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'Frederick Septimus Kelly, Royal Naval Division' by John Cooksey

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JON COOKSEY is a leading military historian who takes a special interest in the history of the world wars and the Falklands War. He is the former editor of Battlefields Review and the current editor of our very own Stand To!. This talk is about the extraordinary story of Frederick Kelly, the musician, composer and Olympic rower, killed in action d…


Britain in the First World War : Lecture given by John Terraine in 1988

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(Lecture given by John Terraine in 1988) The 1914-1918 War was, for Britain, a traumatic experience - hence the emotional reactions to it which continue this day. It was, I am certain, far more traumatic for Britain than for Europeans, and far, far more so than it was for America. It was also far more traumatic for Britain than the Second World Wa…


We Rest Below the Waves

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Stoker 1st Class Herbert Allcorn had already served five years in the Royal Navy and was on Reserve when he was called back to duty in 13 July 1914 as there was a possibility of England going to war and drafted to the armoured cruiser HMS Good Hope. His ship carried a complement of 900 crew and was powered by 43 coal fired Belleville boilers capabl…


Escape from the Desert : October 1915

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This article could almost be taken from a 'Boy's Own' story of Great War adventures. It features a daring raid by one of the world’s richest men to rescue a group of sailors whose ship had been torpedoed and who had been handed over to a group of North African tribesmen, by whom they were held in deplorable conditions for over four months. At the …


The loss of HMS Bulwark : 26 November 1914

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Losses of life in the First World War are more often than not attributed to engagements in battle or enemy action of some sort. However, this is not always the case. One of the most significant events during the early part of the war that caused a major loss of life to military personnel was an accident. HMS Bulwark was part of the 5th Battle Squa…


115: May 2019

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The loss of HMT Dane

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Like most youngsters growing up in the 60s and 70s The Great War was a long time ago, and although my Grandad, Fred Booty, had medals in his china cabinet, along with an old photo of his brother Arthur, in Army uniform (who was the subject of a “Centenary of Relatives Lost in the Great War” article in the May 2016 Suffolk Branch Newsletter), the on…


The Battle of Jutland : May 1916

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Of the countless acts of gallantry took place during the First World War, only a small proportion were recognised with the Victoria Cross.  Many of those who were awarded the VC were not out of their teens, for example Thomas Ricketts of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment earned his in 1918 when aged 17. The youngest winner of the VC in the Great War…


The Battle of Jutland: A Boy Telegraphist : 31 May 1916

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On 31 May 1916 the largest naval battle of the First World War took place off the coast Denmark. the Battle of Jutland is now easily the most remembered of the First World War naval engagements. HMS Queen Mary put to sea with the rest of the Battlecruiser Fleet to intercept a sortie by the High Seas Fleet into the North Sea. The British had bee…


The War at Sea in Home Waters

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The war at sea was wide ranging from engaging with the German High Seas Fleet when it put to sea to maintaining the supply of food and materiale to the UK. Part of this strategy involved the Admiralty utilising domestic fishing vessels to defend our waters against the submarine menace. Often this was a perilous task both from the U-boats themselves…


The sinking of HMS Hawke : 15 October 1914

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Margaret Lyness died on 10 April 1987 and with her went one of the last connections with a major incident in the early weeks of the war. Margaret was born on 16 March 1915 and christened 'Margaret Hawke'. Her parents were Joyce (an unusual name for a man) and Maggie Power. What is striking is the middle name that was chosen for Margaret. She was na…


Death on the shoreline: The foundering of HMHS Rohilla off Whitby : 30 October 1914

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For the vast majority of members of the British public, the outbreak of the First World War was not something that meant much in the early weeks, Other than crowds of men responding to Kitchener’s call for volunteers, the war was probably something that was only read about in the newspapers. It was obviously different in France and Belgium where mu…


The ‘Battle' of May Island January 1917 and K-Class Submarines of the First World War

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This was neither a ‘battle’ nor an engagement of any kind with the enemy, but nonetheless, it left over a hundred families grieving the loss of a loved one in a series of mishaps: yet another tragic chapter in the short history of the ill-fated K Class submarines. Above a Royal Mail commemorative cover (dated 31 January 1993 - being the 75th Ann…


The Air Raid on Chatham Drill Hall 3 September 1917

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On 3 September 1917, the Chatham Drill Hall, then a glass roofed building, was being used as a temporary overflow dormitory for sailors and there were 698 men asleep or resting in their hammocks in the Drill Hall. The Drill Hall formed part of the Royal Navy’s HMS Pembroke barracks at Chatham. Above: the main gate to HMS Pembroke thought to have…


Pantomime at Sea: Q-ships in WW1

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The use of deception in warfare at sea was not new to the First World War – as an example, in 1681, HMS Kingfisher was designed to counter the attack of pirates by masquerading as a merchant ship, with her armaments hidden behind false bulkheads, and with various means of changing her appearance.  Conversely, the tactic of making merchant ships loo…


The Baralong Incident 29 January 1917

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The Baralong was a 'three island' tramp steamer built in 1901 by Armstrong & Whitworth. She was requisitioned by the Navy in 1914 intended as a supply ship but in early 1915 was identified as a potential decoy ship. Modification works to equip her for this role, including the installation of three concealed twelve pounder guns, were carried out…


2022 Spring Conference and AGM

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Programme for the day   9:30am Doors open. Teas/coffees 10.15am Welcome by the Chair 10.20am ‘Three Days at Marfaux: July 1918’ Second battle of the Marne. Innovation and improvisation on the battlefield with Fraser Skirrow 11,20am ‘A forgotten Navy: Fishermen’s involvement in the Great War’ with Dr. Robb Robinson 12:20pm Buffet Lunch 1:20pm…