Herbert Stone's Disappearance and George Stewart's Obituary from Archive Newspapers.

Harland Duzen

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Whilst doing general research on the British Newspaper Archive, Julian Atkins asked me to try and find any articles or obituaries on Stone, Groves, Evans, Gibson and Stewart. Currently I've barely found anything but I have found some articles reporting Herbert Stone's disappearance from the SS Wayfarer in 1937* and a brief Obituary of George Stewart's career by a relative following his death on the SS Barnhill in 1940.

Herbert Stone Disappers Belfast Telegrapgh June 21 1937 Page 10 copy.png

Above): Taken from the Belfast Telegraph, June 21st 1937, Page 10

Herbert Stone disapperance + description Liverpool Echo June 19 1937 Page 5 copy.png

(Above): Taken from the Liverpool Echo, June 19th 1937, Page 5

Herbert Stone's Return Western Mail June 28 1937 Page 10 copy.png

(Above): Taken from the Western Mail, June 28th 1937, Page 10


George Stewart Obituary Dundee Evening Telegrapgh March 25 1940 Page 1 copy.png

(Above): Taken from the Dundee Evening Telegraph, March 25th 1940, Page 1

Among other newspaper segments I also found a brief mention of Lord's estate following his death in 1962.
Captain Lord's Estate Liverpool Echo April 28 1962 Page 10 copy.png

(Above): Taken from the Liverpool Echo, April 28th 1962, Page 10

Again, I afraid this is all I found currently on the Californian's officers so far and it might not be revelatory as expected but should provide a new fact or lead.

*Note: Paul Lee's book on Page 249 states that "Stone's family, for obvious reasons [referring to his disappearance], did not seem keen for this information be passed down the generation;" so if of any relatives or descendants of Stone see this and are unhappy, I am sorry and happy to remove the newspaper clippings or take down this thread.
 

Harland Duzen

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Of interest, Captain Lord's estate (Gross Value) of £21,234, adjusted for inflation, would be worth approximately £445,000 today.
Stanley Tutton Lord was apparently rather wealthy if this article is true...

Stanley Tutton Lord Donation Liverpool Echo March 24 1995 Page 7 copy.png

(Above): Taken from the Liverpool Echo, March 24th 1995, Page 7
 

Julian Atkins

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Hi Harland,

Very many thanks for posting the above and starting this thread.

The Stone and Stewart press reports are very important as they correct a number of incorrect details in Reade's 'The Ship That Stood Still' and Paul Lee's book 'The Titanic and the Indifferent Stranger'.

Let's deal with Stewart first. His name is on the Merchant Navy Memorial at Tower Hill, London. The whole Barnhill bombing story is remembered on Hastings beach, and the ship's boilers can be seen at low tide. Captain Michael O'Neil was only rescued because he pulled the ships bell's rope with his teeth to sound the bell, and the Eastbourne lifeboat rescued the survivors from the fiercely burning ship.

Reade stated Stewart was unemployed so got a job as third officer on the Barnhill. This was quite untrue. Stewart had a very comfortable home in a very nice part of Sale, Cheshire, that is now a suburb of Manchester. Barwell Road is a very affluent part of Sale. He was retired. He volunteered to serve on his friend's ship to help out with the war effort.

That he should have been killed in such tragic circumstances below decks, is a twist of fate.

That Stewart should have come out of retirement at the age of 62 to help an old friend, and help out with the war effort in WW2 speaks to me volumes of the character of Stewart and a form of patriotism that in the UK some of us can relate to, and honour his subsequent sacrifice in the most awful of circumstances early on in WW2.

As for Stone, Reade states Stone left the sea in 1933! How wrong he was! Clearly Stones' family did not provide Reade with the 'scoop' he thought he had when concluding his book. One must then question the accuracy of everything else Stone's son told Reade or stated in a letter.

Paul Lee contacted the family apparently, and at least was told about the 1937 disappearance - though was told Herbert Stone was found at a Devonshire dockyard. As the Press Reports make clear, he was found at Portsmouth in Hampshire! It also clearly resulted in a national appeal in the newspapers for this 'missing person'.

The 'Wayfarer' had returned from a voyage to Calcutta, India. I am not aware of some illness that one might catch in Calcutta that would cause someone to have a memory loss for 9 days on getting back to Tilbury, London. Note that the 'Wayfarer' then steamed from Tilbury to Liverpool, Stone having by then gone AWOL. Stone's home was in Liverpool. Why, if he was physically ill, he should disappear in London and end up in Portsmouth 8 days later hanging around the docks and a day later being questioned by the police still hanging around the docks in Portsmouth, is quite fascinating!

Clearly Stone was hanging around one of the Royal Navy dock gates in Portsmouth, which aroused the suspicion of the local constabulary.

So, Stone's son John, completely misled Leslie Reade, and the whole basis of Reade's conclusions must now be re-visited or simply thrown aside. (I had already posted on here on another thread that I never accepted Reade's pseudo 'father son' relationship between Captain Lord and Stone)

Although Paul Lee was told about some of the disappearance of Stone via Stone's grandson, he failed to join the dots together in respect of Reade's book.

Cheers,

Julian
 
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Julian Atkins

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The relevant references are p.249 in Paul Lee's book, and p.327 of Reade's TSTSS.

Cross reference these with Harland's newspaper extracts, and you will see how important Harland's research is.

Cheers,

Julian
 
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Rob Lawes

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Stone's mysterious disappearance is fascinating. From what little is written in the newspapers as to what sort of illness he was suffering it is difficult to begin to speculate.

Given the length of journey from Calcutta back to the UK, most severe illnesses such as Denge Fever or Malaria would have made their presence very much known and been obvious to all. Those illnesses are quite common in India.

One report stated that he had written a letter home complaining of weight loss and not having the best of times on the ship.

I did locate a common mosquito born illness found around Calcutta that did cause neurological symptoms but again, there were other side effects that would have made the illness debilitating (severe joint pains for example) that would tend to rule this out.

Chikungunya - Wikipedia

This illness for example (see signs and symptoms)
 
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Julian Atkins

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Hi Rob,

Many thanks for the above.

The obvious conclusion, with the hindsight of medical knowledge of the 1980s and 90s - if not earlier, is that Stone in 1937 clearly suffered from a complete mental breakdown.

I don't think he had a complete memory loss in the accepted sense as we understand it today. It was just a way of explaining things in the 1930s that were not understood properly at the time, plus a bit of 'flannel' from his family at the time, suggesting it was a physical as opposed to mental illness. One can perfectly understand why they said as much to The Press at the time.

I am not aware of any other personalities involved in 'Titanic' suffering such problems except poor old Fred Fleet who hanged himself (though it is not something I have researched myself, and there may be other examples).

One should also be cautious of linking Stone's mental breakdown in 1937 with anything to do with Titanic and 'The Californian Incident'. However, the incident in 1937 does suggest a certain susceptibility on Stone's part towards what would now be termed 'mental health' problems.

(When I was a Solicitor it was a subject of much dark humour that the very first client I interviewed - when an 'articled clerk'/trainee solicitor on my first day at work - then drove his car off Freshwater cliffs committing suicide later that afternoon, and some years later I was the last person to speak with 2 other clients who both committed suicide).

Cheers,

Julian
 

Rob Lawes

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One should also be cautious of linking Stone's mental breakdown in 1937 with anything to do with Titanic and 'The Californian Incident'. However, the incident in 1937 does suggest a certain susceptibility on Stone's part towards what would now be termed 'mental health' problems.
Yes indeed. The Calfornian incident may have added something more to a troubled mind or it may not but it would have certainly placed Stone under a great deal of mental stress in 1912. The match that started the fire? I couldn't say.

I recently came across a list of reasons given for people to have been admitted to an Asylum in the 19th century. The lack of understanding of mental health issues at this time is obvious for all to see. This is a society that called someone a coward and put them in prison (or worse) when in fact they'd had a complete mental breakdown having been sat in a muddy hole in the ground getting bombarded on a nightly basis. The mind is a very fragile thing.
 

Jim Currie

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A trans ischemic attack can cause global memory loss for a considerable period of time. Stone was a pipe smoker. Smoking is one of the causes of such strokes. Another cause might have been encephalitis or even early onset of Alzheimers. Stone might simply have caught a very heavy cold which resulted in a complication of herpes simples.
Just some thoughts.
 

Julian Atkins

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Hi Seumas,

Paul Lee in his book p.250 states "He [Groves] and his crew spent the rest of the year [1916 by implication after the grounding in January 1916] in internment in Holland, and Groves spent over a year on parole in England until the war ended" which seems very odd and nonsensical - you will note from the link I provided all of E17's crew were interned for the duration of WW1.

Paul Lee's reference is p.371 in Reade, which again suggests Groves was allowed to leave internment in Holland to go home only to return during WW1!

Groves' RNR records for WW1 are at Kew apparently.

There is a small matter to be considered - from what Reade/Walter Lord gleaned from Groves as suggesting Lt Groves being in command of E17; Groves was not in command of E17! "His crew etc" is somewhat misleading.... E17 was captained by Lt Commander (later Sir) John Robert Guy Moncreiffe.

I don't know why Groves would have volunteered to serve on submarines as part of the RNR in WW1; it was exceedingly dangerous despite the extra pay, and he was no longer a single man and now married.

According to Reade (p.271) Groves turns up at Euston station with 4 huge suitcases full of coal when on 'parole' during his internment in Holland, to be met by his brother. I have carried bags of coal one at a time. How Groves could have carried the equivalent of 4 bags of coal and imported it from Holland is beyond my comprehension! This story seems to me to be complete fantasy, and why Leslie Reade fell for it I don't know!

