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Complete Crew Lists for Torpedoed Vessels?


ph0ebus
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Hi all,

I was wondering where (if anywhere) I could locate complete lists of crews who sailed aboard vessels that were ultimately torpedoed (and sank) in WWI? I can get the casualties easily enough, and for passenger ships, the passenger lists. I can also get a few crew names from accounts in the press of those crew who survived, but there are a fair number of the crew whose names I have not been able to locate. Any guidance would be a great help.

Thanks,

-Daniel

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Hi Kath,

For the ship I queried (Official No. 124230) I only get Inbound Passenger Lists, and they do not cover the date of the sinking; does this mean I am out of luck?

-Daniel

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You also get BT 165 Registry of Shipping and Seamen: Ships' Official Logs:

For 1915 BT 165/1207

For 1916 BT 165/1482

Memorial University of Newfoundland Maritime History Archive Crew Lists Index -

http://www.mun.ca/mha/holdings/viewcrews.p...icial_No=124230

has

1914: E2

1916: E2

1917: E2

E2 = Agreement and account of crew of a foreign-going ship. No official log present.

Kath.

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Hi Daniel

You'll probably struggle to find what you want. Some survivors reports do include a crew list, or rather a list of survivors, but more often than not, there isn't such a list. As for ship's logs, these any other confidential papers (cargo manifest, sailing instructions, etc) were required to be thrown overboard in a weighted bag when a vessel was in danger of sinking through enemy action or being captured. If the crew details you seek are not found in the National Archives then it's highly like the information you want no longer exists.

Dave W

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Hi Daniel

You'll probably struggle to find what you want. Some survivors reports do include a crew list, or rather a list of survivors, but more often than not, there isn't such a list. As for ship's logs, these any other confidential papers (cargo manifest, sailing instructions, etc) were required to be thrown overboard in a weighted bag when a vessel was in danger of sinking through enemy action or being captured. If the crew details you seek are not found in the National Archives then it's highly like the information you want no longer exists.

Dave W

Daniel

I obtained two crew lists for different U Boat victims (mine and gunfire) following the processes outlined by Kath.

Tom

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For 1915 BT 165/1207

For 1916 BT 165/1482

Daniel.

The reason a search of just the official number doesn't normally return any BT 165 results, like those found by Kath, is because the title of each piece is a range of official numbers, e.g. Ships Nos. 124230 - 124266. Occasionally the number you're searching for happens to be one of the two numbers but not very often.

I search on the word "ships", enter the year range, "BT 165" for series and then browse through the results.

regards,

Martin

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The Times has an article (9 Feb 1917) on the California sinking. It lists some passengers rescued, missing passengers, crew missing and injured (and) in hospital. Newspapers are not always reliable records but it may be of interest nevertheless. Let me know if you'd like a copy.

regards,

Martin

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The Times has an article (9 Feb 1917) on the California sinking. It lists some passengers rescued, missing passengers, crew missing and injured (and) in hospital. Newspapers are not always reliable records but it may be of interest nevertheless. Let me know if you'd like a copy.

regards,

Martin

Hi Martin,

Thanks for the offer; I think I have pretty much every newspaper article ever written on the California (US and abroad, including Germany). Now that I have exhausted the papers, (and I think all the pertinent resources at New York Public Library, and the UK, US and Irish National Archives, and major Maritime Museums) I was hoping there was something useful that perhaps I had missed, some resource I had overlooked. I have the sinking statements from Kew, and the KTB for U-85 from NARA, passeneger lists from Ellis Island, and so on. The one piece I am really missing is the rest of the crew whose names were not published in some account. Sadly, it looks like their names are lost to history.

Should someone stumble across the crew list for the California's final voyage at some point in the future at a garage/boot sale somewhere, please keep me in mind. :)

Thanks,

-Daniel

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You also get BT 165 Registry of Shipping and Seamen: Ships' Official Logs:

For 1915 BT 165/1207

For 1916 BT 165/1482

Memorial University of Newfoundland Maritime History Archive Crew Lists Index -

http://www.mun.ca/mha/holdings/viewcrews.p...icial_No=124230

has

1914: E2

1916: E2

1917: E2

E2 = Agreement and account of crew of a foreign-going ship. No official log present.

Kath.

Hi Kath,

This is a promising new lead for me...many thanks! I will be following up with them asap. As an aside, any idea why the California's crew lists ended up in Newfoundland, given her run was almost always Glasgow - New York? Perhaps these pertain to her brief stint as a troop transport, when she did sail from Canada to the UK?

-Dan

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"why crew lists ended up in Newfoundland" - A long involved story.

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalog...?sLeafletID=129

2. Agreement and Crew Lists 1861 - 1938 and 1950 - 1994

"When the files were being selected for preservation a decision was taken on how to dispose of all those not taken by The National Archives. The National Maritime Museum took 10% and County Record Offices, took some for the period 1863-1913. The rest, approximately 70% of the Agreements and Crew Lists, 1863-1938 and 1951-1976, were transferred to the Maritime History Archive, Memorial University, St John's, Newfoundland, Canada A1C 5S7 (www.mun.ca/mha/)."

