William James Frailey

Date of birth: 1860
Place of birth: Stepney, London
Regiment / Division: Mercantile Marine
Vessel: H.M.H.S Salta
Rank / Service No: Baker
Died: 10th April 1917, aged 56 years
Buried: Saint Marie Cemetery, Le Havre, France


William was the third of 6 siblings born to Frederick Andrew and Thomasine Frailey (nee Holloway), who married in Bromley in 1856.

Both parents were born in Wapping, Frederick (a Customs Officer) in 1829 and Thomasine in 1833. Thomasine passed away in West Ham in 1889.



Thomasine Mary   b. 1857 Stepney   d. 1919 Newport Pagnell   Married John Henry Davey in Hampstead Heath on 13 September 1880 (had 4 children).

Frederick Andrew   b. 1859 Stepney d. ??   Married Mary Purdeye in Stepney in 1887 (3 children). Also a Customs Officer.

William James

Alice Susanna   b. 1863 Stepney   d. ??   Married Richard Smith in Whitechapel in 1892.

Walter John   b. 1870 Poplar   d. 1898 Hampstead

Ada Esther   b. 1872 Poplar   d. ??   Married Reuben Clarke in Hackney in 1896.


William married Mary Ann Wilson in Bromley on 2 August 1894. Mary was born in Peckham in 1867 and she passed away in Dartford in 1928.

The family were living at 20 Elgin Road, Freemantle at the 1901 Census.


The couple had 5 children……….

Marguerite Edith   b. 1896 Barking   d. 1932 Stepney

Evangeline Emily b. 22 February 1897 Upton Park   d. 1960 New Forest   Married Harold S. Mumford in Southampton in 1922.

William John b. 8 March 1899 Freemantle   d. 1985 Enfield, Middx   Married Mary C. Baker in Edmonton in 1942. Enlisted in Merchant Navy 8 March 1917.

Edgar Albert   b. 5 January 1901 Freemantle d. 1923 Lambeth

Herbert Arnold   b. 20 May 1904 Freemantle   d. 1970 Southport   Married Lilian G. Phillips in Birmingham in 1942.


Salta was launched in July 1911 and was requisitioned by the Admiralty in February 1915 as a hospital ship.

On the night of the 9 April1917 Salta left Southampton bound for Le Havre, with some returning wounded soldiers and medical supplies.


On the morning of the 10th, a French patrol craft had spotted mines floating in the approaches to Le Havre. These had been laid the previous day by UC-26.

A barrage was put in place, to ensure that vessels entering the port were led through a mine-free channel.


Salta was given the green light to continue into the harbour at 11.20 AM, in very bad weather.

The vessel suddenly changed course, bound for the minefields. As surviving officer later recounted that the Captain was concerned about entering the harbour without a pilot and wished to let other vessels passed.


Realising what trouble he was in, Captain Eastaway tried to retrace his steps but an enormous explosion breached the hull.

Within 10 minutes, Salta had sunk. Despite help arriving rapidly, the bad weather hampered rescue attempts.


From the original 205 passengers and crew, 79 crew, 42 servicemen and 9 nurses lost their lives. Only 13 bodies were recovered.




Researcher: Mark Heritage
Published: 19th July 2016


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