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James Douglas Dick. Captain

James Douglas, a second son, was born in Alverstoke, Hampshire on 1st August 1871 to Sir James Nicholas, RN Medical Director General and Elizabeth Margaret Beveridge. He was recorded on the next census of 1881 aged nine living at 5 Wickham Road, Deptford St Paul, London (shown below) along with his parents, five siblings and three staff.

He began his ship training aboard HMS BRITANNICA from 15th January 1885 until 6th December 1886 and joined his first commission aboard HMS Minotaur as a Midshipman on

10th January 1887.

He attained Acting Sub-Lt in January 1891 and was promoted to Lieutenant a year later. During 1882 he sent a letter to the family Nanny Miss O'Donoghue sent from the Royal Naval Hospital in Malta, dated 29th June 1882 (shown below, and transcribed).

"My Dear Nanny

How are you and the children? It is getting very hot here now, George and I bathe off the rocks in water twenty or thirty feet deep, we take long dives and turn head over heels in the water. We always bathe in the evening about six o'clock as it is too hot in the middle of the day. We have caught a good many crabs on the rocks. One day George and I sat with our bare feet in the sea learning our lessons. *

There are a great many Festas here and the Malta Fencibles fire fifty guns. We have got apples, apricots, pomegranats (transcribed as written), prickly pears, oranges, melons, grapes, ??, mulberries, figs, tobacco plant, almonds and locust beans.

There is a flagstaff on top of our house. Mama said that we were all to write letters instead of doing our lessons.

There is an awning just in front of the study. There are two Dutch men-o-war here and some of the officers called at this house. Please give Maud and Rob my love. I must finish now as it is dinner time.

I am yours affectionately, J Douglas Dick"

He was promoted to Commander on 31st December 1902 and Captain six years later. In between this he was given six weeks sick leave in 1906, which seems to have been extended due to being unfit for travel. He returned to duty on 15th March 1907.

He was commissioned as Captain to HMS BLACK PRINCE on 3rd January 1915 and the following year, on 22nd January 1916, he had joined HMS Vanguard and on 31st May 1916 he was in command of HMS Vanguard at the Battle of Jutland. Captain Dick was Mentioned in Dispatches by Admiral Jellicoe (an award for all ships captains involved at Jutland given by Jellicoe).

James Douglas Dick's signature

Captain's quarters aboard HMS VANGUARD, courtesy of Royal Museum's Greenwich

Rare film footage showing Captain James Dick and Commander Eto, both who were killed in the explosion (see the Twitter link below)

King George V, with Admiral Sturdee meets Captains and staff of the Fourth Battle Squadron, in 1917, taken shortly before the disaster.

James, who preferred Douglas, was killed aboard the VANGUARD along with his crew members on the night of 9th July 1917. Had he not chosen to catch up with his papers in the evening and join the Officer’s party aboard the SS GOURKO he would have been one of the survivors of the blast.

The will of Captain James Douglas Dick, transcribed...

"My dear Pap - I am under orders to leave today for ---------with the vessels. Weather is perfectly beastly.

Please thank May for the gear from the Stores which I have received all right. Sorry not to have seen you the other morning before I left.

Love to all Your affect son DOUGLAS

It strikes me that I ought to make a Will so this is it. I wish my property to be divided equally between Milly and May - James Douglas Dick - Naval Base Lowestoft 13th December 1914".

#7 - 241/843


England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915 Free BMD

1881 England Census

UK, Royal Naval Officers' Service Records Index, 1756-1931

Navy Lists, 1888-1970

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

UK and Ireland, Find A Grave Index, 1300s-Current

England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966, 1973-1995

CWGC Register

Images courtesy of Royal Museums Greenwich, British Pathe, Harry Rycroft and Ian Thorogood.

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