William Medley

Date of birth:                   1890PoppiesRank:                                  Greaser
Regiment / Division:   Mercantile Marine
Battalion/Ship:             S.S. “Laertes” (Liverpool)
Died:                                 1st August 1917 aged 27 years
Death Location:            At sea

Life before the War

William, as per his service records and those of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, was adopted. Eleanor Ruth Medley, his adopted mother was married to Thomas Alfred Medley. Further research shows his “adopted” parents in the following census. The 1891 and 1901 census returns shows an adopted child Frederick Edward Salter born in the same year as William. However, there is no trace of William in any family related records.

Thomas Alfred was born in 1863, dying in1939. Eleanor Ruth nee Arnsby, who was born in 1867, was baptized on 3rd May 1867. Thomas and Eleanor married in 1890. Thomas’s brother, James William, was a war casualty dying on 6th October 1918.

On the 1891census return, Thomas and Eleanor were living at 2 ½ Fiver Court, St. Michael’s Parish. Thomas was employed as a Dock Corn Porter. They had an adopted son Frederick Edward Salter, who was born in 1890 Salisbury, Wiltshire living with them.


By 1901 they had moved to 9, Union Place, St. Mary’s Parish, Southampton. Thomas was working as a Corn Porter. Frederick, their adopted son was still living with them.


In 1911, Thomas and Eleanor lived at 28, Lower Canal Walk, Southampton. Thomas was now employed as a Ships Coal Porter. Their nephew Alfred Arnsby, born in 1902 Portsmouth, was living with them.

War Service

William is Remembered with Honour on the Mercantile Marine Memorial, Tower Hill, London.

“Medley, Greaser W. S.S. “Laertes” (Liverpool). Drowned as a result of an attack by an enemy submarine, 1st Aug., 1917. Age 27. Adopted son of Mrs Eleanor Ruth Medley, of 28, Lower Canal Walk, Southampton. Born in Hants”

Historical Information

S.S. “Laertes”, was built by Hawthorn, Leslie & Co. Ltd., Newcastle in 1904 and owned at the time of her loss by Ocean Steam Ship Co. Ltd. (A. Holt & Co.), Liverpool, and was a British steamer of 4541 tons.

On 1st August 1917, “Laertes”, was on a voyage from Southampton to Montreal in ballast, when she was sunk by the German submarine UB-31 (Thomas Bieber), 1.25 miles SSW of Prawle Point. Fourteen persons were lost.

Researched by Becky Lonergan December 2013.

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