Shetland Times 26 March 1965

Last week we briefly recorded the death of Capt. George Arthur, a retired Shetland master mariner in South Shields. Since then we have received further information about this grand old man of 83 who had a long and seafaring honourable career, like so many of his generation.

He was born at Hay Green, Laxfirth, Nesting, on 20th June, 1881, the son of Mr and Mrs Edward Arthur. The family had moved to Laxfirth that day from Whalsay and he missed being born in a boat by one hour!

He spent a happy childhood and youth in Laxfirth and received an excellent education at the village school. He commenced work at the age of 12 years as cook on the family fishing boat for no pay, but he was allowed to sell the fish he caught with his scoop net. He saved with great earnest and when he had sufficient money, he travelled to South Shields and joined a sailing ship loaded with horses for the “Cape” to be used in the Boer War.

He served with a number of ships before the mast, and in 1904, he left the steamer Glenby, on which he was bosun and went ashore to qualify as a second mate.

He then joined the s.s. Opal of Dundee gem Line until he passed his first mate’s certificate, after which he joined the s.s. Port Hunter and remained with her until he left in order to take and pass his master’s certificate in 1908.

He then joined the firm of Messrs Steel Young & Co., and as first officer aboard the s.s. Oakdale, in 1910, rescued in a full gale in mid-Atlantic, the entire crew of a Danish sailing ship which was on fire. For his gallantry and brilliant work in an open boat in the rescue, he was presented with a silver cup by the King of Denmark.

He was then given command of the s.s. Glanton in 1911 and was captain of her when war was declared. The Glanton was sunk by the German cruiser Gneisenau in 1914 and he was taken prisoner on board. He escaped in Para in North Brazil and made his way back to England . Here, he rejoined his firm and commanded several of their ships, including the Q ship War Castle. He fought a successful submarined action with the s.s. War Grange and received an award for gallantry and meritorious conduct from the controller of shipping, Sir Joseph MacLay. In 1918, when in commaned of the Q ship War Castle, he called at Lerwick and was able to see his parents, before proceeding to take part in the fighting which had broken out in Russia. *Read: best drill press 

The end of hostilities saw the end of the firm Messrs Steel Young & Co., and he took command of the s.s. Buckleigh. In 1927 he was in command of the s.s. Ullesmre and remained with that ship until 1913. The he rejoined the firm of C.A. Lensen & Co., of London, for whom he commanded the s.s. Terneuzen, the s.s. Elizabeth Lensen and latterly, the m.v. Ary Lensen. On the declaration of war in 19139, he was still in command of the m.v. Ary Lensen and served in command of her throughout the entire war, often being commodore of ocean convoys.

In 1941, his eldest son, George Leslie Blair Arthur, was killed whilst serving as Sergeant-Observer in the R.A.F. Despite this tremendous blow, he remained at sea throughout the war and participated in the landings at Normandy on D-Day.

In November, 1946, he went ashore to his home at 19 Blagdon Avenue, South Shields, to a well-earned retirement.

He was pre-deceased by his wife Martha, by seven years, and leaves two sons, E.M. Arthur, an insurance official, and A.B. Arthur, master mariner, retired; two daughters, Mrs M.E. young, wife of J.F. Young, M.P.S., and Mrs Piper, wife of B.H. Piper, joint general manager, Lloyd’s Bank; Mrs Dorothy Arthur, widow of G.L.B. Arthur; thirteen grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

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