Stephen Thacker and George Alan Osborne (Merchant Navy)

Discussion in 'Searching for Someone & Military Genealogy' started by ritsonvaljos, Jan 19, 2012.

  1. ritsonvaljos

    ritsonvaljos Senior Member

    Can anyone please assist with a research enquiry about two WW2 Merchant Seamen (i.e. civilians) who died in April 1943? A summary of their details is given below.

    More specifically can anyone please assist with the following:

    (a) where they may have been buried, please?
    (b) if they are commemorated on the war memorials in their home towns?
    (c) if the local newspaper of their home area ran an obituary in 1943 (which hopefully may confirm the reason of their being injured)?

    1. Stephen Thacker
    Date of death: 27 April 1943.
    Died at Astley Ainslie Institution, Edinburgh.
    Home town: Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire

    2. George Alan Osborne
    Date of death: 28 April 1943
    Died at Astley Ainslie Institution.
    Home town: Goole, Yorkshire

    As wartime civilian deaths the CWGC does not hold details of where they were buried (i.e whether in the Edinburgh area or in their home town). Possibly if there is a headsone marking their burial place does it confrm the cause of their injuries which ultimately led to their death?

    Thanks in advance to anyone who may be able to assist.
     
  2. Oldman

    Oldman Very Senior Member

    Hope this helps

    OSBURN, GEORGE ALAN
    Initials:
    G A
    Nationality:
    United Kingdom
    Rank:
    Able Seaman
    Regiment/Service:
    Merchant Navy
    Unit Text:
    S.S. Rother (Goole).
    Age:
    36
    Date of Death:
    28/04/1943
    Additional information:
    Son of George Arthur Osburn, and of Beatrice Osburn, of Hull.
    Casualty Type:
    Commonwealth War Dead
    Grave/Memorial Reference:
    Sec. C. West Plot. Grave 1135.
    Cemetery:
    GOOLE CEMETERY


    Name:
    THACKER, STEPHEN
    Initials:
    S
    Nationality:
    United Kingdom
    Rank:
    Greaser
    Regiment/Service:
    Merchant Navy
    Unit Text:
    S.S. Rother (Goole)
    Age:
    23
    Date of Death:
    27/04/1943
    Additional information:
    Son of Mr. and Mrs. John Thacker, of Sutton-in-Ashfield.
    Casualty Type:
    Commonwealth War Dead
    Grave/Memorial Reference:
    Sec. A. Grave 11555.
    Cemetery:
    SUTTON-IN-ASHFIELD CEMETERY
     
    ritsonvaljos likes this.
  3. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

    George Alan Osborne

    I can get a photo of the grave for you in Goole cemetery if you want it. Very near to where I live

    Lesley

    ps would you like me to have a look in the local library? They have copies of the Goole Times. Looks like his name is Osburn not Osborne
     
  4. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

  5. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member

    From the Merchant Navy Seaman 1918 – 1941 database on FindMyPast.co.uk:
    [​IMG]
    Last name:OSBURN
    First names:George Allan
    Age:
    Day of birth:
    Month of birth:
    Year of birth:1906
    Place of birth:Goole
    County/country of birth:Yorkshire
    Card type:CR1
    Discharge number:R 19497
    Identity certificate no.:
    Series:BT349
    Date range:1921-1941
    Piece number:

    Transcriptions © brightsolid online publishing ltd

    [​IMG]
    Last name:OSBURN
    First names:G A
    Age:
    Day of birth:
    Month of birth:
    Year of birth:1906
    Place of birth:Goole
    County/country of birth:Yorkshire
    Card type:CR2
    Discharge number:R 19497
    Identity certificate no.:
    Series:BT348
    Date range:1921-1941
    Piece number:1

    Transcriptions © brightsolid online publishing ltd


    Mark
     
    ritsonvaljos likes this.
  6. I can find nothing on ROTHER being sunk or damaged around April 1943. One can only assume they were lost due to Maritime causes.
    The vessels logbook should give reasons for their demise.
    This is contained within the British National Archive. search by official number of ROTHER 128883
    Detecting your browser settings

    You would need to visit Kew or get someone to look for you.

