SOUTHCOMBE Clifford Samuel 1890-1943

Clifford Samuel SOUTHCOMBE 1890 – 1943

Lieutenant-Commander Clifford Samuel Southcombe Royal Naval Reserve died 19 December 1943 aged 53.  He is buried at Caister Old Cemetery, near Great Yarmouth, Norfolk [1] and is commemorated on Etherley War Memorial and the memorial in St. Cuthbert’s Church, Etherley.

Family Details

Clifford Samuel Southcombe was born 22 December 1890 [2] the son of Samuel and Emma Southcombe at Portskewett, near Chepstow, Monmouthshire, Wales.[3]  There were at least 8 siblings, Annie, Arthur, Phillip, Cecil, Hilda, Phyllis and Ivy.  By 1901, the family lived at Constellation Terrace, Reath, Cardiff, Glamorgan, Wales where Samuel was recorded as a ”boilermaker” and Emma as a “butcher”.[4] By 1911, the family was still in Cardiff but Samuel was employed as a “licensed victualler” with Emma and Annie assisting in the business.  The public house was The Cambridge Hotel, Tyndall Street, Cardiff.[5]  Clifford was not recorded at this address.[6]

Clifford is standing back left

Clifford followed a career at sea.  29 May 1907, aged 16 he was indentured with John Herron & Co. as an apprentice seaman until 1911, at Cardiff. [7] By 20 October 1911, he had attained a Board of Trade Certificate of Competency as Second Mate of a Foreign-Going Ship and 7 November 1913 was awarded the First Mate Certificate.[8]

In 1915, Clifford married Mabel Agnes Peck at South Shields, County Durham.[9]  Mabel was born in India c.1886, her father serving in the Army.  By 1891, the family lived at St. Andrew’s Barracks, Newcastle – parents Thomas and Margaret with children Elizabeth, Mary, Margaret, Kitty, Mabel and Amy.  Mabel and Amy were born in India. [10]  Her father Thomas died in 1898.[11]  By 1901, the family, namely Mabel with her widowed mother Margaret and her siblings Kitty, Amy and William, lived at South Shields.  Aged 14, Mabel was in employment but the nature of her duties cannot be deciphered. [12] By 1911, Mabel was not recorded at the family address but she, now 24 years old, was working as a waitress at the Central Exchange Hotel in Newcastle.[13]

12 January 1916: Clifford S. Southcombe was initiated into the Dundas Lodge [Plymouth] of Freemasons.  He was recorded as a Lieutenant RNR, aged 25 and a resident of Devonport. [14] During the war years, it is assumed that Clifford being a Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserve, was based at Plymouth and was posted to vessels as and when required.

12 November 1919: He was awarded the Certificate of Competency as a Master for a Foreign Steamship.[15]

After the war, Clifford and Mabel seemed to have made South Shields their family home and had at least 3 children, all born there:

  • Agnes Patricia born 11 January 1920 [16]
  • Margaret born C.1921[17]
  • Clifford L. born 1927 [18]

In 1939, Clifford and Mabel Southcombe lived at the Blue Bell Inn, Low Etherley near Bishop Auckland, County Durham.  Clifford was recorded as a “Master Mariner” and Mabel as an “Innkeeper”.  Agnes was recorded as a “Barmaid”.  Marked in red ink which may be a later addition, Clifford L. Southcombe is recorded, “at school”.[19] Both Clifford and Mabel had previous associations with the licensed trade therefore it may not be considered surprising that they ran a pub.  Why they settled in Low Etherley is unknown.

Military Details [20]

Clifford S. Southcombe served in both world wars.


  • 2 January 1915: Clifford S. Southcombe was registered as Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserve aboard the merchant vessel, “Hilary”.
  • 29 January 1916: Lieutenant Clifford S. Southcombe RNR was aboard “Orbita”.
  • 18 February 1916: Lieutenant C.S. Southcombe was registered aboard the Pacific Steam Navigation Co. vessel “Mexico” departing Liverpool for Port Stanley, Falkland Islands.[21]
  • 13 November 1916:  Lieutenant Clifford S. Southcombe RNR was registered in the 1917 Royal Naval Reserve.  It is presumed that he was not required for a position with a vessel.
  • 18 December 1918: Lieutenant Clifford S. Southcombe RNR was registered aboard “Laburnum”

Lieutenant Clifford S. Southcombe RNR was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the Victory and British War medals.


16 September 1940: registered as a temporary Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserve.

19 December 1943: The death of T/A Lt. Cdr RNR Southcombe C.S. was recorded and the cause of death was, “Coronary occlusion due to aortic stenosis, mitral incompetence, thickening of aortic valve and enlarged heart.”  He was 53 years of age and it is assumed that he was serving aboard a vessel named “Miranda”.[22]


Lieutenant-Commander Clifford Samuel Southcombe is buried at grave reference section A [Naval Reservation] grave 275, Caister Old Cemetery.[23]  His headstone bears the following epitaph:

“Never more to hear the sound of windless capstan clanking round”

On his soul sweet Jesus have mercy

His name was entered into the obituary of officers whose deaths have been reported since 18 November 1943, being 19 December 1943, an officer of the RNR, Temporary Acting Lieutenant- Commander.

Post War

The estate of Clifford S. Southcombe [The Blue Bells Inn, Low Etherley] was left to his widow, Mabel Agnes Southcombe. Mabel Agnes Southcombe of the Blue Bells Inn, Low Etherley died 27 May 1947 leaving her estate to her daughters, Agnes Patricia Stonebank [wife of Walter Stonebank, married in 1940] and Margaret Southcombe [spinster].[24]


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission He was 52 years of age.

[2] 1939 England & Wales Register

[3] England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1915 Vol.11a p.1 1890 Q4 Chepstow and UK Naval Officers’ Service Record Card & Files Index 1880-1950

[4] 1901 census

[5] England &Wales National Probate Calendar [Index of Wills & Administrations] 1858-1995

[6] 1911 census

[7] UK Apprentices Indentured in Merchant Navy 1824-1910

[8] Board of Trade Certificates

[9] England & Wales Marriage Index 1837-1915 Vol.10 p.1710 1915Q3 South Shields

[10] 1891 census

[11] Ancestry Family Tree

[12] 1901 census & Ancestry Family Tree

[13] 1911 census

[14] United Grand Lodge of England Freemason Membership Registers 1751-1921

[15] Board of Trade Certificate

[16] 1939 England & Wales Register and England & Wales Birth Index 1916-2007 Vol.10a p.2093 1920 Q1 South Shields

[17] England & Wales Birth Index 1916-2007 Vol.10a p.1714 1922 Q1 South Shields

[18] England & Wales Birth Index 1916-2007 Vol.10a p.1292 1927 Q2 South Shields

[19] 1939 England & Wales Register

[20] Navy Lists unless otherwise stated

[21] UK & Ireland Outward Passenger Lists 1890-1960

[22] Note: “Miranda” is assumed to be the name of his ship but the only vessel named Miranda that I can find was sunk by a U Boat in January 1940.

[23] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[24] England &Wales National Probate Calendar [Index of Wills & Administrations] 1858-1995