Death at sea (1972)

rayknight1
25th March 2009, 20:50
My great grandfather James Weir McAllister, (listed in this thread here (http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/showthread.php?t=24900) died on the Weather Adviser in 1972.

I have the basic facts of his death, (the position of the ship, and what he died of) but otherwise have nothing, not even a death certificate. I am also unable to located any crew records for the Weather Adviser to see what would be mentioned there.

Would anyone know where the information I seek might be?

Many thanks in advanced!


ps. Also as a random question, how would two German civilians managed to emigrate to Scotland during WW2? This is yet another mystery in my very complicated family!

Pompeyfan
26th March 2009, 14:06
Ray

Sorry to hear that you do not have all the facts you require regarding your great grandfathers death. You may have seen my input on other threads of the post mortems we performed on passenger ships and those on cargo ships with no trained medical staff.

Was there a doctor aboard Weather Adviser?. I assume she may have had one as HMS Amberley Castle?.

Regarding documentation following death, a death certificate can only be signed by a doctor.

On land today, as well as in 1972 in the UK at least, there are two ways of registering a death, one via a doctor, the other via the coroner.

I can therefore only explain the procedure which may help you locate the information you need if indeed available.

A death certificate or (medical certificate) if written by a doctor is taken by the relative or authorised person to the Register of Births and Death in your local area or area of death. After providing the information needed, they issue a green certificate for burial or cremation. You then take the certificate give to the Funeral Director who can do nothing without it.

In the coroners case, if a doctor cannot issue a death certificate for many medico-legal reasons, including not seeing a doctor for 14 days, the coroner may order a post mortem. On some occasions he may issue a part A, allowing a doctor to complete a death certificate. However, if the coroner orders a post mortem the coroner will issue a Part B. The cause of death is given to him but the pathologist, and the relative etc registers in the normal way. If memory serves me right, if cremation, he issues a part E, but it is a few years since I did this now!.

That is the format shore side, so your local Register of Births and Deaths should have records dating back many years.

On passenger ships the medical department would have kept records. I am not sure whether the Surgeon on my ships issued some type of certificate, but it would have not been under the same rules as shore side because after a post mortem, it is not the doctor who issues the certificate, but the coroner. The information should however have been logged on board and I assume kept at company headquarters. However, although dealing with deaths at sea, I have no idea of the documentation afterwards, or how long it was kept, and where.

On cargo ships, as I have said in other threads, there is a very grey area if pronounced dead by a non medical person, and was buried at sea. Any information would no doubt have been kept by the captain, and possibly sent to the headquarters of the shipping company.

In the case of your great grandfather, this could have been the MET office, or your great grandfathers local area of Register of Births and Deaths. I also seem to recall that information was kept at Somerset House London. Perhaps you could search the death register there if such information is still kept there?.

That is the best I can do I am afraid of locating the information you seek. But unless a doctor was on board, and treating your great grandfather, I doubt if a death certificate was ever signed.

Sorry I cannot be of any more help, but as I have said in other threads, yours is the very thing I have been trying to explain where relatives do not have complete closure, because there are gaps that they need to fill in.

I do hope you find the information you seek.

David

K urgess
26th March 2009, 15:51
The only things I can find in the Merchant Navy Acts and various Ship Master's Guides is that births and deaths must be recorded in the ship's log book and the details must be passed to the registrar of seamen.
There appear to be no instructions for the disposal of bodies. Maybe someone with a Captain's Medical Guide would be able to supply more detailed information on how to proceed.
All a "death certificate" is is a certified copy of the entry into the register. The cause of death will be shown as what has been reported to the registrar by the reporting person.
I have no idea what happens to the actual death certificate signed by the attending physician but they are not the same as the death certificate issued for legal purposes to the next of kin.
From personal experience the GP or attending doctor signs a form that you take to the registry office to be entered in the record of deaths and you don't get it back.
Application to the Registrar of Seamen may get you a death certificate but for more details you would have to find who now holds the logbook for that voyage.
A good starting point would be the records office at Kew.

