Eldred Gosse was among more than 20 Newfoundland sailors from the Royal Naval Reserve who lost their lives when the Laurentic struck two mines at the mouth of Lough Swilly on January 25th 1917. The men were on leave and returning home on the Laurentic when they drowned.
Eldred was born July 6th 1887 to Robert and Sarah Ann Gosse (née Vey) of Long Beach, Southwest Arm, Newfoundland. He first enlisted in the Royal Naval Reserve at St John’s in March 1908, returning there to train on the HMS Calypso in March 1909, subsequently completing 202 days of training over the next five years.
Long before the war broke out, Britain’s Royal Navy recognized just how much Newfoundland and Labrador’s seafarers had to offer. It decided to recruit volunteers into a reserve force of well-trained sailors it could call upon in the event of war. So HMS Calypso was established as a permanent RNR training ship at St. John’s. It had a compliment of 28 instructors, all from the British Royal Navy, and could accommodate up to 300 volunteers. The men saw enlistment in the RNR as a welcome source of income during the winter months when the fishing season was over.
By the time war was declared, Eldred had become a highly skilled sailor. He reenlisted in March 1914.
Eldred had a younger brother Eleazer, who also enlisted with the Royal Naval Reserve. Eleazer survived the war, remaining overseas with his wife for a period of time, but eventually moved home to Newfoundland and settled in St. John’s where they raised six children.
Eldred married Elizabeth Jane Butt in St John’s on November 2nd 1914, just days before leaving for war. He sailed out of St. John’s on the SS Carthaginian with several other sailors from Random on November 18th 1914. He was assigned to HMS Vivid I, the naval base at Devonport, for the next few weeks and on December 6th he was transferred to HMS Hilary, an Armed Merchant Cruiser, where he remained till January 5th 1917.
During January, 1917, Eldred served at the naval base HMS Pembroke I. Within weeks of being assigned to he was granted leave. He must have been delighted to be traveling home to spend time with his new wife for the first time since they were married.
Eldred’s body was never recovered.
With thanks to Lester Green of the Southwest Arm Historical Society for allowing us to use his research on the Laurentic men from Southwest Arm, Newfoundland.
The Southwest Arm Historical Society: http://www.swahsociety.com
Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Web Site: http://www.heritage.nf.ca
Veterans Affairs Canada: http://www.veterans.gc.ca
The Maritime History Archive, Memorial University of Newfoundland: http://www.mun.ca/mha