Vanguard Obituaries

(all courtesy of Jon Saunders)

Career details of Medway men lost in the Vanguard

Chatham News, 24 July 1917

Chief Yeoman of Signals Oscar Charlton Cox of 32 Albany Road, Luton, who leaves a widow and family, had served a quarter-a-century in the Navy, and was due out on a pension on October 7th. He had the China and Good Conduct medals, was commended for his services in the Jutland Battle, had served 7 years in China, over 3 years in West Indies and was in the Mediterranean on King Edward VII, leaving the later to join the Vanguard. His brother Private Cox, Berkshire Regiment, was killed in France only a month ago and a brother-in-law was killed in the Shark's dash in the Jutland battle. Chief Yeoman of Signals Cox was a good fellow, much liked by all who knew him.

Chatham, Gillingham, Rochester Observer, 28 July 1917

Chief Yeoman of Signals Oscar Charlton Cox, whose wife and child live at 32 Albany Road, was well known in the port. He had served 25 years in the Royal Navy and was due to retire on pension on reaching his 40th birthday in October next. He possessed the China and Good Conduct medals and was commended for his services in HMS Vanguard at the Battle of Jutland. He had served two consecutive commissions in China and had also been stationed in the West Indies. Prior to his joining HMS Vanguard in 1914 he saw service in the ill-fated King Edward VII. A month ago his brother, Private Percy Cox, Royal Berkshire Regiment, was killed in action in France and last year his brother-in-law Chief Stoker Francis Newcombe was killed while serving in HMS Shark at the Battle of Jutland.

Chief Gunner Jas. Dennis

Varied as well as extended was the record of naval service to the credit of Chief Gunner Dennis, whose widow and family reside at 135 Rock Avenue, Gillingham. A native of Berkshire, born very near Reading, he was just 44, and joined the Navy when only 14. The circumstances attendant on his death through the disaster to the Vanguard are as painful and as provocative of sympathy as they are remarkable. He was in the Hawke disaster and was rescued when almost at his last. Under ordinary circumstances he would not have been on board the Vanguard when she went down. He was entitled to be on leave on the 9th inst. But he was anxious to take it later and arranged with Chief Carpenter Vernon to exchange dates. In this way he remained on board and went to a doom which might have overtaken Chief Carpenter Vernon had the latter not effected the exchange. Chief Gunner Dennis had been 13 months on the Vanguard, and got his commission warrant on it 12 months ago. His ships' record otherwise included warrant officer on the Pactolus for two years, then on 12 destroyers in succession, followed by the Hyacinth, the Adventure, the London and the Hawke. He has left a widow and two sons (Sapper George Dennis R.E. and Electrician William Dennis R.N.). The Chairmen and Committee of the Royal Navy Warrant Officers' Association have written a most sympathetic letter of condolence to the widow and family upon the loss of "so noble, gallant, and efficient a brother officer", and of proffer of interest and help in the settlement of affairs with the Admiralty.

Engine Room Artificer J. H. Hodges

Much sympathy is felt for Mrs Hodges of 19 Mill Terrace, Chatham, in the loss she has sustained by the death of her husband 1st Class E.R.A. James Henry Hodges. Deceased, who was a cousin of Mr W.J. Hodges, of The Paddock, Chatham, had served fifteen years in the Royal Navy, prior to which he was a blacksmith in Sheerness Dockyard. He was thirty-seven years of age, was the possessor of the Persian Gulf and Somaliland medals, and commissioned in HMS Vanguard some three years ago.

Chief Petty Officer W. H. Seal

Like so many others who perished, C.P.O. William Henry Seal, whose widow and son and daughter reside at 40 St. John's Road, Gillingham, had completed 21 years and was nearing the end of his 22nd year in the Navy. He was only 40 and hailed from Hever, Edenbridge, Kent, where his parents still live. He had gained four medals, including the Long Service and Good Conduct, the medal for the service in the Sierra Leone activities in 1898-99, when he served on the Fox, and for being the best shot with the big guns in 1911 (Black Prince); also the Coronation Medal, as it may be remembered that he took a force of bluejackets from Gillingham to that celebration in London. He went through the Jutland battle unscathed and always claimed that the Vanguard did the largest proportion of damage of any of our ships to the enemy's fleet's largest vessels. His other ships were the Andromeda, the Achilles, and the Raven. He was a member of the King's Navy Lodge of Freemasons and of the Petty Officer's Club in Gillingham. He had been in the Vanguard three years and three months.

V. W. Taylor

Much sympathy has been expressed with the parents (Pensr. C.E.R.A. and Mrs. Herbert W. Taylor) and fiancée (Miss Winifred Blayden) of E.R.A. 4th Class Victor William Taylor. He was twenty-four years of age, and second son of Mr. And Mrs. H. W. Taylor, whose home is at 5 Pagitt Street, Chatham. The deceased was educated at the Wesleyan School, Gillingham, and entered the service as a boy artificer. He joined H.M.S. Vanguard three years and eight months ago, and was in the Battle of Jutland. His father is at present serving at the Mechanical Training Establishment.

