Hodge’s Cove Sailor Attends Coronation of King George V

Reprinted from The Packet, May 8, 2019
by Lester Green

(Click on images to enlarge)

Able Seaman William Peddle, Hodge’s Cove. (Photo courtesy of Donna Peach)

Qualified Seaman William Peddle was one of our highly-trained sailors when the Great War was declared in 1914. He had already become a successful reservist and was among 20 sailors who attend the coronation of King George V. His greatest challenge for survival would occur when his ship, the HMS Alcantara, encountered the German raider. He was among the approaching landing party that night when the Grief suddenly lowered its Norwegian flag, raised the German Naval Jack insignia and started firing.

Born on October 13, 1879 to John and Rosanna Peddle of Hodge’s Cove, William was one of seven siblings.

William married Ethel, daughter of Josiah and Mary Peddle of Hodge’s Cove, in 1905 and shortly after enlisted with the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve.

He signed his first commitment papers during March 1906 likely influenced by stories told by his cousin, Abijah Peddle, who sailed to the Caribbean a year earlier. For the years following, he completed the mandatory Royal Naval Reserve requirement of 28-day session per year.

When the announcement for the coronation of King George V occurred in June, 1911, Qualified Seaman William Peddle had completed 168 days of naval training. Combined with his exemplary conduct, one can easily understand why he was chosen among the 20 Newfoundland sailors to attend the King’s coronation in London. All participants were presented with the Coronation Medal by King George V.

He returned and completed an additional 84 days before the outbreak of the war, giving him a total of 252 days of naval training qualifying him as one of the most highly-trained sailors from the Southwest Arm area during the war.

When the Royal Proclamation was issued in August 1914, William reported to St. John’s and sailed out of St. John’s harbour on November 6, 1914 aboard the SS Franconia.

After receiving training overseas, his first deployment was to the ship, HMS Alcantara. The vessel was built in 1913 for the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company and was used as a Royal mail carrier. It was requisitioned by Admiralty in 1914, converted into an Armed Merchant Cruiser and assigned to the Tenth Cruiser Squadron.

On the night of February 29, 1916, the Alcantara was one of four British vessels that made contact with the German raider SMS Grief. The Greif was disguised as a Norwegian freighter and creating havoc by conducting night raids. The Alcantara was the first to approach the ship with Norwegian colors painted on its side. The crew and landing party of the Alcantara were shocked when the Grief raised the German flag, dropped its bulwarks, and commenced firing. 

Onboard the landing party was one of our sailors, Able Seaman William Peddle who saved the life of a fellow wounded sailor in need of assistance. For his actions during this encounter, Seaman Peddle was Mentioned in Dispatches (MID), an award given when the commanding officer mentions to his superiors in official reports of deeds of gallantry. It is denoted by oak leaf emblem on the Victory Medal.

Mentioned for Bravery. Source St. John’s Daily Star July 14, 1916.

The St. John’s Daily Star on June 14, 1916 published an article entitled “Mentioned for Bravery” that references the role played by Qualified Seaman William Peddle.

William finished his career overseas serving on the various bases including HMS Victory I, Excellent, President III, and Vivid III.

On April 26, 1919, he returned to the HMS Briton and was demobilized on June 18, 1919.

 His final award was the Royal Naval Long Service Good Conduct Medal (LSGC). David Parson’s book The Best Small-Boat Seaman in The Navy, explains why this medal was awarded.

“This medal was awarded to Petty Officers and Ratings of the Royal Naval Reserve for 15 years of service, though war time service counted as double. It was awarded to at least 19 members of the Newfoundland Division.”

Based on this definition, Qualified Seaman Peddle received the award for 23 years of naval service for King and Country.

William returned to his wife, Ethel, at Hodge’s Cove. In 1924, they had one more child bringing his family to three children. His wife died in 1937 leaving him a widower. He lived a quiet life in Hodge’s Cove and died in 1964 at the age of 84 years. He is buried at the (new) Anglican Cemetery at Hodge’s Cove.

Coronation Medal awarded by King George V.


Oak Leaf award for Mentioned in Dispatch



Naval Long Service and Good Conduct Medal