Chief Officer, Hospital Ship “Dunera” – Anglo Boer War
Commander, Royal Navy Reserve.
-Transport Medal with clasp S. Africa 1899-1902 to E.H. Garland
- Royal Navy Reserve Officer’s Decoration (Edward VII) – unnamed as issued
Edward Garland was born on 13 December 1858 in West Malling in the County of Kent, the son of George William Garland, a Colour Sergeant, and later Quartermaster in Her Majesty’s 96th Regiment, and his wife Elizabeth.
Of Edward in the 1861 England census there is no trace – we pick him up for the first time in these records ten years later where, according to the 1871 England census, he was a 12-year-old school boy living with his family at 29 William Street, Portsea in Portsmouth. The census revealed other interesting information which could explain his absence in the earlier census. His mother was now a widow and an Annuitant, suggesting that the family had money, whilst his sister Evelyn (7) had been born in Grahamstown, Cape Colony, South Africa. Siblings Arthur Headle (4) and Percy Frederick (2), had been born in Poona, Bombay, East Indies with 4 month old Mabel having been born in Portsea.
There was also an older child, George William (13) who had been named after his father and born in Newport on the Isle of Wight.
We need to turn to the India office Register of Births and Deaths to uncover the full picture – here it is revealed that on 25 March 1870 George William Garland, Honorary Lieutenant and Quartermaster, 96th Regiment, had passed away at Dum Dum from Heart Disease at the age of 42. This explains the presence of his wife and family in England a year later. He had died without ever seeing his youngest born child.
It couldn’t have been easy for Elizabeth Garland to raise her six children on her own. Edward, certainly, didn’t disappoint her. The Board of Trade issued a Certificate of Competency to him as a Second Mate in the Merchant Service on 19 May 1880 when he was 22 years old showing that he, at least, was rewarding her perseverance. So Edward had decided on a nautical career but where was this to take him?
Four years later the same Board issued him a Certificate confirming his ability to serve as Master and, with this, his career was well and truly launched.
As was often the case with Merchant Seamen, Garland had a parallel career with the Royal Navy Reserve in whose service he was commissioned on 31 December 1889. Whilst building a career Garland also found the time for romance, marrying Mary Ellen White, a 32-year-old spinster who lived at 30 St. Martin’s Lane, London, at the Parish of St. Martin’s in the Field on 19 June 1895. Aged 36 he was an Officer with the British & Indian Steam Company with an address, Mayfield House, St. John’s Park, London.
Edward George White Garland was born to the couple on 21 December 1898 and baptised at St. John the Evangelist, Blackheath, London. Garland was recorded as being a Merchant Mariner and a Lieutenant in the R.N.R. on his baptismal certificate.
Whilst Edward Garland was slowly but surely building an impressive career in the Merchant Navy with the British & Indian Steam Company, war clouds were gathering over far-away South Africa. The long festering relationship between the two Boer Republics of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal and Great Britain finally erupted into open war on 11 October 1899 and the Merchant Navy along with her Royal counterpart, was called upon to play two crucial roles – the first was to transport the troops from England and all parts of the Empire to South Africa and the other, an altogether more sad but necessary imperative, was to provide Hospital Ships for the treatment and transportation of the wounded.
As Chief Officer of the S.S. “Dunera”, one of the eleven ships requisitioned by the military authorities to be fitted out as a Hospital Ship, he was to spend a large portion of his time either berthed in Durban (where she lay at anchor) or under steam to England transporting recovering and other patients back to familiar shores.
A ships diary was kept which revealed that the “Dunera” was taken over as a Hospital Ship at Durban on 4 May 1900 with the first patients arriving shortly afterwards where tugs and lighters would be used to convey them to the ship as she lay in the Bluff channel. On the first day a total of 221 men and 1 officer were taken on board and a daily wire was sent to the principal Medical Officer providing the number of patients on board. Casualties (those who died on board) were also faithfully recorded – one such entry was in respect of J.M. Jones who Drowned on 20 November 1900 with the comment in the Remarks column “Possibly suicidal”. Most seemed to perish from Dysentery.
The Evening News of 14 July 1900 carried an article headed “200 INVALIDS ARRIVE” which read thus:
“The Dunera landed at Southampton today upwards of 200 invalids for Netley Hospital and Fort Brockhurst. Amongst those on board was Lance Corporal Gamble of the Innniskilling Fusiliers, who in Pieters Hill battle was struck no less than seven times. In addition, his mess tin was riddled. He lay on the hill for forty-eight hours.”
After sterling service as a Hospital Ship, the Dunera reverted to a Transport ship.
The Hampshire Advertiser of 5 August 1905 conveyed the news that:
“The transport Dunera, which arrived today off Netley from Cape Town on Thursday, was berthed in the Empress Dock, Southampton, yesterday. She had on board a battalion of the Royal Garrison Regiment, numbering 710 all ranks, under the command of Colonel Stratford.”
Shortly after this, Garland, having been awarded the Transport Medal for his efforts, was posted to the “Avoca” in 1906 as her Commander. This coincided (almost) with his retirement from the Royal Navy Reserve – an article in Army & Navy Gazette, April 1907, informed the reader that:
“In accordance with R.N.R. Regs. Lt. E.H.W. Garland placed on the retired list, with permission to assume rank of Com. (March 30)”. This was followed by an entry in the London Gazette of 7 February 1911 which quoted the Admiralty as saying:
The King has been graciously pleased to confer the Royal Naval Reserve Officers’ Decoration upon Commander Edward Henry White Garland (retired).”
Garland might have been retired from the R.N.R. but he still had enough vim and vigor in him to continue his merchant navy career. The Western Daily Mercury of 13 April 1912 informed their readers that:
“The MATIANA, Captain E.H. Garland, of the British India Line, arrived at Plymouth at 2 p.m. yesterday from Calcutta March 2nd, Madras March 8th, Colombo 11th, Aden 19th, Suez 25th, Port Said 26th, Genoa April 3rd, and Marseilles 5th. Fine weather was experienced to Gibraltar, thence strong head winds to Cape Finisterre. Afterwards the weather was fine to Plymouth. The liner brought 16 passengers and 4321 tons of general cargo. After landing a number of passengers the Matiana was cleared at 2.45 p.m. for London.”
Two years later, in August 1914, the world found itself at war although, on this occasion, Garland wasn’t called upon to do active service. He still plowed the oceans however, in charge on the bridge of the “Matiana”. Tragedy was about to strike though – the world woke up to the news that Edward Henry White Garland had passed away. The Return of Deaths at Sea provided the bleak details. He had died of Enteric and Heart Failure in the Mombasa Hospital, Kenya, 23 July 1915 at the age of 56.
Probate was awarded to his widow, Mary Ellen Garland of 212 Clive Road, West Dulwich, Surrey and amounted to £554.19
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