The World War Forum (Page 28)

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Posted by: Julie Bell {Email left}
Location: Bradford
Date: Monday 30th May 2016 at 5:45 PM
I need help looking for Record of Joseph Bell born 10 December 1887 from Saltaire, Shipley, West Yorkshire; England - husband of Emily Picker. Joseph + Emily married in 1911
According to ' Saltaire Village Roll Of Honour ' - Joseph served + survived World War One - no mention of Rank, Unit etc
I tried ' Find My Past ' typed in Year of Birth, Birth Place, Death Date etc - but I had to pay monthly subscription in order to access the Records of First World War, Military etc - I could not find him
Also on ' Ancestry ' there is a Subscription to pay as well
I'm unemployed with not a lot of money

Posted by: Brian Renshall {Email left}
Location: Rainhill
Date: Thursday 26th May 2016 at 6:43 PM
Alan,firstly just to let you know that in recognition of all the help you have provided with our research the committee of Rainhill Civic Society have agreed that a donation be made to the local branch of the British Legion.,
Secondly we have recently carried out research for a lady in Slovenia who was trying to find out where her grandfather was buried(he served in the Yugoslavian navy in WW2 and somehow ended up in a hospital in Rainhill. I am pleased to say we found that he is buried with a CWGC Headstone in St.Helens Cemetary and have informed of this and sent photos.

Here's the question the records at the Cemetary Office record that he is in a "Free Servicemans Grave"
Do you know what this means ? Strangely his next of kin where not informed of his death but a 'friend' who lived in Cardiff,we are assuming his friend applied for a CWGC Headstone but if he didn't how would the CWGC come to provide one ? Sorry that's two questions !!!
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Thursday 26th May 2016 at 11:52 PM

Dear Brian,
Please pass on my thanks to Rainhill Civic Society for agreeing to make a donation to their local branch of the Royal British Legion. It is a pleasure to help with your commemorative project.
It is rewarding that your members have been able to help respondents from Slovenia. See:
http://www.sthelensrollsofhonour.co.uk/wwiicasualty-735-Aleksandar_Nin%C4%8Di%C4%87.html
Public cemeteries, such as St Helens Cemetery, were operated by committees or burial boards that wee empowered to employ a cemetery registrar and a clerk whose salaries were paid by the ratepayers. There was public outcry during the First World War when it emerged that many soldiers who died away from home in Britain were frequently buried anonymously by the local council in pauper’s graves that usually contained more than one burial (Birkenhead in 1916, for example). Subsequently, burial boards became sensitive to the need to respect the burial of the dead who had served their country in wartime and consequently many burial boards passed a resolution to waive the fees for providing individual graves for deceased servicemen when necessary because the serviceman or woman had no relatives or estate. The provision of a free grave did not necessarily include the cost of a headstone.
The death of Petty Officer Aleksandar [Nikola] Ninčić, Royal Yugoslavian Navy, 3739/39, is not recorded in the CWGC Debt of Honour, even though the Debt of Honour extended to 1946.
His headstone is among 12 war graves dating from the Second World War in section 50 of St Helens Cemetery, Lancashire. However, by visual comparison with the other headstones, his grave marker is very plain and has a straight edge along the top, not accurately in the CWGC standard design. Is it possibly a later addition; perhaps made to look similar to a CWGC headstone? For images to compare the 12 headstones follow the links at:
http://www.sthelensrollsofhonour.co.uk/cemetery.php?sec=50
Petty Officer (gunner) Ninčić appears to have volunteered in the Royal Yugoslavian Navy (Jugoslavenska kraljevska ratna mornarica; or J.K.R.M.) from 1941 at the age of about 18. He was serving on the Navy Torpedo Boat “Durmitor” (Kraljeva torpiljarka "Durmitor") when she and another torpedo boat evaded the German invasion of Yugoslavia on 6th April 1941. “Durmitor”, named after a mountain, continued serving with the Allies under the command of the British Royal Navy’s Mediterranean Fleet, escorting convoys to Alexandria, Egypt. Petty Officer Ninčić was severely wounded in the chest on 21st July 1943 and was treated in hospital at Alexandria, Egypt, before being transferred to the British Royal Navy Hospital Bighi (R.N.H. Bighi) at Kalkara on the island of Malta. After the war, in 1945, doctors at Malta decided it would not be sensible for him to be returned to Yugoslavia, and Petty Officer Ninčić was sent to England where he arrived at Southport. His chest injury led to Tuberculosis and he was admitted to the Auxiliary Hospital at Rainhill on 1st September 1946. He died on 2nd October 1946 from T.B. and an infected left lung, five days before his 23rd birthday.
Notice of his death was sent to Mr L.R. Evans, 43 Bedford Street, Roath, Cardiff. Telegrams were sent to General Radovic, the Yugoslav naval, military and air attaché, at Queensgate, London SWI, and to a Mr Hristich, of the Yugoslav Navy Committee, 12 Lennox Gardens, London SWI. The Medical Officer of the Royal Navy Auxiliary Hospital at Seaforth, Liverpool, was also informed as was the Royal Navy Medical Director General at Plymouth.
(Source: http://www.paluba.info/smf/index.php?topic=27825.new; in the public domain)
It is possible the hospital at Rainhill did not have an address for the next-of-kin or relatives of Petty Officer Ninčić and only had an address of Mr Evans, perhaps from correspondence if he had been a friend during convalescence. The other people who were notified of his death were all officials in England.
Yugoslavian partisans had expelled the Germans from Yugoslavia in 1945. The partisans were opposed to the pre-war government and the king in exile, so Josip Broz Tito held control as a prime minister desiring a communist state. With the support of London and Moscow, Yugoslavia became the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia when a communist government was established on 31st January 1946.
Following the communist take-over, those Yugoslavians who had remained loyal to the Royal Yugoslav forces of King Peter II, serving with the Allies, were not widely commemorated by their newly communist homeland, nor did the British Government go to any great lengths to permanently record their contribution to the Allied war effort.
With kind regards,
Alan
Reply from: Brian Renshall
Date: Friday 27th May 2016 at 7:20 AM

Alan thank you so much for your extremely comprehensive reply. We will of course pass this information on to Al'eksandars granddaughter Ivana,who I'm sure will be thrilled to learn what happened to him and the circumstances of his death.
Reply from: Brian Renshall
Date: Wednesday 16th November 2016 at 7:46 PM

Alan, you will be pleased to know that Ivana will be visiting St.Helens in February next year where she will of course attend her Grandfathers grave. Myself and other members of Rainhill Civic Society will be meeting her.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Wednesday 16th November 2016 at 7:51 PM

It's good to know Ivana will be able to visit her grandfather's grave. A fitting end to the story.
Alan
Reply from: Ivana Mihailovic
Date: Friday 9th December 2016 at 8:18 AM

Dear friends, thank you for helping me. I am looking forward to meet you too and express all my gratitude in personal. Just to make some correction, I am not from Slovenia but Serbia, Belgrade. These days I am on my way to demand legal admition for my grandfather and other that were with him in April war. I wrote to our Royal familiy for help but without any answer?! Thats why I regret all young man like Aleksandar, seems he/they did not exist for any goverment. Sadly! People like you give me hope that freedom is not worthless neither any ones life. Once again, thank you!!!
Ivana
Reply from: Brian Renshall
Date: Friday 9th December 2016 at 7:42 PM

Dear Ivana, We are also looking forward to your visit which will of course be a very personal and emotional one for you. We are sorry you have not had a reply from your Royal Family but at least you know that here in Great Britain he and his comrades ARE RECOGNISED for all they did to help our country and yours during the war. Your Grandfather will of course be forever remembered by his headstone in St.Helens Cemetery which will always remain there.

