Ellsum, William Augustine Pridmore

William Augustine Pridmore was born in Holywell circa 1902, the s/o William Augustine Pridmore Ellsum and Martha Ann Boothe Ellsum, (nee Evans) and was baptised on the 10th August 1902.   Their address was 8, New Road, Holywell and William(Snr) was a Butcher.

William (Snr) Augustine Pridmore Ellsum and Martha Ann Boothe Evans had married at St. Barnabas’s Church, Crewe (Cheshire East1031/1/314) in the June quarter of 1902.

William and Martha were 21 years old and 18 years old respectively, he was a Butcher, his address was 22, Alton Street, Crewe, and his father of the same name was a Chemist.   Martha’s address was given as 13, Peel Street, Crewe, her father was Edwin Evans a Moulder.   There were 2 Witnesses:- Harry & Sarah Jane Smith.   (After Banns)

By the 1911 census the family had moved to live at Chester Road, Shotton Flintshire and had enlarged quite a lot.   William, 29 was a Butcher’s Manager (at home) had been born in Lower Broughton, Manchester and his wife Martha, 27, tell us that they had been married for 9 years and 6 children had been born, sadly one had died.   The eldest of the children was William A.P., age 8 and born in Holywell, Laura, 6, had been born in Connah’s Quay, Elsie M., 4, Harry, 2 and Evelyn May, 8 months had all been born in Shotton.   There was a Visitor, Anne Evelyn Bird, 51,married and born in Newcastle Staffs.  I believe that this was William (snr’s) mother, formerly Ellsum, nee Evans.   I believe she remarried in the March quarter of 1890 (Salford Vol. 8d Page 17) after William (Snr’s) father William died in 1883.

I don’t know when William (Jnr) met May Lewis, but they married in a Civil Marriage or Registrar Attended Marriage in Chester in 1927 (Cheshire West ROC/78/125).

A William A.P. Ellsum was a pupil at St. Ethelwold’s Church School in Shotton as his name is recorded on their “Roll of Honour.“ (See below)

I have no knowledge of William (Jnr) after that, not until the 1939 Register shows them living in Shotton:-

1939 Register

Ellsum (Elsom) Household (7 People)

56 North Street , Hawarden R.D., Flintshire, Wales

William            Ellsum (Elsom)            26 Jul 1902      Male    Ships Painter   Married           112      1

May     Thomas (Ellsum Elsom)          04 May 1907   Female Unpaid Domestic Duties        Married 112    2

Joan     Roberts (Ellsum Elsom)          31 Aug 1929   Female At School        Single  112      3

Peter    Ellsum (Elson) 03 Aug 1933   Male    At School        Single  112      4

Sorry, this record is officially closed. Check if you can open a closed record.

Sorry, this record is officially closed. Check if you can open a closed record.

Sorry, this record is officially closed. Check if you can open a closed record.

It must have been shortly after that, that William enlisted into the Merchant Navy and was on H.M.S. Patroclus, Naval Auxiliary Personnel (Merchant Navy), the following year, when it made the fateful voyage.    Thanks to the website below, we now know what happened to William and the reason William’s life was to end so early and tragically.

There are technical details of the boat on these sites and also the details of the Uboat (U-99), so if you would like to know more, click on the website addresses below.

History – Completed in March 1923 as steam passenger ship Patroclus for Alfred Holt & Co, Liverpool. On 12 Sep 1939, requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted to the armed merchant cruiser HMS Patroclus until 2 Jan 1940.

Notes on event          

At 21.40 hours on 3 Nov 1940, U-99 torpedoed the unescorted Casanare west of Bloody Foreland. Her distress messages brought the armed merchant cruisers HMS Laurentic (F 51) (Capt E.P. Vivian, Rtd, RN) and HMS Patroclus (Capt G.C. Wynter, Rtd, RN) to the scene and the U-boat began a dramatic battle at 22.50 hours when the first torpedo struck the engine room of HMS Laurentic (F 51) from a distance of 1500 metres. At 23.28 hours, a second torpedo hit the vessel, but did not explode. A third torpedo was fired at 23.37 hours from a distance of 250 metres into the hole opened by the first torpedo, at this time the lookouts spotted the U-boat on the surface and Kretschmer had a hard time in evading the gunfire.

