James Edward Plaskett & HMS FIDELITY

James Edward Plaskett

Able Seaman

1920 – 1943

 1st cousin 3x removed

James Edward Plaskett was one of seven children to Annie (nee: Town) and William Reuben J Plaskett, he was born in Dagenham, Essex in 1920.

Little is known about James because a lot of records from this period are still closed, I know more about the ship he died on during WW2. So in memory of James and the other 368 men who died this is a brief story of HMS FIDELITY.

HMS FIDELITY

1920 – 1943

2,456 ton Special Service Vessel

 

On 28 Dec, 1942, HMS Fidelity (D 57) (Lt C.A.M. Costa) fell behind the convoy ONS-154 due to engine troubles and streamed its torpedo nets, which brought down her speed to 2-3 knots. The next day, the commander decided to head for the Azores and launched her motor torpedo boat HMS MTB-107 and a Kingfisher floatplane for anti-submarine patrol. The aircraft spotted the lifeboats of Empire Shackleton which were towed by the two landing craft to HMS Fidelity. The 44 survivors were picked up and the aircraft and the landing craft were lifted aboard again.

At 21.38 hours on 29 December, U-225 (Leimkühler) fired the stern torpedo at HMS Fidelity, but missed. U-615 (Kapitzky) observed the suspicous vessel during the day and attacked her with five single torpedoes between 22.00 and 23.00 hours, but they either missed or were caught by the torpedo nets. At 16.38 hours on 30 December, the vessel was finally hit by two torpedoes from U-435 and sank immediately after heavy detonations. The U-boat reported a surprising high number of survivors on overcrowded rafts and swimming in the water, none of them were rescued and all drowned in the worsening weather. 274 crew members, 51 Royal Marines and the 44 survivors were lost. The landing craft HMS LCV-752 and HMS LCV-754 on board were lost with the ship. The engines of the MTB broke down and the crew of eight men was later rescued by HMCS Woodstock (K 238) (T/A/Cdr G.H. Griffiths, RCN), which then scuttled the disabled vessel. They were the only survivors apart from two men that had been picked up by HMCS St Laurent (H 83) (A/Cdr G.S. Windeyer, RCN) after the other Kingfisher floatplane from the vessel crashed on take off on 28 December.

Source: http://uboat.net/allies/merchants/2560.html

A list of 326 Men who were associated with the vessel: http://uboat.net/allies/merchants/crews/ship2560.html


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Clock (made by my 11th x Grt Grand Uncle)That Predates London Fire Sells For Record $286,000

Clock That Predates London Fire Sells For Record $286,000

A rare and important lantern clock, dating back to the reign of James I

William Bowyer – Clockmaker

11th Grt Grand Uncle

Engraved with a "Memento Mori? (Remember your mortality)

Engraved with a “Memento Mori? (Remember your mortality)

(1603?1625), was sold for $286,000 at Bonhams on June 19 ? a world record price for a clock of this kind.

Made by William Bowyer in 1623, the brass clock was estimated to fetch between $60/100,000 at Bonhams’ sale of fine clocks. The sale of 110 clocks made a total of $1,085,635.

“This magnificent lantern clock is undoubtedly one of the finest still in private hands today,” explained James Stratton, director of Bonhams’ clocks and watches department. “The date of manufacture of 1623 puts it firmly in the first few years of the production of the type of timekeeper that has come to be known as the English lantern clock. Horologically speaking, the clock predates the pendulum, the anchor escapement and rack striking.

“In a wider context, James I was King of England, the Clockmakers Company had not yet been established and the English Civil War, the Fire of London and the Great Plague were decades away. The engraved side doors of this clock are the only pair known to have survived from this First Period, and offer us two of the most memorable engraved pieces of brass in horology. I was not that surprised by the price. We were expecting it to do well.” – Bonhams

Engraved with a “Memento Mori” (Remember your mortality) scene of a skeleton with Biblical reference and, on the other side, Chronus walking with his scythe, the clock’s decoration reflects society’s widespread preoccupation with mortality and the afterlife during the Seventeenth Century. Puritans of this time were highly preoccupied with Divine Judgment and the afterlife. The clock dates from this period, when salvation of the soul was at the forefront of many peoples’ thoughts and actions.