Best wishes

Brian Renshall

Rainhill Civic Society.

Posted by: Kez {Email left}
Location: Australia
Date: Thursday 26th May 2016 at 3:08 AM
Afternoon Alan,
Could you advise me please. I know it's not WW1 but my knowledge of England's history is a bit vague being an Australian.
Would you be able to'point me in the right direction ' please. I have come across an ancestor Jane Burns who was born at Kurrachee, Bombay India 1858. Father Alexander Burns mother Mary.
Was the English army or navy in that area at the time? which would mean her father was in either?
I would surmise between 1853-1859 as another daughter was born back in Scotland 1859.
Sorry for my ignorance on English history!
Cheers Kez
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Thursday 26th May 2016 at 6:42 PM

Dear Kez,
From December 1600 British merchants traded in India through the East India Company which dealt in tea, cotton, silk, spices and opium. The East India Company employed its own soldiers and eventually the Company controlled most of India through agreements with local princes, purchase or, if necessary, by force. The Company divided India into three Presidencies: Madras, Bombay and Bengal. Each presidency had its own army of native troops (sepoys), with Bengal being the largest and most influential. The Company eventually employed 300,000 Indian soldiers and 50,000 British soldiers, who were known as “European” soldiers.
From 1773 the British Government ruled that the Company’s acquisition of power was on behalf of the British Crown. From 1784 political issues in India were placed in the hands of the British government while the Company continued to have a monopoly on trade. By the end of the 1790s the Company’s influence extended over most of India; neighbouring Burma; Malaya; Singapore and Hong Kong.
The Company raised capital to purchase China tea by selling Indian opium to China, which led to the First Opium War with China in 1839-42.
Over time, the British Government imposed tighter controls on the Company and undertook a greater influence in the territorial management of the Indian sub-continent creating a Board of Control; a Governor General and even granting Christian missionaries the right to preach in India.
Eventually, there was disquiet among local troops with the Company’s policies and, in 1857, there was a mutiny among sepoys of the Company’s armies which began the Indian Rebellion against Company rule.
The following year, the British Government dissolved the East India Company and control of India passed to the British Crown under Queen Victoria from 1858. Consequently, control of the East India Company’s armies in the three presidencies passed to the British Crown in 1858 and in 1903 the three Company armies merged to become the Indian Army, composed of native soldiers. The Indian Army was supplemented by white troops from Britain, known as The British Army in India with a headquarters at Delhi. All were under the control of Britain. Queen Victoria later became Empress of India.
From 1947, India gained independence when the British Government partitioned British India into two independent dominions: India, mainly Hindu; and Pakistan, mainly Muslim.
So, soldiers from Britain had been in India since the 1600s serving with the East India Company, and from 1858 the British Army garrisoned troops throughout India. One of their main tasks was controlling the North West Frontier (of India) against incursions from Afghanistan and the expansion of the Russian Empire. The main access route was the Khyber Pass.
A Jane Burns was born on 17th February 1858 at Karachee (Karachi). Karachee was the capital of Lower Sindh, which is now in Pakistan. Jane Burns was baptised on 26th February 1858, the daughter of Mary and Alexander Burns. The baptism was probably at Holy Trinity Church, Karachee, built by army engineers in 1855. Alexander Burns was a private in the 1st Bombay (European) Fusiliers. The Regiment had been raised by King Charles II of England in 1662 to protect Bombay and a few years later it came under the control of the East India Company. The Regiment fought during the Indian Rebellion (1857-59) and came under Crown control in 1858. In 1862, as part of the British Army, the Regiment was given a Royal prefix and was numbered the 103rd Regiment of Foot (Royal Bombay Fusiliers). In 1871 the 103rd Regiment moved to England. In 1876 it was sent to Ireland until 1881 when it returned to England and was merged with the 102nd Regiment of Foot (Royal Madras Fusiliers), to form The Royal Dublin Fusiliers.
With kind regards,
Alan
Reply from: Kez
Date: Thursday 26th May 2016 at 10:52 PM

Morning Alan,
many thanks for that information! It is wonderful. with appreciation as usual! Kez
Posted by: David Hirst {No contact email}
Location: Salisbury
Date: Wednesday 25th May 2016 at 1:37 PM
Good afternoon Alan. I am trying to find out has much has can about my great grandfather who was in WW1 and got injured. I know his number KW/188. He served in the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry for a short period and that is what i am trying to find out, his number was 12691 i am interested to see why he only served there for 6 days before joining the R.N.V.R. Also is there any chance of getting hold of the medals he was awarded? I do have alot of info already to be honest but any more information about him will be much appreciated.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Wednesday 25th May 2016 at 1:54 PM

What was his name?
Alan
Reply from: David Hirst
Date: Tuesday 31st May 2016 at 10:15 AM

Thanks for the reply. His name was James Pyrah and he lived in Bradford.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Tuesday 31st May 2016 at 1:32 PM

Dear David,
James Pyrah enlisted in the K.O.Y.L.I. on 2nd September 1914 and transferred to the Royal Naval Division on 8th September 1914. It is likely he was a volunteer for the Royal Naval Division, or he was surplus to the K.O.Y.L.I.’s requirements at the time. The records of the Royal Naval Division are available on the Findmypast subscription website. For copyright reasons they cannot be transcribed on this forum.
James Pyrah qualified for the 1914-15 Star, The British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
He was awarded the Military Medal on 21st September 1918. These medals belonged to the man himself and it is not possible to re-issue them. They might be in private hands or might have been sold.
See:
http://www.lostmedals.co.uk/
With kind regards,
Alan
Reply from: David Hirst
Date: Wednesday 1st June 2016 at 7:35 AM

Dear Alan

Thanks for the info.

