Friday, 10 June 2016

Luton Sailors at Jutland


Edmond Dexter and Frederick Darby

Saturday 10th June 1916:  Seaman Thomas Fensome of 93 Hitchin Road, Luton has been home on leave, looking none the worse for his experiences on HMS Warspite at the Battle of Jutland. During the action the Warspite sailed into the midst of the German ships where it became a target for both heavy vessels and submarines. Despite the destruction of her steering gear and other damage caused by the shelling she endured, Warspite is claimed to have sunk two German cruisers and several destroyers. The Warspite herself remained afloat and was able to get home to port. Tom Fensome was in the magazine, 90 feet below decks, where the lads must fight without knowing what is going on above them.

A number of Luton sailors have been lost in this great sea battle, including two who were killed on HMS Invincible: Engineer-Lieutenant John McLennan Hine, a qualified naval engineer who had been chief engineer to the Holme Line of steamships at Maryport in Cumberland before moving to Luton, and Edmond Charles Dexter. “Ted” Dexter married just three years ago and on hearing the news of the loss of her husband’s ship his young wife wrote bravely to his parents: “We are not the only ones that have lost our dearest. There are thousands upon thousands of others who have lost three or four in this great battle, and I am trying to face the future for baby’s sake. It is a bitter loss to us both, but I am proud to think that I am his wife and the mother of his son, and I hope and pray to God that he will give me strength to bring him up as his daddy would have me do. I am also proud that your boy and mine died fighting. I say died because I know he would never drown, and that he would fight to the bitter end”.  

The mother of Frederick George Darby received a telegram from the Admiralty notifying her that her son, a signal boy on board the Black Prince was feared lost. A former pupil of Beech Hill School, he had been in the navy for eighteen months. He was due to celebrate his 17th birth next month. He has three brothers serving as soldiers, one of whom was the first in the Bedfordshire Regiment to win the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

Source: Luton News, 8th and 15th June 1916

No comments:

Post a Comment