AB George Lewis

The headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard that remembers George LEWIS ( 1846 – 1918) and his wife Mary Jane née COWLING also asks us to think of…

…their beloved grandson, drowned in Falmouth Harbour while serving his King and Country, March 10 1918, aged 20 years.


Another seaman, Deckhand William CUTHBERTSON, drowned with young George but I have been unable to determine exactly how they died. The Lewis family headstone gives the wrong year for whatever accident befell them. The war was over; it was 1919.

One report says they were found floating in Falmouth Harbour, having fallen from their ship, HMT Emmanuel Camelaire, or perhaps from the dockside.

Emmanuel Camelaire
Photographer unknown, no date, Imperial War Museum

George was a “Trimmer Cook” – two clearly separate jobs. The first required him to get his hands dirty in the boiler room, and the second to keep them reasonably clean in the galley. I don’t know how long he had served in the Royal Naval Reserve but Lives of the First World War gives his birth date as 14 October 1896. His birth was registered in Scarborough, December Quarter 1898, so perhaps he was too young to join the service and lied about his age. He was fifteen when the war began.

He left a widow at their home in Grimsby, Christiana, four months pregnant with their first child. Annie LEWIS was born on the 9th of August and I photographed her stone in the churchyard this morning.


The LEWIS family is a work in progress on FST.