Saturday, 13 June 2015

Richard Henry Champion Clemo (1876-1918)

Richard Henry Champion Clemo was born on the 11th May 1876 and baptised at Phillack Church in Hayle on the 3rd of August of that same year. His parents were William John Clemo, one of Harveys of Hayle’s Master Mariners and Elizabeth Richards Clemo (nee Champion).
Her parents Thomas and Mary lived on Penpol Terrace in Hayle and took in boarders. The 1861 Census records that Elizabeth was aged 22, living at home with her parents and her 20 year old sister Ann. At that time they had two Irish sailors boarding with the family, and it seems certain that William Clemo and his brother Charles may also have boarded there, because on 22nd August 1865 William and Elizabeth were married. The witnesses were Elizabeth’s younger siblings Richard Henry and Ann.
Not to be outdone, Charles Clemo married Ann on the 21st November 1871. The witnesses were her father Thomas and her sister Elizabeth.
William and Elizabeth had seven children in all. Richard was the fifth to be born. The family lived in Hayle and in 1881 Richard is aged 4 and a scholar. In 1891 he is employed as an engineering apprentice aged 15, probably at Harveys.
I’m still investigating his later story, but when he died he was married to Matilda Clemo. Her address was given as “Cliff Close, Ayr, St Ives”. I do not know if they had children.
At the time of his death he was age 41 and the First Engineer aboard SS Treveal, a 4,160 GRT steam cargo ship completed in 1909 by J. Readhead & Sons Ltd. for Hain Steamship Co. Ltd. and managed by E. Hain & Son. She was sunk on 4 February 1918 by torpedo fired by German submarine U-53 off the Skerries, Anglesey. She was en route from Algiers to Barrow with a cargo of iron ore.
According to Charles Hocking – (Hocking, Charles. Dictionary of Disasters at Sea During the Age of Steam 1824-1962. London: The London Stamp Exchange, 1989. ISBN 0 948130 72 5.) “..... Thirty-three men, including the Captain lost their lives, the Treveal sinking so rapidly that there was no time to launch the boats. Three men managed to cling to a raft, from which they were rescued 8 hours afterwards by the steamship Agnes Allen which brought them to Newry.”
He is commemorated in a number of places. He is interred in Penzance Cemetery, and his name appears on the Newquay War Memorial. I’m rather surprised by this as his wife lived in St Ives.
He is also commemorated on his parents grave in Phillack churchyard and the crew of the S S Trevail (but not RHC Clemo!) are named on the memorial on Tower Hill.
His Mercantile Marine and British medals were sent to his widow Mrs M (Matilda) Clemo at “Trabyn”, British Road, St Agnes on March 14th 1922

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