Historical Jottings Part 2

A review of old British Newspapers has come up with four interesting articles involving ships which were to become part of the RFA or the alleged actions of certain members of the crew of RFAs.


1. On 6 April 1902 the Admiralty Hospital ship Maine – later to become RFA Maine (1) – was on the short passage from Portsmouth Dockyard to Southampton when the ship’s Master – Captain Langredge – had occasion to reprimand an Able Seaman Sutton in respecting a breach of discipline. The Able Seaman responded by using obscene language to the Master, threatened him with violence and even challenged the Captain to a fight. During the same short voyage a Fireman Chick refused to turn to when ordered to do so and then assaulted the Chief Engineer and two other officers before he could be secured.

Maine 1

HMHS Maine

Both AB Sutton and Fireman Chick appeared before Southampton Police Court on 7 April 1902 and each pleaded Guilty to Assault. Both expressed regret and told the Court they had had too much to drink when in Portsmouth. Sutton was sentenced to 2 months imprisonment and Chick to 3 months imprisonment.



2. On 15 November 1918 at Cupar, Fife Sheriff’s Court Pumpman James Holt, Chief Engineer Officer John Logan and 2nd Engineer Officer Horace Alyward all from an unspecified RFA ship which was berthed at Dysart appeared before the Sheriff charged with having stolen from their ship a quantity of brass valued at £13 6sh.

The Fiscal told the Court that on a day when the ship’s Master was ashore the men had taken the metal off the ship in what was alleged to have been a surreptitious manner and sold it in Dysart for £5

It was reported to the Court that with the arrest of the three men the ship had been unable to sail.


Sheriff Samuel Armour-Hannay

Sheriff Samuel Armour-Hannay sentenced each man to one month’s imprisonment


3. On 18 March 1933 Captain William T Williams of RFA War Afridi appeared before Gosport Police Court charged with attempting to evade duties on a quantity of spirits, liqueurs and champagne, eight pairs of artificial silk stockings and cigarettes valued together at £4 5sh 10d plus £13 0sh 5d duty.


RFA War Afridi

It was reported to the Court that a Customs & Excise rummage crew boarded the vessel at Gosport when it arrived from the Persian Gulf. Captain Williams only declared certain items that he had in use. A search found other items concealed in a space below drawers in his cabin. The Captain explained to the Customers Officer that the undeclared items were for his use while the ship was laid up at Devonport.

William T Williams
Captain William T Williams RFA

In a written statement Captain Williams told the Court that he was going to use the goods for the ships company. The artificial silk stockings were from a friend in Alexandria and he was going to give them to his wife as a gift. He regretted his actions.

The Court fined Captain Williams £35


4. On 25 November 1936 while RFA War Krishna was in refit in dry dock at T W Greenwell & Co., Sunderland two of the crew – 2nd Cook Tan Yam and Fireman’s Boy Tung Thung – were found unconsious in a small locker space where they had been overcome by carbon monoxide fumes while sleeping instead of attend to their duties.  

 HMS War Krishna

RFA War Krishna


They were discovered by the Chief Officer on his rounds. Sunderland’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr A Stuart Hebblethwaite, directed their removal to the Borough Hospital. It is believed that Tan Yam had been unconsious for about 12 hours and Tung Thung for slightly longer. Their condition was reported by the hospital as progressing favourably after oxygen treatment