Chatham Naval Memorial

Able Seaman Charles Johnson

Able Seaman Charles Johnson, RN (J/9150), was a man with family living in Luton who was lost when HMS Vanguard sank following an internal explosion while at anchor at Scapa Flow on July 9th, 1917. His body was never recovered for burial.

Born in Stretton on Fosse, Warwickshire, in 1894, he joined the Navy in July 1910 as a boy sailor, probably before parents George and Marjorie Johnson moved to Luton. They were living at 24 Ash Road at the time of his death.

Petty Officer Francis Harold Armitage

Petty Office Stoker Francis Harold Armitage, RN (K16328), was a Luton man lost when HMS Vanguard sank following an internal explosion while at anchor at Scapa Flow on July 9th, 1917. His body was never recovered for burial.

A son of Thomas and Elizabeth Armitage, of 43 Tennyson Road, Luton, the 26-year-old had recently been promoted from Leading Seaman and was second in charge of the engine room. He had served on Vanguard during the Battle of Jutland in 1916 and come through unscathed.

R.N. Arthur George Swain


Boy 1st Class Arthur George Swain, J/48192, Royal Navy, was still just 16 when he went down in the Atlantic with HMS Genista, torpedoed by German submarine U-57, on October 23rd, 1916.

He was the second son of Arthur and Jane Swain, of 30 Arthur Street, Luton. He left his trade as a baker with Mr Shuter, of Tennyson Road, and joined the Navy about 12 months before his death. His body was not recovered.

Signaller Frederick George Darby


Signal Boy Frederick George Darby was a month short of his 17th birthday when he was drowned when HMS Black Prince was sunk during the Battle of Jutland on May 31st, 1916. His body was not found for burial.

The former Beech Hill pupil had been in the Navy for 18 months at the time of his death. Prior to going to sea he was a straw worker employed by Mrs Kerridge of Bute Street. He served with HMS Powerful and HMS Ganges before joining HMS Black Prince.

Stoker 1st Class Charles Higgs


Stoker First Class Charles Higgs, K/7429, was lost when the armed boarding steamer HMS Fauvette hit two mines laid by a German submarine and sank in the Thames estuary, off North Foreland, Kent, on March 9th, 1916. He was aged 25 and one of 14 crew reported missing, believed dead.

The son of James and Elizabeth Higgs, of 230 Wellington Street, Luton, the former labourer joined the Royal Navy on July 21st, 1910. He had served in the Dardanelles from the beginning of naval operations there, serving on HMS Lord Nelson until transferred to the Fauvette.

R.N. Joseph Smith


Writer Third Class Joseph Smith, M/8543, RN, was lost when the cruiser HMS Natal sank as the result of an internal explosion while in harbour in the Firth of Cromerty, on the north-eastern coast of Scotland, on December 30th, 1915. No enemy action was found to be involved, and Joseph Smith's body was not recovered for burial.

Able Seaman James Clarke

James Clarke of Tavistock St, Dunstable served 12 years with the Royal Navy before transferring to the Royal Navy Reserve in 1908. When WW1 commenced the thirty six year old  was called up to  to serve aboard HMS Hogue which was part of a patrol of armoured cruisers in the North Sea. These old slow  ships were very vulnerable to a raid by modern German surface ships and the patrol was nicknamed the "live bait squadron".

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