Monday 9 July 1917 We Lost 1,254
HMS Vanguard suffers an internal explosion at 23:30 probably caused by an unnoticed stokehold fire heating cordite stored against an adjacent bulkhead in one of the two magazines which serve the amidships gun turrets P and Q killing 843. In terms of loss of life, the destruction of the Vanguard remains the most catastrophic accidental explosion in the history of Britain and one of the worst accidental losses of the Royal Navy.
- The commander of the Vanguard is Captain James Douglas Dick who is killed at age 45. He is the son of ‘Sir’ James Nicholas Dick KCB.
- Lieutenant Sidney Wodehouse Upcher is killed at age 27. He is the son of the Reverend Canon A C Wodehouse Upcher Vicar of Hingham.
- Lieutenant Norman Leven Russell Bell is killed. His brother was killed in action the day after Christmas in 1914 and they are sons of the Sheriff Substitute of Stirlingshire.
- The Vanguard’s Surgeon Edward Rayner is killed at age 32 His brother was killed in July 1916.
- Navy Chaplain Hatfield Arthur William Back is killed at age 26. He is the son of the late Reverend A J Back. Naval Instructor William Ernest Hartley is killed at age 40. He was the Chief Assistant at the Cambridge Observatory.
- Sub Lieutenant Gerard Younghusband Harrison the 20-year old son of the late Reverend Arthur Leonard Harrison. His brother was killed in May 1915.
- Midshipman Christopher Arthur Gresham Cooke is killed at 18. He survived the sinking of HMS Aboukir in 1914.
- Midshipman Cecil Henry Oldham is killed at age 18. His brother was killed in September 1915 and they are sons of the Reverend Egerton Haslope Oldham Rector of Stanford on Teme.
- Midshipman Randall William MacDonnell Johnston is killed at age 16. He is the son of Brigadier General Thomas Kelly Evans Johnston.
- Chief Yeoman of Signals Oscar Charlton Cox is killed at age 39. He is due to retire in October. His brother was killed in June and their brother in law was lost at Jutland on HMS Shark.
- Gunner William Alfred Rudge (Royal Marine Artillery) is also killed. His brother was killed earlier this year while serving in Mesopotamia.
- Chief Petty Officer Charles Frederick Cooke is killed at age 43. He is the first of four brothers who will lose their lives in the war.
- Bugler Noel Herbert Newnham (Royal Marines) is killed at age 16. His two brothers have lost their lives earlier in the War.
- Boy 1st Class Albert Henry Hewitt is killed. His brother will die on service also serving as a Boy in the Royal Navy in November 1918.
- Boy Telegraphist Benjamin Fitchett is killed at age 17. His brother will died of wounds in August.
- Boy 1st Class Richard John Hales is killed at age 17. His brother was killed in March of this year.
- Carpenter’s Crew Alfred Edward Foott is killed at age 21. His brother will be killed in August of next year.
- Stoker 1st Class William Watson is killed at age 21. His brother will die on service later this year also serving as a Stoker in the Royal Navy.
- Father and son George Thomas Coombes age 40 and George Frederick Thomas Coombes age 20 are both killed serving as Stokers.
- Ordinary Seaman Norman Bovey is killed at age 18. His brother will die on service in December 1918.
- Able Seaman Joseph McCracken is killed. His brother Frederick also fell. Stokers 1st Class and brothers Clarence Victor (age 20) and William (age 19) Luckhurst are killed.
Today’s losses include:
- Son of a KCB
- Multiple sons of members of the clergy
- Families that will lose two, three and four sons in the Great War
- The son of a High Sheriff Substitute
- A Naval Chaplain
- A Naval Surgeion
- A survivor of the sinking of HMS Aboukir in 1914
- The son of a General
- A 16-year old Midshipman
- A 16-year old Bugler
- A man set to retire in October
- A man whose brother and brother-in-law were killed at Jutland on HMS Shark
- A father and son killed together
- Brothers killed together
- The son-in-law of a Justice of the Peace
- A man whose brother will be killed in the Second World War
- A man whose father was killed last year
Today’s highlighted casualties include:
- Captain John White Cater MC (Middlesex Regiment) dies of wounds as a prisoner of war at age 35. He is the son-in-law of J T Horley JP of Harrow-on-the-Hill. Captain Cater fought in the South African War, being then in the Ceylon Mounted Infantry, attached to the Gloucestershire Regiment. He received the Queen’s Medal with two clasps. In September 1914, he enlisted in the Royal First Devon Yeomanry obtaining a Commission in the Middlesex Regiment in June 1915. He went to France in October 1916 and was promoted Captain in January of this year. He fought in the Battle of Arras and was wounded on 9th April after which he was recommended for the Military Cross, and the Gazette of 18th July 1917, describes his act. “The success of the attack was largely due to his initiative and skillful leading. He showed the utmost energy and coolness in organizing his men under heavy fire after each advance. He set a fine example throughout”. On 3rd May 1917 he is severely wounded near Arras while leading his men in an attack at dawn. After having carried on his back one of his officers who was unable to move, when he himself was badly wounded, he is again hit and taken prisoner. He dies in hospital at Cassel, Germany today.
- Captain Basil Lyon-Clark (King’s Africa Rifles) is killed at age 24. His brother will be killed in the Second World War in July 1944.
- Corporal Bruce Beresford (Royal Engineers) is killed at age 26. His brother will be killed in a railway accident in May 1919.
- Private Herbert Brocklehurst Jr. (Sherwood Foresters) is killed at age 27. His father was killed in May 1916