Thursday, April 19, 2012

Slender Link to the Titanic Disaster

HMS Conway Training Ship
The 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic reminds me that I have a record of Eliza Esdaile's great-grandson's merchant navy service that may interest some cousins.

Louis Albert Thomas (1862-1948) began his naval career  on the HMS Conway, a training ship for merchant navy officers, followed by a first job on the beautiful iron clipper ship Cedric the Saxon. These first two steps were followed exactly by Arthur Rostron, the hero of the Titanic disaster, when he began his naval career just seven years later.

The records for the HMS Conway Training Ship are at the Merseyside Maritime Museum.
Louis Albert Thomas
Born: 3rd January 1862
Parent/Guardian: George Thomas Esq, 2 Maidstone Villas, The Grove, Bedford
Mrs. Henry, Elm Cottage, Belgrave, Leicester
Last School: Bedford Grammar School
Admitted: November 1876 for February 1877
Terms of Admission: Fees 42 pounds, Clothing 6-10 pounds, extras 4 pounds
Left: Christmas 1878
Remarks: sailed Cedric the Saxon, Messrs. Williamson & Milligan

His school report and naval report are included in this record of his two-year training period. He was evaluated four times. His conduct was considered very good, his application and ability marks ranged from fair to very good.

We know the merchant navy didn't work out for Louis Thomas, and by 1912 when the Titanic sunk he was a practicing physician in Red Oak, Iowa. Meanwhile, Arthur Rostron was captain of the Carpathian, which he commanded into icebergy waters at top speed and rescued more than 700 Titanic passengers and crew members.

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