Percy Wilfred Dash

Percy Wilfred Dash is the third Dash brother I am writing about in this series.  His older brothers Herbert and John have already been covered earlier this year.  Yesterday marked 123 years since he was born in Orwell, Cambridgeshire on April 14, 1895.

Dash

Abbreviated family tree of the Dash brothers.

Like his brother Herbert, he was also in the Royal Navy.  Where his brother joined as a 15-year old boy, Percy joined the Navy after the outset of the war when he was 20 years old, offering his services as a blacksmith. Most of this time was aboard HMS Cyclops which was a repair ship for the Grand Fleet.  She spent the majority of the war stationed at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, and was also used during the Second World War as a submarine repair ship.

HMS Cyclops

Percy was with the Royal Navy until July of 1919.  He married Ellen Imogen Hooten in 1921.  He lived to the age of 62, passing away in 1957 in Bury St. Edmonds in Suffolk.

Herbert George Hewlett

Herbert George Hewlett was my 2nd cousin three times removed.  We are both descended from Thomas Mungham, an agricultural labourer, and Elizabeth Sarah Wood who were my 4th Great Grandparents, and Herbert’s Great Grandparents.  They were born in Kent, England in 1809 and 1921 respectively.  They were married in June of 1841, but their son, William Mungham was already 7 years old at the time, which would have made his mother 13 at the time of his birth.  Whether this was indeed the case or William was a child from another union, he was certainly claimed by both as their son.  Herbert was descended from William, while I am descended from Thomas and Elizabeth’s third son, Henry.  In all the census data, William is listed as a labourer, sometimes agricultural and sometimes industrial such as on the railway.  He married Sarah Elizabeth Johnson in 1858, and they had six children together, including Herbert’s mother, Elizabeth Ann who was born in Kent in 1861.  In 1889, she married widower Joseph Hewlett who had three children from his first marriage, aged 8, 5 and 4.  Joseph and Elizabeth went on to have four more children together, the youngest of whom, Herbert, was born in 1896.

Hewlett

Abbreviated family tree of Herbert Hewlett

In the 1911 census, Herbert is listed as 15 years old, living with his parents and three of his older siblings, and working as a newspaper boy in Dover, Kent.  He joined the Royal Navy in May of 1915 when he was 19 years old as a stoker, being trained at Pembroke II in Chatham. He then served aboard the HMS Jupiter and HMS Blenheim.

He was aboard HMS Jupiter at a time where she was assigned to the Medeterranean sea to the Suez Canal Patrol, then to the Red Sea, then back to the Suez Canal with a home port in Port Said, Egypt.  This must have been an extraordinary experience for a newspaper boy from Dover. HMS Jupiter returned to England in November 1916, at which time Herbert spent some more time at Pembroke II, close to his family in Kent, before being assigned to HMS Blenheim in February of 1917.  This ship was a depot ship to the destroyer fleet throughout the rest of the war.

Herbert married three times in his life, and I found no indication that he ever had children.  He died in 1985 at the age of 89.

Herbert Dash

Herbert Dash, my first cousin four times removed on my mother’s side, was descended from Sarah Gill and Charles Bester, his grandparents, and my 4th great grandparents. As illustrated below, he is one of three brothers who served during the war.  His brothers, as well as two of his first cousins, will be the subjects of future posts.

Dash

Abbreviated tree of Herbert Dash.

Charles Bester, son of John Bester and Mary Constable, was born in Little Eversden, Cambridgeshire, in 1833, and Sarah Gill, second daughter of John Gill and Elizabeth Munns (of whom you can read more here), was born in 1837 in Orwell, Cambridgeshire.  They had ten children, including Annie Bester, my 3rd Great Grandmother, and Elizabeth Bester, born in 1863, Herbert’s mother.

Elizabeth Bester was the 5th of the Bester children. By the age of 18, she was a servant in the home of the Roads family in Orwell, Cambridgeshire. In 1885, at the age of 22, she married 19-year old farm labourer Walter Dash, also of Cambridgeshire.  They had seven children between 1885 and 1895, Herbert being the second youngest, born in 1894.

In 1909, 15-year old Herbert joined the Royal Navy as Boy, 2nd Class, beginning his service at HMS Ganges. Between 1910 and 1914 he served aboard several ships including HMS Berwick in the West Indes, HMS Hampshire (the famous ship that sank after hitting a mine in 1916, killing most on board including Lord Kitchener), and HMS Zealandia.

When the war began in the summer of 1914, 20-year old Herbert was aboard HMS Black Prince, which was stationed in the Mediterranean. The first part of the war was spent patrolling for German merchant ships, and by December 1914, she was transferred to the Grand Fleet.  Eighteen months later, she was one of 250 ships that engaged in the deadly Battle of Jutland. The German High Seas Fleet had hoped to surprise the British Fleets, but codebreakers alerted the British to the approaching ships.  The clash began on the afternoon of May 31, 1916 off the coast of Denmark.  Black Prince, approaching the battle with the rest of the Grand Fleet from the north, was somehow separated from the rest of the fleet.  At the time, what happened to the ship was a mystery to the British forces, but German records have since revealed that she approached the German ships in the darkness, potentially thinking the outlines of the ships were British, just before midnight.    This mistake proved deadly.  Once spotted, Black Prince was fired on by six German battleships.

Devon Heritage (devonheritage.org) cites an eyewitness account of the aftermath from a crew member who had been on board HMS Spitfire:

“We were just recovering from our ramming match with the German cruiser, and most of the ship’s company were collected aft, when suddenly there was a cry from nearly a dozen people at once: “Look out!”

