Albert was born on 10th December 1893 in Bromley, Kent to parents Francis and Sarah, although his father Francis had died prior to the 1901 census, where Albert was the youngest child of four and Sarah worked as a shirt machinist to support her family at 5 Union Street, Poplar, London.
Life became a little easier for Sarah once she had married again in 1905, even though she did have a further two children after Albert. The family had moved to 248 Leven Road, Poplar and Albert worked as a stable hand. Within a few months he had decided on joining the Navy as a Boy 2nd Class on 21st November 1911. He trained at HMS GANGES II, then officially starting his 12 years service a few weeks later, on his 18th birthday, 10th December 1911.
He was recorded as 5'6" tall with fair hair and hazel eyes and noted as having a linear 1" scar in the centre of his head.
He left GANGES on 27th February 1912, joining HMS HIBERNIA until 13th May 1912. Albert then joined HMS LONDON, rising in rank to Ordinary Seaman on 21st May 1912. He continued his training for 2 weeks in June 1912 at HMS IMPLACABLE, then left for a posting aboard HMS QUEEN from 1st July 1912 to 26th January 1913. After 2 more weeks at the shore base HMS PEMBROKE I he was sent aboard HMS BOADICEA on 10th February 1913 and while serving there, rose to Able Seaman.
Albert left HMS BOADICEA on 4th July 1913, returning to HMS PEMBROKE for 8 months with no doubt some leave squeezed in that time.
Albert was posted to HMS VANGUARD on 31st March 1914 and was aboard during the Battle of Jutland. He lost family member Richard Albert Phelps in the same battle when HMS QUEEN MARY sank. Richard had initially signed up to the Army in 1903, but on leaving the Army recruitment centre he met some friends who were on their way to join the Navy….so he signed up too! He had to join using the alias Richard A Phillips instead, serving on QUEEN MARY from 4th September 1913.
Albert had written a letter to his sister on the 2nd May 1917 from “19 Mess, HMS Vanguard”; it was possibly one of the last correspondences from him before he was killed.
Albert is remembered on the Chatham Naval Memorial, his Star, Victory and British war medals were awarded to his mother following his death.
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England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915 Free BMD
1901 & 1911 England Census
Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services, 1848-1939 National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services; Class: ADM 188; Piece: 676
British Army and Navy Birth, Marriage and Death Records, 1730-1960 National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Admiralty: Naval Casualties, Indexes, War Grave Rolls and Statistics Book, First World War.; Class: ADM 242; Piece: 008 (1914 - 1919)
British Army and Navy Birth, Marriage and Death Records, 1730-1960 National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Admiralty and predecessors: Office of the Director General of the Medical Department of the Navy and predecessors: Service Registers and Registers of Deaths and Injuries. Registers of Reports of Deaths
Royal Navy and Royal Marine War Graves Roll, 1914-1919 TNA Series: ADM 242/8; Scan Number: 0108
Naval Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1972 Class: ADM 171; Piece: 100
Images courtesy and copyright of Gail Springall