In the meantime, HMS Patroclus began picking up survivors instead of participating in the fight against the U-boat and her lookouts did not see U-99 only 300 metres away. A first torpedo struck the ship at 00.02 hours, a second at 00.22 hours and a third at 00.44 hours. 14 minutes later, the U-boat opened fire with the deck gun and hit with two of the four fired rounds, before Kretschmer had again to evade the gunfire and hit her with a fourth torpedo at 01.18 hours.

After that, U-99 searched for the Casanare to give the crew time for reloading the torpedo tubes, but only found two lifeboats at her position and questioned the survivors, the vessel had foundered in the meantime. At 02.39 hours, a Sunderland flying boat suddenly appeared over the U-boat, which had to dive, but no bombs were dropped. At 04.04 hours, the U-boat surfaced after reloading the torpedoes, went back to the auxiliary cruisers at high speed and fired at 04.53 hours a coup de grâce from a distance of 250 metres at HMS Laurentic (F 51). The torpedo struck the stern and ignited the depth charges stored there, causing the ship to sink by the stern within minutes. Two officers and 47 ratings were lost.

Around this time a destroyer was spotted and Kretschmer had to sink HMS Patroclus in a short time. A fifth torpedo at 05.16 hours had no significant effect, but the sixth torpedo at 05.25 hours broke the ship in two, the stern capsized and the bow sank slowly. The commander, six officers and 49 ratings were lost. After that, U-99 was attacked by HMS Hesperus (H 57) (LtCdr D.G.F.W. MacIntyre, RN), but the destroyer soon left the U-boat to pick up the commander, 51 officers and 316 ratings from HMS Laurentic (F 51). 33 officers and 330 ratings from HMS Patroclus were picked up by HMS Beagle (H 30) (LtCdr R.H. Wright, RN) and landed at Greenock.

Crew list of Ships hit by U-boats

William Augustin Ellsum

NAP (976279). British

Born    1902

Died    17 Nov 1940   (38)

Roster information listed for William Augustin Ellsum

Ship     Type    Rank / role       Attacked on    Boat

HMS Patroclus            Armed Merchant Cruiser        Trimmer           4 Nov 1940 (+)           U-99

Personal information – Husband of M. Ellsum, of Shotton. He was badly injured during the sinking of HMS Patroclus, died of wounds in a hospital ashore on 17 November 1940 and was buried at Hawarden.

List of all U-boats

U-99  Type VIIB

Commanders  – 18 Apr 1940    –           17 Mar 1941                KrvKpt. Otto Kretschmer (Knights Cross)

The Emblems

The Golden Horseshoe – U-99’s famous horseshoe emblems were added just before her first patrol in June 1940. At one point when the anchor was raised a pair of horseshoes were found to be attached to it. Taking this as a sign of good luck, Kptlt. Otto Krestchmer had them welded to the tower, one either side.

Horseshoes were also seen on the following boats: U-31, U-145, U-214, U-268, U-355, U-379, U-570, U-640 and U-1010

Curiously, the British destroyer that fatally damaged U-99, HMS Walker, also had a horseshoe emblem.    1 U-boat displayed this emblem – U-99.

Sadly, William was very badly injured as previously stated above and he was brought home to the Red Cross Hospital, Connah’s Quay, which may have been Glan y Morfa, a Maternity Hospital, just off Mold Road, I believe, around that time, and was probably used as a hospital in the circumstances of the times.   William died on the 7th November 1940.  Hopefully his family were there to comfort him.

Many thanks to Chris from Ontario, Canada, for all the help and photographs etc., very much appreciated.
















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