Regards

Dave
Posted by: Carol Cheetham {Email left}
Location: Bradford
Date: Tuesday 24th May 2016 at 8:56 PM
I wonder if you would be able to shed some light on something I've found whilst researching my grandfather? I only recently discovered that my grandfather, James Henry Cheetham, fought and died in WW1. I know very little about him other than what I have found online and have no picture of him, so I'm trying to find out as much as I can.

He was in the York and Lancaster Regiment, 13th Service Battalion (1st Barnsley Pals) service number 13/174. I have found his medal record card, CWGC records etc and know that he died, "killed in action" on 11.5.1917. He was buried, presumably close to where he died and then exhumed and re-buried at Orchard Dump Cemetery.

There doesn't seem to be a mention of his death in the Battalion diary for that date. I know that "other ranks" aren't mentioned by name, only officers. But it usually lists how many "other ranks" were wounded or killed? However it does mention that a Captain C.H.Robin was killed by a shell on 11/5/1917. However he is buried in a different cemetery to my grandfather, even though they were both apparently killed on the same date whilst serving in the same Battalion? Why would their bodies not have been sent to the same cemetery? Or would it depend on whereabouts exactly they were when they were killed?

I can't help wondering if my grandfather died out in no-man's land and his body lay there until it could be recovered? Is there any way I can check where/how he actually died? I would be grateful for any help in getting a bit more information. Thank you.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Wednesday 25th May 2016 at 1:54 PM

Dear Carol,
It is not possible to state how a man died unless there is a first-hand record of events, such as a letter to the family or an obituary. On May 11th 1917, the Barnsley Pals were in trenches at Oppy and were occupied in night raids and experiencing heavy shelling and gun-fire by the enemy.
The war diary of the 13th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment is vague about the night patrols of the 10th, 11th, and 12th May 1917 which were described as “bombing raids by “D” Company 2/Lt J S Siddell in charge.” The diary does not enumerate the casualties among other ranks that occurred on those dates, so it is not possible to state whether the deaths were caused by enemy shelling of the British positions or were among soldiers going out on raids. “Soldiers Died in the Great War” (HMSO 1921) and the CWGC Debt of Honour both record eight deaths of other ranks of the 13th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment that occurred on 11th May 1917; one of which was “died of wounds”, while the others were “killed in action”. It seems probable therefore that seven men’s names could not be answered at roll call on the morning of 11th May 1917, after the previous night’s bombing raid by the Battalion on the night of 10th/11th May. Had a man died on the night of 10th/11th May his date of death would have been recorded as 11th May when roll call was taken in the morning. A bombing raid was an attack with hand-grenades on enemy trenches. Grenades were known as “bombs” at the time. Of the seven men from the 13th Battalion killed in action on 11th May; four have no marked grave; two are buried at Orchard Dump and one (along with Captain Robin) at Albuera Cemetery which is one kilometre away in the neighbouring commune of Bailleul sir Berthoult, Pas de Calais, France.
Captain Robin appears to have been killed by the artillery shelling of the 13th Battalion’s trenches on May 11th. The other soldiers could have been killed by artillery shelling but it seems likely the other men died while out in No Man’s Land where the bodies of privates Cheetham, Grundy and Mellor were later recovered while those of four others (Cunliffe; Mullins; Samson; Holdsworth) were never identified. The men could have been buried in separate cemeteries if their bodies had been discovered on separate occasions. There is an article about trench raids at:
http://www.iwm.org.uk/history/podcasts/voices-of-the-first-world-war/podcast-15-trench-raids
2/Lt J.L. Siddell, from Sheffield, was later awarded the Military Cross.
The play, “Journey’s End” by R.C. Sherriff (1928) concerns the lives of British officers in a dug-out and the promise of a Military Cross to a young officer once he has led a group of soldiers on a trench raid.
With kind regards,
Alan
Reply from: Carol Cheetham
Date: Wednesday 25th May 2016 at 8:50 PM

Hi Alan.
Thank you so much for your prompt and informative reply. Although I had the basic facts, somehow you have managed to fill them out into a detailed and compelling narrative. Owing to my father and grandmother dying while I was quite young, I never had the opportunity to ask about family history and any documentation that may have pertained to my grandfather is long gone.

I had noticed too that the battalion diary is vague on the dates in question, it looks as though the rough facts were filled in after the event. I can only imagine that the conditions were so awful at the time, with the trenches being under constant bombardment, that it was not possible to complete the diary in any great detail.

I am grateful that my grandfather was found and was buried and has a named grave. I am visiting his grave this summer and knowing the conditions in which he probably died have made me even more proud that I am able to honour his memory.

Thank you again for your help. Your website is a fantastic resource and your knowledge is amazing.I'm so glad I found it.
Posted by: Young Buzzard {Email left}
Location: Newton Abbot
Date: Thursday 19th May 2016 at 3:49 PM
Hello Alan,
I am trying to find information about the following soldier who served in the Devonshire Regiment. His name was Harold Arthur Reynolds, b. December 1890 and service no 20636. I have only been able to trace his medal record card which seems to indicate he did not go overseas until at least 1915, but I have been unable to trace anything else. Another who's records were destroyed in the "blitz" of the Second World War ?.
Anything you can tell me will be a great help.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Thursday 19th May 2016 at 9:23 PM

Dear David,
There is no surviving individual service record for Harold Arthur Reynolds. He appears to be the son of Mary Elizabeth Reynolds, born at Totnes on 7th December 1890. He appeared in the 1891 census as a five month old boarder, Harry Arthur Reynolds, at the home of a 58 year old spinster, Hannah Poole, of Moorashes, Totnes. A Mary Elizabeth Reynolds was a single house-servant at a farm in Widecombe in 1891. In the 1901 census he appeared as Harry Arthur Renolds (sic) aged 10, the step-son of Harry Bray, Newpark Cottage, Widecombe. Harry Bray had married Elizabeth Mary Reynolds in 1894. In 1911, Harold was living with his mother and step-father at Lower Dunston, Widecombe, where he was a horseman on a farm.
Harold appears to have married Florence [Florrie] L[ouisa] Hewings in the July-September quarter of 1916 (GRO Marriages, Q3 1896, Newton Abbot, Volume 5B Page 238).
An Army medal roll (C/2/103B18 page 1346) recorded Private Harold Reynolds, 20636, served in the 10th Battalion Devonshire Regiment to qualify for the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. As he did not qualify for the 1914-15 Star, he did not go abroad until some date after January 1st 1916. He married in the summer of 1916, so it is probable he went abroad after he had married. The 10th Battalion Devonshire Regiment was in Macedonia (Salonika, Greece) from November 1915 having gone to France in September 1915. Therefore, Harold must have been part of a draft of reinforcements sent in 1916 or later. The 10th Battalion Devonshire Regiment served in the 79th Infantry Brigade in the 26th Division. See:
http://www.1914-1918.net/26div.htm
Harold was demobilized on 2nd March 1919.
The war diary of the 10th Battalion Devonshire Regiment has not been digitized yet.
With kind regards,
Alan
Posted by: Kez {No contact email}
Location: Australia
Date: Tuesday 17th May 2016 at 11:31 PM
Morning Alan,
In my tree I have found a James England Jarvey. Royal Garrison Artillery no 79217/574249 WW1
Would you be able to find any information on him please.
Many thanks Kez
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Wednesday 18th May 2016 at 12:00 PM

