HMS Kent and the Battle of the Falkland Islands 1914.

Discussion in 'History' started by Chalk, Jan 16, 2013.

Welcome to the Navy Net aka Rum Ration

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial RN website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  1. Good afternoon one and all.

    Might I please ask for guidance and/or help?

    I am a volunteer guide in Canterbury Cathedral, where we have a rather fine memorial to those of HMS Kent who died as a result of the battle. This is it:


    Visitors have asked about the order that the names are in. Unfortunately none of us know the answer.
    I've been asked why they are not in alphabetical order.

    They are definitely not in the order they died, but they do appear to be in order of rank (or have I got that wrong as well?) but their service numbers are only partly in order. It is complicated by two of the privates being much older than the rest, which makes me wonder if they had re-enlisted or been recalled from reserves.

    The information I have found about the men is as follows:

    SPENCE,THOMAS. Serjeant, PO/5674.
    RoyalMarine Light Infantry.
    DiedSaturday 12 December 1914. Aged 46.
    BuriedStanley Cemetery, Falkland Islands. Grave Ref: I. 783.
    Born30th July 1871 at Sheriff Hutton Yorks. Brother James, 408 New CrossRoad, London.
    Thomaswas one of the ships six inch gun's crew in A.3 casemate. He is very
    severelyburnt about the head, fact, trunk and limbs. After being treated forhis
    injurieson H.M.S. Kent, Tom was taken to the Falkland Islands Hospital atPort
    Stanley.His condition on arrival at the hospital was recorded as being of a
    seriousnature, and his ultimate recovery was doubtful. Whilst being treatedat
    thehospital, Tom ultimately succumbed to his injuries on Saturday 12December.
    Note:The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records the date of death as24th December.

    KIND,WALTER JAMES. Private, PO/15049.
    RoyalMarine Light Infantry.
    DiedWednesday 9 December 1914. Aged 29.
    Born104 Wellington Street, Leicester, Leicestershire.
    Sonof James and Mary A. Kind (née Makin).
    BuriedStanley Cemetery, Falkland Islands. Grave Ref: I. 783.
    Walterwas one of the ships six inch gun's crew in A.3 casemate. He was very
    seriouslyburnt about the head, face, trunk and limbs. He was put to bed in the
    sickbay. Picric acid dressings were applied and morphia administered, buthe
    diedof shock at 1500 hours on Wednesday 9 December.

    Note:Memorial shows wrong initial for middle name – S instead of J!

    WOOD,WALTER. Private, PO/16920.
    RoyalMarine Light Infantry.
    DiedTuesday 8 December 1914. Aged 20.
    Born10th May 1894 at Fratton, Portsmouth, Hampshire.
    Sonof Charles and Hannah Wood of 1, Charles Road, Kingston, Portsmouth,
    BuriedStanley Cemetery, Falkland Islands. Grave Ref: I. 783.
    Walterwas serving in one of the ships six inch gun's crew in A.3 casematewhen
    anexplosion occurred. He appears to have been killed instantly, hisbody being
    rigidwith the hands and arms in the position he would have been in whenholding
    acartridge. He was very severely burnt about the face, trunk andlimbs.

    KELLEY,SAMUEL. Private, PO/3793. RMR, A566
    RoyalMarine Light Infantry.
    DiedTuesday 8 December 1914. Aged 45.
    Born6th November 1868 at Portsea, Portsmouth.
    Husbandof Kate E. Kelley (née Mayes) of 62, Chevening Road, Kensal Rise,
    BuriedStanley Cemetery, Falkland Islands. Grave Ref: I. 783.
    Samuelwas injured by a shell which took off both his legs below the knees.He
    alsohad a scalp wound and fracture of the occiput. He was attended duringthe
    actionand later removed to the sick bay. He was in extremis when seen, and
    diedabout two hours after the action ceased at 2100 hours.

    Note:The cathedral memorial shows his name as Kelly, while theCommonwealth War Graves Commission records it as Kelley. As does theship's log.

    TITHERIDGE,ARTHUR CHARLES. Private, PO/11220. RMR Po B 1254.
    RoyalMarine Light Infantry.
    DiedTuesday 8 December 1914. Aged 33.
    Born2nd June 1881 at East Meon, Petersfield.
    Wife:Bertha, 3 Spring Street, Forton Road, Gosport.
    BuriedStanley Cemetery, Falkland Islands. Grave Ref: I. 783.
    Commemoratedon the East Meon, Hampshire civic war memorial.
    Arthurwas Gunlayer of the six inch gun in A.3 casemate. He was veryseverely
    burntabout the head, face, trunk and limbs. He was removed to the Sick Bay
    wherepicric acid dressings were applied and morphia administered, but hedied
    ofshock at 2340 hours the same night.