They were stored for a time in a disused swimmimg pool.

We are very lucky the Memorial University took them & made them available.

Kath.

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Daniel.

Have you come across anything to indicate the number of crew on the California when lost?

Though there seems to be a number of errors, The Times article mentions 43 names.

MISSING

01. ALEXANDER, G., Steward

02. ALGES (ALGEO), W. F., Surgeon

03. BRESLIN, P., Greaser (CWGC has Fireman)

04. BURNS, J., Greaser (CWGC has Fireman)

05. CAMPBELL, J., A.B.

06. CHANCY, J., Trimmer (not on CWGC)

07. COYLE, J., Greaser (CWGC has Fireman)

08. CUNNINGHAM, W., Extra Second Engineer

09. DARCY, M., Greaser (CWGC has Fireman)

10. EADLE (EADIE), Wm., Assistant Purser

11. ETHERINGTON, Purser (body recovered) (Tower Hill?)

12. FRASER, J., Trimmer (Alexander?)

13. GELL, J., Trimmer (not on CWGC)

14. HALBERT, P., Fireman (CWGC has Leading Stoker)

15. LEES, W., Steward (pantry)

16. LEMON, E. W., A.B. (CWGC has Nicholas Lemon)

17. MATHER (EVANS), J., Steward (Mess Room)

18. MILLAR, D., Trimmer

19. MONAGHAN, J., Trimmer

20. MOORE, J., Steward (Hosp.)

21. MURRAY, J., Leading Stoker (CWGC has Greaser)

22. McCANN, M., Greaser (CWGC has Fireman)

23. McGARVIE (McGARVEY), A., Barber

24. McQUEEN, J., Greaser (CWGC has Fireman and Trimmer)

25. O'DONNELL, J., A.B.

26. POLLOCK, D., Carpenter's Mate

27. SIMPSON, J., Extra Third Officer (CWGC has Third Mate)

28. SMITH, D., First Engineer

29. STEELE, G., Steward

IN HOSPITAL

30. DAVIDSON, John, Greaser, fingers crushed

31. GRIFFIN, Peter, Fireman, crushed

32. HAY, John, Engineer, head injury

33. KESSON, Chief Officer, broken arm

34. LOGAN, Alex., abdominal trouble

35. McDONALD, Assistant Steward, shock and strain

36. McDONALD, Peter, Printer, ribs crushed

37. McGARTH, Joseph, Greaser, dislocated shoulder

38. McKAY, Archibald, shock (McALLISTER?)

39. NEILL, John, Greaser, legs crushed

40. PROCTOR, Harry, Quartermaster, strained arm

Others mentioned:

41. HENDERSON, Captain, survivor

42. LEE, crew (American), survivor

43. McCALLUM, Second Officer, survivor

Not mentioned in article but listed on CWGC (thanks Geoff):

44. DOOLAN, James, Trimmer

45. GILLESPIE, GEORGE, Trimmer

46. KELWAY, Ernest A., Sailor

47. RIGNEY, Francis, Third Cook

48. McALLISTER, Archibald, Second Cook

regards,

Martin

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Hi Martin,

The most common number I have seen is 205 people on board; subtracting the 32 passengers, that would leave 173 crew. However, depending on which account you read, I have seen the number of crew vary from as low as 171 to as high as 196. Presently I have been able to account for 85 specific people on board (passengers and crew), though two may or may not be variants of others on my list. Newspaper accounts can be both a blessing and a curse. Compiling what I have has taken a considerable amount of reading and cross-checking, and still it is far from complete. I am hoping the crew list is in Canada, and I can just buy a copy for a nominal fee, and get this part finished! :)

-Daniel

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Good luck with this, Daniel. Hope your determination pays off and you have success with those crew lists in Canada.

regards,

Martin

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  • 3 months later...
Good luck with this, Daniel. Hope your determination pays off and you have success with those crew lists in Canada.

regards,

Martin

Hi Martin, everyone...

I have tried on three separate occasions (i.e., sent three email enquiries) to try and get a response on this topic from the Municipal Archives in Canada. I have gotten no response. Have other people had the same problem? Does anyone have a contact there I might try? The lack of reply is frustrating to say the least...I hate loose ends. :)

Thanks,

-Daniel

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Daniel, are you aware that there were two ships called CALIFORNIA sunk during 1917 and one called CALIFORNIAN in 1915?

The reason I mention the CALIFORNIAN is because the CWGC search engine will include extrapalations of a name.

On 7th February 1917 SS CALIFORNIA (Glasgow), 8,669 grt, was sunk by U 85 (the one you are researching, I think).

On 17th October 1917 SS CALIFORNIA (Liverpool), 5,629 grt, was sunk by U 22.