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Peter Bower Clockmaker of Redlynch, Wiltshire

Peter Bower Clockmaker of Redlynch, Wiltshire

1715 – 1795

Extract from the book – South Wiltshire Clock Makers

7th Grt Grandfather

Redlynch, as the modern spelling is – or Redlench or indeed Redlinch as the 18th century engravers spelt it – is about five miles south of Salisbury in Wiltshire and about one mile from Downton. It was a small rambling villiage in an agricultural area, with a pub near the crossroads at the foot of what is now called Bower’s Hill.

The road where Peter Bower lived and worked, now named after him

From here Peter Bower must have produced hundreds of simple thirty-hour longcase clocks. We know he lived to the age of 80 and had a long working life, but even so he probably had one of the largest outputs of any country clockmaker and must have employed other journeymen and apprentices. One local story has it that he used to hang clock faces from the trees all around his house to advertise his trade!

Peter Bower was born in 1715 and on 23 April 1739 he married Susannah Bayly at St Martin’s Church, Salisbury. He was listed in the marriage licence as a blacksmith, age 23, of Downton, Wiltshire, and she as a spinster, age 22, of Downton. They had six children.

Peter Bower, now listed in the records as a clockmaker, was buried on 5 July 1795, aged 80, at St Lawrence’s Church, Downton.

Most of the clocks that one sees by Peter Bower are thirty-hour birdcage types, either in simple oak cases or often as movements only, but there are at least two musical longcases by him in existence, and also an eight-day longcase. It is possible to categorise his clocks as follows:

Basically the simplest, the early ones have a single hand showing the hours on a square brass dial, 9″ to 10″ wide, nearly all with the same sprandels and a plain matted centre. The name is usually engraved on the chapter ring although one exception seen had the name engraved on a rectangle brass plaque. The movement will have four iron posts 3/8″ by 3/16″ with a going and a striking train set one behind the other. Over this will be a fairly massive bell on an iron bell stand with a nice chunky hammer. The top and bottom brass plates may well show casting faults.

Later these were made with two hands, with minute figures and divisions on the chapter ring. The next development was to engrave the dial centres. The early ones had floral swags and scrolls engraved and at least two of these also had calender apertures above the six o’clock. However there must have been problems as both were blocked off, probably at the time of making as the one seen showed no sign of datework to the movement and the blocking had been done with a piece of old file in the same way that Peter Bower made many of the retaining wedges for the movement pivot bars.

The last of these clocks had beautiful engraved scenes in the West Country style – men of war, village scenes with seagulls flying over and ships entering estuaries with castles and trees. Nearly all of these clocks had the same spandrels and the movements are similar. It is possible to list some typical Bower features: the hedgehog face filed on the bell spring stop; the nut on the bell and nuts on the movement all having a cross filed on them so that they seat better; a turned wood pulley, not brass, for the weight; an unusual pendulum construction, the brass bob on the slide hooked on to the pendulum rod and the top of the rod not screwed into the suspension block but turned round a pin within the blocks; the name usually engraved on the chapter ring on the earlier clocks either as ‘P Bower Redlench’ in a single line or if there are two hands on two lines. The engraved centre examples usually incorportate the name in the design and it is then written as ‘Peter Bower Redlinch’.

Do not dismiss Peter Bower as a mere maker of thirty-hour country clocks; he also made two musical clocks and one eight-day clock. And if you wanted a good-looking brass arched dial two-handed clock but could only afford a thirty-hour movement he could arrange that.

There exists an apparent brass arched-dial eight-day with two hands but which is obviously a thirty-hour birdcage movement. This clock is still in the same house as it was when first bought from the maker. Another thirty-hour clock is still within a quater of a mile of where Bower lived and has been in the same family for many years.