    Roger
     
  7. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member

  8. ritsonvaljos

    ritsonvaljos Senior Member

    Thanks to everyone who has replied to my initial enquiry. This is the type of information I was hoping for and it will assist with the reason for researching these two casualties. I will explain the reason for the enquiry. It should also make clear why there is nothing about an enemy attack on SS Rother in April 1943.

    For a number of years I have been researching a tragedy that happened on 27 April 1943 at a Gunnery Range at HMS Fernieness, (or 'Ferny Ness' as it sometimes spelt), East Lothian. There was an accident caused by a Fleet Air Arm aircraft that lost control and crashed. Both aircrew were killed in the crash. The aircraft went on to bounce into a SMT bus carrying a number of passengers who were on a gunnery course at Fernieness. The bus took fire and the driver and several of the passengers also lost their lives.

    According to the local East Lothian records a total of fourteen lost their lives as a result of this accident, made up as follows:

    2 aircrew (Fleet Air Arm, 770 Squadron, HMS Jackdaw);

    9 Acting Able Seamen (R.N., HMS President III, O/P);

    3 'civilians' (the bus driver plus two 'others').

    Some time ago I was able to establish the names of the service casualties with the help of the CWGC. The names of the three civilians killed proved more difficult to establish. Finally, the name of the bus driver was discovered. Yet the names of the two other civilian casualties remained a mystery for a long while and the CWGC could not discover anyone in their records who they may be.

    Eventually - and with the help of other WW2 researchers and the CWGC - the available evidence and a lot of guess work suggested the two 'other' missing civilian casualties could well be Mr Stephen Thacker and George Alan Osborne. These are two of the civilian casualties that were reported to the Commission by Edinburgh City Council after WW2.

    The Commission does not usually record the burial place of civilan casualties. There is nothing specific in the Commission's records that links these two caualties to the HMS Fernieness tragedy. Additionally - as found independently of me by 'Oldman' and others - the CWGC lists another Stephen Thacker, Merchant Seaman with a burial at Sutton-in-Ashfield and a George Alan Osburn buried at Goole.

    One might quite reasonably make the conjecture that the two Stephen Thackers are the same person. Similarly, one might conjecture that George Alan Osborne / Osburn is the same person. The CWGC has told me they would require some further doumentary evidence to link the casualties at Sutton-in-Ashfield and Goole to the civilans listed for Edinburgh City Council.

    For my initial post to this thread I felt it would be best not to mention my conjectures concerning the link between the casualties and the likely connection to the HMS Fernieness tragedy. The reasoning behind this was that I felt it would be better for other site members / contributors to look at the enquiry competely independently from any prior deductions or views of my own up to the present time. It is sometimes best to look at things this way.

    If I can get the additional information the CWGC requires, with the help of other site members, I can submit it and hopefully get the casualty details connected.

    Thanks once again, everyone!
     
  9. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member

  10. Oldman

    Oldman Very Senior Member

    Interesting reading the non acceptance of CWGC without further evidence you would have thought a copy of the death certificate would suffice, also there is the problem of Osborne against Osburn.
    Surely the info provided by BFBSM would go a long way to making CWGC at least review their stance.
     
  11. ritsonvaljos

    ritsonvaljos Senior Member

    Interesting reading the non acceptance of CWGC without further evidence you would have thought a copy of the death certificate would suffice, also there is the problem of Osborne against Osburn.
    Surely the info provided by BFBSM would go a long way to making CWGC at least review their stance.

    I am now putting together what there is about these two casualties and re-submit it to the CWGC. Hopefully, with the additional contributions now coming through there is going to be enough to provide sufficient proof for the Commission.
     
  12. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

    I will TRY- and the word is try- now to upload the picture of George Alan Osburn's grave and the story courtesy of the Goole Times dated Friday April 30th 1943

    GOOLE CEMETERY
     

    Attached Files:

  13. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

    Goole Times
     

    Attached Files:

  14. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

    Original Ships Ledger of SS Rother -courtesy of Goole Library ARCHIVE

    In 1943 before the above accident occured, the SS Rother was making regular trips from Leith to London and return. Interesting to note that her last voyage was April 2nd 1943, arriving at Leith at 12 noon. She did not sail again until 5th May 1943 when she set sail from Leith to Reykjavik.
    It appears that the ship was at Leith docks for a month. So it appears the crew
    were on some of training exercise locally when the plane crashed into the bus. Such bad luck. It is interesting to note that one of the injured ,J W Laverack became a permanent Captain on the SS Rother in July 1954.