Pompeyfan
26th March 2009, 18:58
The only things I can find in the Merchant Navy Acts and various Ship Master's Guides is that births and deaths must be recorded in the ship's log book and the details must be passed to the registrar of seamen.
There appear to be no instructions for the disposal of bodies. Maybe someone with a Captain's Medical Guide would be able to supply more detailed information on how to proceed.
All a "death certificate" is is a certified copy of the entry into the register. The cause of death will be shown as what has been reported to the registrar by the reporting person.
I have no idea what happens to the actual death certificate signed by the attending physician but they are not the same as the death certificate issued for legal purposes to the next of kin.
From personal experience the GP or attending doctor signs a form that you take to the registry office to be entered in the record of deaths and you don't get it back.
Application to the Registrar of Seamen may get you a death certificate but for more details you would have to find who now holds the logbook for that voyage.
A good starting point would be the records office at Kew.

Kris

I am not sure what you mean by the actual death certificate signed by the attending physician not being the same as the death certificate issued for legal purposes?.

Certainly shore side, the procedure is how I stated above if indeed a doctor can sign a death certificate within the medico-legal rules of that country. The GP may speak to the Registrar, often to clarify whether to report to the coroner or not. I found in my job that many senior doctors were not as well up on medico-legal matters as they should be.

There is only one certificate i.e medical certificate signed by the doctor. This is placed in an envelope and sealed with part of the form clipped on the outside which the relative takes to register. They are then issued with a green certificate to take to the Funeral Director. Inside is Part A and Part B, often C unless changed since I retired giving the actual cause A due to B, and often C.

I often handled these death certificates, and in those days so did the wards. Relatives would either come to me to pick up the death certificate or the ward There is now a Bereavement Officer who as far as I know was not qualified in handling such documentation as I was. It was not only technical stuff I and my staff were qualified in, post mortems ect, but the legal side, documentation etc. We had to know all that including coroners rules. We also handled cremation forms through my office. Two doctors must sign these, usually a junior, and senior doctor making sure all was in order. I usually arranged for a senior doctor to come down to sign part C of the form. In my neck of the woods, the Registrar in County Hall, a very senior doctor, often retired preferred I checked these before handing them over to the Funeral Director who took them to county hall when picking the body up. The Registrar then checked them, and sometimes found something wrong reporting the case to the coroner. I knew him for years, so I often phoned him if I was not happy before he received the form. The reason for this was timing, trying not to disrupt the funeral by the time he got to see the form then informing the coroner etc. That ruffled the feathers of doctors especially senior consultants, but we did not care. I also signed these forms myself if the person had a pacemaker. After passing the diploma, I was legally able to remove pacemakers from people who had not had a post mortem. Doctors could do this, but always charged including GPs which was 30 15 years ago, so goodness knows what it is now adding to an already high funeral bill. I did it for nothing, and often travelled to Funeral Directors if the body was not in my place. These pacemakers have to be removed because they explode in the ovens.

Unless the procedure have changed since I retired, relatives never see the cause of death. Their job is to register the death handing over the medical certificate if signed by a doctor, or part B if issued by the coroner. They then give information when registering like place and date of death, date and place of birth, occupation, home address, receiving pension and so on.

Scotland has slightly different rules I think.

They are then issued with a certificate that they must give to the funeral director. That is it.

As I say, I am not sure of the procedures at sea at the time. But with rules in England as they are today at least, it is unusual for a doctor to be able to sign a death certificate even if treating them aboard a ship which may not have the equipment to support the doctors diagnosis if no post mortem. Also, the 14 day rule comes into effect. No doctor, not even a GP who has seen a patient for years can sign a death certificate if not seeing the patient for 14 days. However, after speaking to the coroner, the coroner may issue a part A allowing the doctor to write a medical certificate in the normal manner.

You give some good information Kris about deaths at sea, and hopefully between us we have provided starting point for Ray (Thumb)

David

Duncan112
26th March 2009, 19:30
There appear to be no instructions for the disposal of bodies. Maybe someone with a Captain's Medical Guide would be able to supply more detailed information on how to proceed.
.

