Family sends four to war

Reprinted from The Packet, June 26, 2019
by Lester Green

(Click on images to enlarge)

On November 26, 1915, The Daily News headline reads “A Family of Fighting Newfoundlanders.” It was an unusual article for that time-period, carrying photos of Adam and Mary Ann Seaward surrounded by images of their four sons. Their sons were dressed in uniforms, two that enlisted with the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve and two with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. By the end of the war, only three would return their home.

Adam Seaward and Mary Ann Strong lived in the Gooseberry for several years after their marriage before moving to Clarenville around 1893 where their remaining children were born.

Adam and Mary Ann’s family, like that of Joseph and Martha Smith who had five sons serve, contributed significantly to the war effort overseas.

Joseph and Martha were also from Gooseberry Cove. Martha suffered from the mental anguish of losing her husband just as the war started and by 1917 lost one of her sons, Luke, who was lost forever on the HMS Laurentic off Lough Swilly, Ireland.

An article describing the Seaward family appeared in the St. John’s Daily during November 1915, containing five photos with captions. It was unusual to see articles published at that time containing photos and rarely more than one photo. The center photo was of Adam and Mary Ann surround by their four boys. Two served with the Royal Naval Reserve and two with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment overseas.

Seaman Isaiah Seaward. (Photo courtesy of Royal Canadian Legion, Clarenville)

Isaiah was the oldest and joined the Royal Naval Reserve in March 1906. He completed four years of training before his marriage to Clara Penney on April 1, 1909. He returned to the HMS Calypso in March 1910 and completed consecutive years until the war was declared in August 1914. He had completed 252 days of training making him a highly-skilled sailor.

Bartholomew followed in Isaiah’s footsteps. He signed with the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve in 1908 and continued with his 28 days of training each year until the war was declared. He completed 196 days qualifying as a well-skilled sailor.

Unlike his brothers, Horatio enlisted with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment on September 08, 1914 and was assigned the number 172.

All three brothers sailed out of St. John’s Harbour. Horatio sailed on the SS Florizel on October 3, 1914 with the first 500. He was followed by his brothers Isaiah and Bart who were deployed overseas on November 06, 1914 aboard the HMS Franconia.

Seaman Bartholomew Seaward. Source St. John’s Daily Star-1915-11-26

Both Isaiah and Bart were assigned to ships days after their arrival in England. Isaiah was deployed to HMS Fiona on November 19, 1914 where he spent most of his career. Bart was transferred to the HMS Amsterdam on November 8, 1914.

Both ships made up a flotilla of vessels that composed the 10th Squadron, Northern Patrol of the Grand Fleet between 1914-1917. Its mission was to patrol and enforce an embargo that was imposed by the British Allies against Germany in the North Sea.

Horatio first saw action at Sulva Bay when the Royal Newfoundland Regiment fought the Turks. His regiment was assigned to British Expeditionary Forces in December 1916.

Private Horatio Seaward. (Photo courtesy of Royal Canadian Legion, Clarenville)

Several months later, the Seawards would mourn the loss of their son, Private Horatio Seaward. He was killed in action on August 16, 1917 at the Battle of Langemarck, Belgium. His parents were mentally tortured for the remainder of the war as they constantly prayed for the safe return of their three remaining sons.

Army records indicate that Private Seaward was buried at Captain’s Farm, Belgium.

Sometime around 1915, Joseph, the youngest of the four brothers enlisted with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and according to family was assigned the number Regimental number 1644.

Private Joseph Seaward. Source St. John’s Daily Star-1915-11-26

It is uncertain whether Joseph went overseas to the front. The family claims that he was honourable discharged after his mother requested that he not be sent overseas because of the sacrifice already of her son, Horatio.

Horatio’s three brothers returned home safely.

Isaiah returned to his family at Clarenville.

Bart returned to Clarenville for a short period of time before moving to New York and marrying Isabella Ebsary. He never returned home and his buried in the United States.

After Joseph was demobilized, he returned to Clarenville and worked for a few years unloading coal boats. He left the area when he successfully passed the constabulary test at St. John’s and joined in 1922.

He married Margaret Cummins on October 4, 1922, where his occupation is recorded as a constable. In 1948, after 25 years with the constabulary, he retired and went to Toronto, Ontario. He passed away at the age of 103 years and is buried next to his wife at Toronto Prospect Cemetery who died in 1952.