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Introduction

This article is concerned with the Chatham Naval Memorial. The memorial is located in Chatham, Kent, on top of a hill overlooking the town centre.

The Chatham Naval Memorial

After the First World War, an appropriate way had to be found of commemorating those members of the Royal Navy who had no known grave, the majority of deaths having occurred at sea where no permanent memorial could be provided. An Admiralty committee recommended that the three manning ports in Great Britain - Chatham, Plymouth and Portsmouth - should each have an identical memorial of unmistakable naval form, an obelisk, which would serve as a leading mark for shipping.

The memorials were designed by Sir Robert Lorimer, who had already carried out a considerable amount of work for the CWGC, with sculpture by Henry Poole.

After the Second World War it was decided that the naval memorials should be extended to provide space for commemorating the naval dead without graves of that war. The architect for the Second World War extension at Chatham was Sir Edward Maufe and the additional sculpture was by Charles Wheeler and William McMillan.

Chatham Naval Memorial commemorates 8,515 sailors of the First World War and 10,098 of the Second World War.

The names on the memorial are arranged according to year of death. Those for the First World War appear on panels located around the obelisk. Those for the Second World War appear on panel located on the surrounding wall. Within each year, the names are group by service then by rank and surname.

First World War

The Great War or First World War casualties are located on the panels located around the base of the obelisk.

WWI Panels

Some of the panels listing World War One casualties (Stephen Stratford 1992).

The inscription shown above each group of panels reads:

"In honour of the Navy and to the abiding memory of these ranks and ratings of this port who laid down their lives in the defence of the empire and have no other grave than the sea."

The difference between the number of names for the two world wars is no better indicator of the differing extent of naval, particularly submarine, warfare that occurred during the 1914-18 and 1939-45 wars.

Second World War

The Second World War (1939-45) involved the Royal Navy to a far larger extent than the 1914-18 war. This was particularly relevant with regard to submarine warfare. While the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France experienced a 'phony war' from September 1939 until May 1940, the Royal and Merchant Navies had no such period.

The sinking of the Royal Oak at Scapa Flow on 13 October 1939, with the deaths of 833 Royal Navy sailors, was just one of many such incidents. The wreckage of the Royal Oak is now a war grave, marked by a green buoy.

The names are listed on the panels in year order, followed by service then rank and surname. It should be clear that the Royal Navy played a substantially greater role in the 1939-45 war.

The following pictures provide an example of some of the many World War Two panels.

Example Panel

A section of one of the many World War Two Panels (Stephen Stratford 1992).

The names shown above were checked against the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's Debt of Honour Register, and the following information obtained. The name are listed in the order shown on the above panel and all the panels:  Service, rank and surname.

Name Rank Ship Date of Death Age
Cornish, John Herbert Leading Telegraphist V.(Wireless)R. H.M.L.C.F.L 17 August 1944 24
Bond, Rosemary Felicity Leading Wren H.M.S Kilele 15 May 1944 26
Dalton, Winifred Beach Leading Wren H.M.S Assegai 12 February 1944 21
Smail, Heather Mowbray Leading Wren H.M.S Assegai 12 February 1944 20
Wyllie, Pamela Irene Leading Wren H.M.S Assegai 12 February 1944 21
Batten, Hazel Mary Wren H.M.S Assegai 12 February 1944 23
Breakall, Marie Elizabeth Wren H.M.S Assegai 12 February 1944 ?
Nickson, Aileen Audrey Buchanan Wren H.M.S Tana 12 February 1944 19
Nye, Beatrice Marjorie Wren H.M.S Tana 12 February 1944 20
Todd, Margaret Ponton Wren H.M.S Assegai 12 February 1944 29
White, Betty Ramsay Wren H.M.S Tana 12 February 1944 23

 

An example of one of the WWII Panels (Stephen Stratford 1992)

The names shown above were checked against the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's Debt of Honour Register, and the following information obtained. The name are listed in the order shown on the above panel and all the panels:  Service, rank and surname.

Name Rank Navy Ship Killed Age
Darell-Brown, H.M Commander Ibis 10 November 1942 37
May, C.W Commander Electra 27 February 1942 42
Thomson, C.R.P Commander Martin 10 November 1942 ?
Tilden, E.H Commander Firedrake 17 December 1942 37
Arkwright, J.J Lieut-Commander Avenger 15 November 1942 41
Dawson, C.H Lieut-Commander Avenger 15 November 1942 37
Garde, D.V Lieut-Commander Cleopatra 22 March 1942 32
Garwood, T.H Lieut-Commander Veteran 26 September 1942 31
Johns, A.H.T Lieut-Commander Achates 31 December 1942 ?
Johnson, J.K Lieut-Commander HMAS Perth 01 March 1942 34
Meyrick, P.C Lieut-Commander Walney 08 November 1942 33
Spearman, A.Y Lieut-Commander Curacoa 02 October 1942 ?
White, J.W Lieut-Commander Firedrake 17 December 1942 33
Clogstoun, H.A.A Lieutenant Veteran 26 September 1942 21
Coale, E.A Lieutenant Electra 27 February 1942 23
Cole-Hamilton, D.E Lieutenant Sikh 14 June 1942 28
David, J.R Lieutenant Sikh 14 September 1942 26
Fearfield, J.F.R Lieutenant Cornwall 05 April 1942 27
Jenner-Fust, R Lieutenant Electra 27 February 1942 27
Johnson, A.P.C Lieutenant Curacoa 02 October 1942 23
Langton, J.C Lieutenant Partridge 18 December 1942 30
Maxwell, J Lieutenant Curacoa 02 October 1942 ?
Needham, J.D Lieutenant Veteran 26 September 1940 28
Porter, J.B.C Lieutenant Avalon III 17 December 1942 31
Skinner, F.T Lieutenant Bedouin 15 June 1942 36
Vaughan, E.H Lieutenant Curacoa 02 October 1942 28
Withers, J.S.M Lieutenant President 13 August 1942 24
Bayley, T.H Sub-Lieutenant Martin 10 November 1942 21
Parker, C.N Sub-Lieutenant Bedouin 15 June 1942 19
Grissell, P.T.D Midshipman Dragon 10 October 1942 18
Ingoldby, P.R Midshipman Nigeria 12 August 1942 17
Tuffill, J.D Midshipman Nigeria 12 August 1942 17
Edgar, M.L Lieutenant (E) Cornwall 05 April 1942 31
Fyers-Turner, P.G Lieutenant (E) Kipling 11 May 1942 ?
Hiddleston, J Lieutenant (E) Curacoa 02 October 1942 27
McLeod, F Lieutenant (E) Electra 27 February 1942 42
North, F.W Lieutenant (E) Lulworth 14 July 1942 26
Woods, J.J Lieutenant (E) Naiad 11 March 1942 ?
Bird, J.M Chaplain Cornwall 05 April 1942 36
Cay, M Surgeon Lieut Cmdr Curacoa 02 October 1942 ?

The "Navy Ship" in the list above are all Royal Navy HMS vessels, except for Lieutenant-Commander Johnson who was an officer aboard HMAS (His Majesty's Australian Ship) Perth.

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