Sunday, 11 May 2014

Norman McCallum Smith (part 2)

Since the first post on Norman McCallum Smith I have discovered additional information about Norman and his story including information disproving part of the family story that began this search. Lenore's comment posted on the first post and additional information in an email proved extremely useful.

The Royal Naval Reserve Service Records Index at the National Archives (UK) hold a record for Norman so within a few minutes I was able to purchase a copy of the record. I later found a link to his name on the this index in and also in a Google search for "Norman McCallum Smith". The service record  provided some useful information including his full date of birth so now we know that Norman was born on 30 May 1878. His description includes that he was 5 feet 8 inches tall, had a fair complexion, grey eyes and his chest measurement was 39 inches. He had a tattoo of an anchor on his left arm.

His enrolment in the Royal Navy Reserve was in Dover on 30 April 1915 but his address at the time of enrolment was given as 4 Gladys Avenue, West Dock Street, Hull. Reading through the two pages of the report Norman was demobilized on 4 June 1919 so he had not drowned during the war as at least one family member believed. Further details about Norman included his service number: Da 6509 and that he was a Deck Hand.  There was also a note on his card indicating that in 1922 his wife had contacted the Royal Navy requesting that any money owing should be forwarded directly to her as her husband was in the Willerby Asylum. This was the first that I knew of a wife.

Back to to search the British records for additional information about Norman. A record in the 1911 census shows that a Norman Smith, born in Sydney New South Wales, was living as a boarder at 20 Boynton Street, Boulevard Road, Hull and he was a fisherman. He was listed as being single. A search of the marriage records for Norman Smith after 1911 showed that Norman Mcc Smith had married Lily Denby in Hull in 1913. The Hull History Centre website includes information about the maritime history of the area including fishing crew lists from 1884 until 1914. Searching the lists showed that Norman was employed as either a third or fourth hand on at least four vessels between 1911 and 1913.

Back to Norman's Naval Reserve service card which stated that he was originally on the Seaward Ho (later Attentive III). From 15 May 1915 until 16 June 1915 he was on the Halcyon and from 17 June 1915 until 14 June 1919 he was on Attentive III. However this is not as straight forward as it appears on the surface. A search of the Ships Nostalgia forum and the Great War Forum provide a number of posts attempting to unravel the naming of ships operating from Dover during World War I. As discussed in the previous post about Norman McCallum Smith, trawlers from Hull and Grimsby and other parts of England had been purchased by the Royal Navy to act as mine sweepers and help patrol parts of the English coastline. Merchant Navy ships were also used by the navy. Men who had worked on the trawlers usually, like Norman, joined the Royal Navy Reserve. The men were attached to a Depot Ship which was responsible for a number of the trawlers operating from Dover. To complicate matters the names of ships were sometimes changed and the shore establishment also sometimes had the name of a ship. In the records Attentive III can refer to a specific ship or the shore establishment of the same name at Dover. The interchanging of names was meant to confuse the enemy but after reading the thread about Attentive III in Ships Nostalgia forum the name changes still confuse researchers today.

The trawler, Seaward Ho, appears to have been renamed Attentive III probably in April or May 1918. The trawler had been requisitioned by the Royal Navy early in 1915. On the document for Norman the name Seaward Ho has been crossed out and replaced by Attentive III. A page from the Attentive III logbook for 14 October, 1918, held at National Archives (UK), confirms that the ship was an operational vessel carrying out patrols in the Dover area. On the logbook page the S in HMS before the name of the ship has been changed to a T making it HMT Attentive III which meant hired military transport. To further confuse matters the Seaward Ho may also been named the Guy Thorpe at one time.
Attentive III
The name of the other ship mentioned on Norman's service record card was HMS Halcyon which probably refers to the gunship launched on 6 April 1894 and became a Depot Ship in 1915.
The website, Old Ship Picture Galleries, is a good place to look for images of ships.

Norman left the Royal Naval Reserve on 4 June 1919 and appears to have returned to Hull. The next we hear of him is the note, written on the service card in 1922 that he is in the Willerby Asylum which later became the De La Pole Hospital. The National Archives (UK) website lists the records available for this institution. The Hull City Archives holds records for the time Norman was there. It is possible that he may have been admitted to the asylum due to the effects of his experiences during the war.

A search in Ancestry located the UK Naval Medal and Award Rolls 1793-1972. There are a number of Norman Smiths in the list but as Naval Reserve record for Norman provided his military number it was relatively easy to identify his name in the list. He received the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Star and his Naval Reserve record shows that he would also have received the Royal Navy Reserve Medal.

In Ancestry I located a record for the death of Norman M Smith, aged 47, at Sculcoates (Hull) in Yorkshire in 1925. More research needs to be done to confirm that this is the Norman in this story and also to located further details about his life after the war. 

1 comment:

  1. That was fantastic windfall from the RN medal card - and a great find in the Hull History Centre.