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Remembered Today:

Royal Naval Hospital Ship H.M.H.S. Garth Castle


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H.M.H.S. Garth Castle


Even the Wikipedia page is very short on information for H.M.H.S. Garth Castle, though one line caught my eye: ‘The ship took part in the North Russia Intervention in 1918–19.’

Medical staff timeline in two sections:



A few events found in newspaper articles & C.W.G.C. etc:

Royal Naval Auxiliary Sick Berth Reserve, Junior Attendant, Charles Edwin BARNES died from sceptic pneumonia on 29 April 1915

The record of Temp. Surgeon R.N.V.R. Thomas Hungerford CRESSWELL has the following note dated 27.04.15. ‘In case of lunatic who jumped overboard D.G. considers Surgeon Cresswell responsible for his case but not to blame for his escape. Concur with A. Colville in commendation of his prompt action in attempting to save lunatic from drowning after a dangerous action.’ 21.07.15 Humane Society forwarded a bronze medal & certificate.

Artificer Seddon, condition critical, onboard Garth Castle at Cromarty Firth: Fleetwood Chronicle, 13.08.1915.

Confirmation of Garth Castle's Captain: Captain L. A. Millard's only son, Cpl. Harold Austin Millard, Royal Engineers, was a victim of gas poisoning in action on 13th October: Hampshire Advertiser, 30.10.1915.

Sgt. James KEEFE, Royal Marine Light Infantry of H.M.S. "Alcantara" died on board Garth Castle at sea off Scotland: Dover Chronicle 18.03.1916.

Gunner Tom Baker Royal Marine Artillery of H.M.S. "Superb" died on board Garth Castle of injuries received whilst on duty: Bury Free Press, 07.04.1917.

Ship's Corporal 2nd Class, Charles James HAYWARD died, on 24th October 1918. (cause not recorded)

Ship’s Cook & Greaser Harry EVERETT and Henry Gilbert LOVELL died within a two days of each other in October 1918. Neither appear to have had relatives and they are buried in the same grave, no. 460 (note on Graves Reg. Form ‘no foundations – not permanent’).

Senior Reserve R.N.A.S.B.R. Albert WHALLEY died from influenza and double pneumonia on the 12th November 1918.

Five hundred and eighty POW returned on Garth Castle from Germany to Leith. Most were sick or wounded, five patients had been buried at sea during the voyage: Dundee Courier, 01.01.1919.

Garth Castle was lying up at Scarpa Flow with only eight patients on board: John Bull, 03.05.1919.

Garth Castle was present in North Russia, June 1919: Asst. Laundryman, H DARLING, age 19, died 29th June. He is buried at the Archangel Allied Cemetery.

Garth Castle was present in North Russia, September 1919: Acting Chaplain Garth Castle, Dermod Ross Milner was killed on 17th September by falling into a ship’s boat: Westerham Herald 11.10.1919.(https://www.masonicgreatwarproject.org.uk/legend.php?id=2132 states Rev Milner was accidentally killed by the explosion of a bomb on board ship at Archangel) He is buried at the Archangel Allied Cemetery.

A report of Garth Castle’s last trip as a hospital ship: Hampshire Telegraph, 10.10.1919.

At Portsmouth from Russia

The hospital ship Garth Castle has arrived at Portsmouth with about 150 naval and military wounded from north Russia. The naval men were sent to the Royal Naval Hospital at Haslar and the Army wounded to military hospitals. The Garth Castle, which has been a hospital ship for five years has now completed her service as such. She returns to London at once’

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Question: How did Royal Naval hospital ships operate in WW1? H.M.H.S. Garth Castle was part of the Grand Fleet based in Scotland, would she have followed the battleships at a distance when they went into action?

* * *

There is a Garth Castle photo album on line, unfortunately the resolution is too poor to identify faces: https://www.warmuseum.ca/collections/archive/3123640

The album is an odd mix of photos and postcards, mostly depicting the patients, nursing staff, hospital wards of No. 2 Hospital Ship, but also includes views of the V.A.D. Hospital at Eggington Hall, Derby & what I think are Christmas celebrations at a Naval Hospital. The biographical note states: ‘Nursing Sister Holmes served with Queen Alexandra's Royal Navy Nursing Service during the First World War, aboard the hospital ship Garth Castle.’