Dear Kez,
Unfortunately, no individual service record has survived for James England Jarvey so it is not possible to state his military service. Most service records were destroyed during the bombing of London in 1940. An Army medal roll recorded he served as a corporal in the Royal Garrison Artillery with the regimental number 79217. He later served in the Labour Corps with the number 574205. Men who served in the Labour Corps were often men who had been wounded or medically downgraded in their earlier service. James qualified for the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
With kind regards,
Alan
Reply from: Kez
Date: Wednesday 18th May 2016 at 9:15 PM

Many thanks Alan, with appreciation Kez
Posted by: Peter Gallagher {Email left}
Location: Ireland
Date: Tuesday 17th May 2016 at 9:06 AM
Hi Alan,
I have just found my Grandad's service records and hope you can clear up a few things.

http://imageshack.com/a/img923/8831/nZP8UU.jpg

Family folklore always said that he served at the Battle of Jutland - I don't believe this is possible as he joined up on 26th May 1916 and then served at 'Victory' (Portsmouth ??) until September 1916 and then to HMS Agincourt. Can you confirm my reading of this ?
Could you also tell me the meaning of 'Hostilities' and Age 'F.B.' or maybe 'F.E.'

Many thanks for a great service,
Peter.
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Tuesday 17th May 2016 at 7:58 PM

Dear Peter,
John Bradley joined the Royal Navy on 26th May 1916. His period of engagement was for “the duration of the present hostilities”; abbreviated to “Hostilities”. A boy aged between 15-and-a-half and 17 could join the Royal Navy for “boy service” until his 18th birthday when he would contract for 12 years’ or more continuous service (C.S.) as a man. Then the start date for continuous service would be added to his record. Hence the column is headed “Date and period of engagements” in the plural to allow for boy service and continuous service. When a man who was already aged 18 or more joined the Navy there would be no entry for boy service, so the start date of his current engagement was his First Entry and was marked as “F.E.”. For pension purposes his age would be calculated from his date of birth “as stated on his first entry into the service”.
His record states he was a Stoker Class II (2nd Class Stoker) at “Victory” between 26th May 1916 and 25th September 1916. His official number 33320 was pre-fixed with a K, the pre-fix allotted to stokers. His Port Division was Portsmouth and “Victory” referred to the shore establishment, which was the Royal Naval “Victory Barracks”, at Portsmouth, with a main gate in Queen Street. John remained on the books of “Victory” until 25th September 1916 and he joined his first ship “Agincourt” on the following day, 26th September 1916.
The reason shore bases were given ships’ names dated from the Victorian “Naval and Marine Pay and Pensions Act 1865” and the “Naval Discipline Act of 1866”, which stated every Royal Navy rating had to be assigned to a named vessel of Her Majesty Queen Victoria’s Royal Navy. Many shore establishments did, indeed, consist of old ships moored in the harbour, but, once stone and brick dockyard barracks and training schools began to be constructed from about 1899, a strict interpretation of those Navy Acts of the 1860s meant those “stone frigates”, as they were dubbed, were also given the names of ships of the line to comply with the Acts.
The Battle of Jutland was fought by the Grand Fleet (formerly called the Home Fleet) on May 31st/June 1st 1916, in the North Sea which the British had re-named from its pre-war name of the German Ocean.
At that time, H.M.S. Agincourt served in the 1st Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet based at Scapa Flow, Orkney. Agincourt did participate in the Battle of Jutland, but John did not join her until September 26th 1916 when she would have been back at Scapa Flow. It is likely John Bradley had travelled by train to Thurso in Scotland on what were known as Jellicoe Specials (named after the Grand Fleet’s commander Admiral Jellicoe) because the special trains took sailors from the south coast naval bases, via London, to the Royal Navy base in the shelter of Scapa Flow. The train journey from London to Thurso alone took 22 hours. See:
http://www.scotlandsfirstworldwar.org/features/the-journey-to-scapa-flow/
John progressed to Stoker Class I (1st Class Stoker) from 26th May 1917, the first anniversary of his joining the Royal Navy, while on H.M.S. Agincourt. He was on the books of Agincourt until December 1st 1917 when he appeared on the books of H.M.S. Victory II from 2nd December to 31st March 1918. Agincourt’s main mast was altered in 1917. H.M.S. Victory II was the Accounting Section for Portsmouth Dockyard and Portsmouth Naval Barracks, but had moved inland 50 miles to premises in Newbury, so it is not possible to state a physical location for John, although he would still have been at Portsmouth, perhaps while work on the ship was undertaken?
On 1st April 1918, John returned to the books of Agincourt, which was again at Scapa Flow. Agincourt joined 2nd Battle Squadron in 1918 and in April 1918, she took part in convoy escort duties between Britain and Norway. She remained based at Scapa Flow and was present at the surrender of the German Fleet on 21st November 1918 at Scapa Flow.
On March 1st 1919, John was Discharged to Shore on Demobilization. He was issued with a
Protection and Identity Certificate (indicated by PIC No. 207490 added to his record). On demobilization a man was given 28 days’ paid leave; a railway warrant to his home; an allowance for civilian clothes; a ration book and a Protection and Identity Certificate (Navy Form S 1306) which entitled him to claim any pay and allowances from the Post Office during his leave and to apply for a free unemployment donation policy at an Employment Exchange if he was unable to find work.
As well as the three Port Divisions of Portsmouth, Chatham and Devonport, men could be demobilized from any of 30 to 40 ports where ships were paying off.
Later, his record was traced (“traced war gratuity by No. [illegible]) and checked and he was paid a war gratuity, dependent on his length of service and usually amounting to a few pounds. The war gratuity was issued automatically by reference to the Protection and Identity Certificate, which is accounts for the P.I.C. number being added to his service record.
The evidence is that although John Bradley served as a stoker on H.M.S. Agincourt during the First World War, he was at Portsmouth Naval Barracks when the Battle of Jutland took place and he joined Agincourt after the Battle of Jutland.
An Navy medal roll recorded he qualified for the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
With kind regards,
Alan
Reply from: Peter Gallagher
Date: Wednesday 18th May 2016 at 12:40 PM

Hi Alan,

Wow !!
What a fantastic answer, so much detail.

