A Poppy
A Poppy

Memorials & Monuments
on the Isle of Wight
- Biography -
- George Coltar -
- Events -
- Loss of ss Whitgift 1916 -


George Coltar, late of Cowes, Isle of Wight. Son of the late Captain Benjamin Coltar, of Cowes.
Name was recorded on the Cowes War Memorial

Service details

Captain George Coltar, Mercantle Marine, Master of the s.s. Whitgift

CWGC record ...

Date of Death :20 April 1916 aged 55
Where buried or commemorated :Erquy Communal Cemetery, Cotes d'Armor, France

The s.s. Whitgift, built in 1901 by the Northumberland Shipbuilding Co, was torpedoed by a German submarine in the Atlantic off Ushant and was lost with all hands except one. The Master and 31 crew died *.

The following reports give the story :

A claim for a war loss was yesterday being settled in respect of the British steamer WHITGIFT, which left Gibraltar on April 13 bound from Almeira for the Tyne. Information has lately been received pointing to the fact that she was torpedoed on April 20 and that there was only one surviving member of the crew - a Japanese. The WHITGIFT became practically uninsurable early in May on news that wreckage belonging to her had been washed ashore near Brest, and on June 8 she was posted as missing. She was of 4,397 tons, built in 1901, and belonged to the Westminster Shipping Company (Limited).

Information taken from : The Times Digital Archive 18 Aug 1916

Mrs Cotton (nee Ella G Ratsey, of Cowes), of Eastbourne, Lytham, Lancashire, has received details of the recovery of the body of Capt. George Cotton, late of Cowes, from the sea on the coast of Brittany, last June. It was accorded full Catholic religious services at the Parish-church and buried in the Cemetery at Erquy. It will be remembered that the s.s. Whitgift, a vessel of nearly 5000 tons, left Gibraltar on April 13th, 1916, and was torpedoed on April 20th. The remains of one of her boats were found on the north coast of Spain in June. This was Capt. Cotton's 17th long voyage in command of his old ship - and he lost his life with her.
Information taken from : Isle of Wight County Press 6 Jan 1917 - note the incorrect use of COTTON rather than COLTAR. The correct name is given in an In Memoriam notice of 21 April 1917.

* The ss Whitgift had British Officers and a mainly Chinese crew. None were found other than Capt Coltar. The other British and the Costa Rican crew members are named on the Merchant Naval Memorial at Tower Hill in London, while the Chinese crewmen are named in the register at the Hong Kong Memorial.

Coltar, GeorgeCaptain, MasterDetails as above
Jenkins, OwenMateaged 46, from Pembrokeshire
Webbe, Josiah ArthurSecond Mateaged 52, from Liverpool
Currie, John TEngineeraged 32, born Willington-on-Tyne
Wilkins, Edmund CharlesSecond Engineeraged 32, from London
Walker, DavidThird Engineeraged 26, from Clackmannanshire
Aharez, GregorioSteward, from Costa Rica
Ah FookSeaman
Ah PowCook
Ah WoohQuartermaster
Ah Yao2nd Steward
Chang FookFireman and Trimmer
Chang KumFireman and Trimmer
Chee ChongFireman and Trimmer
Cheong NamFireman
Cheung WanFireman
Chin CheongDonkeyman
Chong TaiQuartermaster
Chow HoCarpenter
Chu KeeBoatswain
He SangQuartermaster
Hing ChowFireman and Trimmer
Kai ChengFireman and Trimmer
Kong KeeSeaman
Kong Pong2nd Fireman
Kow KwaiFireman and Trimmer
Long SingSteward
Loo LeeFireman and Trimmer
Low YaoFireman and Trimmer
Min LoSeaman
Sheng TuiCook
Tak ChungFireman and Trimmer

George Coltar was the uncle of the Ratsey brothers, Donald, Clayton and Stephen, who all died in the Great War serving with the Isle of Wight Rifles. George Coltar married Ella Ratsey, sister of Thomas W Ratsey (father of Donald, Clayton and Stephen Ratsey).


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