A Champion Swimmer Drowns

March 30, 2015

Livingstone MURCH was the youngest of seven children born to Ebenezer MURCH and his wife, Sarah. (The unusual name of ‘Livingstone’ is easily explained: it was his maternal grandmother’s maiden name – Flora LIVINGSTONE.) He was born on 9 April 1895 in Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland, and as a teenager worked for the Post Office as a telegraph messenger while living at home with his parents at 49 Collins Street there.

The Aberdeen Daily Journal of 19 June 1912 reports Livingstone, age 17, to be ‘defending his title’ as the champion of the swimming contest ‘Scottish 100 Yards Junior Championship’.  It seems only natural, then, that he should sign up for the Navy…

HMS_Flirt_(1897)_IWM_Q_021257 quarter

HMS Flirt

Three days before his 21st birthday in 1916, Livingstone signed up as a fitter.  Six months later, he was dead – drowned as his first (and only) ship went down.  HMS Flirt was sunk as a result of a raid by destroyers and torpedo boats from the German navy on the Dover Barrage.  Livingstone’s body was never recovered. He is remembered on Panel 15 of the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.  He was awarded the Victory medal and the British War Medal for campaign service, which were given to his family.




Ros Haywood

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MURCH One Name Study http://murch.org

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