Updated: May 11, 2020
Harry was born on 25th April 1896 in Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, the third of 5 children to William and Mary (Baker). The couple married in the Malling district of Kent in 1885 but moved to the Isle of Wight, possibly for work
The family returned to the mainland sometime at the turn of the century, their daughter Francis being born in Devon in 1903 and by the 1911 census all of the household except for the eldest child William Jnr, had moved back to West Malling, Kent.
On leaving school Harry worked at Malling Place with Francis before he joined the Navy on 24th January 1912. He was 5'9" tall with brown eyes and hair and noted as having a scar on the back of his right hand.
He trained at HMS GANGES in Suffolk until 9th August 1912 rising from Boy 2nd Class to 1st Class on the day he left the establishment.
His first experience of being aboard was his posting to the pre-dreadnought HMS BRITANNIA, spending 4 months on the ship. He returned in December and transferred to HMS VICTORY on 28th December 1912, awaiting his next posting.
Still rated a Boy 1st Class, Harry embarked to serve on HMS HINDUSTAN on 15th February 1913, leaving on 7th June, transferring to HMS VANGUARD on 8th June. Spending over 4 years on the dreadnought, he rose in rank to Ordinary Seaman on his 18th birthday, 25th April 1914 and Able Seaman on 20th May 1915. He served on the ship during the Battle of Jutland and passed for Leading Seaman on 22nd July, just weeks after the clash of fleets.
Harry lost his life, and a promising career aged just 21. His Star, Victory and British medals were awarded to his brother. Three days later the family received confirmation from the Admiralty.
He is remembered on the memorial at Ryarsh Parish Church as well as on the Chatham Naval Memorial.
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1901 & 1911 England Census - Ancestry.com
England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915 - FreeBMD
England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975
Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services, 1848-1939 - National Archives Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services ADM 188/ 677
Royal Navy and Royal Marine War Graves Roll, 1914-1919 TNA Series: ADM 242/10; Scan Number: 0355
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
British Army and Navy Birth, Marriage and Death Records, 1730-1960
National Archives Admiralty: Naval Casualties, Indexes, War Grave Rolls and Statistics Book, First World War.; Class: ADM 242/010; (1914 - 1919)
Naval Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1972 ADM 171/ 115
WWI Pension Ledgers and Index Cards, 1914-1923 Western Front Association; London, England; Naval Pensions Ledger; Reference: 542931
Photos courtesy of Mike Austin and Mervyn Silver