Have just looked at the Union Castle Staff Register web site, having read about this in a magazine.

I wondered if my uncle John Rundle Pearce was listed, but could find no trace of his name. I do have in my possession a cutting from a Clacton-on-Sea paper which tells a little about the tragedy and his very fortunate survival.

Service Record



Galway Castle

Asst Steward


“What is there that the despicable Hun will not stoop to do? Blood and fire are his symbols, and in murder he revels. The latest atrocity was perpetrated on the high seas, 300 miles from land a few days ago, when the Galway Castle liner outward-bound for South Africa was torpedoed.

On Thursday morning, at 7 am, in a stormy sea whilst the passengers were .just arising and making their toilet there came a terrible crash and awful concussion, the ship was almost bent in twain, torpedoed! Immediately the order was given for the boats to be lowered, and without panic or scurry, with dauntless British pluck, and observing the old chivalrous custom: "Women and children first." the passengers were placed in the boats. The crew were the last to leave the ship and among these was steward J. R. Pearce, son of Mr. and Mrs. H. Pearce of "Trelawne " Lancaster Gardens, Clacton-on-Sea. When the time came for him to quickly take his place in the boat, unfortunate­ately it could not hold another one, every boat was packed to overflowing. What could be done? Only this, he must return to the derelict liner and wait--- for something. This he did, and the old ship kept afloat for six hours. By that time a destroyer came and took off those who had taken refuge.

As the boats were being lowered by davits into the rough sea many lost their lives, and one boat was dashed against the propeller of the liner, all occupants being drowned. The total number of lives lost is two hundred. Most piteous were the sights at Plymouth, the mothers searching to see if their children were in the boats, and grown ups looking for their lost relatives.

Mr. J. R. Pearce is only 18 years of age and had served on the Galway Castle for three years. He is now spending a week’s holiday in Clacton.

Another victim of the disaster was the father of Miss Millage, a talented member of The Tatlers, performing at the West Cliff Gardens this week.  Mr. Millage was one of the officers of the fated ship.”

The article also mentions John Stuart Millage. I will attempt to attach a copy of the article to this E-Mail, sorry about the poor quality of the article.  

In the event was unable to copy, so have typed out the article.

Do you have any other information regarding my uncle's service with Union Castle Line?

Tony Hidden

Clactonian Saved from Torpedoed Liner

John Rundle Pearce

Union-Castle Home Page
Home Page Previous Page Next Page
Union-Castle Home Page