William Hugh (Hew) Black

William Hugh (Hew) Black ©

William Hugh (Hew) Black ©

Date of birth: 6th August 1888
Place of birth: Kilmarnock, Scotland
Service No.: Not known
Rank: 4th Engineer Officer
Service: Mercantile Marine
Vessel: SS Glenart Castle
Died: 26th February 1918 aged 29 years
Death location: At sea





This photograph is © Richard Taunton Sixth Form College. Southampton Cenotaph Families and Friends Group have received permission to reproduce this photograph and extracts from the narrative on the Old Tauntonians’ online War Memorial:http://www.ota-southampton.org.uk/memorial/index.html

Please do not reproduce the photograph or any wording from this page.  If you want permission to use this photograph or narrative please contact the College on email@richardtaunton.ac.uk.


Life before the War
William’s father was Hew (Hugh), born 1861 in Scotland and died on 3rd December 1916 in Southampton, leaving a Probate:

 “Black Hugh of 22 Cranbury Place Southampton died 3 December 1916. Probate London 11 January 1917 to Hugh Campbell Paxton marine engineer. Effects £1588 11s 2d”

His mother Flora, nee McDonald, was also born in Scotland in 1860 and died on 21 February 1914.  She left a Probate in her husband’s name:

 “Black Flora of Beaulah 8 Cranbury Avenue Southampton (wife of Hugh Black) died 21 February 1914. Probate Winchester 7 April 1914 to the said Hugh Black marine Engineer. Effects £289 15s”

William’s parents married in Poplar on 31st August 1885. They gave William 2 siblings:

Margaret Flora b.1887 Poplar and d.1966 Winchester.  Married George Gear in 1909.

Donald Walter Bryce b.1892 and d.3rd January 1918, a war casualty, serving with the Royal Flying Corps. To read more of Donald’s story please select the link to his name.

In the 1891 census the family lived at 9 Harrap Street, Poplar, London.  Hugh’s occupation was a Marine Engineer on Seas.

The family had moved by the time the 1901 census was taken, living at 97 Abbott Road, Bromley, London. Hugh was not at home on the night the census was completed.

There is no further trace of the family after this date, though records published in this biography shows the family had moved to Southampton.

William left a Probate naming his wife Christina. Unfortunately, no marriage year can be traced:

“Black William Hew of 20 Morris Road The Polygon Southampton marine engineer Merchant Service died 26 February 1918 at sea. Probate Winchester 30 May 1918 to Christina MacFarlane Black widow. Effects £197 6s 6d”


War Service

Old Tauntonians’ Memorial Roll

Time at Taunton’s School: 1902 – 1904

Education and Employment: William was born in Kilmarnock on 6th August 1888. The family lived in London for much of his childhood, but moved to Southampton after 1901. He worked as a Marine Engineer.

Life during the war: William worked with the Mercantile Service, serving aboard the S.S. Glenart Castle. This ship was being used as a hospital ship and on a voyage from Newport to Brest to collect wounded, was torpedoed by the German submarine LK-56. The ship sunk about ten miles west of Lundy Island, killing 153 of the 186 people on board. William drowned at sea and has no known grave. His wife Christina Black, lived at Morris Road, in the Polygon area of Southampton, when he died.

William died on 26th February 1918 aged 29 years.


Tower Hill Register

Tower Hill Memorial Panel

Tower Hill Memorial Panel

Tower Hill Memorial

Tower Hill Memorial

“Black, 4th Engr. William Hew. S.S. “Glenart Castle” (Southampton). Drowned, as a result of an attack by an enemy submarine, 26th Feb., 1918. Age 29. Husband of Christina Black (nee Macfarlane) of “Brandon”, 20, Morris Rd, Polygon, Southampton. Born at Kilmarnock”




HMHS Glenart Castle – Roll of Honour
In Memory of those who lost their lives in HMHS Glenart Castle

“As long as we embrace them in our memory, their spirit will always be with us”


HMHS Glenart Castle – the sinking

On 26th February 1918 Glenart Castle was leaving Newport, South Wales heading towards Brest, France. Fishermen in the Bristol Channel saw her clearly lit up as a hospital ship. John Hill, a fisherman on Swansea Castle remembered “I saw the Hospital Ship with green lights all around her. She had her red side lights showing and mast-head light, and also another red light which I suppose was the Red Cross light.” At 04:00, Glenart Castle was hit by a torpedo in the No. 3 hold. The blast destroyed most of the lifeboats, while the subsequent pitch of the vessel hindered attempts to launch the remaining boats. In the eight minutes the ship took to sink; only seven lifeboats were launched. Rough seas and inexperienced rowers swamped most of the boats.

HMHS Glenart Castle

HMHS Glenart Castle

Only a few survivors were reported. 162 people were killed including the Captain, Bernard Burt, eight nurses, seven Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) medical officers and 47 medical orderlies. The matron of Glenart Castle, Miss Kate Beaufoy, was a veteran of the South African War. Her family kept her diary and her writings describe life on the ship.

Evidence was found suggesting that the submarine may have shot at initial survivors of the sinking in an effort to cover up the sinking of Glenart Castle. The body of a junior officer of Glenart Castle was recovered from the water close to the position of the sinking. It was marked with two gunshot wounds, one in the neck and the other in the thigh. The body also had a life vest indicating he was shot while in the water.

After the war, the British Admiralty sought the captains of U-Boats who sank hospital ships, in order to charge them with war crimes. Kapitänleutnant Wilhelm Kiesewetter, the commander of UC-56, was arrested after the war on his voyage back to Germany and interned in the Tower of London. He was released on the grounds that Britain had no right to hold a detainee during the Armistice.


Researcher: Becky Lonergan
Published: 19th July 2015
Updated: Insert dates here

If you have any additional information about the person named above please complete the Comments section below.

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