sub Lieutenant in the Reserve in August 1913 and at the outbreak of war he served as boarding officer on the cruiser HMS Roxburgh. He was promoted to Lieutenant in June 1915. At some point he transferred to the submarine service and was awarded the DSC for his actions during 1918.

Any info would be welcome.

Many thanks

Ken

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34 minutes ago, kenmorrison said:

There are a couple of service records at the National Archives

There are four records at Kew, with a lot more detail than you suggest.:

https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C14635737

https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C14619314

https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C14626359

https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D8292891

Edited by horatio2
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It became common for the submarine service to take in RNR officers as navigators.

So most probably his role onboard L55 was Navigation Officer.

MB

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Thank you for this info guys.

If I'm reading it correctly (ADM 240/82/160 & 340/115/32) Reid joined the submarine service in January 1915 and served on K13 12/16 to 2/17, K11 2/17 to 10/18, UB122 12/18 to 5/19 and joined L55 on 12 May 1919 - less than a month before she was lost.

This also suggests that he was rescued from K13 when she sank in the Gareloch during commissioning trials in January 1917 and was on K11 when two other K-class were lost during an exercise in February 1918.

.UB-122 was surrendered at Harwich on 20 November 1918 and after being exhibited at Southampton in December 1918, she was then laid up at Portsmouth.

I think that's correct but naval records are unfamiliar territory!

Ken

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He does indeed have K.13 on his service record, but is not on the survivor list, so does not appear to have been on-board when she sank on trials. Only Herbert and his No.1 (Singer) and Lt Rideal visiting from K.14 are listed as surviving officers and all three gave evidence at the court martial - there is no mention of Reid in the court martial papers that I can see.

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Hopefully not, but if the reason for the original posting was to determine whether there’s any truth in what Jonathan R. Stephenson wrote his (2010) book ‘Bread or Bullets’ then unfortunately the answer is going to be yes and no. Yes because he’s based his novel on many actual historical facts and he’s also used real people’s names, but NO because he’s added liberal amounts of fanciful invention (as befits a novelist, rather than an actual historian). The author says he wrote it this way in order to create ‘a strong sense of believability’ in the quest to produce a ‘rousing novel of the sea’. This is especially apparent with the use of the American dialogue and helm orders, accompanied by many small, but annoying, technical mistakes and procedure errors that clearly reveal a complete unfamiliarity with the way things were aboard one of His Majesty’s submarines of that period.

This was not Reid’s ‘first mission’ as stated in Chapter 12 of the book - true he had only been aboard L.55 for a month, but by 1919 Lt. Reid was already a highly experienced and decorated submariner (awarded a DSC) -  in my opinion it’s very wrong to besmirch the good name and legacy of a real person simply to spice up a work of fiction.

MB

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Thanks MB.

I have been looking at the War Memorial in the Parish of Foulden in the Scottish Borders near Berwick on Tweed where the Reverend John Reid was the Parish Minister.

Two of his sons are named on the memorial as  Lieut. J.S.G. REID, D.S.C. R.N.R. 4-6-19. and Capt. W.L. REID, 2nd DORSETS 14-4-15.

William Leonard Reid was killed near Basra.

The background that you and the others have provided has been most interesting.

Best wishes

Ken

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Yes, he was born in the village of Foulden and attended Royal Edinburgh High School before opting for a career in the merchant navy. He then became a cadet on the training ship Conway and afterwards served at sea as an apprentice officer before taking his Second Mates, Mates and Master’s tickets prior to his call out from the Reserves at the outbreak of war.

The family memorial stone is in the church cemetery in Foulden (and his name is also on the war memorial cross), but I don’t believe that his remains are buried there, as when the bodies from L.55 were repatriated to UK, they all got interned in a mass grave in Haslar.

Like you say, one brother, a Captain in the Dorsetshire Regiment, was killed during the war, and I understand that there were also two other brothers who survived.

He married (Irene Helen) and had a house in London at the time of his death.

Not sure exactly what distinguished him enough to be awarded a DSC for submarine service during 1918, but anyone appointed to a ‘K’ class submarine (as he was prior to L.55) certainly deserved a medal! - He would I dare say have been involved in the Battle of May Island, and was probably kept busy picking up survivors.

Have you seen a photo of him? - See below..

MB

BA47B7DE-9B9F-43C9-9D35-8081C137E777.jpeg

Edited by KizmeRD
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Jane, thank you for posting. Interesting to see.

MB

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Great Stuff!

Just a couple of extra bits - John is named on the school memorials of Berwick Grammar School as well as the Royal High School in Edinburgh.

He married Irene Helen Saxton White of Shirley, Jesmond, Newcastle on Tyne in June 1916 at St. George's, Jesmond. Her father Richard was the general manager and director of a shipyard on the Tyne.

Ken

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Thanks for the extra bit of info regarding his father-in-law (Richard Saxton White) who was indeed a notable figure in the North-East. He was for a time shipyard manager at Armstrong Mitchell’s Walker Yard before leaving the Tyne for the Clyde, and later returning to Armstrong-Whitworth as the General Manager from late 1890’s up until his retirement in 1920. Surprisingly noted as a supporter of Trade Unionism and of collective bargaining.

Of interest to Forum Pals on the ‘Soldiers’ site, he was also very active in the Territorial Forces, becoming C.O. of 2nd (Volunteer) Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers (later 5th Bn. Northumberland Fusiliers).

