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Merchant Navy - Where do I go next?


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Dear Great War Forum team, please can you help me find some of my grandfather’s history and whereabouts during his time in the Merchant Navy?

It was said that mt grandfather travelled around the world 'a couple of times', and was torpedoed on three occasions.

I'm not quite sure how much detail I should post, so here goes...

My Grandfather:

Walter Edward Thorp b. 12 March 1895 London Wireless Operator & Civil Engineer

CR 10 Card and details

Merchant Navy Identity no. 201695

M.N.S. Region L & S Eastern ? (I can’t read the last couple of letters) - London & South Eastern ?

Regional no. 17399

Rating; W Telegraphist - Wireless Telegraphist

R.N.R no.

No. and Grade of B / T Certificate 1557 1st Class - Board of Trade Certificate

Date and place of Birth; March 12th 1895 London England

Nationality; British

Father; British

Dis. A No. 957104

N.H. Insurance No.

On the back of the CR 10

Is a photograph of WE Thorp

ID No 201965

&

**Cawdor Castle

-1218

--

Medals: (Ref: The National Archives, Kew)

Walter Edward Thorp 201965 \ Cert. or Dis. A. 957104

Mercantile Marine Ribbon issued 20.7.23 M.M.O. Cardiff, 22 Loudoun Square

British Medal Ribbon issued 20.7.23 M.M.O. "" ""

Mercantile Marine Medal issued 12.6.24 M.M.O. Cardiff,

British Medal issued (possibly the same date & address '12.6.24 Cardiff. The card ward written across the wto medals)

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Please can you explain 'any' of the above reference numbers, and from there, is it possiible to find more data and history from this? Please also include any websites and linksif theye are available.

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Now, the SS City Of Corinth was the only ship we knew about, because Walter E Thorp as Wireless Operator - sent out the SOS, and once on board the lifeboat, he took a photograph of the sinking City of Corinth..

SS City of Corinth - sunk 21 May 1917

Sunk by torpedo by the German submarine UB 31 in the English Channel, 12 miles SW of the Lizard peninsular Cornwall while en-route from Singapore to London with a general cargo

An “Ellerman Line” ship "Length 430.6; Breadth 55.3; depth 33.2; Tonnage gross 5870, nett 3773.

4 Passengers Hall Line Built and engine by Barclay Curle & Co Ltd Glasgow"

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**From the Cawdor Castle ref. above, I was able to find the following details:

SS Cawdor Castle 114823 (Ref: The National Archives, Kew)

The Agreement And Account Of Crew Dated 16th Dec. 1918 London

Notes: Journey would not exceed 24 months

Entry no. 46 (of 131 Crew) Walter Edward Thorp 201965

Amazing, my grandfather was on board the SS Cawdor Castle, as Wireless Operator, and even better &

with reference to ^^SS Mesaba 109392 as his previous ship.

Ref:

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalog...3177442&j=1

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^^SS Mesaba - sunk 1st Sept. 1918 (from internet research)

Now it’s possible that my Walter E Thorp was on board the SS Mesaba when it was torpedoed.

Please can anyone tell me how I might prove this?

^^SS Mesaba (1) 109392 ex-Winifreda, 1898 purchased from Wilson's & Furness-Leyland Line renamed Mesaba

Torpedoed and sunk in St. George's Channel on 1 September 1918, while Mesaba was 21 miles from Tuskar Rock, making a convoy voyage from Liverpool to Philadelphia in ballast, she was torpedoed and sunk by UB 118.

There were 20 fatalities, including the ship's commander.

Ref:

http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/lines/atlantictrans.html

http://web.greatships.net:81/mesaba.html

--

Where do I go next?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,

Jed

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historydavid

On 1st September 1918 the SS Mesaba, defensively armed, built 1898, 6,833 grt, was torpedoed and sunk in 52.17N, 5.38W, by UB 118 21 miles E¼N from Tuskar Rock Lighthouse, St George's Channel. In ballast from Liverpool to Philadelphia. Owned by Atlantic Transport Co Ltd - London. 20 members of the crew died.