Ship Captains Medical Guide may be downloaded here http://www.mcga.gov.uk/c4mca/mcga07-home/workingatsea/mcga-medicalcertandadvice/mcga-dqs_st_shs_ships_capt_medical_guide.htm

Chapter 12 deals with death - be warned though reading this book can affect you like the lead character in Jerome K. Jeromes "3 Men on a Boat" (Quite apposite really)

Duncan

Peter4447
26th March 2009, 20:08
Hi David
Just to clarify the cremation form. The first part is signed by the Doctor certifying the cause of death and then, as you say, is counter-signed by a second Doctor (who has to view the deceased) before it goes to the Medical Referee. This proceedure has been tightened up considerably in recent years following the Shipman murders.
Peter

K urgess
26th March 2009, 20:35
Thanks for the link to the guide, Duncan.
I was hoping for information available before the advent of satellite communications, the MCA, etc.

Possibly wrong wording, David.
Since I don't have them to hand I just called them death certificates rather than the more proper medical certificate as you point out.
All the ones I have seen have included the assumed cause of death certified by the signing doctor.
As I'm sure you know, post mortems are not the norm for death by natural causes so the doctor writes what his experience and the circumstances tell him is the likely cause of death. That gets transferred to the registry and is normally on the legal death certificate. I assume the Master makes a similair entry in the log book that is witnessed by one or more of his officers.
Cheers
Kris

holland25
26th March 2009, 20:41
I was on The Weather ships in 1970 and we didnt carry any doctors at that time.They did have a hospital, I think the Chief Steward was nominally in charge. The ships used to belong to the Ministry of Defence (Air), and worked for the Meteorological Office.I dont know what form those organisations now take but their successors may have kept some records.

rayknight1
26th March 2009, 22:41
Firstly many thanks for the help everyone.

Unfortunatly I have no idea whether there was a Doctor on board or not. From his BT382, or BT372...one of those!, it states his death as on the 15/9/72.....followed by "R.E.P (or R.B.P) iso 6/10/72 SIGO M.I.R 9/10/72" My presumption would be one of these dates is his burial at sea, which would be just under a month after his death. I'd be surprised if no-one had seen him during this time!
We've check the Register of Births and Deaths to no avail in the past, exploring his history has always been a tricky affair so I kind of expected this to be troublesome too :)

My main aim at the moment is trying to locate the Log books, so I've dispatched an email off to the MET enquiring about it, then failing there shall try the Ministry of Defence (Air). Thanks for the suggestion holland25.

Like I said Mr Weir McAllister has always been an interesting character to follow and I feel i'm getting closer and closer each day. Part of me still hopes that he somehow retreived my Great Grandmother and Grandmother from Germany in some sort of film style mission!

Roger Griffiths
26th March 2009, 23:08
Ray,
I would contact the MCA. They give this telephone number
Deaths onboard Ship 02920448800
e-mail or write
http://www.mcga.gov.uk/c4mca/mcga07-home/aboutus/contact07.htm

They are obligated under the Merchant shipping act 1995 to keep details of deaths at sea.

http://www.mcga.gov.uk/c4mca/info_leaflet_deaths_at_sea_explained-3.doc

I would guess if they do not have records of your G/G dads demise they can tell you where the details will be. The National Archives only hold records up until 1964.
I have studied many incidents of death at sea from the late 19th century until the 1950's and unless there was a doctor on board no death certificate would be issued. As pointed out details would be in the ships logbook, assuming she was British registered. Logbooks are accessed by the ships official number.

Before you start hunting for logbooks, your best bet is MCA.

Roger

holland25
26th March 2009, 23:41
We didnt sign articles and I dont have any record of my time with the WX ships in my discharge book,so I suspect we didnt really come under merchant navy regulations, we were considered to be seagoing civil servants.


Ray,

At this address http://iancoombe.tripod.com/id56.html is an account by an R/O named John Van Dyke who was on the ships up to 1975, he may well be a scource of information for you.

Pompeyfan
27th March 2009, 00:08
Hi David
Just to clarify the cremation form. The first part is signed by the Doctor certifying the cause of death and then, as you say, is counter-signed by a second Doctor (who has to view the deceased) before it goes to the Medical Referee. This proceedure has been tightened up considerably in recent years following the Shipman murders.
Peter

Hi Peter

I retired 15 years ago, so have not handled the forms since then. As far as I am aware, it is still forms A to F, with a few changes due to the Shipman case as you say, but it was pretty tight anyway. The problem is that doctors even in the past, and possibly now, cut a few corners.

