Edward William STENT is listed here as being remembered on the Maybury School Memorial, the Westfield School Memorial banner and both the Woking Town and Old Woking Great War memorials. He was initially raised by his Mother and Step Father as William FREELAND but, following the death of his mother in 1904 and his step father’s re-marriage, he was raised by his Grandmother as William STENT. He joined the 1st Battalion, The Queens Royal West Surrey regiment on the day that War was declared by the UK and had been promoted to Lance Corporal before being Captured. As a POW he was in a camp near Parchim in Germany but was not repatriated before he succumbed to the Influenza Pandemic and died on the 23rd September 1918. The POW cemeteries were concentrated into the Ohlsdorf Cemetery near Hamburg in 1923 and he lies there to this day.
As a native and resident of Kingfield he would not have attended the Maybury School and the name on the School Memorial is clearly STENT, J. and is therefore remembering a Man who does not appear on any other Woking Memorials, and is in fact Edward’s 2nd cousin 1 time removed, James John STENT.
James John STENT was born 3 December 1881 in Woking, 5th of 12 children, his father was a Woking (Kingfield) born Journeyman Bricklayer and after marrying in 1870 in Stoke next Guildford the family moved regularly around the Woking Railway Station until they relocated to the Wimbledon area about 1899. James had joined the Royal Navy in 1897 as a 2nd Class Boy and was transferred to the Royal Fleet Reserve in 1905 having been promoted to an Able Bodied Seaman.
In 1906 James married Margaret ROWLAND in the Kingston, Surrey Registration District (for some reason his first names were reversed) and by 1914 four children had been born. James was recalled to the Navy on the 13 July 1914 and was posted to HMS Good Hope an Armoured Cruiser that had been Mothballed as obsolete in 1913.
Unfortunately HMS Good Hope was part of the Squadron of antiquated ships which were dispatched to the South Atlantic under the Command of Admiral CRADOCK ordered to find Vice Admiral von SPEE’s China Squadron (the modern armoured Cruisers SMS Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and the light cruisers SMS Dresden, Leipzig and Nürnberg) which were attacking shipping in the Pacific before trying to round Cape Horn to return to Germany. The modern British Armoured Cruiser HMS Defence which was assigned to the Squadron and was supposed to be the backbone of the Squadron but was turned around by the Admiralty (Churchill?) whilst still in the Atlantic. The only Battleship in the Area, the antiquated HMS Canopus, was having engine problems compounded by the fact that the senior Engineering Officer was suffering a mental breakdown and was convinced the ship could not exceed 12 knots. So Admiral CRADOCK was left with 2 antiquated Cruisers, one modern Light cruiser HMS Glasgow and some older light Cruisers and converted Liners. and a Battleship that could not keep up with his Squadron.
Admiral CRADOCK misunderstood his orders and split his Squadron leaving some ships to defend the Falkland Islands whilst he rounded Cape Horn and then tried to stop von SPEE’s Squadron, which had 2 Armoured Cruisers with 8 x 8 inch guns each. CRADOCK with his 2 x 9 inch guns (one pointed Fore and one Aft) of the HMS Good Hope and the side mounted 6 inch guns of her and HMS Monmouth was hopelessly out ranged and could not be used in heavy seas, HMS Glasgow which only had a pair of 6 inch guns and HMS Otranto a converted liner with 4 inch guns that could not keep up with the Squadron at Battle speed. The Squadrons met just off the coast in the bay of Coronel, Chile in the late afternoon and von SPEE’s manoeuvres trapped HMS Otranto which had been left behind the British Squadron in the Bay. HMS Canopus was 300 miles South guarding the British Colliers and took no part in this action.
Admiral CRADOCK decided he had to rescue the Otranto and the 3 British Cruisers charged the 5 German ships disregarding the fact they were silhouetted against the Setting sun, could hardly see the German Ships against the dark Coast line behind them and the British Guns using Cordite fired with a far brighter flash which gave the German ships excellent aiming points in the gloom. To cut a long story short CRADOCK was leading his ships into a situation that would become the first Naval Battle that the Royal Navy had lost in over 100 years.
Although the Otranto escaped, in 35 minutes both British heavy Cruisers were sinking whilst HMS Glasgow was totally out numbered and out gunned and had to abandon the unequal fight and flee, the crews of both British Cruisers were all lost except a small detachment from the Good Hope that had been landed on a Chilean Island to set up a Wireless station (this is why one man is in the CWGC records as having been a crew member of the Good Hope when he died in 1915 having fallen sick whilst being taken back to the Mediterranean by the Canopus)
The Number of Casualties that the Royal Navy lost that afternoon varies, depending on the source, between 1,400 and 1,700, whilst the only German casualties were 3 men wounded on the Gneisenau from a Hit by the Glasgow, however CRADOCK is credited with having forced von SPEE to use half of his ammunition supplies which may have sealed his ships fate at the Battle of the Falkland Islands a month later. HMS Canopus had been beached at Port Stanley for repairs and she played a major role as an unsinkable 12 inch Gun Platform in the Defence of Stanley in the opening phase of that Battle.
The butcher’s bill for the Battle of Coronel hit the Woking Community hard leaving 5 Fatherless children
The Casualties on HMS Monmouth included the youngest Woking Resident to die in the Great War –
- Midshipman John Mydhope PASCOE 15 years and 279 days, son of a Tea Planter in Ceylon who had retired to Woking.
The Casualties on HMS Good Hope included
- Able Seaman James John STENT (see above)
- Able Seaman Stanley William CHEESMAR, son of a baker and Flydriver, born 1894 in Oaks Road, Woking
- Mechanician Tom Francis HOPTON, son of a Railway Labourer, born Gloucester 1878, married 1899, his only child was born 1908 in Maybury Road, Woking
- Sub Lieutenant Francis John Anson COTTER, son of a Royal Marines Major General who lived in Maybury, Woking. Francis was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire in 1894
Another man connected to Woking lost that day was
- Lieutenant Commander Gerald Bruce GASKELL of HMS Good Hope, his brother, Major John Charles Temple GASKELL had married at St Dunstan’s Church, Woking in July 1914, died in Tanganyika in 1917 and is remembered on the Woking Town Great War Memorial