Writer S.J. Wetherley

Sidney John Wetherley was the only surviving son of Mr and Mrs Wetherley of 143 High Street, Chatham, and joined H.M.S. Vanguard as a third-class writer three months ago, when he was called up for war service. He was eighteen years of age last February, and was formerly a clerk at the offices of the Kent Higher Education Sub-Committee, where he had been employed since April, 1915.

P.O. C. Bugg

Holding the position at the time of the disaster of Gymnastics Instructor on the Vanguard P.O. Charles Bugg was a particularly useful and extremely popular sailor. A native of Dinton, in Salisbury, but for long having his home in Gillingham, he has been in the Navy about 20 years. He held the China medal (Boxer Rising) and the Good Conduct Medal, and was through the Jutland fight. His ships included Ganges, Lion, Black Prince, Astrea, Berwick and Vanguard (three years and four months). He leaves a widow but no family. He had a brother in the army.

C.P.O. F. Barlow

After a service of 25 years in all the Navy C.P.O. Frederick Barlow, whose widow and family reside at 99 Upper Milton Road, Gillingham, had taken his pension in May 1915, but continued in the Service. He had already been in the Vanguard since Easter Monday, 1914. And it is sad to record that only on the morning of the day of the explosion his widow, who is suffering terribly from the shock of the sad news of his death, received from him a letter that blithely described his expectations of leave for 14 days almost at once. Years ago he was rescued from the disaster to the Edgar in Chinese waters. He had had several narrow escapes. He was a splendid swimmer. Born in Cornwall, he had for many years made his home in Gillingham, and he was especially devoted to his home and family. He leaves a widow and three girls and one boy. He was noted for extraordinary skill in fretwork, and generally speaking was the very acme of handyman.

Lance-Corporal R. Woodrow

Lance Corporal Robert Woodrow, Royal Marine Light Infantry, was the second son of Mrs. Woodrow of 12 Morden Street, Rochester. He entered the service as a boy, and was attached to the Vanguard when the ship was commissioned three-and-a-half years ago. He was wounded at Horn's Reef, and took part also in the Heligoland and Jutland battles. He was 21 years of age. Mrs. Woodrow's eldest son Albert is a Sapper in the Royal Engineers, serving in France.

Painter J. Taylor

Painter John Taylor was 32 years of age, and leaves a widow a four children who reside at 13 Cross Street, Strood. His wife is a daughter of Mr. H. Clayton of 3 Star Hill, Rochester and her elder brother, Harry, a private in the Royal Marines was killed at the Front in February last. She has two other brothers at the Front and a fourth in Egypt. Her father, an old Marine, took part in the Egyptian campaign of 1884-84.

Able Seaman G. Chapman

Able Seaman George Chapman was the eldest son of George Chapman of 64 John Street, Rochester. He was 20 years of age.

Chief Stoker J. E. Cole

John Earnest Cole, a Chief Stoker, resided at 33 Cecil Avenue, Strood. He had been in the Navy some years and leaves a widow and family.

Able Seaman A. D. Weaire

Alan Deacon Weaire, Able Seaman, aged 20, was the third son of Mr. and Mrs. W. Weaire of Bryant Avenue, Strood.

Able Seaman T. McGowan

Able Seaman Thomas McGowan, aged 30, belonged to Birmingham. He has a widow and child living in Rochester.

Cooper J. Beeson

One of the best known local victims of the disaster was Cooper J. Beeson, the Naval tenor. He had taken part in many concerts at the Empire Theatre, Grand, Gillingham and entertainment's in the district. He had been sixteen-and-a-half years in the Royal Navy, and possessed the Good Conduct Medal. Much sympathy has been expressed with the bereaved wife and two young children aged five and nine.

Yeoman of Signals A.J. Fryatt

Born in Hull only 28 years ago, but brought while quite an infant to Gillingham, Yeoman of Signals Alfred James Fryatt of Violet Cottage, Skinner Street, had spent only 20 days on leave at home out of three years and four months duty on the Vanguard. He had previously served in the Actaeon and before that again in the Albemarle. He has left a widow and one little lad of three summers, who it is pathetic to note, has only seen his father on 20 days of his life. Deceased had been married four years.

Chief Petty Officer R.M. Smith

A native of Congham, King's Lynn, Norfolk and in his 41st year, Chief Petty Officer Richard Maurice Smith, completed for pension last October, and had been 26 years in the Navy when the explosion so suddenly cut him off. His widow resides at 81 Gillingham Road. The deceased had served in the Ganges, Natal, Lancaster, London, Firefly and Argonaut. Like not a few of his comrades, who have lost their lives in the Vanguard disaster, he went right through the Jutland fight unscathed. He had had no leave since November last, but was expected to get home in August.

Chief Shipwright R.G. Thomas

Born at Pembroke Dock, son of the late Mr. J. Thomas, a painter, Chief Shipwright Reginald George Thomas had seen 13 years service with the Navy. He had served his time in H.M. Dockyard at Pembroke, and had been cut off at the early age of 32. He has left a widow resident at 158 Balmoral Road, Gillingham, and one little girl of four years, whose last birthday, it is most pathetic to state coincided with the date of the explosion. Mr. Thomas had his last leave home in October 1915. He was a member of the Shipwright's Association.

Last Updated: 23 January, 2004.

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