Also still in Redlynch is an eight-day clock with a 12″ wide brass dial 17″ high. The chapter ring has the hour and minute figures and the name ‘Peter Bower Redlinch’ engraved on it. The four spandrels are Bower eight-day type and the dial centre has an engraved scene with a house and cupola, two little wicket gates and fences. The calender aperture below the dial centre is of the large didc type as opposed to the ‘ring’ on the eight-day musical clock. The winding holes cut through part of the engraving (the movement is original) and suggest a lack of planning. There is a full engraved seconds dial above the dial centre. In the arch over are two dolphin sprandels surrounding an engraved, silver boss with an eagle type design and the words ‘Tempus Fugit’. It is in an oak case 6′ 8.5″ high which has replaced cheeks but it is original, particularly as it is similar in dsign to the case of another Bower clock nearby.

The eight-day musical clock unfortunately was discovered as a movement only has now been recased. The 12″ wide dial has fine ‘urn’ spandrels, different from the other eight-day clocks. The engraved silvered chapter ring shows the hour and minute figures, with no maker’s name as this appears on top of the arch as ‘Peter Bower Redlench’. The moon disc has two moon faces on a deep blue ground with stars. The two hemispheres are engraved with miniature scenes similar in style to the thirty-hour engraved dial centres and probably by the same engraver. The figures 1 to 25 + are engraved round the arch but there is no pointer. In the right hand corner of the dial is the tune selector lever, giving a choice of two tunes. The clock has two hands and the dial centre is engraved with floral swags with a date aperture above six o’clock.

Peter BOWER (1715 – 1795) is my 7th great grandfather
Mary BOWER (1739 – 1827) Daughter of Peter
Joyce Margery PLASKETT (1934 – ) Daughter of Edmund Samuel

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Peter ‘of London’ Plaskett

Peter ‘of London’ Plaskett’

1794 – before 1837

5th Great Grand Uncle

Peter Plaskett was born about 1778, in Hampshire, England, he was one of two known children of Henry and Mary Plaskett. The family were religiously strict and were part of the Salisbury Methodist circuit in Wiltshire, England.

A biographical sketch about his mother ‘Mary Plaskett’, was Written and Published in 1833 By James Dredge, and an idea of family life can be easily imagined within its pages.

Peter was named after his grandfather, Peter Bower who was a well-known clockmaker in Redlynch, Wiltshire, Peter Plaskett probably spent a lot of time with his Grandfather because on the 5 August 1794, he was recorded as being an Apprentice in Downton, Wiltshire, where his Grandfather lived at that time and where his family hailed from. The apprenticeship was taken with David Bucklee of St Luke, Old Street, London.

Peter’s grandfather died in June 1795 and around this time he moved to London where he traded as a watchmaker, it’s very likely that he continued working with David Bucklee of St Lukes because in 1805 his nephew John Plaskett was recorded as being born here.

I have searched for more information about Peter over the years, but he disappears from the records after 1805.

My relationship to Peter Plaskett

Peter PLASKETT (1778 – before 1837) is my 5th great grand uncle

Henry PLASKETT (1731 – 1782) Father of Peter

Reuben PLASKETT (1775 – 1854) Son of Henry

William PLASKETT (1820 – 1912) Son of Reuben

William Reubon PLASKETT (1844 – 1918) Son of William

Edmund Lionel PLASKETT (1881 – 1952) Son of William Reubon

Edmund Samuel PLASKETT (1906 – 1977) Son of Edmund Lionel

Joyce Margery PLASKETT (1934 – ) Daughter of Edmund Samuel

Christine Angela Deborah BEAN (1957 – ) Daughter of Joyce Margery

Stephen Robert KUTA (me)

 

 


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Charles Plaskett – Chronometer Maker to the Admirality

 

Charles Plaskett

Chronometer Maker to the Admirality

1825 – 1880

Charles Plaskett is my x4 Grt Grand Uncle

Charles Plaskett was born about 1825 in 18 Grove Street, Bath, Somerset, England. He was the youngest of 8 children by Reuben and Mary Plaskett. His father Reuben was a well-established Clock, Watch and Jeweller maker who learnt his trade from his late uncle Peter ‘of London’ Plaskett. Reuben in turn taught his trade to his five sons, all of which became noted makers in their own right. Charles on the other hand was that little more special and became direct successor to Reuben Plaskett he stuck by his father until his death on the 23th April 1854, which was probably the key reason that his father’s established business was left to him.

