Sam was the second son of Phineas and Mary Jane Bower, as well as an older brother, Fred, he had an older sister Edith and two younger sisters Lizzie and Lilly. On the census of 1891 the family were living at Scarlet Heights at that time Sam was aged 14.

From the following article in the Halifax Courier (dated 4th August 1917) we can follow Sam as he leaves Queensbury at the age of 22.


“Mr. Sam Bower, second son of Mr. and Mrs. Phineas Bower, of Stoneleigh, Queensbury, has been drowned at sea, the ship on which he served as chief engineer haying been torpedoed, He served an apprenticeship as mechanic with. Messrs. John Foster and Sons, of Black Dyke Mills, Queensbury, but leaving the township at the age of 22 years he entered the service of, Messrs. Evan Thomas Radcliffe and Co, steamship owners, of Cardiff.

Sam rose from fourth engineer to be chief engineer and had been connected with the firm for 17 years. He was on board one of the steamships when the steamer was attacked by an enemy submarine on July 21st1917.  The submarine and ship fought for several hours and the ship had apparently beaten the submarine which fled, in the fight the steamer had been holed by a shell and was slowly sinking.  The master, officers, and crew remained on board in the hope that another vessel would come into view in order to take them off.  Unfortunately, the submarine returned, and keeping below the water, fired a torpedo into the steamer, which caused her to sink practically instantaneously.

Only six men came to the surface, two of whom (a Britisher and a Greek fireman) were taken on board the submarine as prisoners of war. The remaining four were left by the submarine on the keel of an upturned lifeboat. These four remained in this position for 16 or 17 hours, during which period one of them died. The remaining three were rescued by a British steamer and landed at Queenstown. Thirty men in all lost their lives, including the master, officers, and engineers.

Messrs. Evan Thomas Radcliffe and Co., writing to Mr. and Mrs. Bower, state: “This calamity has in- tensely distressed us, and we regret to have to convey to you such sad tidings. Your son had been in our employ for nearly 17 years, had worked his way from junior engineer to be chief engineer of one of our finest vessels, and has met his death at the hands of enemy pirates whilst nobly carrying out his duties. As an engineer and man, we always greatly valued his services and his untimely loss causes us the deepest regret. We desire to extend to you and your family our deepest sympathy in your, bereavement.”

The deceased officer was a member of the Llangattock Lodge of Freemasons, Cardiff.”

The ship on which Sam served was the SS Paddington, he was aged 40 when he drowned at sea, he is commemorated on the TOWER HILL MEMORIAL.

Additional research on Sam shows on the 1901 census that the ship on which he served then as a 3rd engineer was in dock at Cardiff, the full list of crew shows a number of Dutch, a Russian and two Germans amongst the crew members.

Probate for Sam shows that his estate was left to Lambert Hudson, engineer, he received the sum of £1,251 18s.  It is unclear who Lambert was, he may have been from Queensbury as on the 1911 census a Lambert Hudson (born Queensbury) lived with his wife Martha in the village, a mechanic by trade he was the same age as Sam.

The SS Paddington was built by Richardson, Duck & Co., Stockton in 1906 and was a British steamer of 5084 tons.  Her crew was one of many nationalities, the Tower Hill roll shows that the men came from Uruguay, Spain, Chile, Philippines, USA and Trinidad as well as from England and Wales.

On July 21st 1917, SS Paddington was on a voyage from Cartagena to U.K with Admiralty cargo & passengers, she was sunk by the German submarine U-96, 250 miles west from Fastnet.  29 persons were lost, including the Master.


U-96 was commanded by Heinrich Jeß from 11th April 1917 until 31st August 1918. He commanded three submarines throughout the war, sinking 44 ships, damaging 3 and capturing 1.

jess_heinrich (Bower)