Jed, I am not aware that the the Cawdor Castle was ever torpedoed. On one occasion she was chased by an unidentified submarine, but escaped by using her superior speed.

Your details for the City of Corinth are correct.

Best wishes

David

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Many thanks Tom & David for your replies.

I will get in touch with 'Newfoundland' archives soon, thank you for the link.

I'd like to research each ship's documents and hopefully find all or most of my grandfather's ships, a needle in a haystack! I know, but this might help me find the third ship that he was torpedoed on, too. Is this possible?

Please does anyone know the ships ID number for the SS City of Corinth?

Are there any documents around - showing these ships in ports or at work?

Are they any photographs or images available for the following vessels?

SS City of Corinth

SS Mesaba 109392

SS Cawdor Castle 114823

German Sumarines

UB 118

UB 31

Many thanks,

Jed

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Many thanks to you all for your advice and website links.

Please can anyone tell me where my grandfather would of had to go, to take his Wireless Operators examination, and is it possible to find a record of his test or certificate?

Many thanks,

Jed

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Hello Jim, by MIC, do you mean Medal Index Card?

My Grandfathers MIC are as::

Medals: (Ref: The National Archives, Kew)

Walter Edward Thorp 201965 \ Cert. or Dis. A. 957104

Mercantile Marine Ribbon issued 20.7.23 M.M.O. Cardiff, 22 Loudoun Square

British Medal Ribbon issued 20.7.23 M.M.O. "" ""

Mercantile Marine Medal issued 12.6.24 M.M.O. Cardiff,

British Medal issued (possibly the same date & address '12.6.24 Cardiff. The dates had been written diagonally across the two medals)

There wasn't a photograph on the MIC, but there was with on his CR 10 - as previously mentioned.

Is it possible to find out any further information or documentary evidence from Walter E Thorp's MIC record?

Many thanks,

Jed

--

Am I right in assuming that there will be a MIC for him and that it will include a photograph?
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Hello Kath, many thanks for the links and your help.

The South West Maritime History Soc. looks very interesting, thank you.

Have you or anyone else managed to find an actual certifiacte for a family member listed as a Wireless Operator?

Kind regards,

Jed

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I found this web site needs persistance to use:

http://www.marconicalling.com/introsting.htm

There is a pic. of a certificate in Greenlaw's book, but it is from the Marconi plc archives.

http://www.mlaeastofengland.org.uk/orgs/ma...iew.jsp?ref=498

These archives in, I think, Chelmsford, seem very hard to access.

Kath.

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per ardua per mare per terram

Jed,

Have you found out if he was in the Royal Naval Reserve? There are seperate medal rolls for them in ADM 171 at kew.

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  • 2 weeks later...
per ardua per mare per terram

Merseyside Maritime Museum 'hold Radio Officers examination results from 1910 to 1952, but no collection of examination papers or certificates.'

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Many thanks, for 'all' your help.

I will contact the museum tomorrow, to see what they hold in the way of archives.

Here's their link.

http://www.visitliverpool.com/site/merseys...me-museum-p8987

Two months ago when I visited Kew, I saw that most Merchant Seaman’s records had a prefix 'R' followed by the merchant seaman’s personnel number.

Is it correct that the 'R' relates to a 'Reserve' Merchant Seaman? And if so, why weren't there any real records for Merchant Seaman such as my grandfather - where he didn't have the 'R' added to his number and records? I hope I said that correctly!

Walter Edward Thorp 201965

Cert. or Dis. A. 957104

Please can any one help?

I would like to see any websites and links relating to the life and history of Merchant Seaman.

