This week, I noticed a GREAT new resource for anyone with veteran ancestors who served in the US Navy - "Registers of Patients at Naval Hospitals from 1812-1934". My husband is the one in our household with family members who served in the US Navy (he's doing his job to keep that tradition alive!). Since our surname - Melvey - is very uncommon, I always start there when searching a new database. Never know what you might discover!
A while back, I wrote a Memorial Day post about Ernest Melvey, my husband's paternal great-uncle. While not a direct ancestor (I usually focus my research on directs only), we were both captivated by his story of survival from WWI. According to a news article published in the Aberdeen American in South Dakota (1 January 1919), Melvey's ship - the USS Westover - was blown out of the water en route to Europe by a German submarine. Eleven of the ninety-three crew members were killed. The remaining crew managed to swim their way to three freed rescue boats, including the captain, who brilliantly tossed his officer's coat for a seaman's uniform. When a group of Germans approached the rescue boats "demanding surrender of the captain", the crew "told the [Germans] he had been killed when the torpedo struck" (Aberdeen American, 1 January 1919).
After four days of floating in open water, the survivors were rescued by a French fisherman and brought to Brest, France. Ernest Melvey sustained a hip injury in the accident and spent some time in the Naval Hospital 5 in Brest. Using the new database on Ancestry.com, I located his entry in the hospital register:
|9 October 1818|
|22 November 1918|
|30 November 1918|
Very thankful for these digital resources that enable us to add a little color to our research!