Naval Career Spent in the Company of Other Southwest Arm Sailors

Reprinted from The Packet, May 1, 2019
by Lester Green

(Click on images to enlarge)

Seaman William John Peddle, Hodge’s Cove. (Photo courtesy Lana Rowsell)

William enlisted with the navy on December 30, 1910 and completed 112 days of training. He spent his entire career in the company of fellow sailors from the Southwest Arm region. When he returned he moved to be British Columbia to search for work.

William John was born to John and Helen (Smith) Peddle on November 22, 1889, at Hodge’s Cove, Trinity Bay. John was the youngest son of eight siblings.

He first enlisted with the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve on December 30, 1910 and completed the required naval training of 28 days per year within two months onboard the HMS Calypso. Before the war was declared, William had completed 112 days of training making him a well-skilled sailor.

In the summer of 1914, William John received orders by Royal Proclamation that he was to proceed to St. John’s and report to the HMS Calypso for deployment overseas.

On November 6, 1914, he sailed through the Narrows on SS Franconia bound for overseas. Onboard the ship were 33 other sailors from the Southwest Arm area.


Naval Heroes Home on Furlough. Source Western Star January 10, 1917.

Upon arrival, he was drafted directly to the HMS Virginian. He was surprised to learn that six other sailors from the Southwest Arm area were also onboard. All seven men were considered experienced sailors having received naval training before the outbreak of war.

The men included George Drover and Kenneth Peddle, Hodge’s Cove; brothers Stuart and Leander Smith, Island Cove; Albert Drodge of Little Heart’s Ease; and, William Butt of Queen’s Cove.

William served two years aboard the HMS Virginian, an Armed Merchant Cruiser that helped formed the Northern Patrol, 10th Cruiser Squadron, enforcing the blockade against Germany. Royal Naval logs for the ship shows that all Newfoundland sailors were dismissed at Swatbacks Minn, Scotland on November 25, 1916.

William was then assigned to HMS Pembroke for six months before receiving orders that he was being transferred home to HMS Briton. All three newspaper recorded the homecoming. The Evening Telegram story begins with “When the SS Kyle arrives at Port Aux Basques tomorrow morning she will have onboard 108 men of the Royal Naval Reserve…”

Among the list of names recorded by the Western Star are the names of the above Southwest Arm sailors. Kenneth Peddle’s name did not appear in the article but is recorded in another newspaper has returning from furlough on April 14, 1917.

Ship’s ledger for Royal Naval Reserve. Source TRPAD_ GN 182.3

William returned to HMS Briton, along with George Drover, and was drafted to HMS Caesar located at Berth Grassy Bay, Bermuda. It was serving as a guard ship and gunnery training facility.

There were another five sailors from the Southwest Arm that served during the same time period. He spent six weeks aboard the HMS Caesar and was transferred to the HMS Eileen.

Joining him on the Eileen was George Drover and Elijah Price. The ship was stationed in the Caribbean and Northern South America conducting various convoys to and from Trinidad and Guyana. She also conducted patrols of these waters and would have boarded numerous boats checking for contraband goods.

Reservists List Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve 1900-1916. Source HMS Calypso Fonds, MUN.

Orders issued on December 26, 1918 informed him that he would be returning home to HMS Briton where he spent the next four months. He received his final orders on April 2, 1919 for shore demobilization.

He returned to Hodge’s Cove and within a few years and made his journey across Canada seeking employment. He settled in Saanich, British Columbia where he found work.

He remained and worked at Saanich until his passing in 1977. He is buried at there.