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.