Captain Philip Linton

Maritime Monday – Ernest William Espley (1904-1976)

Maritime Monday is a daily blogging prompt used by many genealogy bloggers to help them post content on their sites.

Post about anything to do with the sea: ancestors who were sailors, shipwrights, fishermen, or coastguards including images, records and links.

Ernest William Espley is my wife’s 2nd cousin 1x removed. His parents are Ernest Wilson Little (aka Edward Espley) and Annie Edith Hutchings.

Ernest was born on 4 December 1904 in Salford, Lancashire.

In the 1911 census Ernest is with his mother and grandparents, Richard Booth Espley and Matilda Espley (nee Little) at 7 Lynton Avenue, Irlam, Lancashire.

Sometime in the September quarter of 1931 Ernest married Marjorie Halksworth and they had one daughter. Sadly Marjorie died early in 1934 at the young age of 27.

Ernest married again, in the September quarter of 1937, to Beatrice May Pye. They went on to have two children. Beatrice passed away in 2004 at the age of 97.

Ernest had a long career in the Merchant Navy eventually becoming a ship’s master.

On the 8th/9th December 1929 Ernest was third mate on the steam ship Manchester Regiment when they were involved in a rescue in mid-Atlantic. As a result of his gallantry Ernest was awarded the Lloyd’s silver medal.

Here is an article from the Dundee Courier of 31 December 1929.

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MEDALS FOR SEA BRAVERY

The committee of Lloyds have advised the Imperial Merchant Service Guild that they have had under consideration the Guild’s report and others regarding the rescue of the crew of the steamer Volumnia by the steamer Manchester Regiment on 9th December.

The committee, as an acknowledgment of the gallant conduct and able seamanship displayed, have conferred Lloyd’s silver medal on  Captain Philip Linton, Manchester Regiment; Second Officer William Henry Downing; and Third Officer Ernest William Espley.

The bronze medal has been awarded to Boatswain Bromage and Able Seamen Stringer, Manins, Chidlow, and Kearns, also Mr Ziegler, a passenger.

You can find more information about the sea gallantry medal here – sea gallantry medal

Below is an extract from the above link about the rescue in December 1929.

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Rescue in Mid-Atlantic

On the 8th December 1929, the British ss Volumnia of Glasgow was in distress in very bad weather in the Atlantic Ocean; in response to distress signals the ss Manchester Regiment went to her assistance, and, having approached, waited for a lull in the storm before attempting a rescue. Shortly after 9 o’clock, despite the very dangerous sea running, the Master of the Manchester Regiment decided to attempt a rescue, and a boat was launched, in charge of the Second Mate, Mr Downing, with a crew consisting of Mr Espley, Third Mate, Bromage, Manin, Stringer, Kearns, Chidlow and Mr Ziegler. Very great difficulty was experienced in keeping the boat afloat, but by skilful manoeuvring Mr Downing, though badly injured in the hand in the launching of the boat, made two trips to the Volumnia and the entire forty-five members of the crew of that vessel were eventually taken off. The rescuing boat was badly damaged and abandoned (30.1.30)

In honour of the brave men and women of the Merchant Navy there is a poem called “Heroes” written by David Partridge – see it in full at BBC WW2 People’s War

These are the first two lines – very apt for this post.

Don’t speak to me of heroes until you’ve heard the tale                                                                  Of Britain’s merchant seamen who sailed through storm and gale                                              by David Partridge

 

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