Cheers,

Julian
 
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Julian Atkins

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If you look at my link and click onto 'Stoker Robert John Lockyer' you will find a letter he wrote during their internment in Holland. No mention of 'parole' and going back to 'Blighty', and a reference to 'Monty' [Moncreiffe].
 

Seumas

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Thanks for that Julian, that was very interesting indeed.

I know that during both World War's the European combatants with POW's and neutrals (in this case, the Netherlands in WW1) who interned combatants that had strayed onto their borders, would frequently do prisoner swaps under the auspices of the Red Cross. It would almost always be men who had since their capture developed medical conditions that ruled them out of any return to active service.

Perhaps Groves had a bad health scare whilst in the Dutch camp or maybe he put on a good act to the camp doctor and was approved for repatriation ? In any event those RNR records you mention should reveal what really happened.

As to why on earth Groves would need four trunks worth of coal with him ....... nope, I'm flat out of ideas there !
 

Julian Atkins

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Hi Sam,

At the very least, errors in Reade and Lee, and omissions in Harrison, ought to be corrected. Especially in Reade, who tore into Captain Lord, but described Groves in a gushing way.

We ought to be able to form some sort of view of Groves' personality given that Robertson Dunlop, in his closing speech for the Leyland Line, described Groves' evidence as being "largely the result of imagination stimulated by vanity", and we ought to be able to take a view on this ourselves. We also ought to be able to take a view on Jim's assessment of Groves that Groves 'had it in for Stone' and took umbrage at not being given his due rank.

I often represented patients for Mental Heath Review Tribunals in the late 1980s and early 1990s. From the legal perspective I gained, yet not being a medical mental health expert, I have not the slightest doubt that Stone had some mental health issues, as evidenced by his mental breakdown in June 1937. It would be quite unusual (in my experience) for this to be a 'one off' isolated incident.

Anyway, that is my own take on the matter.

And if Groves tells 'tall stories' about his internment 1916-1918, then what else did he tell that were 'tall stories'? Schools of porpoises, an empty collapsible A lifeboat, that actually had 3 bodies in it, and seals who might have been survivors on the ice!

"Imagination stimulated by vanity"?

Cheers,

Julian
 
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Well in the same vane, why not ask questions about Stone and what appears to me to be a willingness to shift the blame onto Lord for not taking any action that night. He seems to me to come across as a very passive individual who was unwilling to decide anything for himself. He also comes across as being overly defensive about his own actions that night, as well as his lack of assertiveness in dealing with his own captain. And what was he doing after Gibson was sent down at one bell, between 3:40 and 4am? How could he not have seen a steamer show up in the south before Stewart arrived?
 

Jim Currie

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Let's analyse Stone' behaviour as an officer that night.

First his duties.

Stone, like every senior Bridge Officer, was tasked with the responsibility of being actively in charge of the bridge during the absence therefrom of for the Master. However, the ultimate responsibility lay with the Master, not the Bridge Officer. As such, his job was to ensure the safety of the ship and oversee the deck crew on duty. Except in the event of an extreme emergency, he was not expected to make any decisions which would involve the change of the ship status as she lay stopped among the ice. Stone's orders were to inform his captain of any changes in the status of the nearby vessel. In addition, standing orders which applied to all three Watch-keeping officers would have been to immediately inform the master of any unusual happening or if in any doubt whatsoever. These were standing orders in all British merchant vessels.
As ordered, Stone reported the sighting of a white light and a rocket in the sky in the direction of the nearby vessel (not from that vessel) which he took to be rockets. That vessel had, like Californian, been stopped near to ice for over an hour and both Stone and the 3rd Officer had tried to communicate with her without success. Stone's next order was to keep trying to find out the reason for the rocket seen. He did as ordered and was unsuccessful. His next report was to update his captain concerning a ship which had subsequently sailed away.

Stone saw rockets in the direction of a nearby vessel which changed her bearing and subsequently moved away. He did not recognise what he was seeing as a call fro help and the situation did not convey to him that the nearby ship needed help. If Stone made any mistake at all, it was in disregarding his initial order which was to report if the nearby vessel changed her bearing. This he should have done, the minute it started. If he had done, then Lord would have gone to the bridge and he and Stone would have witnessed the 6 other signals fired by Titanic and without doubt, Lord would have had Sparks called.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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If Stone made any mistake at all, it was in disregarding his initial order which was to report if the nearby vessel changed her bearing. This he should have done, the minute it started. If he had done, then Lord would have gone to the bridge and he and Stone would have witnessed the 6 other signals fired by Titanic and without doubt, Lord would have had Sparks called.
According to what Lord said at both inquiries, is that the he was told that steamer was steaming away toward the SW when Stone called down to him the first time.