I think it is still the B C and F. A for relatives, B and C doctors, F Registrar. A junior doctor filling in part B, with a senior doctor who must not be in the same department or practice and of 5 years standing signing part B and seeing the body. Many did not follow the part C rules but I made them if the form came to me filled in, and body not seen.

If I clinical post mortem, the pathologist signed part B, but we often got him to sign others as not being in the same department as the first doctor.

Today, I think they sign a Part D form if a clinical post mortem, and coroner Part B that we used to refer to as certificate E for cremation.

Like I say, the system was okay before, it is just that some doctors including Shipman did not follow the rules, and is still open to abuse.

It is the same with organ retention. New laws have killed clinical post mortems, and set medical research back years because relatives no longer sign for clinical post mortems worried that parts will be kept in jars etc, and medical schools are running out of bodies for medical students to train on because relatives are no longer donating them. Pathologist friends still working are very worried when I meet them for a social drink. I met one in Portsmouth two weeks ago in fact.

Hope all this has helped Ray?. As you can see, it is quite a minefield shore side with changes in law etc. We kept registers going back 30 years of people coming through us, and was often asked to go back many years. Computers had not come in when I was there, so it was good old fashioned book keeping!.

David

benjidog
27th March 2009, 00:12
Have you tried to order a death certificate online? If not try this URL: https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/Login.asp. You will need to register and fill in some details to enable a search to be done and you might be lucky.

Roger Griffiths
27th March 2009, 00:13
Firstly many thanks for the help everyone.

Unfortunatly I have no idea whether there was a Doctor on board or not. From his BT382, or BT372...one of those

If his death was recorded on his CRS 10 in BT382 or his seamans pouch in BT372, then he must have been classed as a Merchant Seaman.
Wether or not he signed articles, or WEATHER RECORDER was regarded as a merchant vessel at that time is another matter.


Roger

andysk
27th March 2009, 14:59
I recall a Death at Sea on Edinburgh Castle in the mid 1970's. We were northbound from SA to Southampton, about half way between the Cape and Bijouga Breakers. The deceased was a retired SA miner suffering from pneumoconiosis. I don't know what the paperwork situation was, but at about 6pm ship's time, we stopped engines, opened the stbd side shell doors, a ceremony was held, and the remains consigned to the deep. After a few minutes, the engines started again and we continued on our way.

A short, simple and moving committal.

K urgess
27th March 2009, 15:54
Firstly many thanks for the help everyone.

Unfortunatly I have no idea whether there was a Doctor on board or not. From his BT382, or BT372...one of those!, it states his death as on the 15/9/72.....followed by "R.E.P (or R.B.P) iso 6/10/72 SIGO M.I.R 9/10/72" My presumption would be one of these dates is his burial at sea, which would be just under a month after his death. I'd be surprised if no-one had seen him during this time!
We've check the Register of Births and Deaths to no avail in the past, exploring his history has always been a tricky affair so I kind of expected this to be troublesome too :)


With regard to the dates I doubt that the burial at sea would be so long after the actual death. Burual would have taken place as soon as the necessary paperwork had been completed. Keeping the body for longer would only be necessary if the body was to be landed for further investigation.
The Merchant Navy Act "Legal Proceedings" section notes in article 690 that -
"690. Death on Board. - Where a death happens on any foreign-going British ship, the superintendent at the port where the crew is discharged is required to inquire into the cause of death. [By section 254 the master must record the fact and the cause of death (besides the particulars) in his log or otherwise.] The superintendent is required, after inquiry, to make in the official log an endorsement that the statement of the cause of death is, in his opinion true, or the contrary."
The "R.E.P (or R.B.P) iso 6/10/72 SIGO M.I.R 9/10/72" may be the result of this inquiry.
Cheers
Kris

Pompeyfan
27th March 2009, 22:55
When I worked for P&O, we usually buried the same day as the post mortem, always at 2200.

Thanks to Kris, I am now better informed of the regulations of deaths at sea, which is different to burying at sea from shore side. A few years ago, and since I retired, the local coroner contacted me regarding bodies that washed up having been buried at sea knowing I had been involved in the latter. This brought me in contact with Ben Bradshaw, the then Secretary of State. I tried to get the rules changed, but he would not budge. Had I known a bit more about rules at sea now, and in the past, I would have challenged him about that as well although it may not have been within his remit DEFRA.

