Lieutenant Edward Wynter Bulteel

Researched and written by Anne Wright

Lt E W Bulteel, RN
HM Torpedo Boat 12
Killed in action, 10.6.1915
Age, 28

Edward Wynter Bulteel made the Royal Navy his career. By the time he joined in 1902 he was already used to travel and being without his parents. His father, also Edward Bulteel (b.1848, Liverpool), was a tea planter and he and his wife Jeannie were in India when their two sons were born: Edward Wynter on 25 November 1886 and Samuel Dominick in 1893. By 1901 the young Edward was at boarding school in Alverstoke, Gosport in Hampshire. His mother had died the previous year in India presumably on or close to their plantation, Chandkhira-tea-estate, Sylhet, Assam.

Midshipman Bulteel, who had joined the Royal Navy in 1902, was promoted to Sub-Lieutenant in 1906 and to Lieutenant in 1909. He served on several ships including Blenheim (1903), this posting took him to China; Formidable (1906), on which he was based in the Mediterranean; Hermione (1910), in home waters and he gained his first experience of Torpedo Boats in 1913. A year later he was transferred to what was to be his final ship, HM Torpedo Boat 12 (HMTB 12; aka HMS Moth), a Cricket Class coastal destroyer of which he was to take command. In the progression of his career to this point he was described in reports as ‘hardworking’, ‘zealous’ and ‘able’.

Not only did he secure his first command in 1914 but he also married Horatia Margaret Gaskell on 29 July at St. Andrew’s Church in Cobham. She was the daughter of the Reverend Thomas Kynaston Gaskell and his wife Horatia (nee Hugo). She was born at Leaton Vicarage in Shropshire in August 1889 and was known ‘officially’ as Margaret but called Daisey. In 1911 she lived with her parents and younger sister in four rooms in Suffolk House, Princes Road in Weybridge. A photograph of c.1910 shows her to have been a very beautiful young woman.

HMTB 12 and three other such vessels plus five destroyers left Harwich at midnight on 9 June 1915. Their mission was to search off the Thames Estuary for reported German submarines. They did not find the submarines but mines laid by UC-11(under the command of Walter Gottfried Schmidt) two days earlier. At 15.30 on 10 June HMTB 12’s bow was rocked by a large explosion. She stayed afloat and as her sister ship HMTB 10 (aka HMS Greenfly) came alongside the crew abandoned ship. At 16.10 HMTB 10 also experienced a devastating explosion, split in two and sank. HMTB 12 was taken in tow by a trawler, but to no avail as she sank between Sunk Lightvessel and the Shipwash South Buoy. Forty-eight men had been lost including Edward Bulteel and twenty-two ratings from his vessel.

When Daisey Bulteel was widowed she had been married for just ten months and was pregnant with their daughter, Rosemary who was born in the last quarter of 1915. Her birth was registered in Chertsey, Surrey. As a young widowed single mother Daisey was devoted to her daughter but also contributed to the community through practical nursing and voluntary work. She also lost two brothers, Lt-Commander Gerald Bruce Gaskell, RN (1914), Captain John Charles Gaskell (1917) and her brother-in-law Major Samuel Dominick Bulteel (1917). Her brothers are also commemorated on the Weybridge War Memorial. When her daughter married a Canadian naval officer Daisey followed her to Canada in 1947 and according to her grandson Bob ‘…welcomed the challenge of helping to raise and enjoy her (five) grandchildren’.

Edward Wynter Bulteel is buried in Shotley (St. Mary) Churchyard (RN Plot 35), Suffolk. He is also remembered in All Souls Chapel of St. James’ Church in Weybridge where the figure of the glorified Christ in the Triptych was sponsored in his name. His wife died in 1987. Daisey is commemorated on Edward’s headstone; she had been a widow for seventy-two years.


British India Office Ecclesiastical Returns – Births & Baptisms,
England, Surrey, Church of England Marriages, 1754-1937,
The Children of Rev Thomas Gaskell and Horatia Octavia Hugo,
Gifts to All Souls Chapel, St James and St Michael and All Angels Parish Records, Surrey History Centre, 3204/10/8
Royal Navy Officers’ Service Records, 1756-1931, The National Archives, ADM 196/143/860
TB – 12 (Moth),

Septimus Hibbert

Septimus Hibbert was born in Brasted, Kent in 1886 into the long established Hibbert Family of Brewers, the successor company recently celebrated the 250th anniversary of the foundation of the Company, and has a certain notoriety for having supplied a warehouse full of Beer to the Titanic, but these days is a major supplier to Airport Duty Free Shops rather then the originator of the drinks.

Septimus trained as a doctor and then qualified as a surgeon, becoming the House  Surgeon at St George’s Hospital in London.

Septimus joined the RNVR (Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve) in August 1913 and was commissioned in the Spring of 1914 and he spent the early summer on exercises aboard the Battleship HMS Thunderer. At the outbreak of War he was mobilised and posted to the sister Battleship HMS Formidable as one of the Surgical team of 3 Surgeons.

Septimus Hibbert 1886-1915

Title: Septimus Hibbert 1886-1915
Description: Remembered on the Pyrford Great War Memorial by-nc

HMS Formidable was engaged in a Gunnery exercise on New Year’s Eve 1914 off Portland Bill and was torpedoed by a U-Boat at 02:20 on New Years Day, the ships of her division scattered and this was justified as Formidable was hit by a second torpedo strike an hour later when the U-Boat captain realised he was not going to have a second target, after which Formidable rolled over and sank at 04:45.

547 men from a crew of 780 were lost due to severe Seas making the launching of boats nearly impossible, many men were reluctant to go overboard as they could see a large merchant ship passing by and expected her to stop and pick them up, but that ship ignored the signals so many of the men were clinging to life belts and pieces of wood near the ship when she capsized on top of them. Septimus was last seen smoking a Cigarette before calmly jumping into the sea shortly before the capsize, the Sub Lieutenant who jumped with him survived to report this.

Septimus Hibbert 1886-1915

Title: Septimus Hibbert 1886-1915
Description: Surgeon on HMS Formidable remembered on the Chatham Great War Naval Memorial. by-nc

Septimus’ body has not been found and he is remembered on the Chatham Great War Naval memorial, the War Memorial on Shawford Down near Winchester, and both the War Memorial and Memorial hall in Pyrford where his parents were living after the Great War.

