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Where Once They Sailed: Family deaths plague sailor’s early childhood

Seaman Kenneth Peddle.
Seaman Kenneth Peddle. - Contributed

Seaman Kenneth Peddle’s entire naval career was spent serving overseas. He returned to Newfoundland for furlough in 1917. He spent his earlier years serving aboard the Armed Merchant Cruiser, HMS Virginian. Among the crew during this time period were six other seamen from the Southwest Arm area.

According to baptism record and his Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve enlistment papers, Kenneth was born on July 7, 1893. He was the youngest son of Josiah and Mary (Frost) Peddle of Hodge's Cove.

He was burdened at a young age by the shadow of death that was cast over his family. He suffered the loss of six of eight siblings by 1912. In addition, his father passed on Dec. 1, 1908 followed two months later by his mother. He was the only son remaining, along with his younger sister, Alfreda, living at home. Their older sister, Ethel was married to William Peddle of Hodge's Cove.

It may have been Kenneth's fellowship with William and other men from Hodge's Cove, relating stories of their times with the Royal Naval Reserve that provided the motivation for the 19 year old to enlist with the Royal Naval Reserve.

Great War Forum HMS Magpie
Great War Forum HMS Magpie

He signed his application for service with the HMS Calypso on Nov. 12, 1912. He completed the required 28 days of training by the end of December. He did not return in 1913 but on Jan. 24, 1914 he started training again and it was completed by March 23.

Records show he received notification by Royal Proclamation on Oct. 6, 1914 to report to the HMS Calypso for deployment overseas.

He travelled overseas, along with 314 other sailors, 10 per cent of whom were from the Southwest Arm area of Trinity Bay. According to seaman Archer Peddle of Hodge's Cove, the HMS Franconia arrived in St. John's harbour on the night of Nov. 5 and sailed out through the narrows the next morning at 8 a.m., just after all sailors were mustered on the pier for a photo.

He arrived at Liverpool, England and was assigned to HMS Virginian, an Armed Merchant Cruiser based out of Liverpool a short time later. His ship and crew became part of the 10th Cruiser Squadron. Seven other seamen on the ship were also from the Southwest Arm area. They were all part of a crew that was responsible for enforcing the blockade against Germany and for patrolling the waters of the North Atlantic searching for enemy ships and U-boats.

All seven sailors served aboard this ship until they were transferred to HMS Pembroke I. Royal Naval logs of the HMS Virginian records that all Newfoundland seamen were transferred at Swarbacks Minn, Scotland on Nov. 25, 1916.

He was returned to the accounts of HMS Briton on May 25, 1917 and was granted leave to visit home. However, an article in the Evening Telegram entitled Army and Navy Heroes on April 14 suggest he was returning from furlough and had arrived sometime earlier, likely with the other six sailors that arrived on Jan. 10. After he completed his time at the HMS Briton, he was returned overseas to HMS Victory I where he remained for the next five months.

In May of 1918, he was drafted to the HMS Magpie, a three-mast schooner built in 1889 but converted to a depot ship located at Southampton. He spent until Jan. 5, 1919 serving from this depot ship and during this time period sailed on two ships, the HMS Rosebud, a hired drifter, and HMS Kolby.

On Feb. 9, 1919 he was assigned to the depot ship HMS Victory I and continued serving on the Rosebud until he was posted to HMS Vivid III. He received orders on April 12, 1919 that he was returning home to HMS Briton where he was demobilized on May 24, 1919.

He married Mary Jane Avery of Grates Cove and moved to Saint John, N.B., where he worked at a sugar factory. They both passed away and are buried in New Brunswick.

The next issue explores the story of a Hodge's Cove sailor who used his brother’s birth year to enlist with the navy after his brother’s failed attempt to enlist. This story is similar to others where boys often gave false information to enlist for service and a sense of adventure overseas.

Read Thomas Hiscock's story in next week's column of Where On

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