I looked up, and saw a few hundred yards away on our starboard quarter, what appeared to be a battle cruiser on fire, steering straight for our stern. To our intense relief, she missed our stern but just by a few feet; so close was she to us that we were actually under her guns, which were trained out on her starboard beam, She tore past us with a roar, rather like a motor roaring up a hill in low gear, and the very crackling and heat of the flames could be heard and felt. She was a mass of fire from fore-mast to main-mast, on deck and between decks. Flames were issuing out of her from every corner.

At first sight she appeared to be a battle cruiser, as her funnels were so far apart but afterwards it transpired that she was the unfortunate Black Prince with her two centre funnels gone. Soon afterwards, soon after  midnight, there came an explosion from the direction in which she had disappeared.”

All 857 officers and crew were lost.  Combined, the German and British forces lost 25 ships and over 8,500 men that day.

Herbert Dash, along with many others who lost their lives at the Battle of Jutland, is commemorated at the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.  I am honoured to post a memorial certificate to my cousin here.

 

Frederick Arthur Baldock

Turning to a more distant relative, Frederick Arthur Baldock was my 4th cousin twice removed on my mother’s side.  We are both descended from William Mungham and Sarah Robinson who were my 5th Great Grandparents, and Frederick’s 3rd Great Grandparents. As a genealogical aside, William Mungham (1771-1848) of Doddington, Kent is as far back as I have traced my maternal grandmother’s maiden name.  Frederick is descended from William and Sarah’s daughter Sarah Ann, while my family is descended from their son, Thomas.

Sarah Ann Mungham, born in approximately 1795, married John Butler in 1815, and went on to have at least 14 children.  Their second son, John, born in 1822 in Newnham, Kent and his wife, Mary Strover had 8 children, the oldest of whom, Eliza Butler, born in 1842 in Newnham, was Frederick’s grandmother.  She married James Edward Baldock in 1865 in Faversham, Kent.  James Baldock is listed in the 1871 to 1911 census records as “farm servant indoor,” a “farm bailiff,” (he would have been employed by the land owner to ensure that tenant farmers were taking care of the farms and paying the rent on time, a “yardman” and “shepherd,” so his was an agricultural life.  James and Eliza’s first son, Alfred, was born in 1867, and was raised in this agricultural life.  As late as the 1891 census, he was still living with his parents, and in 1894, he married Rebecca Goldup in East Ashford, Kent, also working in the agricultural trade, then later as a maltster’s labourer for a brewer. Their first child, Frederick Arthur, was born in 1896. In the 1911 census, three years before the outbreak of the war, Frederick was 15, and listed as a school boy.

In the spring of 1914, two months before the formal beginning of the war, Frederick joined the Royal Navy training at Pembroke I (a shore establishment in Chatham, Kent) as an ordinary seaman. He had already served on HMS Queen, but was back at Pembroke I when war broke out in August of 1914.  By August 29, he was onboard HMS Undaunted, where he was promoted to Able Seaman, and where he served until the end of July 1917. In December 1914, HMS Undaunted provided support to the Cuxhaven Raid, a combined sea and airstrike with the goal of bombing the dirigible sheds housing German zeppelins.  The National Archive has an account of the raid from one of the pilots here. As the blog post points out, weather and the general riskiness of the operation meant that “the raid had not been a success in terms of achieving its target, since none of the seven aircraft was able to find the Zeppelin shed, but it was a milestone in the development of aircraft-carrier based operations.”

WW1Memoir-SmithGC1914CuxhavenRaid(1)

Contemporary postcard showing the Royal Navy surface force at the Cuxhaven Raid.

Frederick served throughout the rest of the war at a variety of shore establishments and ships, and was discharged in 1923.

He married Eva Ethel Law in 1922, and lived in Kent for the rest of his life, passing away in 1964 at the age of 68.

 

 

 

Herbert Arthur Gill

Herbert Gill, brother of Stanley, is the first Royal Navy serviceman that I will profile in this series.  Four years older than his brother, he first joined the Navy in 1911 at the age of 16 for a 12-year commitment, first at the training establishment HMS Ganges as Boy 2nd Class.  He worked his way through the ranks in his first three years through Boy 1st Class, Ordinary Seaman, then by the autumn of of 1914, Able Seaman at which time he was serving on the HMS Roxburgh. He would have been still serving on Roxburgh in June 1915 when she was struck and severely damaged by a torpedo from a German submarine.

HMS Roxburgh

HMS Roxburgh from naval-history.net

Herbert spent late 1915 and early 1916 at Vivid I, a seamanship, signalling and telegraphy School in Devonport. The rest of the war he was alternately at training and on HMS Colossus and HMS Hindustan.

Herbert was serving on the Hindustan was part of the Zeebrugge and Osten raids of April 23, 1918. The operation was intended to block the access of German shipping and submarines in and out of both ports. German submarines, torpedo boats and ships were based at the inland docks in Bruges and were using the Bruges shipping canal to access the English Channel via the two sea entrances at Zeebrugge and Ostend. The raids were considered successful, and several gallantry awards were presented as a result, including eight men being awarded with the Victoria Cross.

Herbert served with the Royal Navy until January 1925.

From there, I am not certain about the rest of Herbert’s life.  In my research, I have found at least three different Herbert Gills living in Edmonton all born around the same time between 1925 and 1950, and I haven’t found any conclusive enough evidence to identify any of them as this Herbert Gill.

Next week, another Gill–Ezekiel.

In the meantime, all the best to you for a lovely Christmas if that is your tradition! I will have a special post on the Facebook page on Monday, so please make sure that you follow me there as well.