Thomas Kennedy's RN Service Record

Discussion in 'History' started by sea_mine, Nov 27, 2009.

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  1. Hi List,

    One of my colleagues at work whose grandfather, Thomas Kennedy, was lost on HMS Formidable in 1915, has asked me for help putting some light on this rating's RN career.

    I have downloaded Thomas Kennedy's service record from the National Archives here.

    Those of you who have followed the Thomas Denn Diary thread (History > 1919 Diary ID) will know my research methodology by now and may well groan at yet another thread being opened by sea_mine :lol: - however, I promise to make it as painless as possible :!:

    What I would like to do, with the help of you guys, is to go down through his service record and have a look at each ship he served on. It would be interesting if we could track, as far as possible, the travels of each vessel while Kennedy was onboard up until he was lost when HMS Formidable sunk on New Years morning, 1915.

    The Wikipedia article on HMS Formidable (not the WWII Carrier of the same name) is here.

    I'll halt here for a while until you guys have had a chance to look at Kennedy's service record. Suggestions and corrections as always, are welcomed and appreciated.


  2. Afternoon All,

    Before I have a look at the ships Thomas Kennedy served on, there are just a few things I am not clear on while examining his service record. Foremost are his various occupations as listed. I have uploaded this segment of his record, which refers to these occupations here:


    The first one is obviously 'barber' and I presume 'Shipwt' is short for shipwright, but can anyone make out the two circled in red and blue?

    I would also be interested to know the exact duties of a shipwright in the Royal Navy during this period.


  3. Hi Pat,

    Thomas Kennedy's occupation was that of a carpenter. The abbreviation CarCr means Carpenter/Cooper.

    He is then listed as a Leading Carpenter.

    And finally, Shipwright II of three years or more.

    Hope this helps.

  4. Sweetpea,

    Thanks for that - I mistook the 'C' for a 'B' - another big hint of course is the occupation listed at the top of his service record :oops:

  5. At times when researching one can not see the wood through the trees. :lol:

  6. List,

    Another section of Thomas Kennedy's service record deals with what I assume to be the length of service to which he had signed up to. I have uploaded the section here:


    First, does anyone know the meaning of the letters C. S. in the section heading:

    It would appear that he joined the RN on 28th February 1901, signing on for a period of twelve years - am I correct in this interpretation?

    Can anyone decode the entry inside the red box?


  7. List,

    I would also be thankful if anyone could have a go at the remarks section:


    The words 'Gibraltar' and 'Howe' would appear to refer to ships on which Thomas Kennedy served.


  8. Hi Pat,

    C.S. means Continuous Service of 12 years.

    He enlisted 28th Feb. 1901. The completion of his 12 years service is therefore dated Mar 1913. This is recorded in a log, Vol 12, May 13 ref qes/16029.

    Thomas actually served a further 2 years until 1st January 1915, when he was sadly lost with the Formidable.

  9. It's to do with gratuities Pat. It appears that Thomas was paid or was charged 10/- extra for something to do with Howe, and £1 for something to do with Gibraltar.
    It comes under the gratuities list for Clothing and bedding.

  10. Sweetpea & List,

    Many thanks for putting light on those two sections. I appreciate your time and effort.

    Not shown on his service record, but I have been given a copy of an entry in some form of ledger giving particulars of Thomas Kennedy's medals. I have marked his entry in red in this extract:


    Can anyone tell me which medals the four abbreviations St, Y (or V - not sure which), B and Ww stand for?


  11. List,

    From this link, I deduce the following:

    St = 1914 Star

    V = Victory Medal

    B = British War Medal

    Ww => Medals issued to his Widow

    Corrections to this deduction are welcomed and appreciated.


  12. Pat, :thumbright: No correction required.

  13. Sweetpea & List,

    I am back on the trail again and was wondering if anyone knows anything about Thomas Kennedy's first ship, HMS Vivid II - which I suspect was the vessel referred to in this Wikipedia summary (no article done yet):

    From this article on the official Royal Navy site, I deduce that Kennedy served on the base ship rather than in the shore base, as the term "II" appears to refer to the second ship carrying the name 'HMS Vivid' - can anyone confirm or correct this?

    Looking at this article, she seems to have come to rest in Scottish waters on the 10th July 1913.

    After Kennedy's death and during the tenure of the third HMS Vivid, I also found this interesting list of deaths at Devonport base in 1917 (not sure if the deaths occurred onshore or on the Base Ship, but by my count there are thirteen deaths in the month of May 1917, all from 'illness'!

    Also from this web page, I found this reference:

    Another nugget turned up Rear-Admiral (S) HAROLD RODHAM CMG (1873-1947) as serving on HMS Vivid at the same time as Thomas Kennedy's posting:

    [align=justify]Harold Rodham (then Assistant Paymaster) -> 06-02-1900 to 27-11-1901

    Thomas Kennedy (then Carpenter/Cooper) -> 28-02-1901 to 02-07-1901[/align]


    Comments and corrections are, as always, welcomed and appreciated.