My connection? His Uncle Horace married my second Cousin 3 times removed!

Woking Family Tree Project entry  for Septimus Hibbert

Another man (boy) who was lost on HMS Formidable was the 19 year old Royal Marine Light Infantry Private Roland Walter Woods, he had lived in Knaphill briefly in 1899 when his younger sister Dorothy was baptised at Holy Trinity, Knaphill
Woking Family Tree Project entry for Roland Walter Woods

 HMS Formidable was launched in 1898, in 1904 Thomas Philip Walker was appointed Captain and Commanded her until his Promotion to Rear Admiral in 1908,  by 1917 he was appointed Admiral and awarded the DSO. On the 27th November 1920 Admiral Walker donated a White Ensign and a Union Flag to be used for the unveiling of the War Memorial Cross outside St Peter’s Church, Old Woking by himself and Brigadier General Scudamore.  The Brigadier’s son John is remembered on the Old Woking Memorial Tablet having been killed in action at The Battle of Loos (1915) as a 20 year old Second Lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion, King’s Royal Rifle Corps.  The Flags are now displayed inside the Church.

Sub-Lieutenant John Gerald Barrow

Researched and written by Anne Wright

Sub–Lt J G Barrow, RN
HM Submarine E3
Died, 18.10.1914
Age, 20

Jacob Barrow died in 1890 in his 81st year; his grandson John Gerald Barrow died in 1914 in his 21st year. Much of the grandfather’s earlier years were spent in Bath where his family featured prominently in that city’s life. They were involved in Liberal politics and Jacob took a keen interest in amateur dramatics. This love of the theatre probably brought him into contact with the actress Miss Julia Bennett who was a stalwart of the Theatre Royal, Haymarket in the 1840s.The couple married on 2 September 1848 at St.James’ Church, Westminster, and the following year Julia Barrow performed before Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle.

They moved to America where Julia continued to act; her husband turned to theatre management and leased the Howard Athenaeum Theatre in Boston in 1858.John Gerald’s father, Oscar Theodore was born in Chicago in 1854. His career followed a more conventional path and took him into the Indian Civil Service which explains why John was born in Bombay on 4 March 1894. His parents Oscar and Winifride (nee Reynolds) had married in England in 1888. John was the youngest of four children; he had a brother and two sisters: Reginald, Theodora and Mary. Oscar and his wife returned to Britain on his retirement; in 1911 they were living at Albany House in Byfleet and by the time of John’s death in 1914 had moved to south-west London.

In 1901 John and his sister Mary were living with their maternal grandmother, Helen Reynolds, in Wandsworth. In 1907 he became a naval cadet at Dartmouth: between then and 1914 he served on the armoured cruiser HMS Cumberland, a sea training ship for cadets (on which the future George VI, who became a cadet in January 1911, also trained), HM Lurcher, a battleship, launched in 1912 which at that time was the fastest ship in the Royal Navy (RN), HMS Bellerophon, a dreadnought battleship and finally to the submarine depot ship Maidstone immediately prior to service in HM Submarine E3 from September to October 1914.

E3 was launched on 29 May 1912; she was one of the best submarines the RN had at the start of the First World War. She left Harwich on 16 October 1914 to patrol in the North Sea off the German island of Borkum. On 18 October E3 was spotted on the surface, probably re-charging her batteries, by the German submarine U-27. The look-outs on the British submarine were concentrating on the opposite direction, probably concerned about German destroyers in the area; U-27 fired two G6 torpedoes at a range of about 300 yards. The explosion broke E3 in half and she sank to the bottom. Men were spotted in the water, sadly U-27, fearing that other submarines were nearby dived and broke away. When she returned 30 minutes later there were no survivors to be found. This was the first successful attack of one submarine on another.

John Gerald Barrow’s short life was over. He is commemorated on Portsmouth Naval Memorial, (number 1 panel). The remains of E3 were located in the 1990s; the wreck divers were astounded at the technology available on a submarine built in the early twentieth century and equally impressed by the craftsmanship that had gone into her.


John Gerald Barrow’s Service Record, The National Archives, ADM 196/56/98
Marriages, Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Thursday, 14 September 1848
American Dramatic Items, The Era, Sunday, 23 August 1857
The Theatres, Illustrated London News, Saturday, 9 September 1848
Dramatic Representations at Windsor Castle, London Evening Standard, Saturday, 6 January 1849

Stoker 1st Class, George Edward Leonard Wills

Researched and written by Anne Wright

Stoker 1st Class, G E L Wills RN
HMS Hawke
Killed in action, 15.10.1914
Age, 22

George Edward Leonard Wills was the adopted son of Thomas and Susan Annie Sertin. He was born to Ada Florence Wills on 31 March 1892 in Shalford, Surrey and was baptised six months later on 18 September at St James’ Church, Weybridge. By 1901 he was living with Thomas and Susan who were first cousins and had married at St James’ Church on 26 December 1891. Their home was at ‘The Saxons’ in Dorchester Road. Ten years later they were at the same address; besides George, the family was made up of the Sertins’ natural children, Francis, Margaret, Sidney and Frederick. Both Thomas and his adopted son, a former pupil of St James’ School (Baker Street), were house painters employed by a builder.

George changed career when he enlisted in the Royal Navy on 12 May 1911 for a period of twelve years. His decision may have been influenced by Thomas who had naval experience having joined in 1878; he had left by 1891. George, who stood five feet four and a half inches tall, had brown hair, blue eyes and a fair complexion began his training on the shore based Pembroke II for five months; he then moved to the battlecruiser Inflexible until November 2012. Service on Hecla and Dido followed; his conduct was always considered to be ‘very good’. He joined HMS Hawke, an Edgar class cruiser on 28 February 1914. This was a ship that had become famous after a collision with the White Star Ocean liner RMS Olympic in the Solent on 20 September 1911. When George joined her she was part of a training squadron based at Queenstown (now Cobh).

