Tag Archives: royal navy

“Death must have been almost instantaneous”

9 Jan

My relatives continue to amaze me with their ability to make the national newspapers and in the quite gruesome ways their lives are cut short. To the two relations who were killed in railway accidents I can now add another who died in a maritime accident.

Thomas Henry HUTFIELD married my 2x great-aunt Harriet Ellen MITCHELL in 1900, I don’t have the exact details only that it was in Q4 1900 in Portsmouth Registration District. I had been unable to find Harriet in the 1901, but then I didn’t know at the time that she had married. It wasn’t until I was searching for her widowed mother in the newly released 1911 census that I found both Harriet and her mother living in Portsmouth, Hampshire.

The fact that she was living in Portsmouth and that despite being married her husband was not at home immediately made me think that her husband was serving in the Royal Navy. That is pretty much where my research ended. I added a few children to the marriage but never took the research any further until a few days ago.

I bought and downloaded a copy of Thomas’ naval service details from DocumentsOnline, in the hope of finding out a bit more on him and his family. I have found naval records to be largely devoid of family or personal detail in the past, and this one was no exception.

What I did find however, beneath the long list of vessels on which Thomas had served was the following intriging note: “21 July 1911. Accidentally killed on board ‘Kangaroo’ owing to bursting of a steam pipe during steam trials.”

Using my membership of  the Surrey Library Service I was soon searching copies of The Times newspaper online for a mention of the accident. It didn’t take long to find a report of the accident, a message of condolence from the King and details of the inquest.

According to The Times for the 22nd July 1911:

While the destroyer Kangaroo was carrying out steam trials off Beachy Head, about four miles out, shortly after noon yesterday, a steam pipe burst. Two stokers were killed by the explosion and five injured. The bodies of the dead men and four of the injured were put on board the cruiser Topaze, which brought them into Portsmouth, and the injured were sent to Haslar Hospital.

The above article lists the casualties and the report of the subsequent inquest gives further details of the accident. Bearing in mind that this was in a national newspaper, I would expect the local newspapers to give more information and probably mention of his funeral and the family he left behind.

This incident poses many research questions such as did Harriet receive some pension or compensation? Was there a memorial service for the two dead men? Where are they buried? What became of Harriet and her children after the death of Thomas? In other words, plenty of reasons to go and visit the Portsmouth Records Office and do some more digging.

Australian Relations: William Joseph Henry BATEMAN (The Navy Years: 1898 to 1912)

29 Jul

This is the second in a series of articles about William Joseph Henry BATEMAN and his family from Australia. This is an ongoing research project and so far much of the research is based on index entries and is unverified, if you have more information or corrections then please get in touch.

It wasn’t until I located William Joseph Henry (WJH) BATEMAN’s marriage record in the Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages that I discovered that he had served in the Royal Navy.

Prior to this I had been unable to work out how WJH had ended up in Australia. We knew he was in Australia and had a rough time frame from postcards that had been sent home, but I couldn’t find him on any passenger lists.

The only information I have is from his entry in Registers of Seamen’s Services (downloadable from The National Archives) which doesn’t appear to go into as much detail as the British Army service records do, and the quality of the digital copy is not brilliant.

On top of this I am not an expert on the Royal Navy, so can only pull out some basic details from the record. I am sure given time I could certainly find out more, but for now I will stick to the basics and please forgive me (and correct me) if I get anything wrong.

It appears WJH enlisted either at the end of 1897 or the start of 1898. His first period of service was from the 3rd January 1898 on the Impregnable, a training ship. When he enlisted he would only have been 16 years old. His height was given as 5 ft 5½ ins, his hair was dark brown, his eyes brown and his complexion “fresh” (at least I think that is what it says).

Presumably because of his age he started his career as a Boy, 2nd Class, about nine months later, whilst serving on the Lion, he became a Boy, 1st Class. When he reached eighteen in January 1900 he became an Ordinary Seaman and in December that same year he became an Able Seaman.

