Oldest brother patrols water of Caribbean, while newly enlisted brothers serve overseas

Reprinted from The Packet, November 23, 2017
by Lester Green

Seaman George Drover. (Photo courtesy of Ron Stone)


Samuel Drover, Hodge’s Cove

William and Adeliza (Hannah Eliza) Drover of Hodge’s Cove had three sons in a family of seven children. All three sons, George, Leander and Samuel enlisted with the Royal Naval Reserve and trained onboard the HMS Calypso.

George was the oldest son enlisting in February, 1910. He trained over a five year period, serving 28 days per year for a total of 140 before the start of the Great War. He was ordered by Royal Proclamation on October 8, 1914 to report to the HMS Calypso. He married four months earlier on June 19, 1914 to Susannah, daughter of Samuel and Leah Jane Bishop of Hatchet Cove. Their son, Josiah was  born in October 1914, possibly prior to his departure for the war.

After completing another months training at HMS Calypso, he was transported overseas with 32 other sailors from Southwest Arm region. He was assigned to HMS Virginian, an armed merchant cruiser that served with the 10th Cruiser Squadron on Northern Patrol of the North Atlantic. He served approximately two years enforcing the blockade against Germany, performing duties where members of its crew would board ships and examine cargo and crew list.

He was dismissed from the HMS Virginian at Swatbacks Minn, Shetland, Scotland according to British naval logs of HMS Virginian. An entry in the logs states: “1:00 o’clock on November 25, 1916, Newfoundland seaman left the ship.”

He was transferred and served a few months at HMS Pembroke before being shipped back to HMS Briton naval base at St. John’s where he was granted a month’s leave, according to an article published in the  Western Star on January 10, 1917 under the heading Naval Heroes Home On Leave.

When he returned from leave on June 14, 1917, he was transferred to HMS Caesar at Berth Grassy Bay, Bermuda that was serving as a guard ship and gunnery training ship. He served approximately one month before being transferred to HMS Eileen, an armed Yacht, located at Bermuda and responsible for patrolling water of the Caribbean Sea. He finished the rest of his navy career in the Caribbean’s serving aboard HMS Parika and HMS Trinidad before being transferred to HMS Briton where he received his  shore demobilization on May 19, 1919.

His two brothers, Samuel and Leander, signed their enlistment applications on May 10 and May 25, 1917 respectively.

Samuel completed his training at HMS Briton and travelled overseas to HMS Vivid III, used for the Royal Naval Division Trawler Section, at Devonport, England. He was then assigned to HMS Egmont on Malta Island where he spent eight months at the base ship before being transferred back to HMS Vivid III. His last two months overseas were spent at Devonport before returning to HMS Briton where he received shore demobilization on April 2, 1919.

The HMS Skirmisher (by Symonds and Co.). From the collections of the Imperial War Museums.

Leander completed his basic training and travelled overseas during mid-November. He was assigned to HMS Vivid III where he spent several months before being transferred to the HMS Skirmisher on August 25, 1918. HMS Skirmisher was one of two Sentinel-class scout cruisers built for the Royal Navy and designed to act as a leader of destroyer flotilla of ships but was found to be too slow for this assignment when turbine engines started to appear in the British fleet. When Seaman Leander Drover joined the ship in 1918, it was attached to the Aegean Squadron fleet composed of 12 ships led by the battleship HMS Agamemnon. He was then transferred to HMS Vivid III on March 16, 1919 where he completed his final month overseas and returned home to HMS Briton on May 14, 1919. Seaman Drover was demobilized on July 2, 1919.

George returned to his family at Hodge’s Cove that had now grown to three, with the birth of Lillian in January1919. He continued to support his family by accepting work in the woods as a river driver with the A.N.D. company. Church records and an article in the Evening Telegram on June 8, 1923 records how he tragically lost his life by drowning on the Harpoon River near Millertown driving logs for the company on June 6, 1923. His wife, Susannah remained a widow until 1933, when she re-married John Peddle of Hodge’s Cove.

Samuel married the sister of Susannah and Julia Ann of Hatchet Cove, Mary Ann Bishop, on August 17, 1922 at St. John’s. They had one child before he moved with his family to Montreal in 1931, where their second child, Fredrick, was born. Samuel passed away on May 14, 1958 and is buried at Mount Royal Cemetery next to his wife who died on October 13, 1977.

Leander married Stella Alfreda Brace on March10, 1921 in Hodge’s Cove. He moved his family to Bishop’s Falls and remained there until his death in 1966. His wife lived until 1991 and is buried next to him.

Leander Drover’s records


Evening Telegram, June 8, 1923

This will be the last article for the series Where Once They Sailed for this calendar year. The series will continue in June 2018 with the remainder of the stories about our young boys who enlisted with the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve during the Great War and sailed from Southwest Arm area of Trinity Bay to fight for King and Country.