Second Officer Samuel Hart William Gibson, Merchant Navy
Born on 23rd January 1891 in Paddington, London
Died on 25th November 1945 in Bebington, Wirral
Samuel Hart William Gibson was born in Paddington, London. He was the older son of Samuel Parsons Gibson and Jane née Simpson.
His brother Arthur Frederick Parsons Gibson was born on 1st January 1893. The family then lived at 20 Edgware Road, Kingsbury and his father was Butler at Kingsbury House.
However, by 1901, the family lived at Main Street, Barton under Needwood, Staffordshire and Arthur’s father Samuel was a dealer in China, Glass and Boots, who worked from home.
Samuel is known to have attended Barton under Needwood Council School where, at Christmas 1903, he was presented with a writing box for Geography and Writing in Standard 5. However, his father had died on 27th October that year, aged only 45. His mother Jane was then left a widow with Samuel, 12 and Arthur Gibson, 10.
The 1881 Census shows Jane, before her marriage, as the 28 year old Lady’s Maid to Gertrude Frances, Lady Pembroke at Wilton House in Wiltshire. Once widowed, Jane again became a Lady’s Maid, this time to Lady Pembroke’s sister, Adelaide Countess Brownlow. Therefore, in May 1905 she moved to Ashridge, taking her younger son Arthur Gibson with her. Samuel, 14, would, however, have been old enough to go out to work.
On 19th July 1906 15 year old Samuel enrolled as a Merchant Navy Apprentice in London. He was then bound for a term of 4 years to Potter Brothers.
In the 1911 Census, 20 year old Samuel, a Merchant Navy Seaman, was a visitor in the household of Samuel Thomas and Annie Anderson at 80 Dacre Road, Upton Manor, Essex. The eldest of the three Anderson children at home on Census night was 21 year old Florence Annie, whom Samuel married three years later.
Second Mate’s Certificate 8
On 21st April 1911, Samuel gained his Certificate of Competency as Second Mate of a Foreign-going Ship in the Merchant Service.
On 1st July 1914 Samuel Hart William Gibson married Florence Annie Anderson at West Ham Register Office. Their daughter Adelaide Florence Mary was born on 27th February 1915 and baptised at Upton Cross, Essex on 16th April that year. The family address was still 80 Dacre Road and Samuel was a Navigation Officer.
First Mate’s Certificate 8
On 12th March 1915, Samuel gained his Certificate of Competency as First Mate of a Foreign-going Ship in the Merchant Service.
However, between 5th May and 7th September 1915, Samuel served as 2nd Mate aboard the Oriental, having previously served on the Caledonia. SS Caledonia was a Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O) Liner, previously in the Blue Anchor Line fleet, which operated on the Glasgow to New York City route. She could take roughly 250 first class passengers, 350 second class passengers, and 850 third class passengers. In August 1914, the British government requisitioned her for conversion into a troop ship, which could accommodate 3,074 troops and 212 horses. Then, for more than two years, she transported soldiers and equipment to France and to various Mediterranean locations.
SS Oriental was also a P&O ship but no further details of her wartime use have yet been found.
Service on HMHS Devanha 13
Later in the War, Samuel served as 2nd Officer aboard the Hospital Ship HMHS Devanha, also from the P&O fleet. She had originally been requisitioned as a Troop Ship and took part in the 1915 Dardanelles Campaign, before being converted to a hospital ship later that year. On 9th April 1916, she picked up survivors of the Chantala, which was torpedoed and sunk, taking them to Malta. Then, between 1916 and April 1919 she served as a Hospital Ship in the Suez, Persian Gulf, East Africa and Bombay areas. Samuel’s dates of service on HMHS Devanha are not known, but they resulted in a Decoration, though that was not Gazetted until February 1920.
Order of the White Eagle with Swords 14
On 6th February 1920, the London Gazette reported the following:
The KING has been pleased to grant unrestricted permission to the undermentioned officers of the Hospital Ships “Devanha” and “Dunluce Castle” to wear decorations which have been conferred upon them by His Majesty the King of THE SERBS, CROATS AND SLOVENES, as indicated below, in recognition of valuable services rendered by them during the War:
S.S. “Devanha” Order of the White Eagle with Swords … Class V … Samuel Hart William Gibson (2nd Officer).
Samuel and Florence’s second daughter, Elsie Annie Gibson, was born on 30th April 1918.
