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.
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’ 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.