Frank Henry Carter

Date of birth:                    1st quarter 1898
Place of birth:                  Southampton
Service No.:                      852746
Rank:                                   Trimmer
Regiment / Division:     Mercantile Marine Reserve
Ship :                                    HMS Ontranto
Died:                                     6th October 1918 aged 20 years
Death Location:               Isle of Islay

Before the War
Frank was born 1898 to Noah Henry (1862 – 1951) and Elizabeth Carter (nee Westall 1867 – 1913).  His parents were married in 1886.

Frank’s 6 siblings were:
Elizabeth R (1887)
Gertrude Evelyn (1888 – 1954)
Harold Augustus (1890)
Rosena Maud (1896 – 1983)
Lilian Constance (13/09/1899 – 1983)
Margery (1903)

On 1901 Census Frank is living with his parents, sisters Elizabeth, Gertrude, Rosena and Lilian and his brother Harold.  The address is Church Army Home, St Marys, Southampton.  Frank’s father is a coal porter.

On 1911 Census Frank is still at school and living with his parents, brother Harold and sisters Rosena, Lilian and Margery at 15 William Street, Northam, Southampton.  His father is a coal porter in the docks and Harold is a casual labourer.

Military History
Frank was a Trimmer.  This was a demanding job and one of the dirtiest on a ship.  They would work inside the coal bunkers which were located above and between the boilers.  Trimmers had to shovel coal down a chute to the firemen below and they shovelled it into the furnaces.  Working conditions were very poor and Trimmers were paid the least.

On 6th October 1918 HMS Ontranto was involved in a collision with the HMS Kashmir and sank in Machir Bay which is on the west coast of Islay.

HMS Ontranto was originally a passenger liner but was requisitioned as an auxiliary cruiser and troopship during the war.  In October 1918 it was part of a convoy transporting US soldiers to Glasgow and Liverpool.  The weather was poor and seas rough and after the collision the ship drifted towards the cliffs of Machir Bay.  There were over 1000 soldiers on board and, despite a heroic attempt by HMS Mounsey to rescue them, 431 lives were lost.

Frank drowned on this day.  He was one of the 80 British crew and the remaining 351 were American soldiers.

Frank was awarded the Victory medal and the British War medal.

There are two memorials on Islay. The Military Cemetery near Kilchomen which overlooks Machir Bay, where 75 of the men are buried, and an American Monument on the Mull of Oa.

Frank is remembered at the Plymouth Naval Memorial, panel reference 30. This memorial was created to honour those Naval personnel who lost their lives at sea during World War One and is situated on the Hoe, looking towards Plymouth Sound, Devon.

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