Frank Berry Williams

Frank Berry Williams (#412), Engineer on The Eastway.

Frank Berry Williams served as an engineer in the Merchant Navy during the First World War. He was on the steamer SS Bellbank when it was sunk by the German submarine UC-67 on 7th September 1918, as detailed below. Thanks to the web site for this information.

7/9 1918

British steamer BELLBANK ex Castle Bruce ex Kirby Bank ex Lustleigh, torpedoed and sunk in the Mediterranean 25 miles S.S.W. from Planier Island, Gulf of Lions in position 42.48N 05.08E by the German submarine UC-67 whilst on a voyage from Algiers to Spezia with general cargo. 1 lost. ( Bell, James & Co., Hull, Bell Lines, Ltd., 3.250 grt/1901 ).


He also served on the steamer SS Highway.

For his service on the merchant vessels during the First World War, Frank was listed on The National Roll of the Great War and awarded the Mercantile Marine War Medal as shown below.

The record card of his medals shown below was obtained from The National Archives web site.

Frank drowned at sea on 22nd October 1926 while serving as an engineer on the The Eastway.
The following notes on The Eastway are as supplied from members of the Maritime History List.

The Eastway was a steel screw steamer, laid down as Pentland Grange for Furness Withy & Co Ltd.
She was launched as Krasnoiarsk for the Russian Volunteer Fleet Association, Archangel, on September 1915 at Yard No.224 by Northumberland S.B. Co., Ltd., Newcastle.
5812ft girth, 400ft length, 52ft beam. Triple expansion engine.

1918. The Shipping Controller (Royal Mail Steam Packet Co., London) Off No. 142462.
1923. Eastway. St Mary Steamship Co., Ltd. (Williams Bro's (Cardiff) Ltd.
22nd October 1926. Foundered in a hurricane in Lat. 31.25N, Long. 64.15W, on passage from Hampton Roads to Pernambuco with a cargo of coal.

The Eastway left Norfolk Virginia for Pernambuco on 18th October 1926, with 7500 tons of cargo coal & 1761 tons of bunker coal, being overloaded by an estimated 141 tons.
She was commanded by Captain J.H. Vanstone and carried a crew of 35 [34?].

On 21st the ship received a wireless message that a hurricane was approaching, but it was assumed by the ships officers they would only pass through the fringes.
This proved to be wrong and by the 22nd she was hit by the hurricane, had her hatch covers ripped off and developed a list. The master while supervising the fitting of fresh hatch covers was swept overboard.
At 5.38 p.m. on the 22nd - the vessel having a 15degree list - an SOS was sent giving the vessels position as 31.25N, 64.15W.
At 7.00 p.m. the EASTWAY turned on her beam end and sank with 22 members of her crew.

The third mate Mr Davey, the only surviving officer, and eleven men were picked up by the steamer Luciline at noon the following day.

The above from:
"Dictionary of Disasters at Sea" by C. Hocking.
World Ship Society,
Sea Breezes,
Various newspapers.

The register entry of the lives lost is available in pdf format.

The sinking of The Eastway and the resulting charge against the owner were covered by The Times newspaper and transcripts of these articles are available in pdf format. The Board of Trade enquiry is held by The National Archives.


(C) M.T. Gibbs 2013