    SNOW,GEORGE. Private, PO/16958.
    RoyalMarine Light Infantry.
    DiedTuesday 8 December 1914. Aged 19.
    Born9th April 1895 at Alverstoke, Hants.
    Father:Harry, 3 Pelham Road, Gosport, Hants.
    BuriedStanley Cemetery, Falkland Islands. Grave Ref: I. 783.
    Georgewas one of the ships six inch guns crew in A.3 casemate. He is very
    severelyburnt about the head face, trunk and limbs. He is removed the SickBay,
    whereat the time of receiving treatment for his injuries, his conditionwas
    recordedas being very serious.

    Note:The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records his date of death as20th December.

    DUCKETT,GEORGE ALFRED. Officer's Steward 1st Class, L/2428.
    DiedWednesday 9 December 1914. Aged 21.
    BornBrixton, London 22 October 1893.
    Sonof Alfred and Isabel E. Duckett of 4, Tasman Road, Stockwell, London.
    Alsoanother address given as 184 Leander Road, Brixton Hill, London.
    BuriedStanley Cemetery, Falkland Islands. Grave Ref: I. 783.
    Georgewas working as one of the ambulance party in A.3 casemate. He was
    veryseverely burnt about the head, face, trunk and limbs. He was conveyedto
    theSick Bay. Picric acid dressings were applied and morphiaadministered. He
    diedfrom shock at 2155 hours on Wednesday 9 December.

    YOUNG,WALTER. Seaman, C/2453
    RoyalNaval Reserve.
    DiedTuesday 8 December 1914. Aged 32.
    Born18th May 1882 at Poole Dorset.
    BuriedStanley Cemetery, Falkland Islands. Grave Ref: I. 783.
    Wife:Rose, 4 Russell Place, Poole, Dorset.
    Walterwas injured by a splinter. He received a perforating wound of thechest,
    thesplinter entered below angle of left scapula behind, perforatingpleura lung
    andribs behind and in front and lodged below the outer side of leftnipple just
    beneaththe skin. He was attended to during the action and later removed toSick Bay. He was in extremis and died at 2130 hours on 8 December.

    The only thing I have been able to deduce for certain is that there are two errors on the memorial!

    Can anyone offer any clues as to the reasoning behind the order in which they are listed, especially the privates? We do make every effort to give visitors accurate information and this is a question we just cannot answer.

    Many thanks!

  2. Welcome to Rum Ration, Chalk.

    I shall try to answer this for you but if I can't, someone else will be able to.
  3. Thank you Soleil!

    Much appreciated.
  4. What a terrible list of injuries, God rest their souls.
  5. Seaweed

    Seaweed War Hero Book Reviewer

    Kent was in the Reserve Fleet and was very largely manned by Reservists, including men who had completed their engagement before the war started but who had a compulsory Reserve liability outstanding (Royal Fleet Reserve), and RNR who were merchant seamen. My great-uncle joined her as a Midshipman RNR and I have a copy of his Journal. However that doesn't answer your question and I'm afraid I have no idea!

    Here's a pic of some damage (not to A3 casemate) but it shows the RM working rig as worn by the two fellows on the laft of the pic:

  6. What a great historical phot
  7. Thanks Chalks and Seaweed. Sad but interesting. RIP lads
  8. Chalk,

    Since the memorial tablet was erected by the Captain and crew of HMS KENT, it is quite possible that the actual list of casualty names was submitted by the Captain to the monumental mason in the order that they appear on the tablet. It is a private memorial tablet, had it been a CWGC memorial the casualty listings would be in alphabetical order. As for the errors, Sadly many mistakes can be found in the CWGC records and on CWGC war grave headstones.


    Edited to add: Thanks for posting such a wonderful photo Seaweed.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2013
  9. Seaweed

    Seaweed War Hero Book Reviewer

    Actually there are at least two spelling mistakes on our town war memorial. How they were got wrong we have no idea.

  10. I've found that the gentleman just to the left of the shell damage is Sgt George Mayes RMLI. The shell that did the damage to casemate A3 and caused most of the casualties sent flame down the amunition hoist into the magazine.

    From another source.... "...andbut for the heroism of Sergeant Charles Mayes might have beenentirely lost with every man onboard her. His action is thusrecorded:
    “Ashell burst and ignited cordite charges in the casement, and a flashof flame went down the hoist into the ammunition passage. SergeantMayes picked up a charge of cordite and threw it away. He then gothold of a fire hose and flooded the compartment, extinguishing thefire in some empty shell-bags which were burning”
    Forthis brave act he was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal."

    Many thanks to all who are trying to help solve the mystery of the memorial. Your help is much appreciated.

    Last edited: Jan 18, 2013
  11. Great Phot, I'm wondering why the Royal on far left is barefoot?
  12. tiddlyoggy

    tiddlyoggy War Hero Book Reviewer

    Only guessing, but wooden decks-slippery to most everything, less so to skin.
  13. tiddlyoggy

    tiddlyoggy War Hero Book Reviewer

    Chalk, sincere thanks for bringing this piece of history to these boards. Extremely interesting!
  14. Seaweed

    Seaweed War Hero Book Reviewer

    Kent (led by Glasgow) pursued the Dresden and eventually found her at Juan Fernandez island off the coast of Chile, where the Dresdens scuttled their ship after a token defence. One Dresden's officers who escaped back to Germany was Wilhelm Canaris. Kent was then sent north to Victoria BC to patch up. When Kent got back to Portsmouth after fiftyeen months away the pipe was not 'Libertymen to clean' but 'All hands coal ship.'
  15. A quick update that might interest some....

    The mystery of the order of the names of the privates is more or less solved.
    The are not in the order of service number, of joining the ship, of death, of order in which death is recorded in the ships log, or even the order in which names are listed in the official report to the Admiralty from the Fleet Surgeon at Port Stanley. That only leaves them as being in number order but slightly adjusted so that the right hand end of the names forms a neat pattern.

    The flags of HMS Kent (ie ships flag and the county flag) were laid up in Canterbury Cathedral in July 1916 amidst great pomp and ceremony which included the attendance of every Mayor in the county. They were then hung in the nave in front of the altar from pillars, pole pointing upwards and inclined to the centre of the nave. Thus the flags appeared to be hanging above the altar.

    They remained there till January 1943. Canterbury was devastated on 1st June 1942 in a Baedeker Raid, and windows in the north wall of the nave were blown out. For some reason they were not covered. A severe storm at the end of 1942 resulted in high winds inside the cathedral and the flags were again badly damaged, as were those of HMS Canterbury. The flags were then taken down and placed in storage in one of the chapels. So far I have not been able to find out what then happened to the flags. Research continues........

    The bell of HMS Kent was kept and reused for the next ship of the name. She was scrapped in 1948 and the bell, inscribed with the dates of both ships came to Canterbury. A letter was received from the Secretary of the Association of Men of Kent & Kentish Men which suggested that the bell could be offered to Rochester Cathedral as HMS Kent (1901-1920) had had a strong association with Chatham. This was discussed at a meeting of the Dean & Chapter of Canterbury, and the records of that meeting noted that "The Dean concurred".

    As a result, visitors to Kent can see the bell of HMS Kent in Rochester Cathedral, where is is rung every Saturday morning at 11am, and the memorial to the fallen of the ship in Canterbury Cathedral.
  16. If you analyze the memorial you find that the names are actually sorted by a number of criteria. First rank,(Sgt/Private/Steward/Seaman) then reverse date (9/8,) , then reverse surname order. Why, I don't know, probably that was the way the captain compiled the list and no one bothered to redo it logically.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2013
  17. Seaweed

    Seaweed War Hero Book Reviewer

    Kent would have been wearing at least six Battle Ensigns (three each at fore and main, at the gaff and both yards) so there is still a question of what happened to the remainder. Of Invincible's, for instance, one ended up in Portsmouth cathedral and another in the foyer of Eton College chapel.
  18. I've just fund out that the actions of the stokers in screwing down safety valves so that they could not open and shovelling coal at a prodigious rate resulted in the power being produced increased form the normal maximum of 22,000 shp to 27,000 shp.

    Can anyone tell me what the typical normal boiler pressure would have been in those days, and how high the pressure must have gone to get that increase in power output? I am wondering just how far past the red line it must have gone and how risky was it.

    Edited to add: I met the grandsons of two of the crew of HMS Kent the other day. One, grandson of an officer, showed me a record book his grandfather had kept throughout the First World War in which he recorded the distance sailed every day. To hold it, and look at the entry for the date of the battle, was quite an experience.

    The other, grandson of a stoker, showed me his fathers record of service. It showed that his grandfather was paid £15 as Prize Money for the sinkings of Nurnberg and Dresden. £880 in todays money.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2013
  19. Hello all,

    I am a new subscriber to this forum and happened upon this thread by chance.
    My Grandfather served on board Kent, joining ship on the 3rd of October 1914 until the 10th June 1918.

    He served as an able seaman gunner and was in action against the Cruiser NURNBERG during the Falkland Islands battle on the 8th December 1914, as well as the action against the Cruiser DRESDEN in March 1915.

    I have an original of the battle damage photo shown on the thread, plus others of the damage sustained to his turret.

    I also have a piece of one of the Battle Ensigns flown by KENT during the Falkland Islands Battle. It is in an envelope with the inscription "Remnants of Silk, Business, Dec 8th 1914"

    Plus, I have a postcard he sent to his mother with a picture of `KENT` which says " This is a photo of my new ship, I hope she will prove as good as the last one (Illustrious). I have got a larger gun to shoot with on this ship"!

    He received £12/10/- prize money after the Falkland Islands action and the one against Dresden off Juan Fernandez.


Share This Page