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William Harry Warne (Ch) J 37401. Boy 1st Class.

Updated: Jul 26, 2020

Photo courtesy of John Warne

William was born on 18th September 1899 at St Helen's, Ipswich, Suffolk to parents Moses and Harriet, one of nine children.

William was at school during the 1911 census, living at 7 Ernest Street, Ipswich with an older brother and his widowed mother. Sadly in 1914, a few months before the beginning of the Great War, Harriet, William’s mother, also died aged 53. Now being an orphan and likely that his remaining older siblings could not afford to look after him, he was sent to the Training Ship MOUNT EDGCUMBE - “A training ship for Homeless and Destitute Boys”

The ship was, originally, H.M.S. Winchester and then renamed the Conway in 1861, and the MountEdgcumbe in 1877, when she was used to serve as an Industrial Training Ship for Homeless and Destitute Boys. The training provided by the Mount Edgcumbe, like other training ships was in seamanship, tailoring, shoe making. The Industrial Schools Act, 1866 allowed any person to bring any child under the age of 14 years before a magistrate. If the child was found to be in need of care and protection, he could be committed to a certified industrial school. for as long as was considered necessary, but not beyond the age of sixteen years. The child might be sent to any school on shore (or a training ship) which had space and agreed to take him. The training ships were probably favored for the more unruly cases as they were run on naval lines and the discipline was considered to be stricter than that at other schools. The register books give the reasons for committal, which include; ‘theft’, ‘company of known thieves’, ‘begging and associating with thieves’, ‘truant’, ‘beyond control’, ‘non-attendance at school’. A frequent entry was simply ‘found wandering’.

The intake to Mount Edgcumbe was not restricted to boys belonging to the surrounding district, many boys coming from other parts of the country particularly the London area. (in 1896 out of 68 boys admitted, 51 came from London).

photo courtesy of

He left the training ship and joined the Royal Navy on 19th April 1915, recorded as 5ft 0 1/2ins, fresh complexion, brown eyes & brown hair. He began further training on HMS IMPREGNABLE as a Boy 2nd Class, leaving on 9th September 1915, rising to Boy 1st Class on 29th July 1915. He was then posted to HMS DEFIANCE on 10th September 1915 until 6th October 1915.

His next posting was to HMS ROXBURGH until 7th August 1916 and then joined the battleship HMS VANGUARD on the 8th August 1916 until her explosion. He was just 17 when he died and if any comfort came out of his death, it was that his older brother John was also on the ship.

He was awarded the Star, Victory and British medals.

(#27 - 789/843)


1911 England Census -

Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services, 1848-1939 National Archives Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services; Class: ADM 188; Piece: 721

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


CWGC Register

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; Piece:010 (1914 - 1919)

National Archives; 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

Naval Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1972 ADM 171; Piece: 118

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