Cramm brothers of Hatchet Cove

Reprinted from The Packet, October 11, 2018
by Lester Green

James and Joseph both enlisted with the Royal Naval Reserve before the Great War. Joseph’s war naval career was shortened due to a leg injury sustained while serving on the HMS Niobe. James survived the war but narrowly escaped when two of the ships he served on sank shortly after his deployment to other vessels.

Seaman James Cramm. (Photo courtesy of Dianne Sexton)

The spelling of the surname of the Cramm brothers vary in records – including naval, church, census and newspapers. Variations include Cran, Crann, Crom, Cram and Cramm. Today most family descendents spell the surname as Cramm while others insist it should be Cram.

James was born on April 12, 1887 and his younger brother, Joseph, October 12, 1889. They were both sons of George and Bernette Cramm and they spent their childhood at Hatchet Cove.

Newfoundland Naval Contingent at Coronation. Source Evening Telegram June 3, 1911.

James enlisted in March of 1908 and served seven years before the war, completing a total 228 days of naval training at the HMS Calypso. An article entitled “Newfoundland Naval Contingent” appeared in the Evening Telegram on June 3, 1911 confirms that James travelled overseas on the SS Mongolian with a contingent of 20 Royal Naval Reservist to attend the coronation of King George V. Also, among the sailors was William Peddle of Hodge’s Cove.

Joseph signed his application for enlistment during March of 1911 and completed 112 days before the outbreak of the Great War. Both James and Joseph responded to the Royal Proclamation in August 1914 and reported for duty at the HMS Calypso, St. John’s.

Seaman Joseph Cramm’s Naval Ships Ledger. Source TRPAD_ GN 182.3

Joseph was deployed to the Royal Canadian Navy and assigned to HMCS Niobe. He sustained a serious injury to his left knee three weeks later. According to his naval record, the accident left him unfit for further naval service. He was sent home on November 5 ending his naval career.

Joseph married Emelina, daughter of Eleazer and Elizabeth Benson of St. Jones Within, on February 16, 1915. Their first three children were born at Hatchet Cove but the remaining eight were born at Goobies Siding (Goobies) after Joseph moved his family. He is listed with nine children in 1935 census and 11 by 1945 census. He passed away on March 25, 1942 and is buried at Goobies’ Pentecostal Cemetery.

HMS Niobe

James was deployed overseas to HMS Vivid I on November 6, 1914 where he spent four weeks receiving further training before being drafted to the Armed Merchant Cruiser, Oropesa, along with two other sailors from the Southwest Arm area, Benjamin Smith and Eli Seward.

In March 1915, Oropesa was responsible for the sinking a German submarine.  Shortly after sinking the submarine, James was promoted to Leading Seaman.

Leading Seaman Cramm was re-assigned from the ship on October 30, 1915. The ship was renamed HMS Champagne and torpedoed on October 9, 1917. All three men had escaped the clutches of death.

He was drafted to the HMS Avenger on March 14, 1916. The ship was an armed merchant cruiser assigned to the 10th Cruiser Squadron, Northern Patrol. The ship’s log records a notation that on November 20, 1916 at 11:15pm one leading seaman (likely James Cramm) and one able seaman from NRNR was discharged to Chatham.

He was then assigned to HMS Pembroke and remained there until May 24, 1917. In June 1917, HMS Avenger was struck by a torpedo and sank killing one seaman. Leading Seaman James Cramm had escaped death again.

He received furlough and returned to HMS Briton on May 25. After returning from furlough, he was assigned, along with several other men from the Southwest Arm area, to the HMS Caesar located at Bermuda Naval Station. The ship was serving as a guard and gunnery training ship.

He remained there for five months before being transferred overseas, along with Robert Balsom,  to the HMS Pembroke. He remained there between November 1917 and April 1918. His final year overseas was spent assigned to HMS President III and Vivid III. On March 12, 1919 he received orders that he was being sent home to the HMS Briton.

On May 12, 1919 he received his demobilization papers and returned home to his family at Queen’s Cove. His wife, Jemima passed away on June 22, 1923 but no record of his death could be located.