Search our records : Richard Herman Westlake

Surname: Westlake
Forename(s): Richard Herman
Force: Mercantile Marine
Unit: SS Daleby
Date of Death: 29th April 1917
Where Buried / Commemorated: Commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial
Civilian Occupation: Mess Room Steward
Parents: Wiilam John and Rosina Westlake
Home address: Lamorna House, Beer, Devon
Richard Westlake's birth was registered at Axminster Register Office in the first quarter of 1900.  He was the sixth child of William Westlake, a fisherman, and his wife Rose.  All the members of the family were born in Beer except Rose, who was born in Box, Wiltshire. 
At the time of the 1901 census the family was living in Malt House Lane, Beer.  By the time of the 1911 census Richard had three more brothers and another sister, and the family home was 5 Gordon Terrace.  In this census, his mother's name appears as 'Rosina', as it does later in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records.
The Germans began unrestricted submarine warfare in February 1917.  Prior to this, except for a short period in 1916, U-boats operated according to the so-called 'cruiser rules', under which they were obliged to surface and allow a merchant ship's crew to escape, before sinking her with torpedoes or gunfire.  This change was to prove significant in the sinking of Richard Westlake's ship, SS Daleby.
The Daleby was a cargo ship of 3,628 tons owned by Ropner and Co. of Stockton-on-Tees.  On 29th April 1917 she was 180 miles north west of Fastnet, en route from Huelva in Spain to Garston with a cargo of copper and silver ore, when she was torpedoed without warning by the German submarine U-70.  There were only two survivors from a crew of 28.  These two men found the ship's dinghy afloat after the sinking, and drifted in it for 24 hours before being picked up by another merchant ship. 
After the Daleby had sunk, U-70 surfaced briefly and circled one of the survivors, before diving again.

Richard Westlake's body was not recovered, and he is commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial in London.