On the outbreak of war in August 1914 HMS Hawke with other Edgar class cruisers made up the 10th Squadron which was engaged in blockade duties between the Shetland Islands and Norway. When a convoy left Canada on 2 October carrying 30,000 men and their equipment the 10th Squadron was moved further south, off Aberdeen, to provide protective patrols. On 15 October George’s squadron was patrolling off Peterhead on the NE coast of Scotland following appropriate measures to guard against submarine attack: sailing in a line abreast, maintaining gaps of ten miles, varying speed and frequently altering course. However, at 9.30 am Hawke and her sister ship Endymion met for mail to be transferred from Endymion. Hawke was stationary for about 15 minutes until her mail boat had returned. She then continued at 13 knots (15mph), without zig-zagging to regain her station, she was out of sight of the rest of the squadron.

The German submarine U9, commanded by Otto Weddigen, had been tracking the British squadron since daybreak. A crew member recalled that Hawke almost ran down the submarine which had to dive to avoid contact, but it was then in a position to fire a stern shot, however, Hawke made what was to be a fatal turn. U9 now had the chance to ‘swing around for a clear bow shot at 400 metres’. A single torpedo hit George’s ship at 10.30 am; she capsized and sank in 8 minutes. One of the few survivors, a Stoker, like George, recalled:

The Hawke was holed above the engine room and commenced to cant over to starboard with alarming rapidity. Her plates were twisted and torn and a huge cap was rent in her side……..the horror of the situation was added to when a tank of fuel caught fire and the flames advanced with fatal rapidity.

Her sister ships were unaware of her fate until following an unsuccessful submarine attack on HMS Theseus at 1.20 pm an order to withdraw at high speed to the north-west was issued: of course, there was no response from Hawke. The destroyer, HMS Swift, was sent from Scapa Flow to search for her. She found a raft with 21 men and 1 officer while a boat with 49 survivors was rescued by the Norwegian ship, Modesta. The loss was great: 524 officers and men, including George Wills had perished.

He is commemorated on Chatham Naval Memorial (6). His parents remained in Weybridge; Thomas Sertin died in 1933 and his wife, a year later. Their sons Francis and Sidney made their lives in the town as well; they died in 1952 and 1963 respectively.

The Kaiser awarded U9 the Iron Cross for her crew’s prowess in sinking British ships; she became a training vessel in 1916, survived the war and surrendered to the Royal Navy.Commander Otto Weddingen died in March 1915 when another of his submarines was destroyed in the Moray Firth when it was rammed by the British battleship Dreadnaught.


England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966,
HMS Hawke Centenary,
Nicholls Family Tree,
Surrey, England, Church of England Baptisms, 1813-1912,
Surrey, England, Church of England Marriages, 1754-1937,
Surrey, England, Electoral Registers, 1832-1962,
UK, Royal Naval Registers of Seamen’s Services, 1848-1939,
U9 Sinks HMS Hawke, 15 October 1914,

Flight Sub-Lieutenant Howard Willis

Researched and written by Anne Wright

Flight Sub-Lt H Willis
5th Squadron, Royal Naval Air Service
Died of injuries, 15.1.1918
Age, 21

‘The young officer, who was 21 years of age, was very well known in Weybridge where he was highly popular.’ The subject of this description in the Surrey Advertiser of 23 January 1918 was Howard Willis, the third and youngest son of George and Mary Jane (nee Upton) who had married at Banbury, Oxfordshire in 1888. Howard was born in Weybridge on 5 June 1896 joining his elder brothers Percival George and Frank to complete the family. Their father, who started his working life as a carpenter was, by 1911, running his own building and contracting business; the family lived at Brighton Cottage in Elm Grove Road, having lived at Eton Villa in the same road ten years earlier.

Howard had been a pupil at St James’ School (Baker Street) before winning a County Council Scholarship to Tiffin School in Kingston where he remained for five years before matriculating. He was a keen all round sportsman; shining at football, swimming, tennis and cricket. Howard represented his school at both football and cricket and in his final season captained the football team helping them to win the Secondary Schools’ Cup. He also played for Weybridge’s football team on several occasions as a skilful back. Howard followed in his brother’s footsteps as captain of St Michael’s Cricket Club.

He initially worked as a chartered accountant before passing the required examination to enter the Civil Service. When war broke out in 1914 Howard was posted to the Admiralty where he performed well and achieved promotion. His department refused to release him for armed service until March 1917. He joined the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) on 13 March; they were charged with the air defence of GB but had deployed land and sea planes to Dunkirk since 1914. Until 28 August 1917 he was a Probationary Flight Officer located at Crystal Palace and at the RNAS training school at Vendome in central France. He graduated as a Flight Sub-Lieutenant and spent time at Cranwell and Manston before arriving at Dunkirk on 23 November 1917; he had volunteered for service in France. His tenure in Dunkirk was very short; whilst flying Airco DH4, No. N5968 near Houlthurst Forest on 13 January 1918 he suffered severe burns to his face, legs and hands when his plane crashed. Howard’s parents received three messages in short succession; the first to tell them he had been injured in an accident, the second to tell them that he was ‘dangerously ill’ and the third to inform them that he had died on 15 January. His service reports described him as ‘a good officer’, ‘very keen’ and as a ‘steady pilot’.

Howard was laid to rest in Dunkirk Town Cemetery (IV.A.7). All three Willis brothers served in the First World War; Pioneer-Sgt Percival Willis saw service with the East Surrey Regiment in India before returning to Weybridge where he eventually lived at Kuldana, Oakdale Road and died on 19 January 1933, Frank Willis fought with the London Scottish Regiment. He was wounded in May 1917 and was discharged from hospital shortly before Howard’s death. Their mother died in 1937.


Admiralty: Royal Naval Air Service, Registers of Officers’ Service, The National Archives, ADM 273/12/255
Royal Naval Officers Medal Roll, 1914-1920,
Flight Sub.-Lt. Howard Willis, RNAS, Death from Wounds, Surrey Advertiser, Wednesday, 23 January 1918
Surrey, England, Electoral Registers, 1832-1962,
Zedulla/Huckins/Blair Family Tree

Able Seaman Harvey Clee Langford

Cobham Remembers

Able Seaman Harvey Clee Langford, aged 27, was one of 86 who died from a crew of 92 when HMS Shark was sunk by torpedo after being crippled by heavy gunfire. He was the adopted son of Henry, a garden labourer, and Annie Clee of the Garden Cottages, Cobham Park. (The 1911 census shows that Harvey was listed amongst the crew of HMS Swiftsure stationed in the Grand Harbour, Malta.)