Ship’s Master 8
On 7th December 1918, Samuel gained his Certificate of Competency as Master, for Foreign-going Steamships only, in the Merchant Service. Stamped on the Certificate were the words: “also entitled to act as 1st Mate of a square rigged sailing vessel“.
Men who have answered their country’s call in defence of a “Scrap of Paper”
Samuel Gibson is named on the Roll of Honour, which hangs in St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden and lists 119 men from Little Gaddesden, Ringshall and Hudnall who served in the 1914 – 1918 War. On the original Roll, his entry reads Gibson Samuel, Royal Navy. However, as all information found now leads us to conclude that he served in the Merchant Navy, his entry on the Centenary Revision of the Roll reflects that. Samuel’s brother Arthur Gibson, Royal Navy is also named on both Rolls.
Rolls of Honour photos: Jane Dickson, Michael Carver
Post-War Merchant Navy Service with P&O 15
Samuel’s Merchant Navy C.R.10 card shows his address in January 1919 as 811 London Road, Westcliff-on-Sea. It also records that he was 6 feet 2 inches tall with brown hair and blue eyes, and that he had no tattoos. That document and his C.R.2 card list the official numbers of the ships on which he worked from 4th January 1919. However, his position on each ship is not stated:
- 4th January 1919: 115744, SS Palermo
- 9th August 1920: 115744, SS Palermo
- 7th January 1921: 131857, SS Nankin
- 3rd May 1921: 131853, SS Beltana
- 6th August 1922: 137272, SS Lahore
Samuel and Florence’s son, Samuel Thomas Donald Gibson, was born on 7th March 1923.
Further Service with P&O 15
Samuel continued to work for P&O, his final voyage for that company starting in January 1925:
- 1st December 1923: 135590, SS Karmala
- 10th January 1924: 123529, SS Nyanza
- 12th February 1924: 109259, SS Plassy
- 20th June 1924: 127543, RMS Malwa
- 9th January 1925: 128653, RMS Kaisar-i-Hind
The British & Irish Steam Packet Company 15
Two consecutive entries on Samuel’s C.R.2 Card, dated 21st April 1926 and 16th March 1927, then show his employment with The British & Irish Steam Packet Company, aboard 146419, SS Lady Limerick. That ship worked with SS Lady Louth on the nightly service between Dublin and Liverpool; she could accommodate 80 first class and 90 steerage passengers.
Moving to Hornchurch 16
The 1927 Electoral Register shows Samuel and Florence living at 62 Ernest Road, Hornchurch, Essex
The Anglo-American Oil Company and Cunard 15
The next entry on Samuel’s C.R.2 Card shows that, on 15th December 1930, he started work aboard 128660, the tanker SS Tamarac, owned by the Anglo-American Oil Company. That is the final ship listed on the back of his C.R.2 Card.
The official ship’s number on the front of the card, next to the Liverpool date stamp of 18th April 1931, is 145943, RMS Lancastria, which was a Cunard ocean liner which sailed between Liverpool and New York. No further Merchant Navy service is documented.
By 1936, Samuel was an unemployed Master Mariner living in lodgings in Tranmere, Birkenhead; he had hit very hard times. The 1939 Register shows him lodging at 168 Borough Road, Birkenhead. It records him as a Seaman, Discharge No. 611063, adding “TAPTI”, and a date 30/?/?, which is lost in the centre fold of the record. Tapti is likely to have been the name of a ship, but it is not one recorded on Samuel’s Merchant Navy documents.
However, although Samuel was in Birkenhead, his wife Florence, son Samuel, daughter Adelaide, son-in-law Harry Chenery and widowed mother-in-law Annie Anderson were all resident at 638b London Road, Southend-on-Sea. His younger daughter Elsie and her husband Kenneth James were at 9 Berkeley Place, Cheltenham.
Then, on 25th November 1945, 54 year old Samuel Hart William Gibson died in Clatterbridge Hospital, Bebington, Wirral. His National Probate Calendar entry gives his address as National Service Hostels, Liverpool Road, Neston, Wirral and states that Probate was granted to his brother Arthur Frederick Parsons Gibson.
6. Little Gaddesden School Log Books 1887 – 1906
9. Certified copy of Marriage Certificate of Arthur Gibson and Annie Simpson
12. https://web.archive.org/web/20200222233315/https://navalwarfare.blogspot.com/2013/06/ss-caledonia.html. SS Caledonia (Troop Ship). Original blogspot.com source no longer available.
14. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/31770/page/1558 SS Devanha, Order of the White Eagle with Swords
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Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson