William Masson was born in Fraserburgh, Scotland, in 1870, the son of John Masson, a carpenter. When fifteen years of age he joined the British navy, and was first placed upon the training ship Ganges, where he remained several months, being transferred from her to the Impregnable, another training ship. Thence he went to the training brig Pilot, and then to the Foudroyant, where he was given his first instruction in gunnery, later joining the ship Volage at Portsmouth for a voyage to the West Indies. On the return trip the Volage left Bermuda in March, 1888, and made Portsmouth in seventeen days under sail, running in a gale of wind all the way over. From this vessel Mr. Masson was sent to the man-of-war Monarch, in which he made a trip around the British coast and to Norway, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Africa and Teneriffe, returning to Portsmouth. He now joined the ship Excellent, in which he remained nine months, taking a course in gunnery and leaving her as gunnery instructor to go to the cruiser Marathon, which he remained on the East India station four years. During that time she spent six months watching for slave-carrying vessels out of Zanzibar, and made one capture. The Marathon cruised about, touching at Trincomali, Ceylon, Calcutta, Madras, Bombay, the Andaman Islands and other points, and at Bombay they had an unenviable experience with the cholera scourge, losing nine men before the plague could be stamped out. At the expiration of the four years the Marathon returned to Portsmouth, and Mr. Masson obtained two-months' leave of absence, before the expiration of which he returned to the vessel, purchased his discharge, and left England to come to the United States. He makes his home in Cleveland, Ohio, and has since been sailing on the fishing boat Loretta Englesbee.
Return to Home Port
This version of Volume II is based, with permission, on the work of the great volunteers at the Marine Captains Biographies site. To them goes the credit for reorganizing the content into some coherent order. The biographies in the original volume are in essentially random order.
Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.