Samuel Mayo Hooper was born on August 3rd 1897 to James and Frances Jane Hooper of Creston South, Mortier Bay, Burin Peninsula, Newfoundland. He was the youngest of their 10 children.
Samuel joined The Royal Navy, trained on the HMS Briton (formerly the Calypso) in St John’s and left for Europe in September 1915 at the age of 18. Like the other Royal Naval Reservists from Newfoundland he was assigned to ships in the British fleet.
When the Laurentic departed from Liverpool on route to Halifax on January 23rd 1917, the ship not only carried its complement of officers and crew but also a number of military passengers, including over 20 Newfoundland reservists, some, including Samuel, heading home on leave.
Samuel Hooper perished on one of the lifeboats.
His parents felt something had happened to him before word of his death reached Newfoundland. This moving tale was handed down to Samuel’s great-nephew William Hooper and retold in the book Courage at Sea: Newfoundland Sailors in the Great War (Flanker Press 2014) by Robert Parsons.
“His parents knew he was coming home on leave and one evening his mother, while having tea, saw him through the window. His father, James, went out to check and saw nothing. James knew young Samuel liked horses so he went to the barn, where Samuel’s brother Stephen kept his horse. Samuel was there. To his father’s surprise he was sitting on the edge of the hayloft, dressed in his sailor’s suit, but silent and sad. When his father spoke, the young man fell from the hayloft to the floor, but vanished from sight. James Hooper knew then his son would never come home and, shortly afterwards, he received the news that Samuel had died in the line of duty on the HMS Laurentic”.
Samuel Mayo Hooper is buried in St Mura’s graveyard, Fahan and is commemorated on the war memorial in front of the Marystown Town Hall, Newfoundland.
Canadian Virtual War Memorial – http://www.veterans.gc.ca
Commonwealth War Graves Commission – http://www.cwgc.org
General Register Office death records – irishgenealogy.ie
“A First World War Sea Tragedy”, by Robert Parsons,
published in The Telegram circa 2007
Courage at Sea: Newfoundland Sailors in the Great War (Flanker Press 2014)
by Robert Parsons
Robert Parsons has been researching and publishing books about Canada’s ships and wrecks since 1987. He was presented with the Polaris Award from the Canadian Coast Guard Alumni Association, Newfoundland and Labrador division, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the preservation and public awareness of marine heritage and history in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.