Date of birth: 1893
Place of birth: Trinidad, British West Indies
Date of marriage: 1915
Place of marriage: Southampton
Regiment / Division: Mercantile Marine
Battalion: S.S. South Western
Died: 16th March 1918 aged 25 years
Death Location: At Sea
Life before the War
Joseph was born in 1893 in Trinidad, British West Indies. He came to Southampton where he married Ethel Schooling in the Southampton District in 1915.
GOMES, Fireman, JOSEPH ALBERT, S.S. South Western (Southampton). Mercantile Marine. Drowned as a result of an attack by an enemy submarine, 16th March 1918. Age 25. Husband of Ethel Gomes (nee Schooling), of 86, St. Mary St., Southampton. Born in Trinidad, British West Indies.
Joseph is Remembered with Honour at Tower Hill Memorial. The cemetery commemorates men and women of the Merchant Navy and Fishing fleets who died and have no known graves.
He received the Mercantile Marine War Medal.
In the First World War the civilian navy’s duty was to be the supply service of the Royal Navy, to transport troops and supplies to the armies, to transport raw materials to overseas munitions factories and munitions from those factories; to maintain, on a reduced scale, the ordinary import and export trade, to supply food to the home country and – in spite of greatly enlarged risks and responsibilities – to provide both personnel and ships to supplement the existing resources of the Royal Navy.
Between the 16th and 18th March 1918 the South Western was sunk by the German submarine UB-59 in the English channel 9 miles South West from St. Catherine’s Point, Isle Of Wight, Hampshire, while on voyage from Southampton to St. Malo carrying general cargo.
There is conflicting evidence about the sinking, of the S.S South Western. The book “Merchant Fleets Vol24” states that she was en route from Jersey to St. Malo when she was sunk and had left on the 16th March. This date is an example of the difficulty with overnight or en route sailings as she is recorded by different sources as having been sunk on both the 16th and 17th March.
Altogether 24 lives (including one child of 15 yrs ) were lost with only six surviving, including the Captain.