George Watson Etheredge

Date of birth: August 1880
Place of birth: Southampton
Regiment / Division: Mercantile Marine
Vessel: SS Alnwick Castle
Rank / Service No: Donkeyman
Died: 19th March1917, aged 36 years
Commemorated: Tower Hill Memorial


This story starts strangely, because there are no known records of George’s parents or any siblings. His father was called John Watson Etheredge and his mother was called Laura, according to official sources.

There are no Census returns or any other obvious records for the family and, interestingly, George is shown as living with his grandparents at the 1891 Census.


George married Kate Whitchurch Haskell in Southampton in 1900. Kate was born in Verwood in 1882 and she passed away in Southampton in 1943.

The couple had no less than 7 children, and the family lived at 31 Testwood Road, Millbrook.


Beatrice Ellen Kate   b. 1901 Southampton   d. 1970 Shrewsbury   Married Mr Roberts in Southampton in 1918.

Frederick John   b. 28 November 1902 Southampton   d. 1971 Southampton   Married Elsie W. Collimore in Southampton in 1930.

George Edwin   b. 21 April 1904 Southampton   d. 1969 Shrewsbury   Married Mary C. Hudson in Shrewsbury in 1943.

Edith Elsie   b. 20 June 1906 Southampton   d. 1971 Bournemouth   Married Frederick W. Brown in Southampton in 1933.

Phyllis Eleanor   b. 4 August 1910 Southampton   d. 8 January 1911 Southampton

Gordon Herbert Cecil   b. 1912 Southampton   d. 1975 Southampton   Married Hilda M. Lock in Southampton in 1943.

Ernest Alfred   b. 1914 Southampton   d. 1987 Southampton   Married Eileen M. Wills in Southampton in 1946.


George enlisted in January 1916, and Alnwick Castle was his first vessel. She saw active service in many waters, including acting as a troop transport during the Gallipoli campaign.


George’s job title is of interest; a Donkeyman was responsible for the Engine Room stores and reported directly to the Second Engineer.

He also kept an eye on the water levels in the boilers.On 17 March 1917 Alnwick Castle left Plymouth bound for Cape Town, with 14 passengers, 100 crew and a cargo of silver.


On 18 March, she picked up 25 survivors from the SS Trevose, which had just been torpedoed by U-81.

On morning of 19th, when 310 miles out from Plymouth, Alnwick Castle was torpedoed by U-81. she sank within 30 minutes, but 6 lifeboats got away. Two of them were never seen again.


The Chief Officer’s lifeboat, containing 31 persons, drifted for 9 days before being rescued by Spanish Fishing boats and taken into Carino. 10 people died whilst it was adrift.

The Captain’s boat was adrift for 5 days and was picked up by the French liner Venezia; 4 people had perished through exposure.


Of a total of 139 people on board Alnwick Castle, 40 (including 3 of the crew of the Trevose) died.



Researcher: Mark Heritage
Published: 15th July 2016


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