Charles spent his childhood in Bath, Somerset, a city which in Georgian times was very wealthy and very popular as a spa town, as a result the city underwent vast changes during this British period and as a result the Georgian city of Bath is pretty much what we see today. The Plaskett’s lived and worked from 18 Grove Street, Bath, directly under the cold shadow of Bath Prison. Which was directly across the road from them.

18 Grove Street, Bath
A drawing of the rear of 18 Grove Street, with the prison looming down in the background. Sourced from: Bath in time

By 1839 the family were recorded as having moved from Bath and had now set up home and their trade in London, England. The beautiful city of Bath had been exchanged for the dark, narrow streets of Whitechapel, and they resided in the parish of St Mary’s at 31 Raven Street. In the 1880’s Dr Charles Booth recorded this street as fairly comfortable, with good ordinary earnings, but it was still only a walk away from very poor and the lowest class and vicious semi-criminal.

In the 1880’s Dr Charles Booth recorded that Raven street was fairly comfortable, with good ordinary earnings, but it was still only a walk away from very poor and the lowest class and vicious semi-criminal.

Charles Plaskett married on the 14th January 1849 in Saint James Church, Clerkenwell, London, to Harriet Wilson the daughter of William Wilson a joiner by trade. Her father William and her sister Mary Ann Wilson both witnessed the marriage. For a short period Charles and Harriet both resided together in the Wilson Household, Bowling Green Lane until moving back into 31 Raven Street sometime in the fall of 1849, just before the birth of their child. Henry George Plaskett was born on the 24th November 1849, in the Parish of St Mary’s, Whitechapel. Life however, was about to shatter for Charles as the harsh realities of Victorian, London hit hard. On the 6th March 1850 the family rushed through a baptism in St Mary’s Church, as illness took hold. Henry George Plaskett died a few days later, he was 4 months old. 3 months later in June 1850, Harriet Plaskett died too. Charles had lost his son and wife all within a few months of each and only after a year of marriage.

I think it’s difficult for us today to imagine just how hard life was for our ancestors, death was a daily occurrence and excepted and familiar in everyday life.

The census of 1851 recorded half of the population of Britain as living in towns – the first society in human history to do so. Over the previous 70 years, the population of Britain had risen at an unprecedented rate, passing the levels reached in an earlier period of growth, in the early 14th century, when the population had been decimated by epidemics such as the Black Death.

‘… with death from sickness at a level not seen since the Black Death.’

But was there any reason for optimism? The towns offered a better chance of work and higher wages than the countryside, where many families were trapped in dire poverty and seasonal employment. On the other hand, the countryside was healthier. A baby born in a large town with a population of more than 100,000 in the 1820s might expect to live to 35 – in the 1830s, life expectancy was down to a miserable 29.

A comparison between a desperately unhealthy large town and a small market town shows the costs of migrating in search of work and prosperity. In 1851, a boy born in inner Liverpool had a life expectancy of only 26 years, compared with a boy born in the small market town of Okehampton, who could expect to live to 57.

Large towns were thus desperately unhealthy, with death from sickness at a level not seen since the Black Death. New epidemics were stalking the cities – cholera and typhoid were carried by polluted water, typhus was spread by lice, and ‘summer diarrhoea’ was caused by swarms of flies feeding on horse manure and human waste. The problem was easy to identify and difficult to solve. Too little was invested in the urban environment, in sewers, street paving and cleansing, and in pure water and decent housing.

As the decade continued, life for Charles Plaskett worsened, in 1854, within two months of each other he lost both his parents to old age and Bronchitis, and even though he succeeded his father Reuben Plaskett and took over the families business in Whitechapel, by the end of the decade with loss of business and mounting debt it was gone.

In 1860 Charles left London for good, hoping to leave behind his broken trade, his creditors and his sorrowful past. He took his knowledge and well-earned trade with him to the parish of St Mary’s, Cardiff, Glamorgan, Wales and began a new life there.

