William Peters German

Date of birth: 1863
Place of birth: Truro, Cornwall
Regiment / Division: Mercantile Marine
Vessel: Tug “Challenge”
Rank / Service No: First Mate, 89650
Died: 7th June 1916, aged 53 years
Buried: Ste. Marie Cemetery, Le Havre (Div. 19, Row EE, Grave 2)


William was the youngest of 5 siblings born to John and Elizabeth Lean German (nee Tiddy), who married in Falmouth in 1843.

Both parents were born (and died) in Truro, Elizabeth in 1822 and John in 1824; John died in 1880, Elizabeth in 1906.



Elizabeth Lean   b. 1844 Truro   d. 5 April 1910 Falmouth   Married James Sawle in Truro in 1866.

Frederick   b. 1849 Truro   d. 1912 Truro

Henry Theodore   b. 1853 Truro   d. 1930 Falmouth   Married Alice Boardman Hackett in Truro in 1881.

Orlando Ernest   b. 1859 Truro   d. 7 December 1939 Falmouth   Married Rhoda Curgenven in Truro in 1993…they had 9 children.

William Peters


William married Lavinia Williams in Truro in 1895. They were still there in 1899, because a son was born….

Frederick Cyril   b. 1899 Truro   d. 1965 Southampton   Married Gertrude M. Carter in Romsey in 1943.


Lavinia was born in Truro in 1872 and she passed away in Romsey in 1949.

Once the family had moved to Southampton, they lived at 21 Queenstown Road in Freemantle.



Well over 400 tugs were requisitioned during WW1 by various branches of the British armed services.

They would have been found in all the theatres of war, from the English Channel to the Dardanelles.


Tugs were primarily used in a rescue capacity. Whenever a vessel was damaged by either torpedo or mine, a tug would be sent in to try and tow the vessel back to a harbour.

This was inherently dangerous work, mostly because attacking submarines could still be in the area.

They also moved Floating Docks, gunboats and submarines to their destinations.


There are no specific details about Challenge, although it must be assumed that it was working just off the French coast and it is known not to have sunk.


Records suggest that William died of heart failure whilst on board.




Researcher: Mark Heritage
Published: 28th July 2016


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