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Changing Times | Chichester Sailors of the First World War

Several Royal Navy ships are listed on Chichester’s war memorial along with the names of the men lost from those ships. Due to the Royal Navy’s supremacy of the seas up until the Great War there had been no major engagements at sea for over
100 years.


One of the earliest naval losses of the First World War was the armoured cruiser HMS Hogue, which was torpedoed off the Dutch coast on September 22, 1914. On board was Able Seaman Charles Ansell, who for many years had been employed by the city corporation as second lockkeeper on the canal at Birdham. He joined the Navy on the day war was declared. Charles Ansell drowned when the HMS Hogue sank. He left behind a widow and four children.


Leading Stoker James Hellyer was aboard HMS Good Hope when it sank off the coast of Chile, on November 1, 1914. All of the 919 men on board were killed. Another ship lost during the same engagement as HMS Good Hope was HMS Glasgow, which had Signalman Arthur Greedus on board.


On January 13, 1915, he wrote a letter home sharing details of the battle. HMS Glasgow had received hits from seven shells but managed to get away with no loss of life. He said they were near Chile to keep trade routes open and to intercept German ships.


On November 26, 1914, HMS Bulwark blew up in the harbour of Sheerness, Kent, with the loss of 700 lives. Among them were Stoker Edward Cotton, Able Seaman Albert John Freeman and Boy 1st Class Edward Hanmore, all from Chichester. Edward Hanmore had joined the Navy in November, 1913, as a boy sailor. He served on HMS Impregnable, a training vessel, before transferring to HMS Bulwark. His body was never recovered for burial but he is remembered on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. Albert John Freeman had joined the Navy in January, 1913, as a boy sailor and was 19 at the time of his death.


Many of the naval personnel from Chichester killed during the First World War lost their lives at the Battle of Jutland. This battle, fought in Denmark between May 31 and June 1, 1916, was the only major battle fought at sea.


When HMS Queen Mary was badly hit by a German battle cruiser during the Battle of Jutland in 1916, she exploded and sank. Among those from Chichester on board who lost their lives were Ordinary Seaman George Oliver Pratt and Stoker 1st Class William Turner.


Several other ships lost at Jutland had Chichester men aboard. Signaller George Greedus (brother of Arthur, mentioned above) was killed alongside Stoker Bertie Arnell, Petty Officer Stoker James Bailey, Stoker Herbert Bennett, Able Seaman Arthur Hall, Able Seaman Edward Mills and Boy 1st Class Jack Smith when their ship HMS Invincible sank.


Aboard cruiser HMS Black Prince was Ordinary Seaman Harold Jupp, Stoker Henry Applin, Petty Officer Stoker Fredrick May, Stoker Charles Matthews and Private Alfred Ayling, all of whom were killed alongside the rest of the crew when the ship was shelled and sunk.


HMS Indefatigable sank on May 31, 1916 after being shelled by a German battlecruiser which caused an explosion on board. Only three of 1,019 crew survived, Chichester- born Gunner Alan Broadbridge was one of the lives lost.


One survivor of the Battle of Jutland was Stoker Frank Boxall. His mother, who lived on Parchment Street, was notified that he suffered burns during the battle and had been taken to hospital in Inverness.


Find out more about the men who served in the navy in next week’s article.


By Pat Saunders, volunteer, and Amanda Rogan, learning officer, at the Novium Museum.


Posted in Lifestyle.