Monday, 30 May 2016


May 31st 1916 would have been long remembered in Stoke Climsland as it was the day that saw the greatest loss of life for the Parish throughout the duration of WW1. Four sailors were killed during the Battle of Jutland. The bodies of all four were never recovered and, as well as our own memorials, they are commemorated on the Royal Navy Memorial on Plymouth Hoe.
On the 30th May, Admiral Sir John Jellicoe led the Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet from Orkney’s Scapa Flow towards the Battle of Jutland, just off the west coast of Denmark, the largest naval engagement of the First World War. Jutland brought together the two most powerful naval forces of the time. By the end of the battle in the early hours of the 1st of June 1916, more than eight thousand British and German personnel had lost their lives. Amongst the British ships lost were HMS Indefatigable and HMS Defence.
HMS Indefatigable was hit several times in the first minutes of the opening phase of the battlecruiser action. At approximately 4 pm shells from the German battlecruiser Von der Tann caused an explosion ripping a hole in her hull, and a second explosion, at 4.03 pm hurled large pieces of the ship 200 feet in the air. Only three of the crew of 1,018 survived. Amongst those killed were local men Stoker 1st Class Charley Colwill and Leading Stoker William Thomas Doidge.
The demise of HMS Indefatigable
HMS Defence blew up whilst under heavy fire from the German battleship "Friedrich Der Grosse". At 6.20 pm she was struck by two salvoes that detonated her rear magazine. The fire from that explosion spread to her secondary magazines, which exploded in turn. All of her increased war time complement of 904 men were killed and these included Stoker 2nd Class Herbert Floyd and Able Seaman Stanley Jenkins.
HMS Defence
Stoker 1st Class Charley Colwill: He was born in Trewarlet, Lezant in 1883, the son of John and Martha Colwill. Charlie was a farm labourer when he enlisted at Devonport for 12 years on 15th June 1905. He remained a stoker for all of his service which culminated in him joining his last ship, HMS Indefatigable, on 4th December 1915. He was 38 when he died.
Leading Stoker William Thomas Doidge: William was born in Stoke Climsland on 30th June 18891 and enlisted at Devonport for 12 years on 21st September 1909. He became part of Indefatigable’s company on 14th December 1915. He was a farm labourer /cowman before joining up and was married to Dorothy shortly before he was killed. He was 28 when he was killed.
Stoker 2nd Class Herbert Floyd: Herbert was born in Callington on 16th April 1890 and had enlisted ‘for the duration of the hostilities’ on 11th October 1915. He was a farm labourer and at the time of his joining up, he was a live-in-servant at the farm of Harry Cory in South Hill. His mother and step-father, Mary and Frederick Smeeth, lived in Stoke village. He was transferred to HMS Defence on 20th February 1916 and was 26 years old when he was killed.
Able Seaman Stanley Jenkins: Stanley was the second of the three sons of James and Mary Jenkin who were killed in the war. He was born in 1897 in Lower Downgate but later moved with his parents to Kelly Bray. He was 16 when he joined the Royal Navy on 11th January 1913 for 12 years as a Boy Seaman. He progressed from this rank to become an Able Bodied Seaman when he joined HMS Defence on 23rd June 1914. He was 18 when he was killed and was the youngest person from the Parish to die in the conflict.
Plymouth Naval Memorial on the Hoe.

No comments: