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.

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