Ronald Arthur Silver, 19161940 (aged 24 years)

Generic
Name
Ronald Arthur /Silver/
Type of name
birth name
Given names
Ronald Arthur
Surname
Silver
Birth
Note: Hartley W. vol 2c p378; Actual date from 1939 register
Death of a father
Source: CWGC
Note: Private, 2nd R.M. Bn., R.N. Div., Royal Marine Light Infantry
Note: Killed in action
Death of a paternal grandmother
Note: Age: 83; Hartley W vol 2c p254
Census
Address: 36 Bridge Road
Note: Bricklayer; Marital Status: Single
Military
June 1940 (0 after death)
Note: Sapper, 663 Artisan Company, Royal Engineers
Death
Note: Killed in the sinking of the troop ship 'Lancastria' (click the Notes tab)
Burial
Source: CWGC
Note: Sapper, 663 Artisan Company, Royal Engineers
Family with parents
father
Generic
18771917
Birth: June 22, 1877 38 34 Hartley Wintney, Hampshire, England
Death: October 26, 1917Poelcappel, Belgium
mother
18781954
Birth: July 26, 1878Born at sea
Death: August 12, 1954Farnham, Surrey, England
Marriage MarriageJuly 1900Richmond, Surrey, England
13 months
elder brother
19011988
Birth: August 2, 1901 24 23 Cove, Hampshire, England
Death: November 19, 1988Cove, Hampshire, England
15 years
himself
Generic
19161940
Birth: January 13, 1916 38 37 Hartley Wintney, Hampshire, England
Death: June 17, 194047°10'N 2°17'W
Burial
Source: CWGC
Birth

Hartley W. vol 2c p378; Actual date from 1939 register

Census

Bricklayer; Marital Status: Single

Military

Sapper, 663 Artisan Company, Royal Engineers

Death

Killed in the sinking of the troop ship 'Lancastria' (click the Notes tab)

Burial

Sapper, 663 Artisan Company, Royal Engineers

Note

663 Artisan Company.
At the beginning of February 1940 the company was sent to France and the historic French city of Nantes, which, during medieval times, had been the centre of the European slave trade. When 663 Artisan Works Company arrived in the city, hungry and tired after a 3 day train journey from Le Harve, some of the sappers joked that the locals must have thought it was a return to the good old days when they clapped eyes on the weary soldiers.
Hundreds of miles away from the frontline, 663´s role was to build a variety of construction works, mostly centred on the main airport for Nantes at Bougenais. These support troops, like the hundreds of thousands of others in the region, were in place to provide logistical support for the frontline army far to the north.
Everything went smoothly in those early months and the men quickly bonded. However by June rumours were running rife that the `real army´ was in trouble. On the 14th of June, almost 2 weeks after the last troops of the British Expeditionary Force, the BEF, had been evacuated from the beaches at Dunkirk, the company was called to parade where they were told they were to depart immediately to the French port town of Saint Nazaire, 65 km to the West and onward evacuation to the UK.
After sleeping in the streets of Saint Nazaire?(and enduring a heavy German bombing raid on the town during the night)? the company finally made their way out to a very large silhouetted ship that was sitting anchored in the Loire estuary.
The 'Lancastria' was a former Cunard liner which was converted at the start of the war to become a troopship. Despite her external hull being painted battleship grey, her interior maintained all the elegance and class that befitted a state of the art cruise ship.
Initially the men were ordered below decks, which were absolutely crowded with soldiers and some refugees. Just before two o clock the internal bells & claxons on the Lancastria began to sound. signalling an incoming air attack. Another troop transport about a mile away, the Oronsay, was hit on its bridge. Now the German bombers were aiming for the Lancastria. 4 bombs struck the ship in rapid succession.
The 17000 ton Lancastria took just 20 minutes to sink and all the time the German bombers kept up their attack strafing the men with machine gun fire as they struggled in the water. The loss of life remains the worst in British maritime history and was the worst single loss of life for British forces in the whole of World War 2. On learning of the news Winston Churchill banned all news coverage fearing the damage it would do to public morale. Survivors were told not to even mention the name of the Lancastria on pain of court martial.
Officially the Government claimed there were around 6000 embarked, and no fewer than 3000 killed. However, the Royal Navy had ordered the Captain to ignore international law on passenger limits and load as many as possible. Many survivors thought that more like 9000 had embarked and believed the death toll was much higher, at least 4000 and possibly as high as 6000 lost. The number of victims twice that of the Titanic and Lusitania combined, but unlike those two disasters, the Lancastria story was destined to be forgotten for decades.
When survivors from 663 reached the UK they were given travel passes & food vouchers and told to make their way to Leeds where the company was regrouping, straggling back in two's and three's. Of the 242 men of the company, 92 were killed aboard the Lancastria. The unit had suffered a major blow, although other companies on the Lancastria sustained even heavier losses.

Census
Burial
Media object
Generic
Generic