FREDERICK BATLEY

Chief Refrigeration Engineer, Mercantile Marine

Died 20th November 1918 aged 30

Buried Upper Independent Chapel, Heckmondwike

Son of Ben and Annie Batley

Lived Providence House, Blanket Hall Street, Heckmondwike


Frederick was born in 1887, the second son of Ben Batley a Timber Merchant of Heckmondwike and Annie Elizabeth Kershaw (Kneeshaw) of Slingsby in Lincolnshire who had married on the 21st March 1883 at St Stephen’s Church, Lindley.  The family lived first in Huddersfield then Liversedge before settling by 1891 in Regent Street, Heckmondwike with their seven children.  Their four sons, John Snell, Frederick, George Cooke and Ben attended Heckmondwike Secondary School (now Heckmondwike Grammar School) before starting work in their father’s Timber business.

In 1911 the family, excepting Fred, were living at Providence House, 21, Blanket Hall Street, Heckmondwike close to the Timber Yard.  Fred, aged 23 and single, was staying at a boarding house at 33, Pollard Street in South Shields and was listed as a Marine Engineer.

The Upper Independent Chapel Active Service Magazine reported in December 1918 that “Mr Frederick Batley was a Chief Refrigeration Engineer in the Mercantile Marine when war broke out.  He was engaged by the New Zealand Shipping Company, which had it’s headquarters in London, and was onboard the RMS Turakina on 13th August 1917”.  He had worked for the company for eight years, first on the “Tuscany”, then from late 1911 to 1913 on the “Remura” but more recently was attached to HM Transport Turakina which had been commissioned to carry troops.

“Turakina”,  vessel number 11462, was a steel, twin-screw, refrigeration steam ship built in 1902 by Hawthorne, Leslie, and Co. Ltd of Newcastle and designed to transport goods such as mutton, cheese and butter from New Zealand to Britain.  It also had accommodation for 40 first class passengers, 50 second class passengers and 74 third class passengers and was advertising accommodation for travellers in 1907 on a route via Teneriffe, Capetown, Tasmania, Australia and New Zealand with travel agent Thomas Cooke.

The crew list for the voyage from London on 20th August 1915 to New Zealand and back returning 28th December 1915 shows Frederick Batley of Providence House, Heckmondwike who earned £13 per calendar month with a displacement allowance of £10 7s 6d.  Most of the mercantile seaman’s records from 1915-1918 have been destroyed.

By August 1917, RMS Turakina had been commissioned by HM Transport to carry troops and had brought a cargo of troops and supplies to Britain from America.  This was a dangerous route as the German U boats were destroying many allied merchant ships and the system of sailing in convoys had not yet been introduced.

On the return voyage back to America, the ship was steaming past Bishop’s Rock WSW off the Isles of Scilly on 13th August 1917 when it was torpedoed by a German submarine, U-86 (Alfred Gotze), and sunk.  Frederick was one of the ninety three officers and crew who were saved.  The two men who died are remembered on CWGC Tower Hill Memorial, London.  The shock of  the sinking had affected Frederick’s heart.  He thereafter remained with his parents and under the care of a doctor.

During this time Frederick became an Associate Member of the Amphibious Masonic Lodge in Heckmondwike when he and his younger brother, George Cooke, enrolled on 17th May 1918.   Ben, their father, had been a Past Master of the Lodge in 1900.  Their two brothers, John Snell and Ben later also enrolled.  It is documented that in August 1913 their father had presented an American Organ to the Lodge.

The influenza pandemic had arrived in France and Britain by late 1918, Frederick died at home on 20th November 1918 after becoming ill with Pneumonia.  The funeral took place at the Upper Chapel, Heckmondwike where the bearers were fellow members of the Amphibious Lodge of Freemasons.  The gravestone is inscribed “In loving memory of Frederick Batley, Mercantile Marine”.

His younger brother George Cooke, was seriously ill with pneumonia in France at the same time.  His parents received a message informing them of his condition but were unable to visit him in time.  However his brother Ben was able to visit him as he was in uniform in the same area.  George died on the 5th December 1917.  Their brother Private 224356 ASC Ben Batley survived the war.

Commemorated: The Masonic Grand Lodge Roll of Honour and Scroll, London; Heckmondwike United Reform Church Memorial outside the Upper Independent Chapel; Heckmondwike Secondary School Memorial (now Heckmondwike Grammar School); Green Park War Memorial and Vellum Roll of Honour.{KH-010}

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