HMS Devonshire Serves as Home for Sailor’s Naval Career

Reprinted from The Packet, March 28, 2019
by Lester Green

(Click on images to enlarge)

James Langdon and his brother. (Photo courtesy of Langdon family.)

After receiving a year of training at HMS Briton, St. John’s, Seaman James Langdon spent the rest of his career overseas. He received further training at HMS Vivid III before being drafted to the HMS Devonshire, an armed merchant cruiser. The ship’s assignment during his service was to protect convoys crossing the Atlantic from England to Canada.

James Langdon was born in Torbay on Oct 24, 1895 to Charles Edward and Charlotte Pippy of Blackhead.  At the age of nine years, he was adopted from an orphanage at St. John’s by James and Naomi Drover of Hodge’s Cove where they raised him as their child.

He joined the Royal Naval Reserve on Jan 4, 1917 where he listed Naomi in the section for parents. He began his training at HMS Briton completing one full year of training before being shipped overseas.

Insert Seaman James Langdon, Hodge’s Cove

James was drafted to the HMS Vivid III, a shore-based facility located at Devonport, England on February 22. The base was used for the Royal Naval Division Trawler Section. He completed about four months of training and was assigned to the HMS Devonshire, an armed merchant cruiser assigned to the Grand Fleets North America and West Indies Station to accompany convoys.

Naval records show that he was drafted to the ship and joined the crew on June 7, 1918 at Glasgow, England. The ship made four round trips across the Atlantic from England to Canada usually in accompanying convoys. For details of dates and location see the accompanying table.

HMS Devonshire convoys June 8-December 18, 1918

Most of voyages were routine but the crew had to be always training and on the alert for German submarines and other dangers in the water such as mines set out by the enemy.

On September 9, the crew of HMS Devonshire were vividly reminded of these dangers. Shortly after leaving Liverpool, the ship received a message notifying them that SS Missanabie was struck by a torpedoed and sunk off Ireland with the loss of 45 lives.

For the safety of all ships while crossing the Atlantic, it was naval protocol to have ships travelling in convoys. Records indicate that during his assignment on the HMS Devonshire some convoys reached as high as 25 ships.

Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve engagement papers. Source TRPAD_GN 182.14

On December 3, HMS Devonshire departed Halifax, destined for Boston. After spending a week at port, the ship set sail for Bermuda and arrived there on December 18. Records show that the ship spent about four months at the Bermuda station before being sent home.

His final naval days were spent at the HMS Briton, St. John’s where he remained until being demobilized on July 2, 1919

James returned home to Hodge’s Cove where he married Maria, daughter of Albert and Rachael Smith, Hodge’s Cove. They were married at Hodge’s Cove on April 29, 1926 and had four children, one that died in infancy. The remaining three children were raised at Hodge’s Cove.

His daughter, Maria, described that her father was a devoted church member and would be found at church during each Sunday services. She explained that after he returned from the war he supported his family by being a crew member with Silas Tucker on the Ruby L.M. Smith where he sailed up to North in pursue of the Labrador fishery. He also spent many years in the lumberwoods.

James passed away on February 28, 1965 at Hodge’s Cove and is buried next to his wife, Maria, who died two years later.