The Cobham Parish Magazine of July 1916 reported “A third to die a hero’s death has been Joseph Clee, who was a gunner on the “Shark”, the destroyer whose commander and crew have won an immortality of fame for their magnificent self-sacrifice and heroic daring. We are loth to lose so splendid a lad as Joseph Clee, who also had been given rapid promotion for one so young, having been chosen for the very responsible post of helmsman, as well as gunner, but his parents may indeed be proud of his splendid record.”

Jutland, the Battlecruisers and Kingston, 31 May-1 June 1916

For Britain 1916 has always been the year of the Battle of the Somme, but the year also witnessed the only clash between the main battle fleets of Britain and Germany during the First World War, and like the Somme, this battle has and still does generate debate and controversy. It might seem odd that a naval battle would have an impact on an inland town like Kingston, but the records of Royal Navy men known to have been at Jutland reveal the names of more than sixty born in Kingston, Surbiton or New Malden. Most of these joined the Navy as boys.

While volunteers for the army in 1914-16 lied about their age, the Royal Navy had long accepted young men between the ages of fifteen and a half and seventeen for service at sea. Approximately a quarter of the Navy’s rank and file have been estimated to have joined by this route. A boy seeking to join the navy had to be physically fit, able to read and write, possessed of a good character and prepared to sign up for twelve years’ service from the age of eighteen. Medical examinations and a certificate as to character signed by a person of note such as a clergyman or solicitor had to be obtained and paid for by the boy’s parents and only a quarter of applicants were accepted. On enlistment, the boy, ranked as a “Boy second class” (Boy II), went to a boys’ training establishment, which, like all navy shore bases, were named, the most famous being HMS Ganges, at Shotley, near Harwich. Although these establishments were based around old sailing ships, they possessed extensive land-based facilities such as accommodation blocks, while the training was modern, the Royal Navy alone of the major navies of the world having abandoned sail training for recruits. Depending on age and progress, the boy would rise to the rank of “Boy first class” (Boy I), and on completion of shore training would be posted to an old cruiser which was used for sea training. He would then be posted to his first ship. For some this would be one of the battlecruisers.

The battlecruiser was the brainchild of Admiral Sir John (Jackie) Fisher, the First Sea Lord and professional head of the Royal Navy from 1904 to 1911. He is chiefly noted for the introduction of two new types of heavy capital ship, the battleship or dreadnaught (so named after the first of the type, HMS Dreadnaught, launched in 1906), and the battlecruiser. While both types combined an all big-gun armament with turbine propulsion, the latter, the first of which, HMS Indomitable, was completed in June 1908, reflected Fisher’s belief in the primacy of speed and firepower over armour protection in order to bring a reluctant enemy to battle  The battlecruiser’s primary role was to hunt down enemy cruisers operating against British trade routes, and to act as scouts for the main fleet. In the North Sea the battlecruisers formed the Battlecruiser Fleet, under Vice-Admiral Sir David Beatty, which acted as a scouting force for the main British Grand Fleet, under Admiral Sir John Jellicoe. As a consequence the battlecruisers expected to be in the thick of any engagement, and Beatty’s dashing appearance and aggressive nature made a great impact on the public. Influenced by the mystique of Nelson and Trafalgar, they expected the navy to sally forth at the outbreak of war and bring the German fleet to battle. When this did not happen they became restive and anger at the navy’s apparent inaction grew, especially after the German naval bombardments of Scarborough and Whitby in December 1914 caused death and destruction on the British mainland for the first time in over a century.

The Royal Navy, however, waged its war against Germany by means of the “distant blockade”. Shipping passing round Britain heading for continental Europe was intercepted and cargoes destined for Germany seized. This gradually placed a stranglehold on Germany which materially contributed to allied victory in 1918. It could only be broken by resolute action on the part of the German fleet, which required them to confront the British fleet in battle, and this they were unwilling to do. Instead they sought to reduce the overwhelming British superiority in numbers by attacking isolated units and by using mines, submarines and torpedoes as a means of attrition. The German navy was also under pressure to achieve something at a time when the German army was fully engaged and suffering severely on all fronts. During 1916, while still unwilling to meet the full might of the British Grand Fleet, the German navy continued to try and draw out and engage smaller British units. In pursuance of this aim, on the morning of 31 May 1916 the German fleet, in two groups with battlecruisers sailing in advance of the main body, left harbour to cruise the waters off Denmark. But, possibly as a result of wireless interception or in furtherance of a planned operation, the British fleet had sailed the previous evening. They also were in two groups, the battlecruisers under Beatty coming out of Rosyth, and the Grand Fleet under Jellicoe from Scapa Flow, and they intended to rendezvous off Denmark on the afternoon of 31 May. Neither side was aware of the presence of the other until the respective battlecruiser fleets sighted each other at about 3:15 on the afternoon of 31 May.

Since the Germans thought that Beatty’s was the only British force present, they steered south to bring Beatty onto the guns of the German fleet. Beatty followed and the first shots were fired during this “Run to the South”. Almost immediately the British suffered two major disasters. German gunnery, aided by errant visibility, was initially superior to the British, and first HMS Indefatigable, and then HMS Queen Mary, were hit by German shells and exploded. Both ships had crews of over 1000 men. There were two survivors from Indefatigable and twenty from Queen Mary. Among those lost on Indefatigable was John Christopher Harris, an Ordinary Seaman. He was born in Kingston on 23 February 1898, to Edward Harris, a labourer, and his wife Kate, a school caretaker. He had three sisters and was a bookbinder’s assistant before he joined the navy on 21 July 1914, as a Boy II. He became an Ordinary Seaman on his birthday, 23 February 1916, and was eighteen when he died. The Surrey Comet of 10 June 1916 also records the deaths of several officers serving on Indefatigable. These include William Nicholas Eden, the younger brother of Anthony Eden, the future Prime Minister. He was a midshipman and is commemorated on the war memorial at Polyapes Scout Camp, outside Cobham. Another midshipman lost was Charles Raynsford Longley, the son of Major-General J.R. Longley, who had very successfully commanded the 1st Battalion East Surrey Regiment in France in 1914, and had been rapidly promoted to command 10th (Irish) Division, then serving in Salonika.

