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57606 Private Arthur Patrick Double 4th BattalionArthur Patrick Double the son of Master Mariner Charles Henry Double and Lucy Ann Dutson was born in Sculcoates, Hull in the June quarter of 1900. His parents had married in the same district on the 6th November 1888 and Arthur was one of at least thirteen children born to the couple although one daughter died in infancy.

  • Lucy Ann (1890)
  • Charles Albert (1891)
  • William Henry (1892)
  • Harry (1893)
  • Rennard (1895)
  • Charlotte Ada (1897-1897)
  • Joseph (1898)
  • Beatrice Mary (1902)
  • Jack Wallace (1903)
  • Norman (1906)
  • Elsie Emmett (1907)
  • Jane Margaret (1909)

In 1891 the family was living in Hull and on the census of that year Arthur`s father is described as a seaman. Shortly after this census the family must have had a brief spell living in Fleetwood because Harry and Rennard were born there and both were christened in the parish church of St. Peter in Fleetwood. Their baptismal records state their home address was 120 Victoria Street in Fleetwood and their father Charles Henry Double was described as a Master Mariner. By 1897 when Charlotte Ada was born the family had returned to the Hull area and the family residence was 142 St. Georges Road in Sculcoates and this is where they were living in 1901.

By 1902 the Double family had moved back to Fleetwood again and in the 1911 Census they were living at 88 London Street. Arthur`s father is not listed as being at home on this census, he may have been away at sea when the census was recorded. Arthur and some of his younger siblings are listed as attending school while four of his older siblings all had jobs, Charles was a fish merchant, William and Harry were both fish buyers and Rennard was a shop assistant for an ironmonger. The only other person missing from home in 1911 was Arthur`s brother Joseph, he was at school in Hull and living with his Aunt and Uncle Beatrice and William Milson, licensed victuallers at the Cambridge Hotel in Great Thornton Street.

Not long after war was declared Arthur`s father Charles Henry Double volunteered for service as a Warrant Officer with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, he was around sixty years old at the time. Five of William`s elder brothers also volunteered, two went into the Army; Charles joining the Royal Field Artillery and Rennard the King`s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment and three went to sea; William Henry and Joseph joined the Merchant Navy and Harry the Royal Navy Reserve.

15240/DA Seaman Harry Double had been serving on HMS Gaillardia as a deckhand. The ship was known as a “Q” Ship and on the 22nd March 1918 she was in the North Sea just off the Orkney Islands helping to interrupt the passage of U-boats into the North Atlantic when she was blown up and sunk by a barrage mine, although some sources suggest she was torpedoed. Harry died at the Sailor`s Home in Falmouth four days later. His cause of death is stated as `died of disease` but he also appears on one of the casualty lists for HMS Gaillardia, death stated as `died of wounds`. After his death his body was returned to his family and he was buried in Fleetwood Cemetery.

Arthur attested on the 17th March 1918 when he was 18 years old but wasn`t called up for service until the 1st August 1918 prior to which he had been a clerk employed by Mr. Fred Kelsall a trawler owner in Fleetwood. Arthur was allocated the service number 57606 and posted to the Depot. His medical inspection reveals that he was 5`6” tall and he weighed 114lbs. He had brown hair, blue eyes and a sallow complexion and was physically well developed. His distinguishing features were noted as a mole on his right hip and a dimple on his chin. On the 10th August he was posted to the 4th Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and was then sent over to Ireland to join the Battalion who at the time were stationed at the Wellington Barracks in Dublin.

On the 10th October 1918 Arthur left Dublin having been granted a short period of leave, he boarded the R.M.S. Leinster in Dublin harbour with a number of other service men, postal workers and civilians to sail to Holyhead. However, after the boat left the harbour tragedy struck when she was torpedoed by a German U-boat; the story of the tragedy was reported in numerous papers, one of which was the Liverpool Echo on the 11th October 1918.

“The Leinster was struck forward by the first torpedo and reeled over under the blow. Barely three minutes after the explosion the crew lowered the lifeboats and then a second torpedo struck the vessel near the engine room. The explosion was deafening. Some reports state that three torpedoes were fired. The vessel`s two funnels were blown into the air, and, said one member of the crew “the steamer seemed to crumble into ashes”. Within 15 minutes the vessel had disappeared beneath the waves.

Women and children were tumbled headlong into the water. The few boats launched were overcrowded and they very quickly filled with water and overturned. In response to wireless calls, about 50 ships went out from Kingstown and by noon about 200 ambulances were lined up at Kingstown. At 1.30pm the first of the rescue vessels arrived carrying 109 survivors; five more arrived in the next couple of hours, carrying both living and dead. Many of the bodies were covered in the Union Jack, others in blankets.

One surviving Officer later stated “all would have survived had it not been for the second torpedo which smashed the Leinster into matchwood and when the funnels were blown out many people were struck by splinters of wood. We had only four boats clear when the second one struck us and rafts had been thrown out as well”. Following the discharge of the second torpedo another survivor stated that “the ship was nearly down to the gunwale and the stern was high in the water, showing the propellers clean out of the water and when the second one struck her direct in the engines, a terrific explosion occurred causing boats in the water to be lifted up and smashed into matchwood. High up in the davits amidships and overhanging the side of the ship just about where the second one struck was a large lifeboat with about 70 people in it on the point of being lowered, they were all blown to fragments in the explosion that followed”.

There was reported to be 771 people on board the Leinster when she set sail and the estimated number of casualties appears to have been in excess of 500.  Sadly, Arthur was one of the military personnel who lost his life that day. His body was one of those recovered and he was taken to the King George Hospital in Dublin.

After his death his family provided the following information for the Preston Guardian.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Left to right; Charles Henry Double, Sgt. Charles Albert Double MM, Petty Officer William Henry Double, Seaman Harry Double, Private Rennard Double, Mate Joseph Double, Private Arthur Patrick Double

On the 14th October 1918 an extract from a letter sent to Arthur`s father appeared in the Lancashire Evening Post, it had been sent by another soldier who lived in Preston and had been a friend of Arthur`s from when he first enlisted.

I wish to express my deepest sympathy with all the near relatives of your son, who met his death whilst proceeding on leave on board the Leinster. We shall miss him very much, myself particularly, as we had been together ever since we met in Preston. He was all a good soldier should be – cheerful, contented and willing to give a helping hand to any of his friends. His body now lies in the King George`s Hospital in Dublin. He was confirmed in the church in Wellington Barracks, Dublin, by the Bishop of Meath”.

Arthur was later laid to rest in Grangegorman Military Cemetery in Dublin. After the war he was awarded the British War and Victory Medals in recognition of his service and sacrifice for his country.

Rank: Private
Service No: 57606
Date of Death: 10/10/1918
Age: 18
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 4th Bn.

Janet Davis
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