William John Larbalastier

Date of birth: 1883
Place of birth: Southampton
Regiment / Division: Mercantile Marine
Vessel: HMHS Glenart Castle
Rank / Service No: Fireman
Died: 26th February 1918, aged 34 years
Commemorated: Tower Hill Memorial


William was the third of 5 siblings born to George PETER and Jane Mary Larbalastier, who married in 1877.


Both parents were born in Jersey, Peter in 1847 and Jane in 1859.

Peter died in Southampton in 1925 and it is not known when Jane passed away.



George James   b. 1878 Southampton   d. 1936 Romsey   Married Florence Fisher in Southampton in 1903.

Charles Henry   b. 1879 Southampton   d. ??   Married Dorothy E. Coram in Southampton in 1913 (4 children).

William John

Beatrice Louisa   b. 1887 Southampton   d. 1918 Southampton   Married Thomas Johnson in Southampton in 1909.

Arthur Bertram   b. 1889 Southampton   d. 1944 Southampton   Married Elizabeth J. Clark in Southampton in 1913.


William married Annie LOUISA Kneller in Romsey in 1912. The couple lived at 67 Howard Road, Shirley and had 1 child…..


Leslie William   b. 1913 Shirley   d. 1988 Romsey


Louisa was born in Mottisfont in 1886 and she passed away in Bishop’s Waltham in 1960.



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: 7th November 2016


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