Further Kingston men were lost that day on HMS Queen Mary. Henry George Aldred was born in Kingston on 31 January 1896. He had worked as a gardener before joining the navy on 9 October 1912 as a boy, and he had risen to the rank of Able Seaman.  James Rogers was born in Kingston on 12 September 1897. His father, Thomas John, was a builder’s labourer, and lived with Sarah, his wife, and James’ mother at 11 Mill Road, Kingston. They had five other children, three boys and two girls. James had been an errand boy before he joined the navy on 28 January 1913, also as a boy, and he had attained the rank of Ordinary Seaman on 12 September 1915, his eighteenth birthday. In contrast to these youngsters John Alfred Knight had been born on 10 February 1882, in Kingston, so he was 34 when he died. He had been a carpenter’s labourer before enlisting in the navy on 22 September 1904, as a stoker. He seems to have had qualities that suited the navy since he had risen to the rank of Stoker Petty Officer in March 1916.

The ‘Run to the South’ ended when Beatty sighted the main body of the German fleet, and promptly turned north, to try and lure them to Jellicoe. The Germans, ignorant of the presence of the Grand Fleet, followed. Despite inadequacies in signalling, because very few ships’ captains thought to ensure that Jellicoe was kept informed of the position of both Beatty’s force and the German fleet, Jellicoe managed a masterly manoeuvre to place the Grand Fleet squarely across the path of the Germans and subject them to such a torrent of fire that they were forced to turn away twice. Problems with visibility and a reluctance to subject his ships to the risk of torpedo attack from German destroyers caused Jellicoe to turn away. Despite having to face night attack from British destroyer, the German fleet managed to escape to harbour on the following day.

One further British loss must be noted.  During the early stages of the main fleet encounter, HMS Invincible, leading a detached squadron of battlecruisers, was engaging the German battlecruisers when she was hit and exploded.  There were only six survivors of a crew of over 1000. The losses included Henry Alexander Potter, a Petty Officer Telegraphist, who had joined the navy as a boy on 30 May 1905. He had been born on 7 September 1887, in Sutton, to Alexander H. and Bertha Sarah Potter. He had a brother and a sister, and had been a draper’s assistant before joining the navy. His father was a watchmaker and the family had lived at Dorking before moving to Kingston where they lived at 34 Clifton Road.

Both HMS Princess Royal and HMS New Zealand, battlecruisers which survived the battle, had Kingston men amongst their crews. Reginald Edwin James Bartlett was born in Kingston on 24 October 1896. He was a messenger before joining the navy as a boy on 22 January 1915. By the time of the battle he had risen to Able Seaman on HMS New Zealand. This ship had been paid for by New Zealand and superstition demanded that her captain wear a piu-piu or traditional Maori garment during a battle. Reginald’s mother, Martha, lived at 88 Canbury Avenue, Kingston. HMS Princess Royal’s crew included Robert Alfred Watts, an Able Seaman, and John William Sturt, a Stoker. Robert Watts was born on 20 November 1896 in Kingston, and the family later moved to 208 Kingston Road, New Malden. His father was a glazier, and Robert had been a paperhanger’s boy before joining the navy on 24 August 1912. His elder brother William also served in the navy on the old battleship HMS Africa. Robert survived the battle, but died on 21 October 1918, of pneumonia. He is buried in Kingston Cemetery.

Grave of Robert Alfred Watts

Title: Grave of Robert Alfred Watts
Description: Image courtesy of Nicholas Howgill by-nc

Another Kingston man serving on the battlecruisers was John Sturt, who was born on 17 April 1892 in Kingston. He had worked as a carpenter before joining the navy on 13 February 1912 as a stoker. It seems that stoking was one trade where the navy did not encourage boys as recruits. He became a Stoker First Class on 29 May 1913 and served aboard HMS Princess Royal at Jutland.


Total British losses at Jutland came to over 6000 men and fourteen ships, including the three battlecruisers. The Germans lost 2500 men and eleven ships, including one battlecruiser. This implied that the British had lost the battle, and German victory claims, coupled with the (now denied) expectations on the part of the nation for a dramatic Nelsonian victory, caused the discontent with the navy to rise. Further controversy over the conduct of the battle arose after the war and developed into a feud between supporters of Jellicoe and Beatty, with each side claiming that their man was the true hero of the battle. In a modified form that debate continues today between naval historians. But it now seems apparent that the Germans were the strategic losers. The battle altered nothing: the British blockade of Germany remained and would be tightened in 1917 with the Americans in the war. The German fleet had shown itself unwilling to risk the all-out engagement with the might of the Royal Navy which might have altered that situation. The German response, to intensify the war on allied merchant shipping by submarines attacking without warning or restriction, not only did not win the naval war, but it was also instrumental in bringing America into the war. The allied naval blockade on Germany was a crucial element in the eventual victory in 1918.

The loss of the three British battleships at Jutland has been identified as due not to their being inadequately armoured, but to the way their ammunition was handled during the battle. In order to compensate for poor accuracy, British battlecruisers sought to speed up firing rates by stacking ammunition in the turrets and leaving hatches and seals open. A hit on a turret would cause this inflammable cordite to ignite with a flash, and this could pass through open hatches to the magazines, where an explosion would have the catastrophic consequences seen. Beatty’s flagship, HMS Lion, suffered a hit on one turret, but the bravery of a Major Harvey of the Royal Marines, who although dying ordered the magazines to be flooded, and enhanced safety precautions for ammunition stowage introduced before the battle by the ship’s Gunner, prevented the catastrophe that overwhelmed the others. The lost battlecruisers now rest on the seabed with their gallant crews and are designated as war graves.

The Battle of Jutland, Surrey Casualties

Battle of Jutland Surrey Casualties

The Battle of Jutland took place between 31 May and 1 June 1916, off the North Sea coast of Denmark’s Jutland Peninsula. It was the largest naval battle and the only full-scale clash of battleships in the First World War. The British fleet comprised 151 combat ships and the German fleet comprised 99 combat ships.

The losses were huge on both sides:

British: 6,094 killed, 674 wounded, 177 captured and 3 battlecruisers, 3 armoured cruisers, and 8 destroyers sunk.

German: 2,551 killed, 507 wounded and 1 battlecruiser, 1 pre-dreadnought, 4 light cruisers and 5 torpedo-boats sunk.

British losses were greater but the German Commander, Reinhard Scheer, realised that further battles with a similar rate of attrition would exhaust the German High Seas Fleet long before it reduced the British Grand Fleet. As a result Jutland can be seen as a strategic victory for the British. While the British had not destroyed the German fleet and had lost more ships, the Germans had retreated to harbour; at the end of the battle the British were in command of the North Sea.

Surrey men were among the casualties and research is underway to find and record their names and life stories. The following are the men that have been identified so far, as more information becomes available further names may be added to the list.

HMS Ardent

HMS Ardent was an Acasta-class destroyer and the seventh Royal Navy ship to bear the name. She was launched in 1913 and was sunk on 1 June 1916 during the Battle of Jutland by secondary fire from the German dreadnought SMS Westfalen. Seventy-eight men went down with the ship, there were only 2 survivors. Among the casualties was one Surrey man.

HOWARD, William: Leading Signalman

HMS Black Prince

HMS Black Prince was a Duke of Edinburgh-class armoured cruiser built for the Royal Navy in the mid-1900s. She was stationed in the Mediterranean when the First World War began. German accounts report her being separated from the rest of the British fleet when she approached the German lines. The German battleship Thüringen fixed Black Prince in her searchlights and opened fire. Up to five other German ships, including the battleships Nassau, Ostfriesland, and Friedrich der Grosse, joined in the bombardment, with return fire from Black Prince being ineffective. HMS Black Prince was hit by at least twelve heavy shells and several smaller ones, sinking within 15 minutes. There were no survivors from her crew, all 857 being killed. Among the casualties were the following Surrey men.

BATES, Claude Leslie: Able Seaman
BEAGLEY, John: Able Seaman
BONHAM,Thomas Parry: Captain
DERMEDY, John James: Able Seaman
EAGLETON, Alfred: Able Seaman
GOODYEAR, Harry Edward: Able Seaman
HUNT, William: Leading Seaman
KILTY, Leonard J: Able Seaman
MAIDMENT, Sydney Walter: Able Seaman
MANSELL, Frederick Charles: Able Seaman
PERFECT, Frederick George: Ordinary Seaman
TANNER (alias TURNER), Edwin: Petty Officer
TAYLOR, Fred: Petty Officer Stoker
TOWNSEND, John Russell: Signalman
TRINDER, Joseph: Petty Officer Telegraphist
TUCKER, Harry Martin: Private, Royal Marine Light Infantry
WILLIAMS, Albert George: Boy 1st Class

HMS Calliope

HMS Calliope was a C-class light cruiser of the Royal Navy under construction at the outbreak of the First World War. She was badly damaged by a fuel oil fire in her boiler room while at sea on 19 March 1916, but was repaired in time to be one of the five ships in the 4th Light Cruiser Squadron at the Battle of Jutland on 31 May-1 June 1916. Under the command of Commodore Charles E. Le Mesurier, HMS Calliope received a number of hits just before nightfall on 31 May (notably by the German battleships Kaiser and Markgraf), and 10 of her crew were killed.
Among the casualties was the following Surrey man.

TISH, Thomas: Able Seaman

HMS Defence

HMS Defence was a Minotaur-class armoured cruiser launched on 24 April 1907, the last armoured cruiser built for the Royal Navy. She was stationed in the Mediterranean when the First World War began. During the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916, she was the flagship of Rear-Admiral Sir Robert Arbuthnot, leading the First Cruiser Squadron. HMS Defence was hit by two salvoes from German ships which caused the aft 9.2-inch magazine to explode. The resulting fire spread via the ammunition passages to the adjacent 7.5-inch magazines which detonated in turn. The ship exploded at 6.20pm with the loss of all men on board. Among the casualties were the following Surrey men.

COX, Alfred Frederick: Able Seaman
GATES, George Albert: Leading Signalman
KNOWLES, Albert Ernest: Ordinary Seaman
MORLEY, Frank: Boy 1st Class
WARD, Leonard Stanley: Boy 1st Class

HMS Indefatigable

HMS Indefatigable was the lead ship of her class of three battlecruisers launched on 28 October 1909. At around 4pm, during a phase of the Battle of Jutland called the “Run to the South”, Indefatigable was hit around the rear turret by two or three shells from Von der Tann. She fell out of formation to starboard and started sinking towards the stern and listing to port. Her magazines exploded at 4.03 after more hits, one on the forecastle and another on the forward turret. Of her crew of 1,019, only three survived. Among the casualties were the following Surrey men.

BARNARD, Victor Ernest Alfred: Ordinary Seaman
CLAYTON, William Edward: Boy First Class
EDEN, William Nicholas: Midshipman
FRANKLIN, Roland Edward: Ordinary Seaman
HARRIS, John Christopher: Ordinary Seaman
LONGLEY, Charles Raynsford: Midshipman
NORRIS, Hugh Leigh: Fleet Surgeon
SHARPE, Albert Edward: Able Seaman
WHITE, Albert Edward: Private, Royal Marine Light Infantry

HMS Invincible

HMS Invincible was the lead ship of her class of three battlecruisers, launched on 13 April 1907. In August 1914 she took part in the Battle of Heligoland Bight where she was the oldest and slowest of the British battlecruisers present. During the Battle of the Falkland Islands in December 1914, Invincible and her sister Inflexible sank the armoured cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau almost without loss to themselves, despite numerous hits by the German ships. She was the flagship of the 3rd Battlecruiser Squadron during the Battle of Jutland in 1916. At about 6.30pm Two German ships, Lützow and Derfflinger, fired three salvoes each at Invincible and sank her in 90 seconds. At least one 305 mm (12-inch) shell from the third salvo struck her midships ‘Q’ turret. The shell penetrated the front of ‘Q’ turret, blew off the roof and detonated the midships magazines, which blew the ship in half. Of her complement, 1,026 officers and men were killed, including Rear-Admiral Hood. Among the casualties were the following Surrey men.

