Friday, 1 January 2016

William Leonard Steinle 1898-1916 KIA SS Minneapolis Merchant Marine

Some time after 23/3/1916 Louisa Steinle received notification that her son William Leonard Steinle who was serving as William Leonard Stanley had drowned as a result of attack by an enemy submarine. He was in the Merchant Marines and was aged 20 and had probably anglicised his name due to the war. 

William, born in Bethnal Green was one of 10 children to Louisa and John Steinle of Walthamstow, Essex. He was serving as a fireman on the SS Minneapolis. This steam ocean liner built in 1900 was owned by Atlantic Transport Company and had already crossed the Atlantic 155 times  to New York when it was requisitioned  as a British Tansport Ship in 1915.

On March 23rd, 1916, SS Minneapolis,  was  voyaging from Marseille to Alexandria. It carried 60 tons horse fodder for the troop horses. A German submarine U-35 torpedoed the Minneapolis 195 miles  E1/2N Malta. Luckily 166 crew and one passenger were rescued by Sheldrake an Acorn class  destroyer which was in the vicinity.

However 12 persons were lost one of whom was William. Despite being towed to Malta the SS Minneapolis sank two days later.

His name is on the Tower Hill Memorial. a memorial especially for those who were Merchant Marines and have no graves as they died at sea.

This footage come from You Tube
s.s. Minneapolis - American Transport Lines - Grizzly Bear Rag George Link

Victor Waters 1890-1941 Medical Discharge

Medal Card
Victor’s story is perhaps about what might have been for although he enlisted in the early days of the war, he was never to leave England.

This 22 year old was there on 1st September 1914 in Tredegar Rd Bow lining up with many other British boys eager to join the British Expeditionary Forces going off to fight the war for England.

It is likely a relative was there as his enlistment papers are witnessed by A.E. Waters Sergeant Instructor. Victor, married bus conductor and father of one from the Bow area was in good physical health and had reportedly had good vision in his blue eyes. He was recruited as a rifleman.

His service was cut short -totalling 250 days. When his Battalion moved to Le Havre, France in 10 March 1915 and it appears Victor wasn’t with them. He was discharged from his station at St Albans by 8/5/1915.

His army records show that Private Victor Waters Regimental Number 2323 of the 2/17th Battalion of the London Regiment never served overseas and was discharged due to sickness under paragraph 392 XVI KR “No longer physically fit for War. Service. Victor had succumbed to temporary blindness as a result of Rheumatic fever and had become permanently unfit to serve as a rifleman. The records show his disability was not caused whilst engaged in military service. .                                                      
This shows he never left England

It is likely Victor returned to live with wife Lily Elizabeth (Winkles) and son Victor Leonard Waters. Daughter Phyllis was born later in 1915.

He was obtained work as a munitions worker where he met a fellow munitions worker and married (as a bachelor) Mabel Elsie Palmer in July 1919. The error in spelling of his surname (Walters) may not have been accidental as he was still presumably married to Lily. In 1920 he and Mabel and son Ronald migrated to Sydney via Melbourne where three more children were born.

Victor loved his cars, was probably a mechanic,salesman and in the real estate business. Later after the death of two son’s  his marriage broke down.

He had met Catherine (Kit) Gadsby. This time he waited for the divorce to be granted before marrying in 1936. He and Kit came to Lismore in 1936 where they opened up Gadsbys Ladies Hairdressing Salon in Lismore, Kyogle and Casino.

He was killed in a car accident in July 1941. Interestingly the newspaper report of his funeral has his coffin covered by a Union Jack (usually afforded to ex-soldiers) and his coffin carried by 6 ex-soldiers.
The reporter from the Northern Star seems to think he served with the British Imperial Forces in France and was discharged medically unfit after he was wounded in France and for some time after his discharge being totally blind.

 Probably the greatest disappointment of his life was being discharged for having rheumatic fever and not getting to France with his Battalion.  Never let the truth get in the way of a good story at the Lismore Masonic Temple!!

Victor (right)  with Kit - He loved his car.