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Trimmer George Henry Guest TS 1317


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I am helping a friend research his grandfather's wartime service with the RN.

George Henry Guest b. 1895 Grimsby enlisted in the RN on 23 November 1914 as a Trimmer. He was sent to the Dardanelles in preparation for the Gallipoli landings and from his records below, he appears to have served aboard a number of ships. At some point during the campaign, he suffered from neurasthenia (shell shock) which resulted in his discharge from service in February 1916. He suffered from the malady for the rest of his life and his entry in the 1939 Register records that he was in receipt of an RN disablement pension.

I have tried to identify the ships that he served on but, being a novice in naval matters, I have not been able to move beyond the Blenheim which I am aware was a depot ship anchored at Mudros which amongst its functions decanted crew to other ships.

I would appreciate any leads on whether there was a particular incident that resulted in George's trauma.


George Henry Guest BT-377-7-111239_0003 cropped.jpg

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35 minutes ago, MelPack said:

he suffered from neurasthenia (shell shock) which resulted in his discharge from service in February 1916

At WFA/Fold3 there are a couple of cards for him:

Discharged: 9.2.16

Addresses: 114 Albert Sreet, Grimsby and Heath Harmson Cottage, Andover

Disabilities: Neurasthenia extreme Stammering - Aggravated [Although it quite often seems the military were keen not to attribute blame for a disability on service it is not inconceivable that a possible underlying minor stammer might perhaps be made worse/aggravated by the stress of being in a war zone ???].

Last ship: Patrol "Cambodia" * - Might this possibly have been the origin/aggravation of his condition???


Edit: * I note CAMBODIA, hired trawler, Adty No 1521. Built 1911, 284grt, Grimsby-reg GY.597. Armament: 1-6pdr AA, 1-3pdr. In service 5.15-1920 - to me might seem like a potential candidate. https://www.naval-history.net/WW1NavyBritishShips-Dittmar1.htm#c 

Edited by Matlock1418
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My best interpretation of his record card is:-

3 Dec 1914. Joined HMS PEKIN (Grimsby Aux Patrol Base).

4 Dec 1914. Drafted as trimmer to hired Grimsby trawler HMS RESTRIVO at Grimsby.

23 Jan 1915. Drafted to hired Aberdeen trawler STAR OF THE EMPIRE (at Lowestoft). She joined six other trawlers (including RESTRIVO) which arrived at the Dardanelles in February 1915 to form Minesweeping Group One (of three groups). From 22 Jan 1915 (the approx. date of leaving UK) both trawlers were on the books of (parented by) HMS BLENHEIM at Mudros. The Group 1 trawlers were used for sweeping the Dardanelles on the night of 13/14 March 1915 and in the great attack on the Narrows on 18 March.

On the 13 March sweep STAR OF THE EMPIRE operated under Lt Bernard Thomas COX RNR assisted by  Boatswain William Henry YOUNG RN (both from HMS PRINCE GEORGE)

31 Mar 1915. Drafted to HMS EGMONT (Malta Base) for passage to UK.          

22 Apr 1915. Drafted to HMS PEKIN (Grimsby)                                                         

22 May 1915. Drafted to hired Grimsby trawler HMS CAMBODIA which had just entered service and was parented by HMS HALCYON (Lowestoft Aux Patrol; Base).

17 Jun 1915. CAMBODIA was transferred from HALCYON (Lowestoft) to HMS ZARIA  (Longhope, Orkney, Aux Patrol Base).

16 Nov 1915. Drafted from ZARIA (CAMBODIA) to Devonport Barracks (HMS VIVID). For some reason (probably to RN Hospital, Plymouth, for invaliding) he is also drafted to VIVD on 7 Feb 1916.

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Horatio that is superb ! Thank you very much for the demystification of the service record - my friend will be delighted.

And thanks also to Matlock for the pension card  material.

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We cannot be sure what he encountered during his six months in Northern Waters in HMS CAMBODIA (a patrol trawler) but what he endured in the Dardanelles is clear: he was trapped in the stokehold of a trawler, sweeping mines by night against a 6-knot current while under heavy fire from Turkish 6" howitzers and other field guns and illuminated by searchlights. That experience would be enough to fray anybody's nerves. As the Official History put it - "Hitherto the conduct of the [trawler] crews had been so cool and intrepid that everything was expected of them. But it was now clear that although they had no fear whatever of mines, they had not the discipline required for the unaccustomed experience of working steadily under shell-fire; or, as Admiral de Robeck reported, ' In some cases the crews appear to have no objection to being blown up by mines, though they do not seem to like working under gun-fire, which is a new element in their calling.'"

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What a great quote !

Thanks to the information that you provided, I guessed that the trauma was related to the events leading up to and including the 18th March which fitted the timeline of transfer back to the UK via Malta. I suppose George managed to hold it together for a further six months in the North Sea before finally succumbing.

Incidentally, the derision with which shellshock was viewed by certain contemporary medical experts was eye watering:

In 1920, the government provided a military pension for veterans suffering from war neurosis, however this was repealed in 1926 on the basis that men who were still disturbed so long after the war were clearly not suffering from a war related wound.


Many thanks again for all your help.

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