  14. List,

    From Thomas Kennedy's service record (see here), it would appear that his second ship was the Admiral Class pre dreadnought battleship HMS Howe. He served on her for a short period from 3rd July 1901 until 12th October of the same year.

    Wikipedia has this on her but no photograph. However, there is a fantastic watercolour by William Lionel Wyllie of her here in the National Maritime Museum, showing her on the right (I suspect) and HMS Benbow on the left.

    I next found some excellent photographs of her here - it seems she was damaged when she hit the Ferrol Rocks in November 1892. I am assuming these rocks are near Ferrol in NW Spain, underlined in red here:


    Can anyone confirm the location of these rocks?

    From this journal reference, the rocks were inside Ferrol harbour and a Court Martial into the incident is also referenced.

    Does anyone know if the records of Court Martials from this era are available to the public?

    During the first Olympic Games in Athens in 1896, HMS Howe (or rather her crew) gets a mention here:

    I also found an Irish connection to HMS Howe - it appears from this site that HMS Howe was the Guard Ship at Cobh (Queenstown) from 1897 to 1901. While a short time in Cobh, in March 1897, there appears to have been an explosion in the engine room as indicated by these Parliamentary papers.

    The information here on HMS Empress of India (A Thomas Denn Diary connection!) would appear to suggest that HMS Howe was in Cobh until 13th October 1901 - the day after Thomas Kennedy was transferred off her:

    Comments and corrections are welcomed and appreciated.


  15. The ships log for this period are at the National Archive, Kew, reference ADM 53/13993. This covers the period June 12th - November 18th 1892. The next in sequence commences on October 31 1893, so I would assume that this was when the ship re-entered service after repair. Your best bet for the Court Martial would be to contact the Naval Historical Branch and ask them if they have any record of it, or if they have a National Archive reference for it.
  16. lsadirty & List,

    Many thanks for the document reference ADM 53/13993 - I have ordered it this evening from the National Archives - it does not appear to be downloadable, so I'll have to wait until they get a chance to photocopy it.

    Moving on to Thomas Kennedy's third ship, HMS Empress of India, on which he served from 13th October 1901 until 27th February 1905.

    HMS Empress of India was a Royal Sovereign Class Battleship - see this link for a class description

    Wikipedia has this on her. There is a great photo of her in the article which I reproduce here:


    From this dive web site, it appears that Robert Falcon Scott ('Scott of the Antarctic') served on her as a Torpedo Lieutenant in 1896/97.

    The period covering Thomas Kennedy's service on board her is cut from the article and reproduced here:

    There are also some other images of her here.

    Another three images are located on this web page - I especially like the dry dock image at the top of the page showing detail of her stern section.

    She ended her days in 1913, when she was sunk as a gunnery target in Devon's Lyme Bay. I found this diving article on her wreck, where the author warns inexperienced divers against wreck penetration - it seems 48 meters dept is no place to fool around!

    I note from the same web site on this page that she is inverted on the sea bed "as battleships have a habit of doing when sinking" - is this because battleships are top heavy or is there another reason?

    There is a depressing description of her final moments as she is sunk by her own shells on this dive web site.

    Winston Churchill is being grilled about the purpose of her use as a target ship in this House of Commons record.


  17. janner

    janner War Hero Book Reviewer

    I'd say Dorsets Lyme bay as its named after Lyme Regis, the Pearl of Dorset. :lol:
  18. Parchment detail as "Vivid II"
    My grandfather did his ERA Oil fuel course (presea training) in 1916 at HMS Fisgard , which comprised the hulks moored in Portsmouth . His parchment for that period says Vivid II, so basically an accomodation establishment.
  19. janner, nobby0919 & List,

    Thanks to both of you for the corrections - so it looks like HMS Howe was Kennedy's first ship. HMS Vivid II therefore is the shore base (stone frigate) depicted here at Keyham, renamed HMS Drake in 1934.

    Over on the World Naval Ships Forums, from the thread here, I see the discussion had progressed to "Vivid IV" back in 2007.

    I found these under water images of the HMS Empress of India wreck this afternoon.

    While Thomas Kennedy was serving on HMS Empress of India, there is a reference to this member of the ship’s company, Herbert Arthur BATEMAN, Lance Corporal RMLI, dying on 11th March 1904 - see his entry on this page of the Index for RN Cemetery - Portland, Dorset.

    The Royal Navy submarine A10 was in collision with the Empress of India on 30 April 1906 in Plymouth Sound. What little Wikipedia has on the A10 is here. There is a photograph of her with her sister vessels on this page.

    Another collision, this time with the German barque Winderhudder in 1912, is referred to in this collection of confidential Foreign Office political correspondence.


  20. The Fisgard hulks were at Portsmouth, and so therefore was Vivid II.
    Maybe possible that Vivid (I) was at Plymouth??

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