Parish Records show that Louis was baptised Harold Louis Townley on 8th July, 1900. His parents were Frederick Daniel Townley, born in West Haddon and Florence Elizabeth Lawrence Townley, born in Harpole. Both were described as general engineers. Louis was the youngest of four sons.
An entry in the Royal Navy Voluntary Reserve Index shows Harold Louis Townley, born 19th May, 1900 joining RNVR Bristol with a service number Z/11595. His trade is shown as a metal turner. His service period was 1917/1918 serving on Victory VI from 6th May, 1918 to 26th September, 1918 and Vivid II from 27th September, 1918 to 26th February, 1919 when he went “On shore on demob”.
Research shows that during World War I Crystal Palace was used as a training establishment for the Royal Navy. It was officially known as HMS Victory VI. 125,000 officers and men were trained there.
HMS Vivid II was an “accounting base” or a “depot ship” set up to deal with pay accounts, service documentation, victual ling etc.
Louis was aged 17 when he joined his first ship and only 18 at the end of his military service. His naval “trade” was wireless operator. A family member advised he served on board a fishing boat rigged as a mine-sweeper.
He was not very tall, standing a mere 5′ 3″.
The indications are that he settled in Coventry on his return home. Probate dated 21st July, 1939 in respect of his father read ” Frederick Daniel Townley (Head of Household), 53 Craven Street, Coventry died 5/3/1939. Probate Birmingham 21/7/1939 to Florence Elizabeth Lawrence Townley (Widow), George Albert Townley, water engineer and John Walter Townley, foreman wheelwright. Effects £791 14s 4d. Neither Harold Louis nor his brother William Frederick were mentioned in the Probate.
Further research showed the Craven Street address had been given in ship manifests by Harold Louis in 1923 and 1926. An examination of those manifests shows that on 30th November, 1923 he departed Liverpool on SS Montcalm, aged 23, en route to Canada. He arrived in St John, New Brunswick in December, 1923. On 13th November, 1925 however he departed Montreal, Quebec for Liverpool, again aboard SS Montcalm. The ship docked in Liverpool on 21st November, 1925.
The researcher was puzzled as to why Louis made the journey home. He was subsequently informed that this had been at the request of Minnie Kull (see below) to enable him to re-enter the USA through Ellis Island and become a US sailor.
He departed Liverpool bound for New York, this time aboard SS Baltic. He was then aged 25 and a tool maker. The ship docked in New York and he travelled on to his destination, given as Detroit, Michigan. His brother William Frederick was at that time living in Jackson, Michigan.
Louis married Minnie Kull in 1928 in the USA and in April, 1930, then an Assistant Manager, aged 28, was living with his wife and daughter Zoeann in Toledo, Lucas, Ohio.
His mother Florence died in 1946.
Louis died on 1st March, 1982 in San Leandro, Almeda, California at the age of 81. He had lived his life to the full.
We are indebted to Candidiasia Ibberson John Walter’s great-granddaughter for providing the photograph and information on the four brothers.
(Jim Blakey, 16th December, 2015)