Ernest Arthur Quarless was born in Liverpool on 9 October 1905 to John Isiah Quarless & Elizabeth (Lawrence). John was a seaman who was born in Bridgetown, Barbados, Elizabeth was the daughter of a Jamaican sailor, her mother Alice kept a boarding house in Liverpool.
Ernest was educated at Winsor CP school, in Upper Hill Street, a school record notes him being listed there at the start of the academic year in august 1916, he later joined the Merchant Navy as a cook, working for the Union Castle Line. In 1941 he married Evelyn Sharp in Liverpool, they has 3 children together. In WW2 Ernest was sailing on dangerous convoys, moving goods and troops. He is listed on a 1943 crew list for the Union Castle Line ship ' STIRLING CASTLE ' Ernest Arthur Quarless, Assistant ships cook., height 5 feet 11, weight 182 pounds, sailed 26 April 1943 from Liverpool to New York.
From his Merchant Navy log book we can see that Ernest for sailed on 8 December 1923 aboard the MOROCCO to Alexandria, Egypt. He then joined the FORDEFJORD on 16 August 1924, making trips to Africa. On 6 October 1925 he joins the ASHANTIAN, again sailing to and from Africa. He sails with the GRANGEPARK on 22 March 1927, visiting New Zealand, Australia and India. Ernest joins the ELDONPARK on 28 June 1928, the destinations are listed as Foreign and Africa, he stays with this ship till December 1933. Over the next few years he has spells serving on board the following ships, BEECHPARK, BARRHILL, and the S.S. EGORI, again Foreign and Africa are the destinations. On 12 June 1938 Ernest joins the S.S HOLMPARK, he stays with this ship until 21 April 1939, after this he returns to Liverpool. WW2 was 5 months away.
In Liverpool Ernest married Evelyn Sharpe in 1941, and they set up home in Watford Road, Anfield, Liverpool, the couple had 3 children, George, Anita and Reva.The war is raging and Ernest would have been fully aware of the dangers of the sea, yet he returned to the Merchant Navy on 2 June 1942, when he signed up for the STIRLING CASTLE. He sailed from Liverpool on 20 June 1942 for Freetown, Sierra Leone, arriving on 2 July, from here it was on to Durban, South Africa. On leaving Durban the ship had an escort to Mauritius, before going to Melbourne, Australia, then to Auckland, New Zealand, and on to Balboa, Panama. Ernest and the Stiling Castle then left Cristobal, Panama for Halifax ( probably Nova Scotia, Canada ) and from here they sailed for Liverpool, arriving here on 7 October 1942.
One of the ships that Ernest sailed on ' Stirling Castle
Ernest had been away from his family for 4 months when he returned on 7 October 1942, he then resigned aboard the Stirling Castle and sailed for Durban, South Africa on 29 October 1942. We can only imagine what fears Evelyn felt while her husband was at sea during wartime. From Durban Ernest sailed to Bombay, India, back to Durban, then on to New Your, USA. Form New York the ship sailed to Liverpool, docking on 19 February 1942, Ernest was home once more.
Again resigning with the Stirling Castle, Ernest departs Liverpool on 16 March 1943 for New York. They then sail along to Hampton Roads, Virginia, before leaving the USA and heading to Casablanca, Morocco. Ernest next docks in Oran, Algeria, before sailing across to Gibraltar, from here the Stirling Castle returns to Liverpool, arriving on 2 May 1943.
On 17 May 1943, Ernest is back on board, and they sail to the Clyde, Scotland, before heading off to Oran, Algeria, on to Gibraltar, then down to Dakar, Senegal. Next they head down South Africa, stopping at Freetown and Capetown, before sailing to Bombay, India. The ship returns to South Africa for its next stop in Durban, then they head back to Bombay. Their next port of call is Aden, Yemen, from where they head along the Suez on their way to Port Said, Egypt. From Egypt the ship sails to Algiers, before making another crossing to New York, then sailing back to Liverpool where they arrived on 15 December 1943. Ernest had been away for 7 months on this trip, he now signs off the Stirling Castle and spends a little time at home with his family.
Ernest returned to the seas when he signed up on 23 March 1944 with the LLANGIBBY CASTLE, a former passenger liner that had been converted into a landing ship. Ernest's ship book lists his port of call as " Special operation for the liberation of Europe " Ernest and the Llangibby Castle were moving troops around the Meditteranean during this very dangerous time. On 6 June 1944 they took part in the Normandy landings, carrying Canadian troops to Juno Beach, where 10 of the ships 18 landing craft were lost during the first wave, this left them with only 8 landing craft to deploy the second wave of men, they managed to do it before heading to Southampton. Later they landed troops on Omaha beach and utah beach and also at Le Havre. They had practiced for D-Day at Bracklesham Bay in West Sussez. So Ernest was in the thick of the madness during the Normandy Landings, the ship survived and Ernest signed off when they docked in Southampton on 29 August 1944. Did Ernest see something on this last trip? did he witness the horrors of the Normandy landings? Did he realize just how bad the dangers had become and wonder what his family would do if he was killed? Something in Ernest had changed, for when his ship docked in Southampton, he resigned and returned home, his Merchant Navy career was over.
Ernest was awarded the following medals for his service during WW2, 1939-1945 Star, Atlantic Star, Africa Star, Pacific Star, Italy Star and two Clasp, one each for the Burma Star and France & Germany Star.
After the war Ernest returned home and found a job on the Docks as a labourer where he stayed until he retired. After retirement he helped run the local pensioners club.
On 14th May 1988 Ernest passed away in Liverpool aged 82.
Ernest photographed as a young man
Ernest’s photograph in his Mercant Navy log book
Ernest and Evelyn