Thank you for your help.

Regards, Peter.
Posted by: David {Email left}
Location: Austraila
Date: Wednesday 11th May 2016 at 5:06 AM
Dear Allan are there any records available of ww1 soldiers letters home from the front,and if so where can i get hold of them Regards David
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Wednesday 11th May 2016 at 4:04 PM

Dear David,
The Imperial War Museum in London holds 7,500 collections of letters from the First World War.
Andrew Roberts has published a collection in “Love, Tommy: Letters Home, from the Great War to the Present Day” from the Imperial War Museum collection.
Sian Price has written a book: “If You're Reading This... Last Letters From the Front Line” which collates 70 letters from soldiers who never came home in various conflicts.
There is a list of collections held in archives around the country at:
http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/results/r?_q=%22Letters+from+the+front%22
The National Archives itself has an online selection of letters for teachers:
http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/education/resources/letters-first-world-war-1915/
and
http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/education/resources/letters-first-world-war-1916-18/
With kind regards,
Alan
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Wednesday 11th May 2016 at 4:07 PM

For Australian soldiers see:
https://www.awm.gov.au/blog/2011/04/18/7988/
Posted by: Mike Winkett {Email left}
Location: Birmingham
Date: Saturday 7th May 2016 at 4:26 PM
Dear Alan,

I wonder whether you could help me to decipher a record that I have found on Ancestry's website for the first person I have found in my Family Tree who served in the Royal Navy. The record is for Francis Harold Grantham, born 16th March 1893 (birth registered in the Kidderminster district) and the record appears in Ancestry's "UK, Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services, 1853-1928" data collection.

Whilst I am able to make out the writing and some of the abbreviations used in this record, others I cannot decipher, so I'm wondering whether the casting of your more-expert eyes over this record can enlighten me further!

Firstly, I cannot make out the name of the second ship he served on between 19 November 1915 and 6 December 1915.

Secondly, I would be grateful if you could explain what the entries in the "List", "No.", "Ratings" and "Remarks" columns are and what can be gleaned from these entries.

Thirdly, I can see that Francis was invalided at some point, and as this was written after the dates of service on his 4th ship, Victory II, can I assume he was injured or taken sick whilst serving on Victory II?

Fourthly, I am wondering why he served on so many ships during a relatively short 9-week naval career and whether you can tell me a little about the parts these ships played during the time he served on each one - their departure ports and destinations, etc.

My last query concerns what I think alludes to a note about a pension entitlement entered in the "Remarks" column, where I think I can read "? Pen [pension?] ? M.O.D[?] 29/8/17. Could you please confirm whether this does indeed refer to a [Ministry of Defence?] pension and, if so, why the delay in receiving this after the 27 Jan 1916 when he left the last ship he served on?

Any information you can provide will help me understand Francis' very brief naval career a lot better from the limited military information available to me and will be very much appreciated. I shall of course be sending a donation to the British Legion as a "thank-you" for your assistance. I look forward to your reply in due course. Thank you, Alan.

Kindest regards,
Mike Winkett
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Sunday 8th May 2016 at 1:59 PM