I could not find a Sister Holmes, the nearest Naval nurse match being Winifred Dora HOLMES-BROWN but there is no mention of Garth Castle in her record. Perhaps Holmes was a married or maiden name. I think there may be one nurse missing on the time line, additions/corrections welcome.

Regards ZeZe

Edited by ZeZe
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Hello ZeZe,

  Very interesting. I have another nurse;  Annie WILSON, Q.A.R.N.N.S.R., ADM164 pages 64 & 65. On 19/10/18 she was lent from Larbert to 'Garth Castle' to nurse influenza cases. She died in Leith American Naval Hospital on 05/11/18, of pneumonia. She is mentioned on CWGC website.


Alf McM

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Hi Alf,

Thanks for the info on Annie Wilson. The influenza outbreak must have been rampant on the ship. Even though it’s not confirmed, I had thought that both Harry Everett And Henry Gilbert Lovell had probably died from the flu.

I did notice in the album on page 23 that the group photo includes only 7 nurses, so maybe that photo was taken in either January 1916 or, much more likely in January 1917 and there wasn’t a 4th nurse on board during 1917.

I'm also puzzled why Garth Castle’s trips to North Russia are not included in the H.M.S.O. booklet https://archive.org/details/armyevacuationof00greauoft/page/44//mode/2up

Regards ZeZe

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  Some details regarding the Naval Chaplains, taken from Cockford’s Clerical Directory, which may help with dates;-

William James McKAIN, T.C.R.N. 1916 – Cockford 1932, image 842 {Ancestry}

Cuthbert Arnold GUY, T.C.R.N. 1914-19 – Cockford 1932, image 544 {Ancestry}

Charles Henry STEEL, T.C.R.N. 1916-19 – Cockford 1932, image 1241 {Ancestry}

John Pugh EVANS – mentioned in 1908 directory but not 1923. He is the only J.P. EVANS in 1908, and there is no J.P. EVANS 1932. He is possibly the correct person.

Arthur Baillie Lumsdaine KARNEY, T.C.R.N. 1914-17, T.C.F. 1918-19. – Cockford 1932, image 1496 {Ancestry}


Alf McM

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Hi Alf,

I've not heard of Cockford’s Clerical Directory – good to fill in the christian names. Do you know if there is a Garth Castle War Diary or Ships Log in existence?

Regards ZeZe

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   I don't think that Naval Hospital Ships had war diaries, I am not sure if ships logs are available online.

Full names of medical and dental officers;-

Charles William ARCHER

Charles Walter Wilde ARMSTRONG

Lionel Spence ASHCROFT {‘C’ initial incorrect]

Thomas AUSTEN {‘J’ initial incorrect]

Abraham Cockroft BARKER

William EDGAR

Alfred Ernest Wilson HIRD

Ernest Courtney LOMAS


Samuel Leslie MCBEAN

William Elmes MATHEW

Harold Boultbee PADWICK

Frederick William PAUL

Arthur George Drake PRIDHAM

John Joseph Hogan ROONEY

Frederick St. Barbe WICKHAM


Bernard John GEEKIE was a Temporary Dental Surgeon Lieutenant.

Horace DARLING was the Assistant Laundryman who died on 29th June 1919, of pneumonia and peritonitis.

Another crewman, Fireman A. MEIKLE died on 13th January of influenza and pneumonia. He doesn’t appear to be mentioned on the CWGC website.  https://www.ancestry.co.uk/imageviewer/collections/60931/images/44994_adm_104_111-0354?pId=311275


Alf McM


Edited by alf mcm
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Ernest Courtney Lomas a few years after the war, on the staff at RNH Haslar.


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  • 8 months later...

A couple of comments here refer to Henry Gilbert Lovell, stating that perhaps he had no relatives, and that the grave is not permanent.

Henry was my Great Grandfather, he did in fact die of 'influenza' at the very beginning of the 1919 pandemic  and he has a commonwealth war grave at Queensferry cemetery. You can read his story here:  Commonwealth Graves (weebly.com)

Although he passed before my mother was born, her mother, his daughter remembered him very fondly. We visited his grave in 2019, and again in 2022. He is not forgotten.


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