The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

Leslie Benjamin Nicklin

NICKLIN, Leslie Benjamin

Leslie Nicklin was born in Smethwick, near Birmingham, about 1886, the eldest son of Benjamin Nicklin and Clara Ann Whitehouse. Benjamin was a ‘Sheet Iron Worker’ and from one of the oldest families in the area, associated with Methodism in the town. Leslie’s obituary described his father as a ‘Manufacturer’, and in later years the family was living at Laureston House in Smethwick, indicating a degree of wealth. Clara Nicklin died in 1900 and Benjamin’s mother Lavinia came to live with the family, the boys only being thirteen, eight and five.

All three of the boys were in the Mercantile Marine at some stage. In 1908 Leslie received his 2nd Mate’s Certificate in Glasgow, though he gave Laureston House as his address. His First Mate and Masters Certificates for Foreign-going Steamships, received in 1912 and 1915, were also granted in Glasgow, though they gave Stratford-on-Avon as his address, which is where his father had retired to. His youngest brother, John Whitehouse Nicklin died in January 1913 in an accident on board a ship at Galveston, Texas.

Leslie Nicklin clearly had some connections in Glasgow as, four days after receiving his Master’s Certificate, he married Athena Alexandra Henri there on 25 August 1915. Athena had been born in Newport, Wales and her father Peter Henry’s occupation in the census was a ‘Sailmaker’, though he was described as a ‘Master Mariner’ on her marriage certificate. She described herself as an ‘Actress’. Until his marriage Leslie had been sailing all over the world but within the next year or so he took up a position with the City of Dublin Steampacket Company and he and Athena went to live in Holyhead. Despite his Master’s Certificate he was employed as Third Officer on the mailboats, and it was in that role that he was on board RMS Leinster on 10 October 1918.

Leslie Nicklin did not survive the sinking but his body was recovered. His was among the bodies of seven Welsh crew members that were conveyed from Dublin to Holyhead on SS Rostrevor on the following Monday, and he was subsequently interred in Uplands Cemetery in Smethwick. His widow, Athena, married John C. Thomas in Newport in 1932 and she died in Southampton in 1981.



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