Dear Mike,
Francis Harold Grantham served at sea on board only one ship.
The other entries were for shore establishments, the ships’ names of which intrigue almost all who come across them.
The service record you have downloaded was created from the entries made in each of the ships’ books which recorded a man’s pay, advancements in rating (promotion) and allowances for each of the sailors under the ship’s command. The “List” number refers to the pay-list in the ship’s books on which the man’s name appeared; and the “No.” referred to his ship’s Book Number which indicated where the pay account was written. For example, List 15B2, in book No. 2611 was an index to show where his pay-list entry had been entered in the ship’s books for a particular vessel or shore station. Once the ship's ledger had been balanced and checked, with each man's service record having been brought up to date, the ship’s books were then sent to the Admiralty in Whitehall each Quarter of the year.
At the Admiralty, a clerk would extract the details from the books and write them onto the sailor’s individual record sheet which is the document that you have downloaded. The tedium of the task of repetitive transcription by the clerks helps explain the use of scribbled handwriting; unofficial abbreviations and failing to heed to column headings. The vague word “Ports” at the very top of the page is a lazy abbreviation that shows Francis Grantham belonged at Portsmouth where he was allotted the official number 16680 with the universal number pre-fix “M” which was used to indicate electricians and artificers, with a handwritten “P” added for enlistment at Portsmouth.
The “age” column was marked “F.E.”. The Royal Navy had boys’ service (enlisting between fifteen-and-a-half and 17 years) and men’s service, from age 18 years. Boys’ service ended on a boy’s 18th birthday and the date of the 18th birthday was entered on the record to show the start of man’s service. When a man was already 18 upon his First Entry (F.E.) it showed he had not served as a boy and his age was recorded as “F.E.” and was then calculated from his date of birth. The British Army only asked a man his stated, or claimed, age, which he could make up if he wished to. The Royal Navy asked a boy or a man for an actual date of birth.
“Hostilities” meant continuous service for the duration of the current hostilities: which, by their nature, implied a commitment of undefined duration.
In civilian life, Francis Grantham was an electrician.
Rating was the class in the ship’s book which described an ordinary seaman’s rate as opposed to the officers’ ranks. (Rating also applied to the six classes of wooden warship with cannon, but that doesn’t apply here.)
Francis’s rating was “Wireman Class II”, or Wireman Second Class, which was also known as “electrician” and was equivalent to Able Seaman (AB) but was paid at two shillings and sixpence a day which was about 25 per-cent more than an Ordinary Seaman earned. By a King’s Order in Council dated 10th November 1915, the rating of “Wireman” was established in the Royal Navy for the period of the War. Francis joined the Royal Navy on 15th November 1915, at the age of 22, which indicated he had volunteered, as compulsory conscription came in 1916. Interestingly, he was rated as a Wireman, the rate that had been confirmed just five days previously, so it is probable the Navy was advertising for and recruiting electricians specifically in November 1915 for a rapid deployment within four weeks of enlisting; carrying on their qualified civilian jobs, only now in uniform. The official numbers in the same sequence as Francis’s official number of 16680 were all allotted to wiremen enlisted in November 1915, who had been civilian electricians and then trained at Vernon, Victory, and Fisgard, before joining their respective ships, all on 12th December 1915. Seemingly, there was a batch of wiremen specially recruited among civilian electricians and quickly put to work. His rating remained as Wireman Class 2 throughout, indicated by the ditto marks (“) in the rating column.
A history of naval armaments development might hint at why those special enlistments of electricians occurred in November 1915.
A campaign-medals roll entry for Francis showed he was rated “Ar Cr” which was Armourer’s Crew, an older term that was replaced by “Wireman” (Naval Medal and Award Rolls 1873-1923; National Archives catalogue series ADM 188; available also on ancestry.co.uk).
So, the abbreviations indicate Francis became an electrician with an armourer’s crew below decks. The first training establishment he attended was at the Royal Navy’s Torpedo Branch at Portsmouth; known officially as the shore-establishment “HMS Vernon”, and to the sailors as just: “The Vernon”.
The reason shore bases were given ships’ names dated from the Victorian “Naval and Marine Pay and Pensions Act 1865” and the “Naval Discipline Act of 1866”, which stated every Royal Navy rating had to be assigned to a named vessel of Her Majesty Queen Victoria’s Royal Navy. Many shore establishments did, indeed, consist of old ships moored in the harbour, but, once stone and brick dockyard barracks and training schools began to be constructed, a strict interpretation of those Navy Acts of the 1860s meant those “stone frigates”, as they were dubbed, were also given the names of ships of the line.
The actual vessel HMS Vernon was moored at Porchester Creek in Portsmouth Harbour and was used to carry out torpedo training and trials of torpedoes; their armament and guidance, as well as testing and developing mines and ships’ electrics. Much of the technology at that time had dated only recently from the earliest Dreadnoughts of 1906 onwards, so, in 1915, the technology would have involved the latest advancements. Three days at Vernon would have allowed for little more than issuing of kit and uniform and a rudimentary introduction to his duties in wartime.
HMS Victory was an administrative term for men who were being paid and administered by the Royal Navy at Portsmouth. “Victory” gives no indication of the man’s physical location, but it might well have implied Francis was on a training course from 17th November to 6th December 1915 at Portsmouth or its environs. From the 7th to the 11th December 1915 Francis Grantham was at HMS Fisgard which was the collective name for four ships that had served at Portsmouth, at one time or another, and had been used for training Artificer Apprentices. Artificer is a military name for a mechanic or similar. The old ship HMS Spartiate became “HMS Fisgard” on 17th July 1915.
(The name Fisgard derives from the historical name for the Welsh village of Fishguard, Pembrokeshire, on St George’s Channel, which was originally "Fiscard" derived from the Old Norse fiskigarðr meaning “fish-catching enclosure". This Welsh port was, briefly, invaded by Napoleon’s French Navy one day in 1797. The Royal Navy delights that the French invaders apparently surrendered swiftly to local women dressed in traditional Welsh costume looking like British Red Coat soldiers. The Royal Navy then captured a French vessel and re-named her “Fisgard” to acknowledge the defeat of the French).
By the time Francis Grantham went to sea in December 1915, he was an electrician who appears to have worked with the armourer’s crew, possibly on torpedoes or weaponry, and on ship’s electrics.
Francis joined HMS Neptune on 12th December 1915. HMS Neptune served in the First Battle Squadron of the Royal Navy in the Grand Fleet (formerly called the Home Fleet) which, in late 1915 and early 1916, patrolled the North Sea from its base at Scapa Flow, Orkney. In February 1915, Germany had declared that the waters around Great Britain and Ireland, including the whole of the English Channel, was a war zone.
Battle-cruisers of the German Navy’s 1st Scouting Group (Nr. I Aufklärungsgruppe) provoked the Royal Navy in the North Sea which, by then, had been suitably re-named by the British to something less possessive than its pre-war name of the “German Ocean”. The Royal Navy was blockading Germany’s access to Germany’s Baltic Sea ports preventing the supply of the German nation’s food and materiel. Ships of the German High Seas Fleet (der Deutschen Hochseeflotte) of the Imperial German Navy (die Kaiserliche Marine) conducted a series of probes into North Sea waters expecting to lure the British Grand Fleet into the open. The German Navy also conducted extensive submarine warfare.
After Francis had returned home in 1916, these naval operations culminated in the Battle of Jutland on 31 May–1 June 1916.
Unless HMS Neptune had sailed South in December 1915, it is probable Francis Grantham had travelled by train to Thurso in Scotland on what were known as Jellicoe Specials (named after the Grand Fleet’s commander Admiral Jellicoe) because they took sailors from the South Coast naval bases, via London, to the Royal Navy base in the shelter of Scapa Flow. The train journey from London to Thurso alone took 22 hours. See:
http://www.scotlandsfirstworldwar.org/features/the-journey-to-scapa-flow/
HMS Neptune was constructed at Portsmouth Dockyard and had been launched on 30th September 1909 and completed by January 1911. She had been re-fitted in the Spring of 1915, so she was a very modern warship. See:
http://dreadnoughtproject.org/tfs/index.php/H.M.S._Neptune_%281909%29
In order to place a warship at a specific location, it is necessary to see the Ship’s Logs which are held at the National Archives at Kew. Those for Neptune, are shown at:
http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/results/r?_st=adv&_aq=Neptune&_cr1=ADM&_dss=range&_sd=1915&_ed=1916&_ro=any&_p=1900
Neptune must have been at sea for Francis Grantham to have qualified for his campaign medals: the 1914-15 Star for service at sea in a theatre of war before December 31st 1915; The British War Medal and the Victory Medal, for 28 days’ or more mobilised service in the Royal Navy. Francis Grantham applied for, and was granted, a Silver War Badge for being discharged early through wounds or sickness contracted while on active service. The issue of the war badge was approved on 1st September 1917 (R.N. Silver War Badge lists via ancestry.co.uk).
While serving on Neptune his Character and Ability column was completed on 31 December 1915 as Character: V.G. [Very Good]; and Ability: Sat[isfactory]. It could only have been “satisfactory” because of the brief, un-tested, time during which he had held his post.
His book entry for service on HMS Neptune ended on 15th January 1916 when he was entered on the log of HMS Victory II (from 16th to 27th January 1916) which was another accountancy and administrative location at Portsmouth and suggests he was in hospital or convalescing at Portsmouth. At the time, Victory II was the Accounting Section for Portsmouth Dockyard and Portsmouth Naval Barracks but had moved inland 50 miles to premises in Newbury. The 15th day of each month was an Admiralty accounting date and Francis’s actual date of leaving Neptune is revealed below. His reason for discharge from the Navy (Column headed: “If discharged wither and for what cause”) was written to one side as “Invalided” because the clerk’s handwritten dates had already trespassed into that column.
There are some partially legible entries dated 12th and 15th December 1915 Neptune; and 16 January 1916 Victory II and Neptune S165. There is also Fisgard added above the first of these later entries. Fisgard probably related to “Invalided”, suggesting he was eventually discharged from the Fisgard shore establishment, from which he had set out.
These later entries related to Form S165 which was a monthly return of all personnel entered on, or discharged from, a ship’s books in the previous month. The returns were sent to the Accountant General on the 15th of each month and recorded for the Admiralty (and families who enquired) the location of each man in the four weeks prior to that date. During long voyages, the forms were submitted at the earliest opportunity, such as at when at coaling stations or ports of call. These entries on Francis’s service record were written in a different hand and appear to be references to Francis’s last ship’s service as recorded on forms S165, and were probably added by someone in the Pay Office or the Pensions Office seeking or providing evidence for his qualification for a pension. The first S165 recorded he joined Neptune on 12 December 1915.
A computer re-imaging of the block of three handwritten letters and words to the left of the second entry: “20 Dec 15; S165 Neptune”, after much study, revealed: “Hosp S China”. This would be His Majesty’s Hospital Ship China (HMHS China) indicating HMS Neptune’s S165 return recorded Francis had been transferred to a hospital ship from Neptune on 20th December 1915, after just eight days on Neptune. He was apparently hurt or had succumbed to illness very early on.
The Imperial War Museum records: “The liner China was built for the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company by Messrs. Harland & Wolff Ltd, Belfast. The ship was remodelled a Naval Hospital Ship by Messrs Lester & Perkins Ltd, at the Royal Albert Docks for the Admiralty. She was employed as Naval Hospital Ship No 6 from August 1914 to February 1919, and was visited by HM the King during his visit to the Grand Fleet in June 1916”.
In the remarks column it was recorded his records were “Tr Pens 6.3.1916” [Transferred to Navy Pensions office 6th March 1916]; and then “Tr M.O.P. 29. 8. 1917” [Transferred to Ministry of Pensions 29th August 1917]. The Ministry of Pensions was created in 1916 to administer the pensions paid to former service personnel. After being discharged from active service, a Navy pensioner might have had to attend medical examination boards to have the level of his disability re-assessed and the amount of pension payment would eventually have been settled at a permanent figure, based on the medical assessment and afterwards paid by the Ministry of Pensions through the General Post Office.
There is no record of what caused Francis to be invalided out. It could have been as a result of an accident on board ship; enemy action; or sickness. The National Archives holds only sample case files of Navy pensions for the First World War.
If you cannot get to Kew to see the ship’s logs, I can recommend contacting Lee Richards at
http://www.arcre.com/
Lee Richards provides a document copying service at Kew very economically. I believe the Ship’s logs held at Kew that he would need to see are:
Records of HM Ships; ADM 53 - Admiralty, and Ministry of Defence, Navy Department: Ships' Logs; ADM 53/52399 - NEPTUNE Dec 1915 and ADM 53/52400 - NEPTUNE Jan 1916.
ADM 53 is the catalogue series at The National Archives (Admiralty series 53) and the number following identifies the actual document.
Thank you, Mike, for offering to donate to the Royal British Legion, although it now appears a Royal Navy charity might be more appropriate. They are listed here:
http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/charities
With kind regards,
Alan
Reply from: Mike Winkett
Date: Sunday 8th May 2016 at 8:58 PM

