Born on 5th October 1890 in Luton, Bedfordshire to parents Thomas and Elizabeth, Harold was their fourth child listed on the 1891 census. He was just six months old and lived at 33 (or 35) Lea Road, Luton along with his older brother and two sisters and a servant. Several of the neighbours worked at the same occupation as Thomas, manufacturing straw hats. Ten years later on the 1901 census Francis was then a middle child with another five siblings arriving after him. The family had moved to 12 Bailey Street, Luton and Thomas continued to be employed in the straw hat business.
By the 1911 census Harold was aged twenty and worked as an iron moulder in an iron foundry. He still lived with his large family, with another younger sister being born in 1909 - they had all left Bailey Street and moved back to Lea Road, number 104, in Luton.
He joined the Navy for twelve years service, serving a quarter of it on his one and only ship before its tragic ending. Harold was described as being 5’7” tall with brown hair, pale eyes (probably blue) and having a fair complexion.
HMS PEMBROKE II - 18/09/1912 - 13/03/01913, training as a Stoker 2nd Class
HMS VANGUARD - 14/03/1913 - 09/07/1917, rising to Stoker 1st Class on 05/06/1913, Acting Leading Stoker on 25/11/1915, Leading Stoker on 25/05/1916 and Acting Stoker Petty Officer on 07/04/1917.
He was aboard the dreadnought during the Battle of Jutland. Following his death his pension was awarded to his mother, his Star, Victory and British war medals were issued to his father.
(#55 - 18/843)
England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915 Free BMD
1891, 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: 899
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: 007 (1914 - 1919)
World War I Pension Ledgers and Index Cards, 1914-1923 Western Front Association; London, England; WWI Pension Record Cards and Ledgers; Reference: 730/11PP
Naval Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1972 Class: ADM 171; Piece: 94
Photo courtesy of Luton News Archive & worldwar1luton.com