The 1861 census and trade directories records Charles as residing at 59 – 60 Bute Street, Cardiff, and his occupation was listed as a Chronometer Maker, which is the second time we see Chronometer’s mentioned as a trade in the Plaskett Family, his brother William had already started specialising in Marine Chronometers ten years previously.

By 1861 Charles was living as married to an Elizabeth, who was born in 1829, Falmouth, Cornwall, little is known about her except it’s likely she had Austrian ancestry because two boarders with the surname of Cingmas were also residing with them in Bute Street. An Esther Cingmas born in 1840, Falmouth, Cornwall and a Nicole Cingmas listed as being male and born in Austria in 1832. No relationship status is mentioned, only that they are boarders… Although I do believe a family connection exists here because of the similarities with the place of birth for both Elizabeth and Esther and because Esther was also the name given to the daughter of Charles and Elizabeth.

Esther Maud Plaskett daughter of Charles and Elizabeth was listed in the 1861 census as being born in Cardiff. At the time the census was taken on Sunday 7th April 1861 she was recorded as being 3 months and 12 days old, making her birth date 26 December 1860. The family also had a Joseph Simmons boarding with them whose occupation was listed as being an optician and they also employed a servant by the name of Mary Thomas, a local girl of 18 years.

Life seemed good for Charles and his new family, and between 1860-61 they must have been doing well, because Bute Street was an affluent area of which they held two premises there, numbers 59 and 60. All that changed though about March 1862, when an application for Bankruptcy was filed I would guess that his London creditors had caught up with him.

The London Gazette, published these articles:

The London Gazette, 14 March 1862

Charles Plaskett, of the Docks, Cardiff, in the county of Glamorgan, Jeweller and Watch and Chronometer Maker having been adjudged bankrupt under a Petition for adjudication of Bankruptcy, filed, in Her Majesty’s Court of Bankruptcy for the Bristol District, at Bristol, on the 12th day of March 1862. He is hereby required to surrender himself to Charles Orme, Esq., the Registrar of the said court, and the first meeting of creditors, to be held before the said Registrar, on the 1st of April next, at eleven o’clock in the forenoon precisely, at the said Court, at Bristol. Mr. Alfred John Acramati, of No. 19, St. Augustine’s place, Bristol, is the Official’ Assignee, and Mr. T. H. Jinsor ‘Cardiff, is the Solicitor acting in the bankruptcy.

The London Gazette, April 4 1862

Charles Plaskett, of the Docks, Cardiff, in the county of Glamorgan, Jeweller and Watch and Chronometer Maker, having been adjudged bankrupt under a Petition for adjudication of Bankruptcy, filed in Her Majesty’s Court of Bankruptcy for the Bristol District, on the 12th day of March, 1862, a public sitting, for the said bankrupt to pass his Last Examination and make application for his Discharge, will be held before Matthew Darenport Hill, Esq., the Commissioner of the said Court, on the 5th day of May next, at the said Court, at Bristol, at eleven o’clock in the forenoon precisely, the day last aforesaid being the day limited for the said bankrupt to surrender. Mr. Alfred John Acraman, of No. 19, St. Augustine’s-place, Bristol, is the Official Assignee, and Messrs. Clifton and Benson, of Bristol, are the Solicitors acting in the bankruptcy.

For the next two years Charles would see his new life fall apart, as everything he had was lost. On the 28 August 1863, He was sentenced to three months imprisonment. The following year in October 1864, his daughter Esther Maud died aged 4, his wife Elizabeth disappears from the records around this time and it’s difficult to say what actually became of her. I would guess she died sometime in 1863/4.

Charles Plaskett left Cardiff that year and moved hoping to start a new life in Bristol, Gloucestershire. Surprisingly it didn’t take long for him to start a new life, because in September 1864 he is recorded as having re-married. Charles married his third wife Eliza Hussey in Bristol, she is probably someone he already knew because she lived close by to Charles when he lived in London.

Charles Plaskett doesn’t appear in the 1871 census, but his last known address was listed as: 53 West street, Bristol, Gloucestershire. He is recorded as living here in the 1879 and the 1880 trade directory for Bristol. His third wife Eliza died aged 54 in March 1873, Clifton, Gloucestershire, sadly he had no more children.

Charles Plaskett continued working as a clock, watch and chronometer maker until his death in June 1880, he died in Barton Regis, Gloucestershire. His Chronometers can often be seen at big auction houses across the world including Bonhams, they have been known to reach a sale price of £5000.

My relationship to Charles Plaskett

Charles PLASKETT (1825 – 1880)

is my 4th great grand uncle

Reuben PLASKETT (1775 – 1854) Father of Charles

William PLASKETT (1820 – 1912) Son of Reuben

William Reubon PLASKETT (1844 – 1918) Son of William

Edmund Lionel PLASKETT (1881 – 1952) Son of William Reubon

Edmund Samuel PLASKETT (1906 – 1977) Son of Edmund Lionel

Joyce Margery PLASKETT (1934 – ) Daughter of Edmund Samuel

Christine Angela Deborah BEAN (1957 – ) Daughter of Joyce Margery

Stephen Robert KUTA (Me)


Stephen and Yhana is the official You Tube channel for the author’s blogs and websites (Stephen Robert Kuta), a shared adventure with his daughter.
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How you can easily create beautiful art for your home or your loved ones by Peter Black, founder of – Charmaché Art and Craft


369 dead and 10 survivors – The Story of HMS FIDELITY

On the 11th November is Remembrance Sunday, a day we should all reflect and look back on.

 On that SPECIAL day I am going to publish here on this blog the story of ‘James Edward Plaskett’ (1st cousin 3x removed) and the tragic tale of mutiny and disaster that was HMS FIDELITY. a 2,456 ton special service vessel which was sunk by U-435 on New Years Eve 1943 in the icy cold Atlantic Ocean. The disaster took with it 379 people of which only 10 people survived. James Edward Plaskett was 23 years old.

When researching your family history, it’s only a matter of time before you discover a war hero, or tragic stories of loss and disaster… If anyone has story to share, please, please do… I would love to hear them and include them here on my blog.


Stephen and Yhana is the official You Tube channel for the author’s blogs and websites (Stephen Robert Kuta), a shared adventure with his daughter.
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How you can easily create beautiful art for your home or your loved ones by Peter Black, founder of – Charmaché Art and Craft


Plaskett Watch, Clock and Chronometer Makers

Plaskett Watch, Clock and Chronometer Makers

Over the next few weeks, I am going to get my head down and start writing a few biographies for the Watch, Clock and Chronometer Makers in my family, and share a few things about this interesting trade.

My family have been involved in clock making since 1750 and continued right through until the late 1960’s, and they have all left behind a fascinating collection, with many works often appearing in auction houses across the world and selling for anything from £50 – £5000.

The first clock maker in my family was Peter Bower, who notably is the most famous and probably was a little eccentric too, He used to hang clock faces from all the trees in his garden to advertise his trade. He had a sad ending and died a pauper in 1795.

One of the families most famous clocks no longer exists, and was adorned Brighton’s West Pier, sadly the pier closed in 1975, now not much is left as a result of a fire in 2003 and the slow erosion from the sea.

A Plaskett Clock once graced Brightons West Pier.

below is a list of all known makers in my family, each of these people I will be writing about because they all have something interesting to tell.

  • Bower, Peter of Redlynch.
  • Plaskett, Charles of London and Cardiff.
  • Plaskett, George of Southampton.
  • Plaskett, James of London.
  • Plaskett, Peter of London.
  • Plaskett, Richard of Ilford.
  • Plaskett, Rueben of London and Bath.
  • Plaskett, William Rueben
  • Plaskett, William of London.
  • Plasketts of Hornchurch.

Stephen and Yhana is the official You Tube channel for the author’s blogs and websites (Stephen Robert Kuta), a shared adventure with his daughter.
Featuring: Days Out in the UK / History / Genealogy / Virtual Walks / Virtual Cycling / Travel and so much more. Feel free to visit, subscribe and watch out for all of our upcoming episodes.


How you can easily create beautiful art for your home or your loved ones by Peter Black, founder of – Charmaché Art and Craft