Monday, 4 January 2010

William’s elusive but proud naval record

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William Millington served on HMS Nymphe between 1896-1900
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Not to be put off by the absence of a specific record appertaining to William, Brian continued his search and eventually tracked down a full naval service record. The record lists William’s entire service over an incredible 25 year period, including engagements on 13 different ships (some of them on more than one period of duty). The ships and engagements listed are :

HMS Victory II 1894—1896

HMS Nymphe 1896—1900

HMS Duke of Wellington 1900-1902

HMS Bellona 1902-1903

HMS Duke of Wellington 1903-1903

HMS Firequeen 2 1903-1903

HMS Centurian 1903-1905

HMS Victory II 1905-1905

HMS Racer 1905-1906

HMS Crescent 1907-1908

HMS King Alfred 1908-1910

HMS Victory II 1910-1910

HMS Hecla 1910-1912

HMS Topaz II 1912-1912

HMS Minerva 1912-1913

HMS Victory II 1913-1913

HMS Princess Royal 1913-1916

HMS Victory II 1916-1917

HMS Victory X 1917-1917

HMS Victory II 1917-1917

HMS Victory X 1917-1919

William Joseph’s naval service started on 4th September 1894 at the age of 18 years old and ended on the 22 March 1919 when he was demobilised. On his record he is described as being 5 foot 3 with dark hair, brown eyes and fair complexion with a scar on his forehead and a tattoo on his left arm of a cross and three dots. His place of birth was Birmingham and date of birth 16th March 1875.

To clarify William’s service on HMS Racer, it appears that he joined the ship on 24th September 1905, was promoted to Sto 1cl (stoker 1st class) whilst with Racer on 1st July 1906 and left on 22nd November 1907, joining HMS Crescent on 23rd November 1907. Brian’s theory is therefore that the photograph of uniformed William with babe in arms could have been taken between September 1905 and November 1907.

One of the most striking pieces of information on his naval record is the remark that he was wounded in action off Jutland on 31st May 1916. Whilst it seems that William was not actually killed in this battle and went on to serve in the navy for a further 3 years, it does still go a long way towards substantiating Aunty Kath’s family story.
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Note about HMS Victory

Obviously it is very exciting to note from the above list that Great Uncle William served on HMS Victory II and V, but unfortunately neither of these ship names refer to Nelson's famous flagship which helped to win the Battle of Trafalgar although there is a strong link to Portsmouth. Information I have picked up from various navy related message boards suggests that Victory II was the title given to various training facilities in Porstmouth in the early 1900s whilst Victory V may have been the name given to the same facility when it was relocated to Crsytal Palace prior to WW1. Given that we know that William trained new recruits at Osbourne House (HMS Racer), it seems likely that these were periods he spent on land as a training officer.
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