Dying in Harness, Drowning in the Med

I have been doing more research into the three wives of William MOORE. In passing, I had noticed some references to a Nurse Catherine NICHOLSON who had served with some distinction in hospitals on the Western Front. I imagined William’s third wife undertaking those terrible duties. There seemed to be a couple of Nurse Catherines but they were, I think, Home Counties or Scots women.

William’s Catherine was the fifth of ten children born to Edward NICHOLSON and Annie McCORMICK between 1870 and 1889. By the time the 1911 Census was taken, five of the children had died. About a year after she married William, Catherine’s younger brother lost his life while serving with the 1st/4th Bn, Cheshire Regiment. I was initially puzzled that he died at sea but a look down the list of fatalities on 4 May 1917 provided a partial answer.

85734 Private JOHN PERCY MULLINEUX      Royal Army Medical Corps

TF/202635 Private GEORGE NAYLOR MUMBY   4th Bn. Royal Sussex Regiment

55989 Private PATRICK MURPHY    Royal Army Medical Corps

M/273823 Private CHARLES WILLIAM MURRELL        906th M.T. Coy. Army Service Corps

Captain RICHARD OWEN NELSON     Army Service Corps

36336 Private JOHN HENRY NICHOLSON      1st/4th Bn. Cheshire Regiment  

63192 Private JOHN NISBET       Royal Army Medical Corps

Second Lieutenant CLAUD NORIE-MILLER    Army Service Corps

53628 Serjeant WILLIAM HENRY NORMAN     Royal Army Medical Corps

48050 Private CHRISTMAS GEORGE NORTHAM  1st/5th Bn. Welsh Regiment

70481 Private JOHN NOUTCH       Royal Army Medical Corps

 

There are 274 men who died this day and are remembered on the Savona Memorial in Italy. The bodies of a further 82 were recovered and are buried in the Savona Town Cemetery. They were not all fighting men. In the cemetery lies Barber THOMAS BONAR CHERRY of the S.S. Transylvania Mercantile Marine Reserve.

Transylvania

They were bound for Salonika, or onward to Egypt, and their grand troopship was sunk by torpedo off the Italian coast near Genoa. About four hundred drowned but over 2,000 were rescued, the majority by two (allied) Japanese destroyers.

One of those rescued, Walter Edward WILLIAMS of Weston super Mare,, was interviewed many years later and he tells his story of the sinking on Reel 2 (of 5) here. Searching for SS Transylvania online will raise more accounts of this event.

From the Nicholsons, I moved on to the family of William’s first wife, Annie Elizabeth COWAN. Tracing the origins of her father proved to be an engaging and enjoyable challenge. Thomas Albert began his life as a COWIN in Lonan Parish on the Isle of Man but ended it as a COWAN in Dalton in Furness, Lancashire 74 or 75 years later.

1911_COWANthosa_Census
1911 Census Form

His record on FamilySearch Tree has a link to an obituary published in Manx Quarterly #20. Here is an extract: –

The Barrow Guardian of December 9th had the following reference to the death of Councillor Cowan:-“Died in harness! This expression was never more fully realised locally than by the passing away of Councillor Thomas Albert Cowan, of Dalton, a man full of years and honour. At the time he was attacked by a sudden illness he was on his way to Barrow to fulfil a promised preaching appointment for a minister who was ill. It is quite true and appropriate to repeat what a friend of Mr Cowan’s said to me on Sunday evening: ‘He was taken when doing his Master’s work.’ And he was never happier than when performing some religious duty; it was ingrained in him. He had spent over 50 years as a local preacher and religious teacher; then for more than 25 years he was associated with the local Board and Urban Council, for 21 years a member of the Gas Committee, some years on the Education Authority and Burial Board, and one of the trustees of the Billincoat Charity. Truly he was a marvellous man. If he could do a good turn to anybody he was only too willing to give his services. As a speaker he was fearless, impassioned and convincing, hence his success in the early days of Nonconformity in the Furness district, when he fought tenaciously for the rights and privileges of his fellow dissenting citizens. I repeat he was a wonderful character, and could turn his hand to many things besides mining, religious work and temperance work. Where he will be most missed, however, next to his own home, will be in the Primitive Methodist Church, for here he was ever first and foremost, and none will ever know what he did and what he gave to his loved Bethel. We mourn the loss to-day of one of God’s noblemen.”

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