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Remembering World War I Yarmouth Connections
  Merchant Seaman William H. Foster  
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William H. Foster William Foster was the son of Charles and Jane Foster of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. He had three brothers, Wallace, Edward, and Harvey, and two sisters, Mary (Alice) and Annie. William Foster did not enlist in the military during World War I; however, was a merchant seaman aboard the SS George Royle that transported material between England and the continent during the war. The ship was a coal cargo ship (collier).     On January 18, 1915, the SS George Royle, owned by James Westoll and built in 1892 by Short Bros., was bound from the Tyne to Saint Nazaire, in France when the ship encountered a blizzard.  The ship was reported to be in a sinking condition. A RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) lifeboat was sent out from Cromer in Norfolk but found no trace of the SS George Royle.   The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) provided lifeboats to lifeboat stations in the United Kingdom and Ireland.  There are conflicting reports concerning survivors.  One account claims that all the crew were lost; another that five survived. No word had been received from William since June 1914 and his family initiated enquires. It was learned from a shipping company in London that William had shipped out as a cook on the SS George Royle and the ship had been lost at sea in January 1915.   Sources: “A Monument Speaks” A Thurston; 1989 (p 149) Article; Loss of the George Royle: (The Times)  
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THE LOSS OF THE GEORGE ROYLE The   George   Royle,   a   vessel   of   2,525   tons, which    left    the    Tyne    last    Friday    bound    for    St. Nazaire,    foundered    during    the    early    hours    of yesterday   morning   a   mile   to   the   east   of   Sheringham shoal    and    three    to    four    miles    due    north    of    the coast-guard station at Weybourne. Of   her   crew   of   12   to   18   hands      it   is   feared     that   all   were   lost   save   five,   who   were   taken   off   by a Lowestoft craft which had arrived at that port. Between    8    and    10    yesterday    morning    five bodies   were   recovered   from   the   sea   at   Weybourne. Other   bodies   were   seen   floating   past   too   far   out   to be    recovered    by    the    people    on    the    shore,    who included   coastguards   and   Territorials.   One   was   that of a little boy not more than 10 years of age. Later   in   the   morning   some   other   bodies   were washed    ashore    at    Mundesley,    16    miles    to    the eastward,   for   the   wind   and   set   of   the   current   would take   them   well   out   past   Cromer,   which   is   midway between there and Weybourne.  
At 3 o'clock in the morning the Cromer lifeboat was    launched    in    response    to    flares    seen    from    the north-west   of   the   town,   which   would   be   in   the   direc- tion of Sheringham Shoal. The   tide   was   about   dead   low   and   it   was   in   the teeth   of   a   perfect   blizzard   that   her   crew   put   off.   No sooner   had   she   taken   the   water   than   a   huge   wave swept her broadside towards the eastern breakwater. To   the   onlookers,   among   whom   was   Mr.   Noel Buxton,   M.P.,   only   a   dark   speck   was   visible   perilously near   in,   and   only   very   smart   seaman-ship   on   the   part of    her    coxswain    and    crew    saved    them    from    being dashed   against   the   breakwater.   Once   more   they   got her head on to the seas and at last she got safely off. By    8    o'clock    the    wreckage    on    the    shore    at Cromer    told    of    disaster    along    the    coast,    and    two empty   boats   came   in   at   Weybourne,   one   being   dashed     as   soon   as   it   touched   the   shingle.   The      contained provisions.   Later   in   the   morning   the   Cromer   lifeboat passed    eastward,    making    for   Yarmouth,    where    she arrived   in   the   afternoon   having   aboard   the   crew   of   a sailing craft.