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Titanic Victims - from Exeter 1912

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There were several people connected with Exeter on the Titanic's, fateful, maiden voyage that culminated in the great ship hitting an iceberg on 14th April 1912, and sinking with the loss of 1,523 lives. Also see Titanic Memorials at Exeter.

Henry Ryland Dyer (aka Harry)

Henry Ryland Dyer, or Harry, was born in, India in 1887, during the time that his father was serving as a Quartermaster Sergeant in the Devonshire Regiment. The Devonshire Regiment left India in September 1899 bound for South Africa but Henry Snr, then in his mid 40’s moved to the regimental headquarters at Higher Barracks, Howell Road, Exeter, where he, his wife and 2 sons were accommodated. It was from here that Harry would have travelled the short distance to Longbrook Street to attend the Manual School. Upon retirement in 1905, he and his family moved to 43, Mount Pleasant Road.

He was a good footballer and he went on to play at Full Back for Exeter City in 11 of their reserve games, prior to 1908. The first game he played at St. James' Park was 3 October 1907. In 1912, the 25 year old Harry signed on for the Titanic's delivery journey from Belfast to Southampton on 2 April and signed on again for the maiden voyage at Southampton on 6 April 1912 for a monthly wage of £11. Thus, his fate was sealed. He is mentioned on the Institute of Marine Engineers Memorial at Glasgow and London and the Titanic Engineers Memorial at Liverpool and the Engineer’s Memorial at East Park, Southampton.

Exeter Flying Post - 27 April 1912
"At a special meeting of the St. David’s (Exeter) District Committee of the National Deposit Friendly Society a vote of condolence was passed with Mr. and Mrs. Dyer in the loss of their son in the Titanic disaster. The deceased was a member of the St. David’s District, and his father is chairman of the District Committee."

Ralph Giles

Mr Ralph Giles, 25, was born in Newton Abbot, Devon in 1887. He was the son of John and Louisa Giles and had two brothers and two sister. The family moved to Exeter in 1904. The Exeter Street Directory shows his mother, at 12 Eaton Place, Heavitree Road, Exeter in 1905. She is described as letting apartments at that address and his father is described as a bookseller. In 1908 they moved to 11 Eaton Place, now 17 Heavitree Road and occupied by Western Builders Merchants, while his mother also owned an adjacent property at which she let rooms. The property still exists, now known as 17 Heavitree Road. It is probable that Ralph Giles lived with his parents in Exeter from 1905, but for how long is not clear.

Ralph Giles learned his business skills in the wholesale drapery trade in Exeter, working for Messrs. Mortimer and Co., who were based in New Buildings, Gandy Street. In 1910/11 had become a partner in a New York French millinery importing firm. He first arrived in New York on the Olympic on 14 February 1912, to return on the Lusitania in the March. After a business trip to Paris, Giles purchased his ticket, on the Titanic, to return to New York on her maiden voyage. He boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a second class passenger (ticket number 248726, cost £13 10s).

The Titanic hit the iceberg on the 14 April, and it was not until four days later that the Western Daily Mercury reported that his mother and sister had wired the White Star Line in London for news, without receiving a reply. His body was recovered by the MacKay Bennett (body #297), along with the bodies of 359 others, and buried at Fairview Cemetery, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

NO. 297. - MALE. - ESTIMATED AGE, 28. LONG MEDIUM HAIR. HIGH FOREHEAD.
CLOTHING - Black overcoat; blue serge suit; flannel shirt, blue stripe.
EFFECTS - glasses; silver chain; sovereign purse; £1; nickel watch; gold ring; pocketbook; 4s. 6d.; $2.25.
SECOND CLASS.
NAME - RALPH GILES

His father died in Exeter in 1917 and he was interred at Higher Cemetery, Exeter. A gravestone also has a memorial to Ralph. His mother died in Teignmouth in 1941, and is buried with her husband in Exeter.

Rev. Ernest Courtenay Carter and Mrs Lilian Carter

Ernest Carter was born in Compton Beauchamp, Berkshire in 1858. His younger brother, Wynell Henry Carter (born 1870 Compton Beauchamp) was curate of St. Matthew, Exeter 1898-1902 and Rector of St. Mary Arches between 1904 and 1917. Carter had made his mark in the East of London as Vicar of St. Jude's, Whitechapel, where he had a most difficult task to face, for his parishioners were mainly Jewish.

His wife, Lilian Carter was the niece of a Deputy Lieutenant for Devon and a Justice of the Peace, Edward Sanders. He was mayor of Exeter in 1850 and throughout Queen Victoria's reign the guiding influence in the Exeter Conservative Party. Her father was Thomas Hughes, author of 'Tom Brown's Schooldays'. She married the Rev Ernest Carter in 1890.

They boarded the Titanic at Southampton as second class passengers. During the voyage Mrs Carter befriended Marion Wright, and Kate Buss who would later name her daughter after Mrs Carter. According to newspaper reports of the period Carter and his wife were given the opportunity to get into one of the lifeboats, but they refused saying "Let the others go first" and Mrs Carter resolutely refused to go with the women. "...they were a devoted couple and childless, and they died together." It is not known if their bodies were ever recovered.

This article is an edited extract from a longer article supplied by Steve Coombes, who has spent some considerable time researching the fate of Exeter's Titanic victims. © Steve Coombes.

Henry Ryland's memorial at Higher Cemetery. Henry Ryland's memorial at Higher Cemetery. Ralph Giles' memorial Memorial to Ralph Giles on his father's gravestone.

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