I am an inveterate family history researcher and I have been researching the families from whom I am descended, both Paternal and Maternal, for about 15 years now.
I was not aware that my Gt.x 2 Smith (Paternal) grandmother was Irish, but using this facility enabled me to discover that she was born in Newry, Northern Ireland. This was something that my grandmother had neglected to tell me.
"His love for his daughter came above all else."
My mother’s youngest brother, William Roberts, was born in 1917. My mother and William were 2 of the 6 children of Thomas Roberts and Louisa (who married under the maiden name of Boyd, but was in fact born Boyle).
Louisa sadly died in childbirth in 1923 at the age of 39.
My mother, as the eldest daughter of the family at only 13, had to become the 'mother' to her brothers and sister. This was in the 1920s of course when poverty was very grinding for the poor.
As young William grew into manhood, the call of the sea took a strong hold, attracting him to join the merchant navy. In 1938 he married his wife Louisa Boggild and in 1939 their daughter Mavis was born.
Knowing that his daughter needed him, he took the decision to miss his ship to be with Mavis for the duration of her operation.
The operation was a complete success and William went to the authorities to confess what he had done. He was met with compassion and understanding, and was later ordered to join another ship, the SS Aguila.
"...literally blowing her to smithereens!"
OG71 left the River Mersey with her supplies for Gibraltar in August 1941 and sailed in a zigzag pattern to try to foil the German U-boat pack.
At this time, the German Luftwaffe were trying out a new tactic of spotter planes to find British convoys.
One of these planes managed to spot OG71 off the west coast of Ireland and radioed its position to the U-boat pack. Unfortunately, OG71 came under sustained attack for days on end, losing many ships and hundreds of hands.
Finally, on 19th August, Aguila was hit by a torpedo fired by U-201, literally blowing her to smithereens. William and many of his shipmates lost their lives during the 45 seconds in which Aguila was defeated.
It was on a visit to one of those helpful sites that I mentioned my search for the death certificate of William and a friend suggested I contact the Genealogist. ‘They are very helpful’, he said.