Born: 1869, Edmonton, Middlesex.

Died: 31st March 1918; age 49; Drowned as a result of an attack by enemy submarine.


 Rank: Donkeyman/Fireman.

Regiment: Mercantile Marine, S.S.’Vianna’ (London).


Medals Awarded: Mercantile Marine Medal & British Medal.


Memorial Reference:

Tower Hill Memorial,



Relatives Notified & Address: Son of the late John James & Mary Howell; husband of Caroline Ada Howell (nee Groves), of 282, Spring Road, Ipswich.


Fellow Ipswich shipmate also killed on board Charles Bonnes Rusher .




In 1901 Joseph’s family are living at Harwich Road, Ramsey, Kent.

Caroline, 32.

Hilda, 4.


In 1911 Joseph’s family are living at 282, Spring Road, Ipswich.

Caroline, 42.

Hilda, 14.

boarders – 3 young children.


In 1895, Woolwich, Joseph married Caroline Ada Groves, born 1869, Stratford, Essex.

They had 1 daughter:

Hilda Helen Howell, born June 1896, Plumstead, Kent.


Joseph’s wife Caroline Ada Howell died October 1919, 282, Spring Road, Ipswich.


Joseph’s daughter, Hilda Helen Mitchell (wife of Herbert Robert Mitchell) applied for her late father’s medals 11th April 1922. They were issused 2nd August 1922 and sent to Hilda, of 282, Spring Road, Ipswich.


On the 31st March 1918 the S.S. ‘Vianna’ was steaming south, 4miles East of Seaham Harbour, carrying a 360 ton cargo of coal and a crew of 15, on passage from Tyne for Ipswich when she was torpedoed by an unseen submerged Germen submarine UC-64 (Commander Ferdinand Schartz). The missile detonated on her portside against the number two hold and she sunk within minutes, with the loss of 4 lives. The rest of the crew were picked up by a patrol vessel within 15 minutes and landed back at the Tyne.


Merchant Navy / Mercantile Marine. Both services suffered heavy losses from German u-boat attacks, enemy ships and under water mines. U-boats sank 7,759,090 tons, with the loss of 14,660+ merchant seafarers 2,479 British merchant vessels and 675 British fishing vessels were lost. The sea trade was important to the war effort supplying food and materials as well as arms around the globe. The Mercantile Marine War Medal was instituted by the Board of Trade and approved by the King George V.

 S.S.’Vianna’ (London).



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