Stories of adventure, mystery and intrigue encourages Peddle brothers to enlist

Reprinted from The Packet, November 9, 2017
by Lester Green

Alexander Peddle

David Peddle and his wife, Mary Ann were married in 1885 and raised a family of 3 sons and 3 daughters. Abijah was the oldest and among the first to join the Newfoundland Naval Reserve from the region when the navy was in still its infancy..

Abijah’s nephew, James Peddle, can recall many of the stories told by his uncle who joined the newly formed Newfoundland Naval Reserve in 1904 at the age of 18 years. An article that appeared in the Evening Telegram in November 1905 entitled “The Boys Who Circumnavigate The Atlantic …” speaks to young boys boarding a British convoy of three ships for naval training. The HMS Latoha carried a crew of 40 sailors from the Naval Reserve. The HMS Scylla had a complement of 40 and among them our very own Seaman Abijah Peddle. Other sailors onboard the convoy from our region included Thomas Lambert, Isaiah Seward, Edgar Soper and Isaac Soper. These two ships had left St. John’s a few days earlier destined for Halifax. The HMS Sappro was preparing to leave on day of November 4 with the remaining 37 sailors. This brought the total to 117 Naval Reservist who were going to met at Halifax harbour and sail down the sea board of the New England States, past the Gulf of Mexico, along the coast of Brazil and on to the Rio Grande, Argentina. Then the ship was to turn and cross the South Atlantic and travel up the west coast of Africa and finally to Liverpool, England. It would then leave and cross the North Atlantic for St. John’s and return home the latter part of April.

Archer Peddle (1894-1974). Photo courtesy his son, Jim Peddle

Uncle Abijah told stories such as the one about his dramatic experience on Caribbean French island of Martinique. He always remembered the tremendous and horrifying  damage done by the volcano Mount Pelee in the harbour of St. Pierre that erupted three years earlier killing 30,000 people. The harbour still showed evidence of damage to sunken ships and flattened buildings as if a war had rampaged three years earlier. He told many other stories of what he had witnessed on his voyage around the world.

It may have been these stories of adventure, mystery and intrigue that led  his brother Alexander and first cousin, Caleb, to  travel with him to St. John’s in November 1907 to join the Newfoundland Reserve. Alex spent the next seven years training with the reserve.

Their younger brother, Archer, would have been exposed to many stories sitting around the table under the glow of a dimly lit lamp, with a group of men yarning about their worldly experiences. These stories likely encouraged him to join in December, 1913.

Abijah Peddle (1886-1980)

Archer’s son, James, relates the story of how his father’s family got the news about the war:

“They were on the Labrador fishing in the summer of 1914 when they were boarded by the magistrate who inquired if any of the crew were Royal Naval Reservist. Grandfather  replied: “Yes, he had sons aboard that received training.” The magistrate informed them that war had broken out in Europe and all reservist were being called to duty. There was a steamer coming down the coast picking-up reservist and that they should prepare to leave and  go home. The Admiralty  would contact them with news of reporting to the HMS Calypso. Abijah did not return but remained with grandfather because he had completed his contract obligations with the Naval Reserve in January, 1911 and did not sign up again.

Part 2 of this story will continue in next week’s paper and relate the story of how Archer

Evening Telegram, November 4, 1905

waited on the docks of Grimsby, England on the morning of May 28, 1918 waiting patiently for the return of his brother’s ship, HMT Dirk, that came under the attack of German submarine, UC-75.