My only advice now is to contact you local MP if you have not already done so. I was in contact with DEFRA which Ben was minister for at the time. But I doubt if they could help, although they could put you in the right direction I suppose?.

I would guess that MIR would stand for Medical Indemnity Regulation or something regarding his insurance. I would also guess the other is RIP, Rest In Peace. Even doctors wrote this as the final part of their notes after a patient died, but I could be hopelessly wrong on both.

Just a thought.

David

Pat McCardle
27th March 2009, 23:30
From S.C.M.G. Ch.12. The dead & dying.

Pompeyfan
28th March 2009, 01:07
Cant read that Pat, too small. Is it about deaths at sea?.

David

K urgess
28th March 2009, 01:09
From what I can see, David, it's identical to the wording on the MCA site as linked to earlier.
Cheers
Kris

Pompeyfan
28th March 2009, 01:25
From what I can see, David, it's identical to the wording on the MCA site as linked to earlier.
Cheers
Kris

Thanks Kris

David

Pat McCardle
28th March 2009, 09:50
I missed the thread from the MCA. Yes it is a copy from my Ships captains medical guide, Chapter 12.

Thanks for pointing that out (Thumb)

perduda
24th June 2009, 16:53
Hi,
If a seaman was lost at sea in 1924 on a fishing trawler I assume no death certificate is available. I have never found one! Is there a way to contact someone regarding the ships log. It was a Grimsby Trawler GY166 the Princess Victoria.
Thanks
Perduda

Roger Griffiths
24th June 2009, 19:04
Hi,
If a seaman was lost at sea in 1924 on a fishing trawler I assume no death certificate is available. I have never found one! Is there a way to contact someone regarding the ships log. It was a Grimsby Trawler GY166 the Princess Victoria.
Thanks
Perduda

He would not have a death certificate if he was lost at sea, unless there was a doctor onboard which in the case of a fishing boat, is very unlikly.
I am a little confused as PRINCESS VICTORIA did not come on the Grimsby register with the port number GY166 until 1930.
I have asked a question on the fishing boat forum to try and clear this anomaly as my records may be incorrect.
Once we have the full facts it will be relatively easy to find the circumstances of his demise.

Roger

Hartonman
24th June 2009, 19:08
The only guy who died onboard while I was at sea was kept in the cold store till we reached port, but we were only two days from port at the time.

perduda
24th June 2009, 20:02
Hi,
I wasn't sure about where the boat was registered.
I did find that it was built at Selby by Cochrane. Does that help.
Thanks
Perduda

Roger Griffiths
24th June 2009, 20:41
Hi,
I wasn't sure about where the boat was registered.
I did find that it was built at Selby by Cochrane. Does that help.
Thanks
Perduda

Seems she was registered in North Shields in 1924
http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/showthread.php?t=27301
Thanks to aavh

There are two ways to find out what happened to your man.
1/ it should be recorded in the Deaths at Sea register for 1924.
http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/displaycataloguedetails.asp?CATID=374749&CATLN=6&accessmethod=5
You would need to go to London UK to view this document or you can pay for research.
http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/gettingstarted/paid_research.htm?source=ddmenu_research0_h

2/ Her logbooks for 1924 are held in Newfoundland under her official number 137380
http://www.mun.ca/mha/holdings/viewcombinedcrews.php?Official_No=137380
Again you can pay for research. The logbook should give details of his death.

http://www.mun.ca/mha/research.php

Let us know how you get on.
Roger

Cutsplice
24th June 2009, 23:36
Death at sea, forms for making returns the official form is RBD 1/72, this form consists of four pages. Page 1 there is provision for entering the particulars of the vessel and a set of instructions to masters. Pages 2 & 3 are for entering particulars of births and/or deaths.
The certificate to be signed by the master is on page 3 and that to be signed by the proper officer to whomn the form is delivered to is on Page 2. Page 4 provides for entering additional information of the deceased, including name, relationship and adress of next of kin and discharge book number. Copies of entries relating to the death whick appear in the narrative section of the official logbook are also recorded on page 4.
The RBD 1/72 form applies to any UK registered or unregistered ship.
The master includes every person (except a pilot) having command or charge of any ship.
The master has to make the return to a superintendent or proper oficer for transmission to the Register General of Shipping and Seamen and notify the death to the deceased,s next of kin.