William Frederick German

Date of birth: 1881
Place of birth: Portsmouth
Regiment / Division: Mercantile Marine
Vessel: H.M.H.S Glenart Castle
Rank / Service No: Linen Keeper
Died: 26th February 1918, aged 36 years
Commemorated: Tower Hill Memorial


Walter was the second of 4 siblings born to Charles Walter and Mary Jane German (nee Bennett), who married in Portsmouth in 1879.


Charles was born on the 6 March 1859 in Portsmouth and died in Southampton in 1907.

Mary was born in Portsmouth in 1860 and she passed away in Winchester in 1950.



Albert Charles Henry   b. 1879 Portsmouth   d. 1958 Southampton   Married Daisy Beatrice Golden in Southampton in 1906.

Walter Frederick

Nora Teresa   b. 1884 Portsmouth   d. 1955 Southampton   Married Henry H. Newton in Southampton in 1917.

Frank John    b. 1885 Portsmouth   d. 12 September 1918 aboard Galway Castle (see separate story). Married Mary Gladys Frecknall in Southampton in 1910.


Both Mary Jane and her daughter Nora are working as domestics for the Godefroye family in Portswood at the 1911 Census.


Walter married Annie Elizabeth Cummins in Southampton in 1902. The couple lived at 20 Silverdale Road, Shirley and they had 2 children…..

Charles Walter   b. 1904 Shirley   d. 1945 Chelsea   Married Rose B. Monteith in Marylebone in 1927.

Hazel Mary   b. 1907 Shirley   d. 1980 Southampton   Married Basil C. Wells in Southampton in 1933.

Annie was born in Southampton in 1877 and she passed away in the same year as her husband….it must be presumed this was a coincidence.


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: 28th July 2016


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