Tuesday, 22 November 2016

On this day in 1916, Chief Petty Office Alfred Bassett died

Chief Petty Officer
HMS Savage/HMS Blenheim
Died age 39
22nd November 1916

Alfred Bassett was born in Stoke Climsland on 5th November 1877 to Harry and Eliza Bassett. Harry was the publican of the Half Moon Inn in the centre of the village. Alfred was baptised in Stoke Climsland church on 29th April 1878 and it is probable that he went to Stoke Climsland School, just across the road from the pub.
An old photograph of the Half Moon Inn, allegedly bought and closed in the early 1900s by the local Methodists as a way of controlling wayward drinking in the Parish. The man in the doorway is thought to be Harry Bassett. Are the two in the road his children?

On 28th June 1906 Alfred married Isabel Dingle (daughter of John and Marian Dingle who lived at Mugford, on the outskirts of nearby Luckett, for many years whilst John was a mine agent) at the Congregational Chapel, Emma Place, Stonehouse, Plymouth. There were no children. At the time of the 1911 census (2nd April 1911), he and Isabel were living at 57, Abingdon Road, Southsea, Alfred being stationed at the shore establishment, HMS Vernon.

Alfred joined the Royal Navy on 24th April 1894 as a Boy Second Class at the age of 16. His naval record says that he was 5’ 3 ¾" tall, with brown hair, blue eyes and a fair complexion. He had a sailor tattooed on his right forearm and his occupation at the time of his enlistment was given as a porter. At this time he entered the shore establishment, HMS St Vincent at Gosport, which was a training establishment for boys and juniors. When he was 18 (5th November 1895) he enlisted to serve for a period of 12 years. He subsequently re-enlisted on 5th November 1907 ‘to completion’. His first posting was to the battleship HMS Edinburgh. He served in many other ships and travelled extensively (for example, on the night of the 1901 census – 31st March 1901 – he was on board the cruiser HMS Marathon anchored off Trincomalee in Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon). He progressed through the ranks (ordinary, able-bodied, leading seaman, PO 2nd Class, PO 1st Class, Acting CPO). His final posting was to HMS Blenheim, a depot ship to the destroyer HMS Savage, both were part of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force involved in the Dardanelle Campaign in the Eastern Mediterranean.
HMS Savage
HMS Blenheim
He must have fallen ill and been transferred to the Hospital Ship Karapara as it was there that he died of a perforated gastric ulcer. He was buried in the East Mudros Military Cemetery and is commemorated there as well as on the memorials in Stoke Climsland.
Hospital Ship Karapara
Alfred Bassett's gravestone in East Mudros
View of the East Mudros cemetery
East Mudros Military Cemetery is on the Greek island of Limnos (Lemnos) in the north-east Aegean Sea. East Mudros Military Cemetery was begun in April 1915 and used until September 1919.  It contains 885 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, 86 of them unidentified, and one Second World War burial. Because of its position, the island of Lemnos played an important part in the campaigns against Turkey during the First World War. It was occupied by a force of marines on 23 February 1915 in preparation for the military attack on Gallipoli, and Mudros became a considerable Allied camp. The 1st and 3rd Canadian Stationary Hospitals, the 3rd Australian General Hospital and other medical units were stationed on both sides of Mudros bay and a considerable Egyptian Labour Corps detachment was employed. After the evacuation of Gallipoli, a garrison remained on the island and the 1st Royal Naval Brigade was on Lemnos, Imbros and Tenedos for the first few months of 1916.
When he died, Alfred left £123 10s to his widow (which has a present day purchasing power of approximately £7000).

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