Where Once They Sailed

Avery brothers con­trib­ute 19 years of naval ser­vice


James and El­iz­a­beth Sarah (Spurrell) Avery of Long Beach had nine chil­dren, all born at Long Beach.

In April of 1903, James passed, leav­ing El­iz­a­beth to raise the fam­ily. She mar­ried John Pen­ney of Deer Har­bour in Au­gust 1914 but by this time, two of her sons – Abra­ham and Robert – had joined the New­found­land Royal Naval Re­serve.

Records show Abra­ham was the first to en­list in Jan­uary 1911, fol­lowed by Robert in Novem­ber 1913 and Ni­cholas in De­cem­ber 1915. Ni­cholas listed Long Beach as his place of res­i­dence but his mother’s as be­ing Deer Har­bour, where she was now re­sid­ing with her hus­band, John Pen­ney. All three brothers served for sev­eral years.

Abra­ham mar­ried Phoebe Green of Hil­lview on June 13, 1911 and the cou­ple gave birth to their first child in De­cem­ber 1911. He con­tin­ued with his naval train­ing each Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary un­til the Great War was de­clared.

He re­ceived a let­ter of Royal Procla­ma­tion from the Bri­tish Ad­mi­ralty of HMS Ca­lypso to re­port to St. John’s on Nov. 3, 1914. He was sent over­seas on RMS Fran­co­nia three days later and as­signed to HMS Pem­broke, a shore-based naval fa­cil­ity lo­cated at Chatham, Eng­land. He was trans­ferred to HMS Car­ron, an armed board­ing steamer, and spent the next two years pa­trolling wa­ters en­forc­ing wartime block­ades.

He was re-as­signed to HMS Pem­broke in De­cem­ber 1916. He then re­ceived orders he was be­ing trans­ferred to HMS Bri­ton at St. John’s.

He was go­ing home. He pur­chased his ticket at Liver­pool for the ill-fated RMS Lau­ren­tic on Jan. 24, 1917. His ad­ven­ture on­board the Lau­ren­tic will be de­scribed in de­tail in next week’s spe­cial ar­ti­cle on the sur­vivors of RMS Lau­ren­tic.

Sea­man Avery re­turned to Chatham af­ter the Lau­ren­tic sank off Lough Swilly, Ire­land and he re­mained there un­til March 1917. He never went over­seas af­ter his ar­rival at HMS Bri­ton, St. John’s and re­mained with the naval base un­til he was de­mo­bi­lized on Feb. 13, 1918. He re­turned to Hil­lview, where his fam­ily had now grown to three chil­dren.

Abra­ham and Phoebe gave birth to one more child in 1920, named Ni­cholas. Ni­cholas fol­lowed in his fa­ther’s foot­steps in WWII and joined the Navy. He re­turned with a war bride, Doreen John­son. Abra­ham passed away on Nov. 6, 1969 and is buried at Hil­lview.

Robert com­pleted 28 days of train­ing dur­ing the months of Novem­ber/De­cem­ber and re­turned to Hil­lview. In Oc­to­ber 1914 he was or­dered by Royal Procla­ma­tion to ap­pear at the HMS Ca­lypso. On Nov. 6, he joined his brother Abra­ham on­board the RMS Fran­co­nia and trav­elled to the HMS Pem­broke.

He joined the HMS Fiona, an armed board­ing steamer, on Nov. 19.

The next two years were spent pa­trolling the wa­ters of the North Sea.

Af­ter com­plet­ing this as­sign­ment, he was trans­ferred to the HMS Vic­to­ri­ous, a re­pair ship, where he spent the next year. In May 1917, he was posted to HMS Pem­broke I, a naval bar­racks at Chatham, for two weeks be­fore he re­turned to HMS Bri­ton, St. John’s.

Six months later he was or­dered over­seas to HMS Vivid III and spent the next nine months on­board HMS Ven­er­a­ble, a de­pot ship for minelay­ing trawlers.

His fi­nal days over­seas were spent at­tached to HMS Idaho, a de­pot ship, be­fore re­turn­ing to HMS Bri­ton and re­ceiv­ing his shore de­mo­bi­liza­tion on April 16, 1919, com­plet­ing a six-year ca­reer with the Royal Naval Re­serve.

He re­turned to Hil­lview and mar­ried Louise, daugh­ter of James and Caro­line (Price) Duf­fitt of Hil­lview. They set­tled in Hil­lview and raised their fam­ily next door to his brother Abra­ham. He died on Oct. 31, 1961 and is buried at Hil­lview.

Ni­cholas signed his ap­pli­ca­tion pa­pers on Dec. 6, 1915. A no­ta­tion on his ap­pli­ca­tion lists two brothers that were en­listed with the navy over­seas. His age is listed at 19 years and he gave his birth date as Jan. 1, 1897. How­ever, records be­long­ing to the church in­di­cate that he was born on Feb. 4, 1898.

He spent his years with the navy as­signed to du­ties pa­trolling the wa­ters of New­found­land. Records re­veal he was as­signed first to the com­mu­ni­ca­tion tower at Mount Pearl.

An ar­ti­cle in the St. John’s Daily Star ti­tled “Re­servist Re­turn­ing Home” men­tions that he was among a crew of re­servist re­turn­ing home through the base at Hal­i­fax, in­di­cat­ing he may have spent time over­seas, but no records could be lo­cated to con­firm this.

He was de­mo­bi­lized on May 1, 1910 and re­turned home. He mar­ried Martha Ann, daugh­ter of Jonah and Mar­garet Soper of Lit­tle Heart’s Ease, in Oc­to­ber 1927. They lived first at House Cove but moved to Lit­tle Heart’s Ease when the com­mu­nity was aban­doned.

The Avery brothers gave a to­tal of 19 years of ser­vice to the Royal Naval Re­serve. The peo­ple of South­west Arm re­gion are thank­ful for their ser­vice to King and Coun­try.

Next week’s ar­ti­cle will fea­ture the con­tri­bu­tions by the Smith brothers of Is­land Cove both over­seas and pa­trolling Cana­dian wa­ters. Af­ter serv­ing their coun­try, they re­turned home but re­mained for a short pe­riod of time be­fore seek­ing em­ploy­ment in New York.

Sea­man Ni­cholas Avery, cour­tesy of grand­daugh­ter Chris­tine Drover.


Ni­cholas Avery’s ap­pli­ca­tion.

Robert Avery of Hil­lview.


Able Sea­man Abra­ham Avery Ser­vice Ledger.

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