Lionel Joseph Gish

Assistant Steward, S.S. Melrose Abbey
Died 27 Dec 1942
Commemorated at Tower Hill Memorial
Age 18

Lionel was born on 10 May 1924 in Mile End, London to Alfred and Lithuanian mother Hettie nee Lazarus and he had an older sister Stella. When Lionel and Stella were young their father worked as a costermonger and later in life became a carpenter. When Alfred was fifteen in 1915, he lied about his age to enlist into the London Regiment and was discharged when it was found he was underage. He tried again in 1916 and was sent to France, again he was found out that he was underage and was returned home and discharged. In 1917, still aged sixteen he was successful and served in the Royal Fusiliers until discharge in 1918.

Lionel joined the Merchant Navy and was an assistant steward on the S.S. Melrose Abbey. The ship had a cargo of 3403 tons of coal and 70 bags of mail and was travelling from Tyne to Trinidad via Loch Ewe and Boston, USA.

About 02.40 hours on 27 Dec 1942 the ships Empire Union and Melrose Abbey were in convoy ONS-154 and were torpedoed by U-356 and sunk north-northeast of the Azores.

Six crew members and one gunner from Melrose Abbey were lost. The master, 22 crew members and four gunners were picked up by the British rescue ship Toward, transferred to HMCS Shediac and landed at Ponta Delgada, Azores.