The Tower Hill Memorial lists 32 crew casualties for CALIFORNIA (Glasgow):

CHAINEY GEORGE

COYLE JOHN

CUNNINGHAM WILLIAM MILLAR

DARCY MICHAEL

EADIE WILLIAM

ETHERINGTON JAMES BANNERMAN MCDONALD

EVANS JOHN MATHER

FRASER ALEXANDER

GILLESPIE GEORGE

HALBERT PETER

KELWAY ERNEST A.

LEES WILLIAM PETTIE

LEMON NICHOLAS

McALLISTER ARCHIBALD

McCANN MATTHEW

McGARVEY ALEXANDER

McQUEEN JOHN

MILLAR DANIEL

MONAGHAN JAMES

MOORE JOHN

MURRAY JOHN JOSEPH

O'DONNELL JAMES

POLLOCK DAVID

RIGNEY FRANCIS

SIMPSON JOHN

SMITH DONALD

STEEL GEORGE GRANT

and 5 for SS CALIFORNIA (Liverpool):

BELL JOSHUA

DOOLAN JAMES

HARDING RICHARD JOHN

MIDGLEY THOMAS JACKSON

WILLIAMSON CHARLES

No crew members from either of these ships were recovered and subsequently buried.

I don't have details of the CALIFORNIAN casualty (British Vessels Lost at Sea states 1 casualty) or any information about passengers.

Hope this helps a little.

Best wishes

David

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Hi David, you wrote:

On 7th February 1917 SS CALIFORNIA (Glasgow), 8,669 grt, was sunk by U 85 (the one you are researching, I think).

This is indeed the ship I am researching. I have 85 names at present; I have the names of all the passengers (survivors as well as casualties) as well as the names for all crew fatalities. I have a few names of the surviving crew that had been mentioned in press accounts, but want to round out the list with the rest of the names of the surviving crew. It should add up to 205 people.

Any suggestions as to next steps?

-Daniel

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Have you tried http://www.theshipslist.com/ for details of the passengers?

Best wishes

David

I have; the Ships List is a great website. The names (and biographical info) of the passengers I have, it is the complete list of the names of the crewmen who sailed her last voyage that is presently of interest to me. My understanding is that the Municipal Archives may have that list, but I am getting ro reply to my enquiries.

-Daniel

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Hi Tom,

That is indeed the site; I will try your contact and will let folks know if it bears fruit. Many thanks!

-Daniel

Hi Tom, all...

I received word from the Municipal Archives that they have the complete crew list for the California for her outbound run, leaving Glasgow on January 12th and arriving in New York on January 24th. Being still a relative amateur at this, my question to forum readers is this: given that they do not have the crew list for her return run (when she sank), would having the list for the outbound run be worth getting, i.e., would the crew list be identical for the return trip as the outbound trip? How likely would it be that she had different crew on the return voyage?

Thanks,

-Daniel

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Hi Tom, all...

I received word from the Municipal Archives that they have the complete crew list for the California for her outbound run, leaving Glasgow on January 12th and arriving in New York on January 24th. Being still a relative amateur at this, my question to forum readers is this: given that they do not have the crew list for her return run (when she sank), would having the list for the outbound run be worth getting, i.e., would the crew list be identical for the return trip as the outbound trip? How likely would it be that she had different crew on the return voyage?

Thanks,

-Daniel

In my limited experience of crew lists for Foreign Going Ships undertaking relatively short voyages (one or two weeks) the agreements covered several voyages within a half year. I believe that for much longer voyages (several months) individual agreements were made for each voyage . I do not know if the rules are different for passenger vessels. It is therefore possible that the outbound agreeement for your ship also covers the inbound voyage. As a British ship sailing out of Glasgow I would have thought that most of the crew would be the same on the return voyage. Individuals did leave a ship from time to time but unless there was some special circumstance , such as change of ownership , I would have thought that it was basically the same crew.

By the way there is some info on Wikipedia which you may or may not have seen ....... 'SS California (1907)'

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In my limited experience of crew lists for Foreign Going Ships undertaking relatively short voyages (one or two weeks) the agreements covered several voyages within a half year. I believe that for much longer voyages (several months) individual agreements were made for each voyage . I do not know if the rules are different for passenger vessels. It is therefore possible that the outbound agreeement for your ship also covers the inbound voyage. As a British ship sailing out of Glasgow I would have thought that most of the crew would be the same on the return voyage. Individuals did leave a ship from time to time but unless there was some special circumstance , such as change of ownership , I would have thought that it was basically the same crew.

By the way there is some info on Wikipedia which you may or may not have seen ....... 'SS California (1907)'

Thanks, Tom. That is my thinking too (that the crew would all return from whence they came), but there are many who read this forum who have more expertise in this area and may be able to confirm this is in fact the case. I would much rather ask a dumb question than make a bad assumption. :)

Regarding the Wikipedia article, I actually wrote that, though I did not add the picture, just the text. I have been meaning to amend the 'end of the story' in that article, because clearly, Privet did not sink U-85. Until researchers (and divers!) figure out where the wreck of u-85 truly lies and figure out what actually happened to her, perhaps I will leave the article ending with the present 'official version' of events.

Thanks,

-Daniel

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