Ernest Rencella Wilson RNR


1897 Aug 8. Born in Swansea, Wales. Rencella is believed to be a Dutch woman's name. For the first 3 months of his life Ernest was registered as female, as Alice Rencella Wilson. On his Birth Cert, his gender is amended as a 'Clerical Error'.

1897 Oct 6. Baptised

1901 census at 113, St Helens Road, Swansea

1911 census at 93 St Helens Road

1914 Nov 3. Arrives UK from Las Palmas, an apprentice on SS Andorinha

RNR Record

1915 Nov 30 Aged eighteen, Wilson was commissioned into the Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) as a midshipman. He is still a Midshipman in 1919 Navy List

His first operational posting was to HMS Otway, an armed merchant cruiser, originally built for the Orient Steam Company (later P&O), taken into naval service in 1915. Otway was sunk on 22 July 1917 (with several casualties) near Rhona in the Minches by German submarine UC49.

Wilson next served on HMS Teviot, a river class destroyer launched in 1903, and HMS Leander, a second-class cruiser launched in 1882.

During his naval service Wilson was twice treated for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

1919 Jun 22. He was demobilised, returning to Swansea. He had an undated Seaman's certificate that is probably sometime during 1918-1921 period

1920 Oct 25. Joined ADRIC with Service no. 840. He was posted to ā€˜Cā€™ company at Macroom Castle, Co. Cork.

1921 Jan 3. T/C ER Wilson gave evidence at a incident at Derryhane when a man was wounded and later died. T/C HW Owen was also there

1921 Apr 2. Wilson posted to ā€˜Qā€™ company of the ADRIC.

1921 May 20 to 3 Jun 1921. Admitted Belfast Union Hospital

1921 Jul 14 to 28 Jul on Leave

1921 Aug Re-engaged for a further contract with ADRIC.

1921 Oct 14 to 28 Oct on Leave.

1921 Dec 25. Still in ADRIC sending Christmas cards

1922 Jan 14- like the rest of the ADRIC his service ended on the demobilisation of the ADRIC

1926 This is believed to be the date of this photo by the family

1939 Mar 21 Arrives in UK from Santos, South America. He travels 3rd class. He gives an address of 57 Park Lane, Wembley. He is one of a number of "distressed seamen" repatriated from South America. A 'Distressed British Seaman' or DBS was a seaman who 'lost' his ship in a foreign port and was being repatriated UK onboard another British vessel. He was neither a crew member nor a passenger but travelled free of charge in similar conditions to others of his rank in the carrying ship. A seaman was required to work his passage while an officer was not expected to work onboard.

He was in a Japanese Prisoner of War Camp for over 3 years, and was "never the same" after he came home. He worked on the Burma Railway. When he returned to the UK he was traumatised and never adjusted to civilian life. He took to drink and became homeless, although his brothers tried to help as much as they could.

WW2 Medals to Merchant Seamen

It is unclear what he was doing in WW2. His seaman's cards only seem to cover Mar 1941 on, but if he were a Japanese POW, it is unlikely that he was sailing as a Merchant Seaman in 1941 , 1942 , 1943 and in 1944

Right through to 1955 his Seaman's cards show he was in fairly regular work, though there were some breaks, and he was repatriated again DBS "'Distressed British Seaman" in 1955

1957 Nov. He collapsed at Aldgate East Tube Station and died 3 days later at The London Hospital.