Kind regards and thank you,

Jed

Merseyside Maritime Museum 'hold Radio Officers examination results from 1910 to 1952, but no collection of examination papers or certificates.'
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Ray Tomlinson

Hi Jed, I'm not quite sure what time period you're looking at but the Southampton Archives hold the original copies of CR1, CR2 in addition to the CR10 cards for Merchat Mariners who served from about 1918. In my particular case, I received a detailed response which even translated the ship numbers my grandfather had served on into names. From this and Lloyds List, I have been able to trace his movements over a 10 year period.

Ray

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  • 7 years later...

This thread has now been inactive for 7 years, & the opening poster, Jed Stu, for over 18 months, but today's DailyTelegraph (29th July) carried the story of a torpedoed sailor from the City of Corinth who was 'saved by a canary'. The sailor's name: Walter Thorp! The Telegraph's article isn't available on line, but the Express's version Untold: Drowning First World War veteran saved from sinking by his chirpy canary is.

NigelS

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  • 8 months later...

Hi Jed, I'm not quite sure what time period you're looking at but the Southampton Archives hold the original copies of CR1, CR2 in addition to the CR10 cards for Merchat Mariners who served from about 1918. In my particular case, I received a detailed response which even translated the ship numbers my grandfather had served on into names. From this and Lloyds List, I have been able to trace his movements over a 10 year period.

Ray

A quick hello Ray, a belated thank you, and I'm sorry for not replying to you all those years ago, plus I expect we've all learnt a lot about our families since back in 2007.

Thank you again, my best wishes

Jed

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This thread has now been inactive for 7 years, & the opening poster, Jed Stu, for over 18 months, but today's DailyTelegraph (29th July) carried the story of a torpedoed sailor from the City of Corinth who was 'saved by a canary'. The sailor's name: Walter Thorp! The Telegraph's article isn't available on line, but the Express's version Untold: Drowning First World War veteran saved from sinking by his chirpy canary is.

NigelS

Hello Nigel

Thank you too for pointing out my grandfathers newspaper article last July, it was written by my uncle David Thorp.

I'm always on the lookout, and "dipping in and out" of numerous areas of my families extremely interesting military and social history both online and through an abundance of archives, especially now that more and more documents and files are being digitally scanned around the world. It's a shame to say that four areas of my family and forebears... from the UK, USA, France and Germany too all fought in the Great War.... and they were all "cousins" but they never knew it!

Thank you again, my best wishes to you, and the Great War Forum Team

Jed

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  • 5 years later...

Hi Jed. I've been researching Walter Thorp and come up with some details you may not have, including a new photo of him. It's been a while since you've posted, so please reply if you're still interested and I will share what I have. The photo has him wearing his WW1 medal ribbons and his three torpedo cuff badges. Simon 

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  • 6 months later...

Good evening Simon

Great big apologies for my extremely slow reply, also for thanking you for getting in touch.

I’d really love to see the extra image/s and information appertaining to my grandfather Walter Edward Thorp, if I may please.... that would be fantastic, thank you in anticipation.

I look forward to hearing from you shortly.

My very best wishes.

Jed

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Hi Jed. Lovely to hear from you. The extra info I have, that you may not, is that Walter's first ship was the Indralema, on which he served as purser 3/6/1914 to 3/2/1915. He then served on the Anglo-Bolivian as Marconi operator for two stints 16/2/1915 to 4/11/1915. The three ships on which he was torpedoed I think are City of Corinth (May 1917), City of Cambridge (July 1917), and Mesaba (Sep 1918). Does this match with your research?

I'm so pleased that I can get to you a copy of this photo showing Walter with two colleagues. I've so wanted to get a copy to his family! The details of his uniform are interesting. On his left sleeve is the torpedo badge and two bars showing he was torpedoed three times, and on his right sleeve you can just see the edge of his four war chevrons showing he worked in the theatre of war for four years. He's sporting his WW1 medal ribbons too. They're wearing the new national MN uniform which was introduced in 1919 so the photo must date to around then. 

Would love to hear if I have got the three ships on which he was torpedoed correct!

Best wishes,

Simon

1918 Object - torpedo badgez supplementary image WE Thorp.jpg

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