ID: ML2020_003_022 / Ron Green

TitleMemory Lane - Mersea men on the water in 1915
AbstractThe National Maritime Museum has put online the crew lists of all British merchant ships for the year 1915. It makes very interesting reading and has a huge amount of detail of the men, many from Mersea, serving on everything from the largest liners to sailing barges and smacks. Of particular interest to me have been members of my family. In 1915 Archibald Percy Green 20 was on the Royal Fleet Auxiliary INDUSTRY, his last ship was the Colchester sailing barge GRETA as Mate with Skipper Felix Mallett of Peldon. The barge GRETA is still alive and well, and based at Whitstable. As we now know Percy lost his life together with five other Mersea men when INDUSTRY was sunk in the Irish Sea in October 1918. The men were all represented in the memorials on the Strood this past year.

Of the five others killed on the INDUSTRY, three appear in the 1915 lists and were already serving on the INDUSTRY. Reginald Mole 24 Able Seaman, and George Stoker were both on their first ship. Henry Pullen 37 Able Seaman had previously served on NEPTUNE, a tug.

All the men received a weekly wage of £2-0-6d. Another Royal Fleet Auxiliary, the FEROL, had George Milgate 20 whose last ship was the yacht GWALIA. George Owen 56 was on the yacht SUNSHINE as was W.S. French. Other Mersea men were on the ship MERCEDES of 4,518 tons gross, engaged in coaling H.M. Ships within the Thames Estuary and dockyards.
On the MERCEDES were F.E. Mussett 30 who left the yawl L'ESPERANCE at Brightlingsea on March 25. L'ESPERANCE is still a house boat here at West Mersea. W.J. Hempstead 25 left the yawl OLGA at Tollesbury on the same day and A.P. Hempstead left the Yawl ARTEMIS at Brightlingsea. D. Appleby 19 came from the yawl ORIANA at Brightlingsea.
ARTEMIS, better known to us locals as 'Bentley's houseboat' was taken from Mersea for restoration several years ago.

William Green, Master of the sailing barge UNA, had been trading up the Rhine and was safely back in the Thames when WW1 broke out. He then spent some time lightering in the Thames and in the first half on 1915 had taken on his 46 year old Uncle Oscar 'Ock' Green as Mate. Ock had come from the yacht BLACK DRAGON of Cowes where he was probably Skipper. It was remembered locally that he had come through the Kiel Canal, had noticed a build up of arms there and warned there would soon be war. In the second half of 1915 William had taken on his father Harris Green 50 (Ock's older brother) as Mate, it was his first ship and he joined at Ipswich on the 9th of August.

Oscar 'Ock' Green

Of barges with local interest, VICTA, whose old bones lay at the Strood and was last lived on by Ces Hewes and his family, was busy taking stacks of hay and straw to London and returning with flints from Kent to various ports in Essex and Suffolk for road making. She was skippered by Philip French of Bradwell, her home port. DAWN which spent some years based at West Mersea recently, was also a busy 'Stackie' under master S.Q. Keeble of Maldon, her return freights were Maize to Ipswich, cottonseed to Colchester, timber to Maldon and loam. No flints, that work seems to have be done by the Bradwell barges. The big ketch barge SUSSEX BELLE Belle locked into Heybridge Basin with coal from Hartlepool on the 18th March. After a few other freights between such places as Middlesborough and Southampton, she left Hull on the 15th June for West Mersea arriving on the 22nd with coal for Munson Cooke. She sailed from West Mersea on July 7 for Orford Haven arriving next day. William Green left UNA and went Skipper of the ketch barge ZENOBIA at Shoreham on November 18th. He commanded ZENOBIA until 1922 when he left to take command of the yacht barge DAISIE with an all Mersea crew of Joe Farthing and 'Notty' Leighton. William must have had a special affection for the barge UNA, naming his daughter Una (Derek Rayner's mother) and his house in Mill Road "Una Villa" after her.

The online crewlists are at

Published in Mersea Life March 2020

Notes (Not for Mersea Life copy)
GWALIA built Greenhithe 1879. spritsail (a former sailing barge). Owner Victor E. Montgomery, Portland Place, London., Mersea Sailing Club.
OLGA 123318 Yawl, built Cowes, 1906, Owner J. Pearce, Frinton on Sea

AuthorRon Green
SourceMersea Museum