October 22, 2021

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Chorley boy caught up in war motion at sea on his maiden voyage was “as amazing as any soul” on board

Sailors regard black cats as lucky (unknown sailor and cat). Picture courtesy of Stuart Clewlow
Sailors regard black cats as blessed (unfamiliar sailor and cat). Photograph courtesy of Stuart Clewlow

As the Chorley Guardian displays on the 150 a long time because it very first posted, we’re telling the stories of folks from our neighborhood who have touched peoples’ life in our Chorley 150 sequence.

We go on to appear back with local historian Stuart Clewlow.

In Could 1917 our local newspaper which was then “The Chorley Guardian and Leyland Hundred Advertiser” described the `coolness` of a Chorley boy caught up in an action of war at sea.

Frank Heald’s Masters certification. Photograph courtesy of Stuart Clewlow

The newspaper later on figured out the id of the boy and 100 several years later on it has been achievable to include a minor bit additional data to the tale.

It was described to the newspaper by an anonymous eye witness that a British service provider ship was sunk in early 1917.

The vessel was attacked and sunk by a German submarine off the coastline of Eire.

According to a narrative from the seafaring male, the ship was homeward sure and was hit with out warning by a torpedo which blew absent a single propeller, rendered the port motor ineffective, damaged the steering equipment and wrecked the gun, at the same time very seriously wounding the two gunners, who have been pinned beneath it.

A Mercantile Marine War Medal. Image courtesy of Stuart Clewlow

The ship started to sink by the stern and the crew of 90 and about 14 travellers, all got away safely and securely in life boats.

Amid all the exhilaration 1 of the incidents which impressed all people was the conduct of the ship’s boy, a 15 calendar year old apprentice on his maiden voyage, who was regarded to the crew as “Jellicoe.”

The only individual detail that could be recalled about the boy was that he came from Chorley.

From the 1st explosion of the ship to the departure of the very last boat, he stood on the boat deck with the ship’s pet cat, a black 1, in his arms, calmly awaiting orders.

The Heald household gravestone in Chorley Cemetery. Picture courtesy of Stuart Clewlow

All the crew could get out of him was a smile.

“As awesome as any soul aboard” was the description of him.

The boy was finally ushered off the ship and away in the very last of the four boats.

He was however in possession of the cat when picked up quite a few several hours after by a British destroyer.

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The 7 days just after the write-up it transpired that that boy was Frank Heald, son of the late John Heald junior, and grandson of the late Alderman John Heald of Phoenix Residence, Chorley.

Frank was born in Chorley in 1902 and at the time of the 1911 census, he was residing with his sister and aunt in Bristol.

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Unfortunately Frank had an more mature brother who had been killed in action the 12 months in advance of.

Hugh Heald was serving with the Royal Fusiliers and died on the Somme in July 1916 at the age of 25.

His human body was hardly ever recovered and he is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing and also pointed out on the loved ones gravestone in Chorley Cemetery.

Frank survived the war and attained the Mercantile Maritime War Medal.

He ongoing his service with the Merchant Navy, earning his 2nd Mate Certification on September 1921 and was appointed Master on June 1925.

He died in Bristol in June 1948 at the age of 46.

In lots of cultures a black cat is noticed as undesirable luck.

Having said that seafaring superstition stands that a black cat is superior luck mainly because the cat would rid the ship of rodents which in days of outdated would chew by means of ropes and rigging and result in injury.

On that fateful day in 1917, the superstition of feline fantastic luck for sailors stood as business as Frank’s grip on the cat.

This tale is part of our Chorley 150 series to mark the 150th anniversary of the Chorley Guardian.