SS Stanwell – Searching for crew relatives

We were contacted recently by a historian working in Tarragona, Spain.  They are interested in any information on the Cardiff crew members of the S.S.Stanwell that was bombed in Tarragona harbour on  March 15th 1938 during the Spanish Civil War. 

The aim of the project in Spain is to remember the British seamen who died during the bombing of the vessels Thorpeness and Stanwell in Tarragona harbour on 1938 and the consequences of the attacks and to make people know who the Blockade Runners were and the important role that they played during the Spanish Civil war.

A report in the Western Mail of 16th March 1938 gave the following information about the Cardiff crew members:

  1. John L. Davies, (“Master”), (46 Claude-road (Cardiff).
  2. D. E. Jones, (“first mate”), (99 Monthermer-road, Cardiff).
  3. D. G. Owen (“second mate”), (Rumney, Cardiff).
  4. N. Harries (“third mate”), (4 Bangor-street, Roath Park, Cardiff).
  5. C. A. Glus (“ship’s cook”) (Bath-street, Cardiff).

We were also sent a photograph from Spain. The ship’s master, John Davies, is believed to be the person in the white hat in the photo.  

Our research to date has thrown up the following likely matches and pictures from merchant navy records:

John L Davies – 46 Claude Road – Master

John Davies SS StanwellThis appears to be John Davies, born in Newport, Pembrokeshire in 1881. In the 1939 Register Georgina M Davies (b.1881) was living at 46 Claude Road (John was not there).  In the 1921 census Georgina Maud Davies née Stephens (aged 40) was living in Fern Cottage, Newport, Pembrokeshire, with John Davies (master mariner – out of employment) and her father-in-law John Davies (retired water mariner). John and Georgina had married in 1909 in Barry.  Georgina died in Newport, Pembs in 1941 aged 60. We can’t find any record of them having children, nor of when John died. The middle initial ‘L’ appears to be a typo?

D E Jones 99 Monthermer Road- First Mate

David Jones SS StanwellThis is David Edward Jones,  born 1903 in Cardiff to David Edward Jones, a master mariner, originally from Llanon, Cardiganshire and Mary Jane Jones née Williams, originally from Dowlais, Glamorgan. When David was born the family were living at 220 Inverness Place.  He attended Roath Park School.   In the 1921 census that were living at 99 Monthermer Road and David was an apprentice in the Merchant Navy working for the Western Counties Shipping Company. We haven’t been able to find out if he married as he has a common name.  He died in Cardiff in 1981 aged 78.  He did have siblings so there may well be living relatives.

D G Owen, Rumney, Cardiff- Second Mate

David Owen SS StanwellWe think this is David George Owen, born 19 Feb 1895 in Dinas Cross, Fishguard, Pembrokeshire.  David George Jones married Lily M Davies in Cardiff in 1924. In the 1939 Register Lily M Owen is living at 65 Wentloog Road, Rumney, Cardiff with, by the looks of it, two children.




N Harries – 4 Bangor Street – Third Mate

Haldon Harries SS StanwellWe think this is Haldon Osborne Harries, born 1902 in Aberavon.   The initial ‘N’ looks to be a typo. In the 1939 Register 4 Bangor Street was occupied by James Osborne Harries (b.1876), a commercial traveller in the clothing trade, and his wife Emily Harries (b.1879) and their married daughter Vera Gwendoline John (b.1908). In the 1911 census Haldon, aged 9, is living with the family is Aberavon.  Haldon is living at 4 Bangor Street in 1964 with his elderly mother. The 1911 census for the family when they were living in Aberavon shows no reference to a N Harries and all births were accounted for (i.e. no children away from home at the time of the census).  I purchased the 1921 census for the family and again no evidence of an N Harries. Haldon Osborne Harries goes into the merchant navy (the only one of the family to do so). He died in Llanishen, Cardiff in 1987. There are records of him leaving and arriving at various ports, indicating he had a navy career.  We can’t find any records of him being married. 

C A Glus – Bath Street, Cardiff

Clifford Guias SS StanwellWe think this is Clifford John Guias, born 1898 in Cardiff to Augustus Guias, a master mariner, who was born in Montreal, Canada and Emma Guias née Turpitt.  Clifford was baptised at St Mary’s, Cardiff. He went to school in Grangetown. Served in WWI with the Royal Army Medical Corps, 14th Field Ambulance. In 1942 he records his career as being Merchant Navy, Chief Steward.  I admit it is a bit of a jump from C A Glus to C J Guias, but not impossible.  He lived at 50 Halsbury Road, Victoria Park, Cardiff.  The newspaper article on the Sandwell says he lived at Bath Street which is a mystery, as there is no Bath Street in Cardiff.  Also his rank was Chief Steward in some records.  Is this too different from Cook or not I wonder?  His elderly mother lived in Broadway which gives a Roath connection, thereby making all 5 crew members having East Cardiff connections – intriguing. He died in Bexley, London in 1977.  He does not appear to have ever married.  His siblings did marry and have children.

Although we think we have identified the men and where they came from, the bad news is that not many of them seem to have been married and have had families meaning that finding direct offspring is less likely. We never give up hope though. If you are a relative of any of these men it would be good to hear from you.

Read more about local involvement in the blockade busting in this article in the Penarth Times.

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