Date of birth: Q1 1922
Parents: James Benjamin and Sarah Ellen Beeson
Address: 96 Saltisford, Warwick
Occupation: Worked at Improved Hinges Limited
Eric’s parents, James (1877-1944) and Sarah Ellen Beeson nee Kinzett (1884 – 1950) were married in 1903.
By the time of the 1911 Census, James was described as a “Labourer – Motor Works” and the family were living at 1 Chapel Court, Friar Street. At that time there were five children – Oliver James (born 1903), Arthur Edward (born 1905), Myrtle Winifred (born 1906), Ivy Irene (born 1908), Miriam Ellen (born 1910). We know another child followed – Vera Elizabeth (born 1912).
We surmise from the Warwick Advertiser pieces below that there was a further brother, Leonard and a sister Alie. It is likely that there may be other siblings of Eric’s, born between 1912 and his birth in 1922 – any information would be greatly appreciated.
By 1939 Eric’s parents lived at 56 Saltisford and his father, James, was a groundsman. There was only one person at home with the couple but the record has been redacted.
Eric’s father died in 1944, just two years after Eric and his mother died in 1950. Both are buried in Warwick Cemetery.
Rank & Number: Stoker 2nd Class, 137069
Regiment/Service: Royal Navy
Brigade/Division: HMS Hecla
Date of death: 12th November 1942
Cause of death/Battle: Lost at sea, HMS Hecla was torpedoed by U515 west of Gibraltar.
Commemorated/Buried: Commemorated on Portsmouth Naval Memorial. Panel 69, Column 1.
Commemorated locally at:
Eric joined the Destroyer HMS Hecla as a stoker, a dangerous job in many ways; if the ship was torpedoed the stokers would be the last to get out, and the atmosphere in the engine room was polluted with soot and fumes.
Leading a convoy carrying supplies from South Africa to Liverpool, Hecla was struck by five torpedoes fired by U-boat 515 captained by Werner Henke, regarded by the Germans as submarine ‘ace’. His U-boat was to sink no fewer than 25 ships before the crew were captured by the Americans. Of the 850 men aboard HMS Hecla, 282 were killed or missing including 20-year-old Eric Beeson. The others were rescued by the destroyer HMS Venomous; it limped into Casablanca harbour with the decks crammed with survivors .
- Unlocking Warwick Research Group
- Warwick Advertiser excerpts courtesy of Warwickshire County Record Office