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Seaman John Eadie d. 2nd April 1916

Seaman John EadieThe Great War claimed many lives of Newhaven men whose names are proudly displayed on the four War Memorials within the village as a consequence.


When one of the members was researching their family tree, he established that a great-aunt, Sophia Thomson Young (b. 1881) of 18 Willowbank Row, Newhaven had married John Eadie (b. 1877), a factory worker of Leith, who had died on active service at sea in 1916. Although Leith-born, he was a resident of Newhaven, yet it is perhaps surprising that John’s name does not feature on any of the four war memorials in the village.


The naval returns showed that he was serving as a Deck Hand on H.M. Trawler Commandant, a trawler built in 1915 by Hawthorns & Co. Ltd. Leith for Thomas L. Devlin of Granton.  It had been hired by the War Department and converted for minesweeping.  On 2 April 1916, the Commandant was paired with the former Grimsby trawler 'Regal'.  They were sweeping near the Sunk Light Vessel off Lowestoft.  Soon after one mine had been brought to the surface and destroyed, 'Commandant' struck an unseen mine on the port quarter and sank very quickly stern first.  Five of her crew were lost including Seaman John Eadie.  John’s body was never recovered.  The mines had been laid in the area on the previous day by the German submarine 'UC 7'.


Letter from John EadieJohn and Sophia had three children, Agnes, Chattie and Johnny.  Chattie could remember the day when she saw two men in naval uniform, one a chaplain, call on her mother and knew then that it was bad news.  Chattie treasured the last letter her father had sent her for the rest of her life.  It reads :-


"Lowestoft, Wednesday

Dear Daughter

I received your letter and I am glad that you are all keeping well at home you as what kind of weather we are having at Lowestoft   I must say that the (weather) has been very bad   it has been nothing but snow and wind  and Sophia Eadie and childrensleet all the time at sea this trip and it is very  near as bad here in Lowestoft   you were  asking about helmet to keep your ears warm   I will send you one soon  I would have sent you one long ago but you can't do as you  would like to in this job   you never know when some the nuts will come aboard and say turn out your kit   if they miss anything look out for squalls   you were saying that John wants to know if santa claus is coming at Christmas time does he want poor santa to be killed for how can he fly about the sky in his aeroplane when there is so  many zeppelins knocking about but you can tell him that if I see him I will tell him not to forget to give the Ark a call as he is passing and be as kind as leave a box of soldiers for wee Johnny Eadie if he has been a good boy   I am glad to hear that grandmother is all better again and that you go in to see her every Sunday the next time you go in to see her tell that your father was asking for her and Bettie and wee Ina   tell Lizzy and Libby that I am keeping alright and that I  hope they are keeping the same   I will draw to a close with love to you and all at home   good night   father"


John’s name appears on a Roll of Honour on the computer system at Leith Library but with this story the omission of a record on a Newhaven memorial is redressed and the sacrifice that his Newhaven family made as a consequence of his early death is acknowledged.

Photo group. the Eadie family:
Sophia, holding book
Agnes, oldest child
Charlotte, 2nd daughter
Johnny, son referred to in letter


Photo property of Sophia Abrahmsen


Used with permission from The Oxford University,Great War Diary.

For link, see above

John Eadie’s letter to his daughter, Sophia Abrahamsen’s mother.  The letter he sent to my mother was probably written the Christmas before he died. He refers to Zeppelins and he died the day they attacked Leith



Photo property of Sophia Abrahamsen


Used with permission from
 The Oxford University, Great War Diary

For link, see above

John Eadie’s letter, family photograph and other information can be found on the University of Oxford’s website The First World War Poetry Archive here > > >

Seaman John Eadie

1877 - 1916

Married Sophia Thompson Young, 26 April 1901
Three surviving children, Agnes (1902), Charlotte (1904) and John (1909)

Joined Royal Naval Reserves 1915
Served on Trawler Minesweeper HM Commandant

Ship blown up by mine
Was drowned - body never recovered.


Photo property of Sophia Abrahamsen

Used with permission from
 The Oxford University, Great War Diary

For link, see above.