The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

Rupert Arnold Davey

DAVEY, Rupert Arnold

Rupert Arnold Davey was born in Sydney, Australia in 1887 to Henry James Davey and Sophia Louise Whitbread. Henry, a ’Grocer Assistant’, and Sophia, who had been married in London, took their four children to Australia. Sophia arrived in Sydney in June 1885 with the children and Henry’s brother Frederick and Henry himself arrived the following January. Henry may have taken out a Bar Licence in Sydney but the family then moved to Melbourne where he died in 1890. His will described him as a ‘Tea Taster’ with an address at South Yarra.

Sophia returned to London with her five children and was living in Hammersmith in the 1891 census, with her mother also in the household. Henry’s parents were also living in London and the eldest child, Ethel, was with them in the census. However Sophia died in 1895 leaving five children, the eldest only aged fifteen and the youngest, Rupert, just eight. In the 1901 census Rupert was found in the Reedham Asylum, a ‘School for fatherless children’ in Coulsden, Surrey. In 1911 he was living with Bertha and her husband, a Solicitor, in Chiswick and he gave his occupation as ‘Assistant in Dress Trimming Warehouse’.

In the following years there are several records of Rupert Arnold Davey travelling across the Canadian border but unfortunately his occupation was not given. In 1918 he married Dorothy Ann Womack Balls in Yarmouth, the marriage being registered in the second quarter of the year. His very limited available military records show that he was on Temporary Attachment, with the rank of Lieutenant, from the 11th of September 1918 to the Alexandra, Princess of Wales Own (Yorkshire Regiment) but it is not known if that was his only military position.

It is not known why Rupert (possibly known as Arnold) and Dorothy were in Ireland in October 1918, though one brigade of his regiment had moved there the previous April. The couple were returning to England on the 10th and were travelling on RMS Leinster. He told his story to the Sunday Mirror, published on the 13th. He and Dorothy had got a place in one of the few lifeboats that were successfully launched but “hardly had they touched the water when a second torpedo struck” and they saw the ship go down head first. They picked up two people from a raft and attempted to reach another. He recounted that there were four women in their boat, “one of them was a girl of wonderful pluck” who baled and took her turn with an oar. They were eventually rescued by a destroyer.

Rupert and Dorothy settled in London after the war and had two children, Ethel in 1920 and Edward in 1924. In the 1939 Register they were living in Wembley and he was a ‘Textile Director’. He died in 1951 and Dorothy lived until 1975.


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