Dear Alan,

Thank you so much for your usual most informative and comprehensive reply, which will now stand me in good stead when researching other persons in my family tree with naval connections.

It was interesting your mentioning the Battle of Jutland in your reply, as I have just discovered that Francis' younger brother, Vincent William Grantham, died during this battle on 31 May 1916 whilst serving aboard HMS Invincible. Vincent's Regimental No. was J/26012. You mentioned that Francis' prefix "M" in front of his Regimental No. indicated he was an electrician or artificer, but what did the "J" prefix indicate in the case of Vincent? Is there a list anywhere that I could refer to for any other prefixes I may come across in future?

Thank you for bringing to my attention details of his medal entitlement, including the Silver War Badge. On Francis' "UK, Naval Medal And Award Rolls" record, in the "How issued or disposed of" column is recorded "S" and I was curious what this meant. Again for future reference, are you able to say to what the other abbreviations recorded against other seamen allude - e.g. "FR", "BR" and "By A.M." Also in this column, there sometimes is written what appear to be the names of ships, although from your previous reply, I suppose these "ships" could also relate to shore establishments.

If you could clarify these additional points I raise, I would be most grateful. I will send my donation to one of the Royal Navy charities as you suggest. Thank you once again, Alan, for a brilliant service you provide!

Kindest regards,
Mike Winkett
Reply from: Alan Greveson
Date: Monday 9th May 2016 at 8:08 PM