    Lesley
     
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  15. Oldman

    Oldman Very Senior Member

    Ritsonvaljos
    Great news, hope the listen this time let us know the out come, Lesley has turned up a great article in the newspaper like most wartime reporting the need to know factor has kicked in.
     
  16. ritsonvaljos

    ritsonvaljos Senior Member

    I will TRY- and the word is try- now to upload the picture of George Alan Osburn's grave and the story courtesy of the Goole Times dated Friday April 30th 1943

    GOOLE CEMETERY

    Thanks very much for this.

    I would like to say this is a really excellent piece of voluntary research you have done on this matter. Not only have you established the link between George A. Osburn with the Fernieness tragedy, but the newspaper article you have uncovered also confirms Stephen Thacker (the casualty from Sutton-in-Ashfield) to the same accident. The contribution about SS Rother and the other crew members is also most welcome.

    From past experience of submitting evidence to the CWGC to correct a casualty's details, this is exactly the type of contemporaneous evidence the Commission will accept. Part of the problem with Stephen Thacker and George Osburn had arisen because the CWGC has received the official details from two different sources after the war: the reporting local authority and the Mercantile Marine. Until now nobody has identified the connection.

    I will now contact the Commission again with the gathered evidence. Usually this takes them several weeks or months to assess the case.

    I already have photographs of the headstones of some of the other casualties in the Fernieness incident (who were Royal Navy gunners). Mr Thacker and Mr Osburn lost their lives as the result of a really dreadful and unfortunate accident. The least we can do is to ensure their sacrifice is remembered.

    Thanks to everyone else who has also helped.
     
  17. Billy Mcgee is the man to talk to regarding the CWGC and its policies towards Merchant Navy Personal in WW2. I have emailed him and ask him to look at this thread.
    The official line from CWGC is that for Merchant Navy Personal to quailify for War Grave status. Their death must be as a result of Direct Enemy Action. However there are numerous incidents when this criteria was not adhered to. CWGC view on these cases is, to put it simply, "let sleeping dogs lay".


    Both of the deaths were reported to the RGSS in May 1943 and are included in their Births and Deaths at Sea Index (attached).

    The vessels movement card would concur with the information provided by 4jonboy that the vessel was in Leith 3/4/43 until 5/5/43. That do's not prove that the crew were on some sort of training exercise, the vessel could have been drydocked, awaiting cargo etc. But given that the RN casualties were from HMS PRESIDENT III it may suggest they were on a DEMS Gunners course. Again the Logbook of ROTHER may give the answer.

    Roger
     

    Attached Files:

  18. ritsonvaljos

    ritsonvaljos Senior Member

    Billy Mcgee is the man to talk to regarding the CWGC and its policies towards Merchant Navy Personal in WW2. I have emailed him and ask him to look at this thread.
    The official line from CWGC is that for Merchant Navy Personal to quailify for War Grave status. Their death must be as a result of Direct Enemy Action. However there are numerous incidents when this criteria was not adhered to. CWGC view on these cases is, to put it simply, "let sleeping dogs lay".


    Both of the deaths were reported to the RGSS in May 1943 and are included in their Births and Deaths at Sea Index (attached).

    The vessels movement card would concur with the information provided by 4jonboy that the vessel was in Leith 3/4/43 until 5/5/43. That do's not prove that the crew were on some sort of training exercise, the vessel could have been drydocked, awaiting cargo etc. But given that the RN casualties were from HMS PRESIDENT III it may suggest they were on a DEMS Gunners course. Again the Logbook of ROTHER may give the answer.

    Roger

    As I understand the guidelines for the CWGC commemorating a civilian (including those in the Merchant Navy) they would either have died as the result of enemy action or died in the same accident as a service casualty. In this instance, it is the latter which enables the Commission to commemorate Stephen Thacker and George Osburn. If there are other circumstances, no doubt someone else will know what they are.

