William Isaac Thorndale

Service in the Coastguard

William Isaac Thorndale

Joining the coastguard on 19th June 1890, which involved losing his Petty Officer status (and pay) but not his pension time, WIT progressed through the ranks of Boatman, Chief Boatman, and eventually Chief Petty Officer at various places on the southern coast of Ireland (which is how he escaped the 1891 and 1901 UK census, of course).

I have very little information at all about his coastguard service. His postings in Ireland included Belleisle (possibly a ship name), Bonmahon, Ballinacourty(?), Kingstown, Ballycroneen, East Ferry, Limerick, and Lackeen Port or Point, before transferring to Rye Harbour in Sussex in November 1904, and eventually Studland Bay, Dorset in December 1910. His naval service ended 28th June 1919 with the rank of Chief Petty Officer.

The photograph shows WIT in his Boatman Coastguard uniform with wife Jane (nee Dowling). They had been married in Portsea Island in 1884 before WIT left on his commissioning voyage in Calliope. At their feet is, on the right, Winifred Sarah Thorndale born 15th December 1893 (d. 1984), and on the left, the youngest daughter, my maternal grand-mother, Evelyne Baverstock Thorndale, born 24th November, 1895 (d. 1962). Their first-born, a son named Harry, had sadly died a few hours after his birth on April 29th, 1892. The picture is probably circa 1896 or 7 which would make it most probably located at Ballycroneen.

WIT will probably have been stationed at the Coast Guard at Ballycroneen when the sailing ship Helga ran aground in the bay on January 22nd, 1903, see the official report here.

WIT appears to have enjoyed his time in the coastguard, although his memoirs cease on paying off from HMS Calliope in 1890. He also seems to have, at first, enjoyed his time in Ireland, but this was the time when the troubles began to become unpleasant for anyone representing the British Crown, such as a coastguard. Eventually, he became so concerned for his family's safety that he moved back to the English mainland to continue his coastguard service until retirement.