Dear Mike,
Thank you for contributing to a Navy charity.
Sailors in the Royal Navy had “official numbers” while soldiers in the First World War had “regimental numbers”. In 2006, the tri-service Joint Personnel Administration (JPA) introduced a system whereby each new member of any of H.M. services received an eight digit number beginning with 3.
Historically in the Royal Navy, ships and men were allocated to one of three Port Divisions. They were abbreviated P; Portsmouth, C; Chatham, and D; Devonport; or sometimes Po; Ch; and Dev. For administrative purposes the Royal Navy was split into three Port Divisions, and every ship, man, and gun etc. belonged to one Division. Ships were allocated to a Home Port, but Boys were allowed to choose their Port Division when they completed their training. Vincent Grantham trained at Devonport, but a “P” at the top left of his record indicates his Port Division was Portsmouth.
The Admiralty identified some trade groups with another pre-fix letter: J was for ordinary seaman and signallers; K for stokers; L for cooks; and M for artificers and artisans. The prefixes did vary over the decades.
I know of no definitive guide to the prefixes as each one has to be read in its own context and period in time. There is an article on the history of Royal Navy numbering and pre-fixes at:
http://www.godfreydykes.info/ROYAL%20NAVY%20OFFICIAL%20NUMBERS%20[RATINGS].htm
In the Navy medal rolls, the abbreviations are numerous. Fortunately, they generally become
apparent and the unusual ones have been listed at the end of The National Archives’ guide to medals. Scroll down the page at:
http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/help-with-your-research/research-guides/british-military-campaign-and-service-medals/
The despatch of medals was recorded to show how the medals had been issued or disposed of. Initials were used to indicate the recipient: “S” meant to “self” meaning the man himself at his home address, which indicated he was alive and no longer serving. FR was father; BR, brother; MR, mother, who would have been the named next-of-kin, indicating the man had been killed or had since died. The medals were sent to the next-of-kin named in the man’s will. This fact was noted on the roll with a Casualty Index number (I.C. for: Index, Casualty) suffixed with the year of death: in this case: I.C. 3972/1916. The number led to the man’s will in the Naval Records for Wills. The National Archives says these references are now obsolete and lead to no other document. “By A.M.” implied the man had transferred from the Royal Naval Air Service to the Royal Air Force at its formation on 1st April 1918 and consequently the medals were issued by the Air Ministry and not the Admiralty.
Where a ship is named, the medals were sent to that ship as being the recipient’s address; in other words the sailor was still serving in the Royal Navy when the medals were issued.
On service records, DD meant “discharged; dead”. It seems rather abrupt, but the record had to show what happened to a man and his method of discharge or transfer to pension or to a commission or the R.A.F.. “DD” in this case should not be confused with “Discharged with Disgrace”. Discharged “Shore” (S) was not a punishment but was the normal method of dispensing with the services of ratings and other ranks whose retention was undesirable because of unsuitability or for reasons largely beyond their own control. Discharged SNLR was for services no longer required. This was not a punishment and was intended to prevent re-enlistment. It did affect a man’s civilian employment prospects.
R or “Run” indicated the man had deserted.
HMS Impregnable was a school for boy sailors at Devonport and was the collective name of the ship or ships that became the actual training vessel. HMS Howe (1860) would have been the actual ship that undertook the role of Impregnable in 1913. HMS Powerful, on which Vincent served, became the “Impregnable” in 1919. Vincent’s other ships were warships.
Vincent was rated Ordinary Seaman on his 18th birthday on August 2nd 1915 and signed for 12 years’ continuous adult service, having served two years as a Boy Second Class (from 18th July 1913) and Boy First Class while on HMS Powerful (dated 17th February 14).
He had a month at Victory I at Portsmouth in July 1914 before joining Invincible aged 17-and-one-day, on 3rd August 1914 as the Royal Navy mobilized for war which was declared at 11 p.m. GMT (midnight in German) the following day, August 4th 1914.
The absence of three days’ service towards pension from 11th to 15th December 1915 appears to have been explained by “3 days [in] cells” on Invincible which was in the South Atlantic.
H.M.S. Invincible was a battlecruiser that participated in the Battle of Heligoland Bight (28th August 1914); the Battle of the Falkland Islands (8th December 1914) and the Battle of Jutland, where she was sunk at 6:34pm on 31st May 1916. Vincent Grantham qualified for the 1914-15 Star for service at sea between August 4th and December 31st 1915; the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. (The 1914 Star was for service in France and Belgium between 5th August and 22nd November 1914.)
War Gratuity was a sum of money, based on length of service, which would have been paid to the family of the deceased sailor. War Gratuities were introduced in 1919, so the man’s record had to be traced for the sum to be calculated and then paid. War Gratuities usually amounted to a few pounds.
The reference N.P. 4060/1916 referred to the notification of death at sea by the Naval Personnel division of the Admiralty and no longer leads to any further documentation.
Vincent Grantham wrote home to his parents in Walsall from the Invincible. His letter was published in the Walsall Observer and South Staffordshire Chronicle on 23rd January 1915: “Falkland Isles Battle; Walsall Sailor’s description of the Fight - I expect you will have heard by now of our great and glorious victory over the German fleet. We came all the way from the dear homeland to avenge the loss of HMS Good Hope and HMS Monmouth and we did it grand. On Tuesday December 8th we started coaling at 5 a.m. and at 8-10 it was reported two small German cruisers were in sight, so we cast off the colliers and raised steam and proceeded to sea in chase of them. In the forenoon we sighted five all told including two large cruisers with four funnels. The first cruiser we fired at was the Leipsic and we set her on fire fore and aft. We left our small cruisers to finish their cruisers off. Next we opened fired on the Scharnhorst at a range of 7,000 yards. I don’t know if we hit or not. Then we put on speed and gradually drew nearer them. It was a very hard struggle indeed. She fell on her side and sank, and we never had any time to save a single soul off her. Our attention was next drawn to the Gneisenau . I think we riddled her bow and stern before we saw her go but we managed to save 84 men and seven officers, besides 14 who died the same night. And I might tell you I shall never forget the sight of seeing 900 men in the water crying for help. I even picture it now when I shut my eyes. Although we were hit we never lost a man, although our commander got hit in the foot with a splinter of one of the projectiles. He was a hero. He was walking round the ship all the while the battle was on scouting for fires - Seaman Grantham also fought in the Battle of Heligoland Bight” (© Local World Ltd./Trinity Mirror courtesy British Library Board via British Newspaper Archive online).
The same newspaper on 10th June 1916 reported: “Our Sailor Heroes: Seaman Vincent W. Grantham: A gallant young sailor who belongs to HMS Invincible is believed to have gone down with his vessel, as his parents Mr and Mrs Grantham of Rutter Street Walsall have had no news of him since the big sea fight. He was in Walsall on leave about a fortnight ago” (ibid).
A photograph of Vincent in Naval uniform was published in the Birmingham Gazette on 21st January 1915 with a brief caption stating his service in the Falklands (ibid)
The British Newspaper Archive online was searched with the exact phrase Vincent W. Grantham. Subscription or Pay per View from £6.95 for 500 credits.
http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/
Images can be enlarged and saved as a screen shot to your device using the snipping tool in Windows (Windows accessories in apps or: Start button, All Programs, Accessories, and then Snipping Tool). Use more than one snip for longer articles.
Good Hope and Monmouth had been lost in the German victory on 1st November 1914 off the coast of central Chile near the city of Coronel.
With kind regards,
Alan
Reply from: Mike Winkett
Date: Tuesday 10th May 2016 at 11:33 AM

Dear Alan,

Thanks once again for all this wonderful information regarding Vincent Grantham. I hadn't got around to looking up all of his naval records when I last wrote to you, but I assume the ones you mention can all be found on Ancestry's website. However, I had traced reference to him on CWGC's website and note that his body was never recovered and that he is honoured at the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Section 14.

It's good to have so much information about him and the letter you discovered written by him to his parents was especially moving; you can obviously tell from its tenor that he was very much affected by some of the sights he had witnessed during the course of battle - sights he found it difficult to get out of his head.

I really can't thank you enough for this information, but I do have a small offering in return for any of your Forum readers who believe they had relatives who died at Jutland aboard Invincible; the following web link provides a complete list of all Invincible's casualties (and a few survivors picked up by the Badger of the 1st Flotilla). The website also provides links to casualty lists for other Battleships, Battle Cruisers, Light Cruisers, Flotilla Leaders and Destroyers. Above the casualty lists for each ship appears a short extract from the Official History; "Naval Operations" by Sir Julian S. Corbett.1923. I think I need to add this book to my collection!
Here's the web link:

http://www.northeastmedals.co.uk/britishguide/jutland/hms_invincible_casualty_list_1916.htm

Now it's off to search for those newspaper articles you mentioned; it will be good to see a photograph of Vincent. I guess we may never know the reason why he spent 3 days in a cell whilst in the South Atlantic, but regardless of the reason, I think he died a hero - as indeed did all those serving aboard the Invincible on that fateful day, 31 May, 1916.

Thanks again, Alan.

Kindest regards,
Mike Winkett

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