Tragic tale of a Sunderland sailor uncovered by a Hartlepool former vicar-turned-investigator

The tragic tale of a Sunderland seaman has been uncovered – by a Hartlepool researcher who has avidly uncovered the story despite being blind.

Wednesday, 30th October 2019, 6:00 am
David Youngson. Picture by FRANK REID

The man leading the quest to find out more about Ryhope man Herbert Harvey Hewison – who was involved in the famous Battle of Jutland – is a former vicar.

David Youngson has a passion for tracing relatives of First World War personnel even though he lost his sight in 1989.

David is a former curate at St Paul’s Church and former vicar at St James in Owton Manor, both in Hartlepool. He took early retirement in 1991 and now spends his time in the fascinating world of genealogy with the help of a secretary.

David Youngson who has researched the story of Sunderland seaman Herbert Harvey Hewison.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

He described his work as ‘providing assistance to those wishing to trace relatives and friends who fell in the First and Second World Wars.”

His latest quest is to track down relatives of Leading Signaller Hewison from Ryhope. Herbert served his country from June 1911 when he joined HMS Ganges as a Boy 2nd Class, aged only 16.

He rose through the ranks and served on different ships but he had become a Leading Signaller on HMS Erin by 1916.

David told us: “A close look at the naval records shows that he was a Leading Signalman on HMS Erin during the Battle of Jutland.

David Youngson whose genealogical research has uncovered some fascinating stories.

“HMS Erin was a dreadnought battle cruiser and at the Battle of Jutland was fourth in line of the Grand Fleet which left Scapa Flow. According to some information I have found, they were on the periphery on the engagement in the North Sea and only discharged their small guns during the Battle.

“His previous service on HMS Erin was in the main patrolling the North Sea from Scapa Flow in order to prevent the German fleet leaving their ports and getting into the Atlantic.”

The Wandsworth-born sailor was awarded the Silver War Badge by HMS Vivid which he joined in June 1917 but the same month, he was discharged as medically unfit with tuberculosis of the lung.

His service to his country was over and he died at home in Thomas Street South, Ryhope, in December 1918.

David Youngson who would love to trace any relatives of Herbert Harvey Hewison.

He is recorded as being buried in Ryhope Cemetery.

David is a man with 35 years experience of research and has done everything from books of remembrance for churches to gravestone research for local authorities.

He told how his work has included created ‘profiles for all Chaplains of the Royal Navy who died during both world wars and this work is part of the archives of the Royal Naval Chaplaincy at Whale Island.’

David is also in the sixth year of a project to create profiles of the 3,700 English Freemasons who made the supreme sacrifice.

And although he has been blind since 1989 he has continued his work with the assistance of a secretary.

He said: “As a result of investigating a member of my family who died in the First World War, I have been researching the conflict for some 30 years.”

David works closely with the Commonwealth Wargraves Commission in identifying graves of the fallen resulting in appropriate headstones being erected.

If anyone can help find relatives of Herbert Harvey Hewison, they should email bancourtresearch@ntlworld.com.