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William Sanders 1883-1917

William (Willie) Sanders was born in Auckland New Zealand on 7 February 1883, to Edward Charles Herman Sanders, a boot Maker and his wife Emma Sanders (nee Wilson). Edward had immigrated from London with his parents at the age of nine in the 1860's, his father was a shoe Maker. Emma came from a seafaring family, her father being Captain William Wilson a Master Mariner who died in 1862. The Wilson family were from a long line of mariners (Wilson Shipping Line), so it is no wonder that Sanders boys all went to sea.

In about 187 when Willie had finished school , a job was arranged for him to work for a well known Mercer in Queen Street. It seemed that this was by no means what Willie intended to do with his life. Lunchtimes, and for that matter, any other spare time he could get, Willie could be found down at the waterfront surveying the ships in harbour. He quickly made friends with the crew of various coastal steamers and sailing ships. It was not long before Willie's chance to go to sea came. It was one holiday weekend in February 1899, when he was just turning 16 years old. The Sanders family were off on a popular picnic excursion to Man-O-War Bay at Waiheke Island. One of the ship's officer's saw Willie boarding the ship, and knowing that Willie had always wanted to go to sea, called out to him: "Want a job, Bill?, we've got a vacancy for a cabin boy".. It is not known if Willie consulted his parents before accepting the position, but we do know that he accepted the job with alacrity. The ship was one of the Coastal Steamship Company's steamers called Kapanui , a small coastal single screw vessel of about 80 ton, built in 1898. The Kapanui was specially built for negotiating the river habours of the North Auckland area. For the greater part of her life she served the little ports of Wade, Orewa, Waiwera, Mahurangi, Warkworth, Mullet Point, Takatu, Little Omaha. The Kapanui ferried passengers and their goods. Willie stayed with the Kapanui for three years up until the time he turned 20 years old. After some more experience in steam in the Aparama - Union Steamship training ship. This was Willie first experience in Inter-colonial travel.

Then in 1906 Willie signed on to the New Zealand Government Steamer Hinemoa at Auckland on January 17 1906, as ordinary seaman. The Hinemoa's primary tasks were deliver stores and provisions to the big lighthouses around New Zealand's coast and to service the castaway Depot's in the Southern Islands. The Hinemoa's crew built new depot's and stocked them with stoves, tined food and clothing and restocked and repaired existing depot's . During 1906 the Hinemoa collected samples of wild life from the Southern Islands for the Christchurch Exhibition. During 1906 Willie kept a day-to-day dairy of the movements of the Hinemoa and also took quite a number of photos that he listed in a notebook. Unfortunately only seven of the 30 photos exist today. Willie stayed with the Hinemoa during 1907 when she rescued the crew from the Sailing Ship Dundonald.

1908 saw Willie exchange Steam for sail. It is probable that Willie had a great affection for sailing ships and he wanted to get a taste of sail before it was gone. He joined the J.J. Craig company who had a decent selection of Barque's to satisfy his need. Firstly he sailing in the Marjorie Craig, then then Louisa and lastly the Joseph Craig when she was wrecked inside the Hokianga Bar in 1914.

World War I had broken out and Willie was desperate to "do his bit"'. He transferred to Steam and by this time he had passed his Extra Masters and Compass Adjusters Certificate in Australia. Up until 1916 he spent time in the Merchant Service on troop ships bringing back wounded from the War. He applied to join the Royal Navy Reserve and finally decided to make his way to Britain to see if he could get a commission.

Willie finally received his commission while in London on 15 April 1916, the complete sailor now had a temporary commission and very quickly showed his worth.

After working on Auxiliary patrol boats in the English Channel, volunteers were asked to apply to join the "Special Service". No one knew what the service was or what its responsibilities were, but they were promised a "thrilling" time.

He was stationed at Falmouth and was involved in two actions with U-Boats. He was appointed as Lieutenant/Mate in Helgoland in July 1916. Helogoland was a steel Barquentine. She was officially known under the various names of Helgoland, Horley, Brig 10 and Q 17. She was a 'Q' Ship - Helgoland was in Liverpool undergoing an extensive overhaul, and was subsequently requisitioned by the Admiralty for Q-ship service and taken to Falmouth to be fitted out. This included installation of a radio, alarm gong, crews' quarters together with any strengthening that was required to mount the guns. The armament consisted of four 12-pound guns, housed in a central deckhouse with dummy side-walls or screens, that fell away to allow the gun to be levered out and put into action. One Maxim gun was also at hand together with rifles, handguns and also some bombs of some sort or another. Willie was involved in two actions and proved himself to be worthy of his own command.

Willie was given command of HM Schooner Prize on 12 February 1917. The action with U-93 on 30 April 1917 was said to have been the greatest minor action of the Naval War.

The Loss of H.M.S. "Prize"; William Sanders and the crew of H.M.S. "Prize" were killed on 14 August 1917 by German U-Boat; U48.


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