“The loss of the Laurentic off the Irish coast has brought grief to many homes in Liverpool. Included in the list of victims is Engineer Lieutenant J.W. Gibbins, who leaves a widow and child to mourn his loss. He was an old scholar of St.Mary’s, Bootle, and later studied at Keefe’s College, Bold-street. The Bootle Masonic Lodge has lost a highly respected member”.
Evening Express 2nd February 1917
Engineer Lieutenant James William Gibbins, born 28th June 1884 in Bootle, was the only son of Thomas and Elizabeth Gibbins, husband of Mabel Gibbins (née Ross-Jones) of 66 Strand Road, Bootle. He was educated at St Mary’s School and Keefe’s College, Liverpool
When the census was taken in April 1891 James was living at his maternal grandparent’s home in Bootle with his parents and younger sister; his father was working as a Tea Dealer’s Assistant. By 1901 James was living at 2 Church Street Bootle-cum-Linacre, West Derby with his parents and sisters Bessie and Sarah. His father Thomas was now earning his living as a Stevedore working in the docks.
At the time the census was taken in April 1911 James was a Junior Engineer, based on the merchant ship Potosi, on route from King’s Dock, Swansea to Canada Dock, Liverpool.
He married Mabel Ross Jones in the spring of 1914 and his only child Audrey Elizabeth was born at the end of the year. In November 1914 he was promoted to Engineer Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserve and in the Navy List for October 1916 he is recorded as Engineer Lieutenant (temporary) on the Laurentic.
James William Gibbins was awarded the Star, Victory Medal and British War Medal. His body was recovered and is buried in St Mura’s, Fahan, County Donegal.
He is commemorated on the following local memorials:
Bootle Civic memorials
St. Mary’s C of E School, Bootle
Liverpool Masonic Hall
Census Returns of England and Wales. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK, 1891, 1901 and 1911.
General Records Office UK
British Newspaper Archive