Hms President

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by Kieron Hill, Apr 2, 2005.

  1. Kieron Hill

    Kieron Hill Senior Member

    Hi all,

    I am hoping that someone out there maybe
    able to help me. This post spanes both WW1
    & WW2 due to lenght of my Grandads service.

    When I first started researching his service
    my Dad told me that his Dads WW1 medals
    went down on ship, when it was sunk during
    WW2. Well looking at his service record for
    this period he was always based at shore
    establishments. So there was this question
    hanging over my head...was this an old
    sea dogs tale...or was it the truth. I had
    nothing to go by, unitil now.

    Going throuh his papers I found a ships
    boarding pass for SS Aguila for passage to Madeira.
    The dates on the pass are for August 1940.
    Well going by his service record he was
    based at HMS President whats
    going on here, am I missing something?
    I am totally confused now, I know that
    HMS President III was a shore base in
    London, so what's he doing going to

    He was based at HMS President III
    for nearly 3 years during WW2, so
    could it have been true about his
    WW1 medals going down with a
    ship, seeing that I've found this
    boarding pass for SS Aguila.

    SS Aguia was subsequently sunk
    I think in 41.

    Any help with this would be great.
    I've even thought was he some
    sort of secret agent seeing that
    the picture on the pass he's dressed
    in civiy clothing and the trade
    description is deck hand.

    I have posted this thread on
    a site covering WW1 due to
    its nature.

    What do you all think?
  2. Gerry Chester

    Gerry Chester WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Hi Kieron,

    The time line seems to be. Your Grandfather was a passenger while she was on her regular run Liverpool - Madeira Islands (as did her sister ships) until (or shorthly after) the fall of France. The date on the boarding pass would confirm this. Either in 1941 or 1942 he joined up to serve on the shore station.

    Here's a photograph of her exiting the River Mersey - the shoreline is of a suburb of Liverpool - as can be seen she was quite a small vessel.

    Chin chin, Gerry
  3. Kieron Hill

    Kieron Hill Senior Member

    Cheers Gerry for your reply, like I said in my
    post I'd put this thread on another site to
    try and get as much feedback as I could.

    I think I am now in the position to say
    that while my grandad served with
    HMS President he was attached in some
    way to armed merchant ships.
    I've read somewhere that under
    some convention ruling merchant
    ships were not allowed to be armed
    and that's why the men attached
    to these ship were classed as Deck
    Hands etc...I guess just incase they
    were ever boarded, could be wrong.

    Below is some of the feed back I
    got from the Great War forum, another
    very knowledgable site.


    1/ Lt Cdr. Warlow ‘Shore Establishments of the
    Royal Navy’ President III was an accounting
    base, initially in Bristol and then Windsor, it
    was the HQ for the personnel on Defensively
    Armed Merchant Ships, it does not mean he
    served there, but that his pay was worked out
    there . Royal Marines served aboard DAMS in
    both wars, this would have qualified him for
    the Atlantic Star.

    2/ So if this is the case how would
    I find out what merchant ships
    he served on? When I contacted
    the Royal Marines they told me to
    go to Kew, which I did but what
    I got from there I had already.


    3/ I don’t know for sure, but I’d
    expect that they used a card index
    to record the ships on which he
    served and that index was destroyed.

    4/ Hello

    PRESIDENT III was the accounting base
    for the naval gunners on Defensively
    Armed Merchant Ships (DEMS). These
    were the naval seamen et al that manned
    the guns on merchant ships.

    He certainly could have served any number
    of merchant ships in the course of the war.



    So there you have it. I have got the
    feeling that he did serve on armed merchant
    ships and his WW1 medals may well have
    gone down with a ship, as merchant shipping
    did take hell of a pounding during WW2.

    Also during my research into this I have
    come across a few memorial lists, that have
    listed men that have died onboard merchant
    ships attached to HMS President.

    If anyone has anymore views on this
    please let me know.

  4. lizzieferg

    lizzieferg Junior Member

    I new to this, however your story about President III confirms what my father told me about his naval service. He was a first class gunner on Merchant Ships crossing the Atlantic. He told me if a ship was hit only one vessel was allowed to go back to pick up survivors, and that a lot of the chinese who worked on these ships were often to frightened to jump into the sea and swim away from ship, he said it was an awful sight. I have his service papers, but apart from Glendower and President III being mentioned ,and he was an Act. A B and act. S.G (whatever that is) there is no other relevent information to what he told me.
  5. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Hello and welcome,

    Act AB = Acting Able Seaman.
    S.G. = Seaman Gunner.

    Your father would have been a gunner on DEMS service [Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships].

    Do you know what other merchant ships he served on?


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