BECK, Herbert Thomas: Leading Signalman
CARPENTER, Thomas Henry: Leading Stoker
COOPER, Reginald: Stoker 1st Class
COOTE, Graham Rupert: Able Seaman
FORDER, Reginald Nevill: Leading Stoker
HARRIS, Walter: Boy 1st Class
HOWARD, Frank: Gunner, Royal Marine Artillery
MANT, James Charles: Leading Stoker
OVERY, Charles: Able Seaman
POTTER, Henry Alexander: Telegraphist Petty Officer
STONARD, Harry: Stoker 1st class
SYLVESTER, William: Able Seaman
WHAPSHOTT, Edward Alfred: Boy Telegraphist
WISE, Frank Vincent: Signalman

HMS Queen Mary

HMS Queen Mary was the last battlecruiser built by the Royal Navy before the outbreak of the First World War. During the early stages of the Battle of Jutland she was hit twice by the German battlecruiser Derfflinger. Her magazines exploded shortly afterwards, sinking the ship. 1,266 crewmen were lost; eighteen survivors were picked up by the destroyers HMS Laurel, HMS Petard, and HMS Tipperary, and two by the Germans.

ALDRED, Henry George: Able Seaman
ATTWATER, Harry: Leading Cooks Mate
BAKER, Victor Owen: Able Seaman
BLANE, Sir Charles Rodney, Baronet: Commander
BURT, Walter Saxon: Midshipman
COLLYER, Fred: Stoker 1st Class
DUFFIELD, John Frederick: Able Seaman
DURRANT, Douglas: Able Seaman
EDSER, Douglas Aubrey: Stoker 1st Class
FAGENCE, James: Chief Stoker
FUNNELL, Jack: Stoker 1st Class
GALE, Albert George: Stoker 1st Class
KNIGHT, John Alfred: Petty Officer Stoker
PANKHURST, Herbert George: Shipwright 2nd Class
PAXTON, Harold: Record Signalman
PEIRSON-SMITH, Ernest Cecil: Midshipman
PENNELL, Harry Lewin Lee: Commander
PRIZEMAN, William Frank: Stoker, 1st Class
PROVINS, Arthur Edward: Able Seaman
RANDALL, William Henry: Chief Petty Officer (Chief Stoker)
ROBERTS, John: Leading Stoker
ROGERS, James: Ordinary Seaman
STEDMAN, Albert Eagle: Petty Officer
STEVENS, Henry George: Ordinary Seaman
STREET, George Campbell: Lieutenant Commander
WALKER, Lyell Frank: Boy 1st Class

HMS Shark

HMS Shark, was an Acasta-class destroyer built in 1912. During the Battle of Jutland, at around 6 pm, Shark led an unsuccessful torpedo attack on the German 2nd Scouting Group. The other three destroyers escaped with little damage, but Shark was crippled by gunfire. At 7 pm, she was sunk by a torpedo launched by the German torpedo boat S54. Thirty of the crew managed to get onto the rafts. Only seven were picked up six hours later by a Danish ship, but one died soon afterwards. In total, 86 men out of a crew of 92 were killed. Among the casualties were two Surrey men.

GARROTT, Albert William: Able Seaman
LANGFORD, Harvey Joseph Clee: Able Seaman

HMS Southampton

HMS Southampton was a Town-class light cruiser built for the Royal Navy and launched on 16 May 1912. She was a member of the Chatham sub-class of the Town class. The ship survived the First World War and was sold for scrap in 1926.

GIBBINGS, Henry Charles: Able Seaman

HMS Tipperary

HMS Tipperary, launched on 5 March 1915, was a Faulknor-class destroyer leader. Originally ordered by Chile, Tipperary and her sisters were bought by the Royal Navy at the outbreak of the First World War.

At around midnight on 31 May 1916, 150 rounds of 5.9in shells from SMS Westfalen and SMS Nassau were fired at HMS Tipperary. She was badly hit, her bridge damaged and most crew forward were killed or wounded, including Capt Wintour. At about 2am on 1 June HMS Tipperary was abandoned and she eventually sank. 150 of her crew of 197 were lost in the action.

COLWELL, Ernest Alfred: Signal Boy
DODD, Henry Walter Charles: Leading Stoker
IRELAND, Henry Amos: Boy 1st Class
MATON, Eustace Newton Gerald: Lieutenant
OSMOND, Albert Victor: Ordinary Seaman
STEVENS, Richard Randolph: Stoker 1st Class
TURNER, Arthur Robert: Boy Telegraphist

Served in the Battle of Jutland, died later in the war.

HMS Malaya

HMS Malaya was a Royal Navy Queen Elizabeth-class battleship ordered in 1913 and commissioned in 1916. Shortly after commissioning she fought in the Battle of Jutland. She was named in honour of the Federated Malay States in British Malaya, whose government paid for her construction. Most of Britain’s battleships suffered no casualties during the battle of Jutland, the heaviest toll was suffered by HMS Malaya. She was hit eight times and took major damage and heavy crew casualties, 63 dead and 68 wounded.

MATTHEWS, Albert: Boy 1st Class, died of wounds suffered during the Battle of Jutland on 24th June 1916.

HMS Princess Royal

HMS Princess Royal was the second of two Lion-class battlecruisers built for the Royal Navy before the outbreak of the First World War. She was damaged during the Battle of Jutland and required a month and a half of repairs. HMS Princess Royal was sold for scrap on 19 December 1922.

WATTS, Robert Alfred: Able Seaman, died of Pneumonia on 21 October 1918.

HMS Vanguard

HMS Vanguard was one of three St Vincent-class dreadnought battleships built for the Royal Navy, launched on 22 April 1909. She was sunk by an internal explosion at Scapa Flow on 9 July 1917.

HOLLOWAY, Sidney Ernest Victor: Sick Berth Steward 2nd Class, killed when HMS Vanguard sank on 9 July 1917.

HMS Warspite

HMS Warspite was a Queen Elizabeth-class battleship built for the Royal Navy and launched on 26 November 1913. Her thirty-year career covered both world wars and took her across the Atlantic, Indian, Arctic and Pacific Oceans. She was decommissioned on 1 February 1945.

ARMSTRONG, Philip Furlong: Sub-Lieutenant, killed in action 3 January 1918 on Submarine G8 in the Kattegat.

Served in the Battle of Jutland, vessel unknown.

COCHRANE, Basil Robert: Lieutenant, served throughout the Great War, in the Falklands, Dardanelles and Jutland, died 14 March 1919.

Served in the Battle of Jutland, survived the war.

HMS New Zealand

HMS New Zealand was one of three Indefatigable-class battlecruisers built for the defence of the British Empire. Launched in 1911, the ship was funded by the government of New Zealand as a gift to Britain, and she was commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1912. Her reputation as a “lucky ship” was attributed by the crew to a Maori piupiu (warrior’s skirt) and hei-tiki (pendant) worn by the captain during battle. HMS New Zealand was sold for scrap on 19 December 1922.

