William Henry Selby Hall was born 13.9.1858 in Greenhithe, Kent, just across the Thames
from Tilbury Docks, from where he would later sail regularly as a P&O Captain.
He was the son of Walter Rowland Hall, RN Captain (Coastguard). He married Mary
(maiden name as yet unknown) and they had a son Charles Ottley Hall in 1891,
who died aged 21 in 1912 and was buried in Portslade, East Sussex, presumably where
Captain Hall then lived.
He was the Master of SS Persia taking mail and passengers on a voyage to Bombay
when it was sunk by U38 without warning on 30th December 2015. The attack was made
south east of Crete as Persia sailed from Valletta to Port Said. Over 340 people lost their lives
that day, including 45 of 63 women and 14 of 16 children aboard. The women included
Doctors, Nurses, Missionaries, Nannies, Fiancées and Mothers.
U38s torpedo exploded close to the forward port furnace and boiler resulting in a second
explosion. Persia sank in five minutes. U38’s Captain Max Valentiner became the third
most successful U-boat commander of WW1 (Tonnage sunk) and was celebrated as an ace,
winning prestigious decorations for his missions. Captain William Henry Selby Hall, like
many merchant seamen and captains, sank with his ship and into relative
obscurity. With input from everyone who knows even a little about him, his family,
homes, Merchant Navy Training Ship and subsequent career, I hope to go some way
towards rectifying this. Snippets of information are like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle –
little pictures that turn into a big picture. If you know anything about this man, please
let me know so that my book about the sinking of SS Persia will do him long-overdue justice.
I also believe that the family name Wheeler may be connected to him in some way, so,
among others, I hope to hear from anyone with that name who may be related to
I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and hope to hear from some of you soon!