One brother returns but the other loses his life on HMS Laurentic

Reprinted from The Packet, June 21, 2018
by Lester Green

Eleazer Gosse

The family of Robert and Sarah Ann (Vey) Gosse contributed greatly to the Great War effort in 1914. Their connection with the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve began years before the war with the enlistment of their oldest son, Eldred in March of 1908. His brother, Eleazer, followed him in the winter of 1909. Both brothers returned to St. John’s in the fall of 1909 and completed 62 days of training with the HMS Calypso. Before the Great War was declared, both were highly skilled sailors with Eldred completing 202 days over a period of six years and Eleazer finishing with 156 days over five years.

In July 1912 Eleazer married Emma Louisa Tilsed of Dorset, England and began his association with overseas where he remained for a period of time after the war.

Clipping from the Evening Telegram, November 11, 1914

Both brothers responded when war was declared by Britain against Germany in the summer of 1914. Eleazer was the first to arrive at St. John’s on August 4 and received orders that he was being drafted to the Royal Canadian Navy and assigned to the HMCS Niobe, along with five other sailors from the Southwest Arm area. However, he did not join the ship at St. John’s with the other 106 Naval Reservist but at Halifax, according to an article entitled Joined Niobe at Halifax that was published in the Evening Telegram on November 11, 1914.

He spent the next nine months patrolling the waters along the eastern seaboard patrolling for enemy vessels and enforcing the embargo against Germany. In July 1915, the Niobe showed signed of aging and was returned to Halifax with worn out boilers which finished her sailings days. She ended her sailing career and became a shore-based ship for accommodating naval personnel.

Seaman Eldred Gosse’s ships ledger. Source TRPAD GN 182.3

Eldred sailed out of St. John’s on the SS Carthaginian with several other sailors from Random on November 18, 1914. He was assigned to HMS Vivid I, Devonport when he arrived in England. Within three weeks, he was drafted to the HMS Hilary, an Armed Merchant Cruiser. Onboard were four sailors from Southwest Arm. Two were from St. Jones Without, Leander Green and Edward John Green. Luke and John Smith, of Gooseberry Cove were brothers.

Within weeks of being assigned to HMS Pembroke on January 5, 1917, he was granted leave to the HMS Briton. He would now get the opportunity to travel home to see his new bride, Elizabeth Jane Butt, that he had married on November 2, 1914, just days before leaving for war. Sometimes life can deliver severe and cruel blows, and such was the case for his wife when Eldred lost his life while returning home on the doomed HMS Laurentic on January 25, 1917.

Seaman Eleazer Gosse’s ships ledger. Source TRPAD GN 182.3

Eleazer arrived overseas and was assigned to the HMS Pembroke I. He was drafted to Osiris II, a depot ship and served one year on the trawler, John Mitchell. Later he was sent to the depot ship, White Oak, at Poole, England. He served on both the drifters Bracoden and Queen Mother between February and September of 1917. His final draft was to HMS Research, a depot ship located at Portland. He continued serving on the Queen Mother but was drafted to Lord Stanhope (January 1 – March 31),  Maristo (April 1-June 30) , and spent his final week overseas aboard the HMS Pelican.

His was transferred to HMS Briton on July 8, where he remained until his demobilization on Sept 10, 1919. He was likely the last sailor from our area to be released from the Naval service. He remained overseas for a period of time with his wife but eventually moved to St. John’s. They lived on Convent Avenue where they raised six children. He passed away in 1930. Emma continued living in St. John’s until her death in 1981, 51 years after her husband.

Seaman Eldred Gosse’s drill records for HMS Calypso. Source MHA_HMS Calypso Fonds

British Cruiser Sunk. Source Evening Telegram, January 1,1917