BARTLETT, Reginald Edwin James: Able Seaman

See also:

Surrey’s Jutland
Jutland, the Battlecruisers and Kingston, 31 May-1 June 1916

Chief Petty Officer William Henry Randall

Researched and written by Anne Wright

Chief Petty Officer (Chief Stoker) W H Randall
HMS Queen Mary
Killed in action, 31.5.1916
Age, 46/7

William Henry Randall was the second child and eldest son of Joseph and Eliza (nee Fishley) of Grove Place, Weybridge. His parents married on 19 August 1866 at St Pancras, London. William was born on 9 November 1868 or 1869 in Brighton – records differ as to the correct date. At this time he had one older sister, Eliza; by 1881 his siblings, Edwin, Louisa, Fanny, Jessie, Ellen and Charles had joined the family. His youngest brother was killed in action on 22 August 1918 in France just as the Final Hundred Days of the war had been launched. William’s father was a baker and the family lived in Grove Place for many years. He, having been a pupil at St James’ School (Baker Street), initially followed in his father’s footsteps becoming a baker but on 21 March 1888 he joined the Royal Navy.

At twenty years old William was just over five feet and five inches tall, had brown hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion. He served on at least nineteen ships including HMS Vernon (1888), HMS Pembroke (1892-93), HMS Victory II (1898) and HMS Duke of Wellington II (1899-1901). He became a Leading Stoker whilst serving on the Victory and then Chief Stoker on HMS Royal Arthur (1903). His final ship before he left the Royal Navy in 1910 was HMS Invincible. William’s conduct throughout his service was overwhelmingly rated as ‘very good’. By 1911 he was living in Weybridge again relying on his naval pension and a job as a Club Attendant. William had married Emily Lydia Shepherd on 5 September 1895 at St Paul’s Church in Deptford. They had two children, Margaret Louise and Charles Buckingham.

When war broke out he returned to the Royal Navy joining the crew of HMS Victory II in August 1914 as Chief Stoker. On 23 September he moved to HMS Queen Mary the last battlecruiser built before the war; she was commissioned on 4 September 1913. William’s first taste of battle came quickly on 28 August 1914 at the Battle of Heligoland Bight; an attempt to support a raid on the German coast. In conjunction with other battlecruisers the Queen Mary sank two enemy ships and then covered the British withdrawal. She was also part of the unsuccessful action to ambush German ships as they conducted a raid on the Yorkshire coast in December. HMS Queen Mary remained with the First Battlecruiser Squadron throughout 1915 before having a re-fit at Portsmouth between December 1915 and February 1916.

The two great fleets of Germany and Britain did not meet on the high seas until 1916. The British ships were anchored in the safety of Scapa Flow in the Orkney Isles and the German fleet in their own ports. When Admiral Von Sheer took command of the High Seas Fleet he was keen to engage the British Fleet and decided to lure them out from Scapa Flow and trap them. Fortunately, for the British, they could decipher the German codes and were forewarned. On 31 May 1916 the Queen Mary and the rest of her squadron steamed ahead of the fleet creating much hard work for William and his stokers. They made contact with the Germans off the coast of Jutland (Denmark) and the Queen Mary opened fire at SMS Seydlitz at 3.50pm securing two hits and disabling one of her gun turrets. As she continued to engage the Seydlitz SMS Derfflinger opened fire on the Queen Mary. At 4.26pm a shell struck her detonating one or both of her forward magazines; the resulting explosion broke her back. A second shell may have hit her further aft and as this part of the ship rolled it was wracked by another explosion and sank. German observers estimated that the plume of smoke from the Queen Mary rose 2000 feet high and gun turret roofs were catapulted over 100 feet into the air. HMS Tiger, her neighbouring ship was showered with hot wreckage. SMS Seydlitz’s Captain recorded that ‘….The spectacle was overwhelming, there was a moment of complete silence….’

William had little chance of survival and perished with 1,265 others; only 20 survived. HMS Queen Mary’s problem was that when her gun turrets were hit cordite stored there ignited and spread fire to the magazines thus causing explosions. The Battle of Jutland must have been an awesome and terrifying sight as 250 ships converged in combat. Although Britain lost more ships the heavily damaged German fleet did not venture out of port for the rest of the war relying instead on their submarines. William’s body was not recovered but he is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial (Panel 15).

His mother was still living in Grove Place when the war ended and she died ten years later. Her only surviving son, Edwin, who made a career with the General Post Office, resided at Mayford in Oakdale Road until at least 1930. He died in Hampshire in 1941. The fate of William’s widow has not been uncovered but his son served in 106 Squadron, RAF and was killed over Norway on 8 November 1941.


The Battle of Jutland, 31 May-1 June, 1916,
The Battle of Jutland,
Everett Family Tree,
Hickman, Kennedy ‘World War 1: Battle of Jutland’,
Memorial to the Masters and Boys of St James’ School, Weybridge, Who Fell in the Great War 1914-1918, St James’ Church
Surrey, England, Electoral Registers, 1832-1962,
UK, Navy Lists 1888-1970,

John Lowe. Witley’s first casualty

John was born in Westminster on 24th February 1886, the son of Thomas and Rebecca. The family continued to live in London and John’s connection with Witley is not known.  He could have lived in Witley for a time as there were Lowe families in the area or he may have been engaged to a local girl.  Able Seaman had served two years at sea and “considered well acquainted with their duties”.  He was the first Witley casualty of the war.

John joined the Royal Navy before the war and was an Able Seaman on the cruiser HMS Hawke.  On 15th October 1914, HMS Hawke was on patrol with her sister ship HMS Theseus in the North Sea.  The cruisers had just received mail and supplies from HMS Endymion when they were spotted by U9 commanded by Kapitanlietenant Otto Weddingen.  HMS Hawke was getting under way when U9 fired a torpedo at her, striking a magazine.  HMS Hawke blew up and sank in five minutes with the loss of 26 officers and 497 men, mainly from Northern Ireland.  Only four officers and 70 men survived.  John’s body was amongst the hundreds not recovered.  He is commemorated on Chatham Naval Memorial.