MB

Edited by KizmeRD
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Having now viewed his records as a cadet on the training ship Conway (September 1901-July 1903) it would appear that Reid joined Conway directly from Berwick G.S. (not Edinburgh High). Home address given was ‘Foulden House’, Berwick,son of Rev. John Reid.

After leaving Conway, his first employer in the Mercantile Marine was the Liverpool shipping company W. Lowden & Co. - on their ship ‘Mashona’, a four-masted steel hull cargo vessel built in 1891 by C.J. Bigger of Londonderry (2,499 GRT).

MB

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Also found this…

Extract from BERWICK ADVERTISER, 20 JUNE 1919

Lieut Stewart Reid, of Foulden, Lost in the Baltic

MEMORIAL SERVICE AT FOULDEN

On Sunday evening a Memorial Service for the men of the village who had fallen in the war was held in the Parish Church. An added element of sadness having come during the past week in the news of the death of Lieut. J. Stewart Reid, D.S.C., R.N., son of the parish minister, caused the solemn proceedings to be partly devoted to that officer’s memory.

The pulpit was draped in black and purple, and a miniature “Jack” hung from the lectern. Behind the pulpit was the White Ensign, and two lovely floral tributes in the shape of an anchor and cross hung on the wall at each side. The communion table was also decorated with a profusion of white lilac blooms.

The tolling of the church bell drew villagers to the place of worship, and in the pews were several whose families had suffered bereavement in the war.

The Rev. John Reid, accompanied by his sons and other relatives, was present during the service.

MB

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4 hours ago, KizmeRD said:

 

After leaving Conway, his first employer in the Mercantile Marine was the Liverpool shipping company W. Lowden & Co. - on their ship ‘Mashona’, a four-masted steel hull cargo vessel built in 1891 by C.J. Bigger of Londonderry (2,499 GRT).

 

His records from Conway do record that he joined Lowden's four-masted barque MASHONA but it is unlikely he sailed on her as she is not included on his all important Sea Service Testimonial which was a record of Sea time which had to be shown to the Board of Trade, backed up by the entries on his indentures, to prove that he had the required four years sea service to sit his Second Mate's Certificate of Competency, if he had sailed on MASHONA it would definitely have appeared on the testimonial, accrued sea time was never given up.

The testimonial shows that he was on Conway from Sept 1901 to July 03 for which he earned the maximum allowed remission of sea time of 1 year for attending a recognised pre-sea school

He joined the four-masted barque ENGELHORN (though the register records her as ship rigged) on 14.8.1903 just over a month since leaving Conway, and served on her and the ship rigged BLYTHSWOOD as Apprentice until 14.8.06 exactly 3 years.  Both ships were either managed or owned by Charles Edward de Wolf of Liverpool.  It would appear that the Board of Trade might not have been happy with the exactitude of his 4 years of sea time as he continued on BLYTHSWOOD as an AB (seaman) for another 8 months and 20 days before submitting his papers for examination as Second Mate FG, there may have been other reasons for continuing to serve over his required four years, but that is the most likely.  All his voyages on these ships were as required, foreign going.

I see he failed his seamanship examination on 9.7.1907 and was given an extra 6 months seas time by the examiner to mend the errors of his ways!

It would appear that both his Mates & Master's Certificates of Competency were obtained in Australia.

I see his DSC was awarded for service in submarines between 1st July 1918 and 11th November 1918 what was he doing in those 5 months to earn a DSC?

Tony

Edited by MerchantOldSalt
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4 hours ago, MerchantOldSalt said:

  It would appear that the Board of Trade might not have been happy with the exactitude of his 4 years of sea time as he continued on BLYTHSWOOD as an AB (seaman) for another 8 months and 20 days before submitting his papers for examination as Second Mate FG, there may have been other reasons for continuing to serve over his required four years, but that is the most likely. 

I think there's probably a much simpler explanation for this bit.  He would have signed indentures for three years.  When the indentures expired on 14th August 1906 he was part way through a voyage.  At that point he ceased to be an apprentice and so he signed on, probably at sea, the following day 15th August 1906 in the capacity of an Able Seaman to complete the voyage back to the UK/northern Europe as per the ship's Crew Agreement - his Indentures may well have had a rider obliging him to do this.  That voyage duly ended on 4th May 1907 and the Crew Agreement is sitting in the Memorial University of Newfoundland if anyone cares to spend the fairly modest fee they charge for a copy!

As you might expect this was pretty common as "Foreign" voyages lasting several months or years rarely coincided conveniently with an anniversary date! 

Edited by pierssc
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On 19/07/2021 at 13:42, The Treasurer said:

He does indeed have K.13 on his service record, but is not on the survivor list, so does not appear to have been on-board when she sank on trials. Only Herbert and his No.1 (Singer) and Lt Rideal visiting from K.14 are listed as surviving officers and all three gave evidence at the court martial - there is no mention of Reid in the court martial papers that I can see.

Quite correct Treasurer, he was prevented from joining K13 by illness according to this article from The British Newspaper Archive.

 

 

Snap 2021-07-22 at 22.09.29.png

 

Snap 2021-07-22 at 22.10.34.png

 

Snap 2021-07-22 at 22.11.42.png

Edited by sadbrewer
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10 hours ago, sadbrewer said:

Quite correct Treasurer, he was prevented from joining K13 by illness according to this article from The British Newspaper Archive.

 

 

Snap 2021-07-22 at 22.09.29.png

 

Snap 2021-07-22 at 22.10.34.png

 

Snap 2021-07-22 at 22.11.42.png

Well spotted!! Explains why his name does not crop up in the reports.

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