Remembering the heroes of a dark day in Hartlepool’s history

The steamer Manchuria, courtesy of Harold Appleyard.
The steamer Manchuria, courtesy of Harold Appleyard.

Hundreds of Hartlepool sailors fought at sea for King and Country during the First World War - with many paying the ultimate price.

But October 17, 1917, proved the darkest day in the town’s sea-faring history, when 11 men were killed in an attack on local steamer Manchuria.

The launch of Manchuria, as reported in the Mail.

The launch of Manchuria, as reported in the Mail.

“It was the worst single loss of Hartlepool sailors during the war,” said Gary Green, manager of the Hartlepool Heroism and Heartbreak maritime project.

Manchuria, a “handsome” screw steamer, was launched by William Gray & Co on June 25, 1905 - built to the order of Metcalfe, Simspon & Co of West Hartlepool.

The outbreak of war saw Manchuria put to work transporting vital supplies and, in October 1917, she was on a voyage from Tunisia to Hartlepool with iron ore.

Tragically, she never made it home. On October 17, as she was 60 miles off the coast of France, Manchuria was hit by a torpedo fired by German submarine U-53.

“She was attacked without warning by the u-boat, and sank with the loss of 26 of her crew - 11 from the Hartlepools,” said Gary.

Among those to perish was 29-year-old 2nd Engineer William Stoddart, son of a coal trimmer, who lived with his wife Lily at 43 Colenso Street, West Hartlepool.

West Hartlepool-born William Liddle, the ship’s 43-year-old bosun, as well as 37-year-old carpenter Daniel Nichol, of 3, King Street in Hartlepool, also died.

“Joseph Andrews, who was born in West Hartlepool around 1875, lost his life too,” said Gary, who is trying to track down photos of all the crew members.

“In 1901 Joseph was married to Elizabeth Anne Pounder and, with their four-month-old son Joseph, they were living at 16 Newburn Street, West Hartlepool.

“Joseph was a pilot’s assistant then, but by 1911 he was an able seaman and living in Back Bridge Street. By 1917, the family had moved to Dock Street.”

Other Hartlepool sailors to lose their lives included:

* Albert Hanson, 16, a mess-room steward from Greatham Street.

* William Bell, 27, a fireman/trimmer of 35 Durham Street.

* John Garland, 33, a fireman/trimmer from 2 West Street.

* Carl Christian Christensen, 60, a chief engineer of 13 Wansbeck Gardens.

* Jersey-born Athur Rumsey, 39, a 2nd Engineer from 1 Crimdon Street.

* Charles Osbert Mordaunt, 35, an able seaman of 37 Robinson Street.

* Salford-born Tom Prin Mack, 29, a fireman/trimmer from 27 Dene Street.

“Almost 300 Hartlepool sailors died in the Great War. We believe such loss of life should be marked, which is why we started our maritime project,” said Gary.

“We want to rediscover and retell the stories of these many brave sailors and would encourage people to get in touch if their ancestors were among those who gave their lives.”

** For more information on the project, or to share stories, contact 01429 242909.

Hundreds of Hartlepool men – including Royal Navy, Merchant Navy and fishermen – lost their lives at sea during the Great War of 1914-18.

Now their names have been collected by the Heritage Lottery-funded project Heroism and Heartbreak and, today, we are featuring a selection of casualties.

“The aim is to uncover the stories of these sailors. If anyone recognises a relative, and has photos or stories about them, we’d love to hear them,” said Gary.

Are you related to:

* Frederick James Desborough: Fireman, 37, from 21 Dundas Street. Died on steamship Claudia on July 31, 1916.

* Alexander Reid Simpson: 2nd Engineer, husband of Gertrude Simpson of 59 Wilson Street. Died on steamship Calliope July 9, 1917.

* Thomas Glennie: Chief Officer, 48, husband of Sarah Jane of 14 Cundall Road. Died on steamship Ribston July 16, 1917.

* Norman Mingo Marston: Messroom steward, 29, of 45 Thornton Street. Died steamship Orfordness July 20, 1918.

* Thomas Armstrong: Stoker, from 18 Bedford Street. Died on HMS Pembroke July 21, 1918.

* Edward Egglestone: Shipwright 2nd Class, 31, husband of Annie from 20 Bentley Street. Died on HMS Vanguard July 9, 1917.

* Thomas Hidson: Stoker 1st Class, 19, of 7 Lilly Street. Died on HMS Vanguard July 9, 1917.

* Edward Morrigan: Stoker, 18, of 39 Caroline Street. Died on HMS Vanguard July 9, 1917.

** To find out more about the Heroism and Heartbreak project log on to