    In this tragedy two Fleet Arm aircrew were lost when their plane crashed. Most of the bus passenges killed as a result of the aircraft hitting it were on the gunnery course as deduced, Most of the others killed were Royal Navy gunners on the gunnery training course.

    The bus driver - Mr David Mathieson, a civilian- was also killed and is commemorated by the Commission. The final two casualties, who have died after being admitted to hospital, are Stephen Thacker and George Osburn (civilian, Merchant Navy).

    If Billy McGee can assist further that would be excellent.
     
  19. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    The rules for the commemoration of Royal Naval personnel as war casualties are different and much simpler to interpret than those rules which apply to Merchant Seamen. If you were a serving member of the Royal Navy and died whilst on active service during the war period you would qualify for commemoration as a Commonwealth war casualty.Verification of Royal Naval casualties is still possible via the UK MOD who have access to personnel records and who are responsible for instructing the Commission to commemorate a particular individual. Verification of casualties from other Commonwealth nationalities is also possible via the relevant Commission Member Government and their records.

    The rules governing Merchant Seamen should be the same but unfortunately they are not. UK Merchant Seamen lost during WWII should, according to the rules, only be commemorated when they are lost as a result of direct enemy action or increased war risk and the loss is confirmed by the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen.

    The piece about being killed in the same accident as a serviceman is news to me and I will keep an open mind on that one.

    Looking at the information supplied thus far it looks like both the casualties buried in their respective home towns are the same seamen that died in Edinburgh and they already have war grave status. I take it that war grave status is not what you are trying to achive but you wish the CWGC to acknowledge that both those seamen are indeed linked to the accident.

    I would also suggest that both MN seamen were actually attending the same gunnery course as the RN DEMS ratings.

    Good luck with it.

    Regards
    Hugh
     
  20. ritsonvaljos

    ritsonvaljos Senior Member

    The piece about being killed in the same accident as a serviceman is news to me and I will keep an open mind on that one.

    Hello Hugh,

    Thanks for your considered opinion on this matter. I have checked back through my files as to what I was informed by the CWGC about the commemoration of a civilian casualty. It is a bit technical but hopefully I worte the following down correctly.

    In the situation where the death is not the result of enemy action there are cases where the Commission will maintain a grave of a 'civilian' who was killed at the same time as a service man or woman. There are a couple of examples other than this HMS Fernieness accident I can think of where something similar happened. I believe the term used is "Incidental and conducive".

    The first one that comes to mind was in some respects similar to the Fernieness incident. In 1942 three RAF officers and a British lady civilian were killed in what was described as a 'road accident' on the Isle of Man. All four graves are maintained by the Commission. Yet, in this instance, only the three service personnel are listed on the CWGC website. The 'Cemetery Report' states there are 26 identified casualties but that there are 25 records in the database.

    The second example that comes to mind happened in Lincolnshire where another British lady civilian was killed in a car crash at the same time as the car driver (who was currently serving in the RAF). Again, the Commission maintain both graves but the civilian is not listed on the CWGC website.

    Returning back to the Fernieness incident, the accident happened when an aircraft (RAF) crashed hitting a bus (again not by enemy action). However, the aircraft was apparently on a target practice exercise at the time. So there was a slight difference in this incident from the two previous examples.

    The driver of the bus was one of the three civilians killed. This gentleman is commemorated on the CWGC website and they have a note which says he died at Fernieness. That left the 'problem' of the two unknown other civilians. The Commission could not (cannot) trace anyone else as being connected to this incident. Then, as we can now finally prove, the two 'civilians' were also serving in the Merchant Navy and on the same gunnery course as the Royal Navy seamen killed in the accident.

    Recently, I was contacted by another WW2 researcher, Mr Andrew Walker, who was seeking information on civilian wartime deaths. Eventually I decided the best approach was to make another attempt to try and sort out the details. Hence my request for help from other members of 'WW2 Talk' who would be able to approach it with a clear mind and critical eye. Thanks to other contributors to 'WW2 Talk' the missing evidence has been uncovered.

    All the best
     

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