Although his twelve years continuous service started only started on his eighteenth birthday, it appears he joined the Royal Fleet Reserve on the 24th December 1905. By this time he was sailing in Australian waters, and looks like he had been for a couple of years at least.

From what I understand once in the Royal Fleet Reserve he was back on dry land and able to return to his normal day job, although having started as a boy he didn’t really have an occupation (when he enlisted his occupation was given as “errand boy”. It sounds like he would have been able to carry on a normal life with the possibility of being called back to the navy at any time up to the end of his twelve years service (which finished in January 1912).

Whilst I don’t know much detail about his naval career, the most important event during his time with the navy was his marriage on the 22nd April 1905 to Annie Clark BULL. I don’t know whether this brought about his transfer to the Royal Fleet Reserve or whether that would have happened regardless.

Australian Relations: William Joseph Henry BATEMAN (The Early Years: 1882-1898)

28 Jul

This is the first in a series of articles about William Joseph Henry BATEMAN and his family from Australia. This is an ongoing research project and so far much of the research is based on index entries and is unverified, if you have more information or corrections then please get in touch.

William Joseph Henry (WJH) BATEMAN was my 2x great-uncle. He was born in Brighton, Sussex on the 19th January 1882. His birth was registered in Q1 1882 in the Brighton Registration District, although I don’t have a copy of his birth certificate yet. So far I have yet to find a record of his baptism, although I haven’t made a thorough search of all the parishes in Brighton yet.

His parents were Henry BATEMAN and Dorothy Isabella KINGHORN who were married in Brighton Registration District in Q4 1881, again I don’t have a copy of their certificate yet nor have I found their entry in the parish registers. This is an interesting marriage, Henry was from Gloucestershire and Dorothy was from London, and it appears that they met whilst working at Spratton, Northamptonshire.

In a very short space of time the couple have moved to Brighton, got married and had a child. The speed with which this happened makes me suspect this was all rather unplanned. In the 1881 census they are living close together (probably both working at Spratton Hall), by the end of the year they are married and at the start of the following year Dorothy gives birth to a son.

I don’t know a lot about WJH’s early years, he appears in the 1891 census as a nine year old boy living with his parents at 19 Yardley Street, Preston, Sussex (just on the outskirts of Brighton). Also living there with WJH is his one year old sister Dorothy May (my great-grandmother) and his grandmother Isabella KINGHORN.

The family appear to have moved to Yardley Street around 1889, but I don’t know where they were before then, other than Brighton. I have yet to find out which school WJH attended and when, but I am sure that given time I will uncover the details. Around 1897 the family moved to Hurstpierpoint, Sussex although it is not known whether WJH was still living at home at that time.

What is known is that at the start of 1898 WJH joined the Royal Navy and it was this that ultimately led to him settling in Australia several years later.

While the (virtual) photo album is still open…

17 Jul

This is another BATEMAN family group, this time from the other side of the world. The family connection is that the large gentleman, second from the right is the son of Henry and Dorothy Isabella BATEMAN from yesterday’s photo.

Australian BATEMANs

Sadly I don’t really know much about at this part of the BATEMAN family at this stage. Hopefully one day I will have the time and money to get down to some serious research into this lot.

What I do know is that William Henry Joseph BATEMAN (second from the right) my 2x great uncle, married Annie Clark MCCONACHY (second from the left) in Geelong, Victoria, Australia on the 22nd April 1905. He was serving with the Royal Navy and appears to have remained in Australia when his service came to an end.

As far as I can tell they had two children, Dorothy (in the middle) and William (on the far right). Written on the back of the photo is Dorries wedding Dec 1934, but I haven’t got around to finding out any more. I don’t know who it was she married or if William ever married, but I do know that there were descendants of William and Annie BATEMAN in Australia perhaps 20 or 30 years ago, but I don’t know their names. I don’t know who the gentleman on the left is either, presumably some relation of Annie.

If you do recognise any of these names or faces then do get in touch, it would be great to make contact with this side of the family.

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