George Wilfred Clasby

Date of birth: 1885
Place of birth: Southampton
Regiment / Division: Mercantile Marine
Vessel: HMHS Glenart Castle
Rank / Service No: Fireman
Died: 26th February 1918, aged 33 years
Commemorated: Tower Hill Memorial


George was the sixth of 10 siblings born to Stephen Charles and Jane Clasby (nee Steele), who married in Stockbridge in 1873.

Stephen was born in Southampton in 1850 and he died in the city in 1922.

Jane was born in King’s Somborne in 1848 and she passed away in Southampton in 1934.



Frederick Charles   b. 1875 Southampton   d. 1949 Bournemouth   Married Eliza Caroline Phillips in Southampton in 1900.

William Edward b. 1877 Southampton   d. 1951 Winchester   Married Mary Smith in New Forest in 1898.

Mary Kate   b. 1878 Southampton   d. 1956 Southampton   Married George Edwin Parsons in Southampton in 1908.

Sarah Harriett   b. 1881 Southampton   d. 1960 Droxford   Married Thomas James Fraser in Southampton in 1905.

Stephen Charles   b. 1883 Southampton   d. 1 August 1917   Married Fanny Frances Scorey in Southampton in 1909. * See separate story *

George Wilfred  

Carrie Elizabeth   b. 1886 Southampton   d. 1886 Southampton

Margaret Annie   b. 1887 Southampton   d. 1948 Droxford   Married Frederick Redman in Southampton in 1908. Married William J. Todd in Southampton in 1918. Married William G. Lucas in Southampton in 1927.

Benjamin Alfred   b. 1889 Southampton   d. 1890 Southampton

Stephen John   b. 1889 Southampton   d. 24 December 1965   Married Marcelle J. Belmontet in Southampton in 1923.


His Majesty’s Hospital Ship Glenart Castle was originally built as the “Galacian” in 1900….it was renamed in 1914.

The vessel had left Newport (South Wales) on 26 February 1918, bound for Brest in France.

Fishermen in the Bristol Channel at the time remembered that she had green lights all round, plus the obligatory red cross on either side, an international indication of a hospital ship.

When in the neighbourhood of Lundy Island she was hit by a torpedo in the No. 3 hold, fired from U boat UC-56, captained by Kapitanleutnant Wilhelm Kiesewetter.

The blast destroyed most of the lifeboats, while the subsequent pitch of the vessel hindered attempts to launch the remaining boats. In the 8 minutes it took for the vessel to sink, only 7 lifeboats were launched.


162 people were drowned with only 38 survivors. There was evidence that the submarine crew may have shot at those struggling in the water, in an attempt to cover up the atrocity.

The body of a junior officer was recovered with two gunshot wounds…he also wore a lifejacket, indicating he was shot at in the water.

Kiesewetter was arrested after the war and interned in the Tower of London, with the intention of charging him with war crimes.

However, he was released before any trial could take place. Britain was told that it had no right to hold a detainee during the Armistice.



Researcher: Mark Heritage
Published: 23rd June 2016


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