10th Jun 1916. The Great Naval Battle



The Admiralty issued on Sunday night a detailed list of the casualties among the officers serving in the ship which took part in the great fight in the North Sea last week. All those on board the Indefatigable, the Defence, and the Black Prince were lost ; only four of the Queen Mary and two of the Invincible were saved. The list of killed numbers 333 and includes Rear-Admirals Hood and Arbuthnot, whose flags were carried on the Invincible and the Defence respectively. Many representatives of well-known families are to be found in the list, including the Earl of Denbigh’s second son, Lieut-Commander the Hon Hugh R C Feilding, and Sub-Lieut the Hon Algernon W Percy, only son of Lord Algernon Percy, of Guys Cliff, Warwick.

The first official notification of the battle, published in Saturday morning’s papers, caused a feeling of uneasiness throughout the country, especially when read in connection with the German claims of a great victory. But a further statement, issued by the Admiralty on Sunday night, disposed finally of the impudent German pretence. It was made plain that when, after a vigorous engagement between the leading ships of the two fleets, the main body of the British Fleet came up, the German High Seas Fleet turned tail, and ran for home. In this encounter they were severely punished. The pursuit was maintained until the light failed, and after nightfall British destroyers made a further successful attack on the enemy. Having driven the enemy into port, Sir John Jellicoe cruised about the main scene of action in search of disabled vessels until noon next day, when he returned to his bases, and by the evening of June 2nd his fleet was again ready to put to sea. While the enemy’s losses are not exactly determinable, it is certain that the accounts which they have given to the world are false, and that their losses are not only relatively but absolutely heavier than ours.

The enterprise towards the north on which the German ships set out, whatever may have been its immediate object, was a challenge to the British Fleet, Admiral Sir David Beatty (whom Rugby is proud to claim as an erstwhile townsman) deliberately took up the challenge, though he had at his command only a portion, and that not the strongest, of our forces to pit against the whole navy of Germany. With wonderful gallantry and tenacity he fought, and held the enemy until our Grand Fleet could join in the conflict. The German Fleet had their chance to consider conclusions with our main sea forces, and they declined it. Some of the splendid ships and brave men in whom the nation placed a proud trust kept that trust at the last cost, and the enemy slunk away to their ports, leaving at the bottom of the sea at least four of their largest ships. In short, the German Fleet is to-day as tightly bottled up as it was before.

Lieut-Commander the Hon Hugh Cecil Robert Feilding, his Majesty’s ship Defence (killed in the North Sea battle), was the second son of the Earl and Countess of Denbigh. He was torpedo officer of this ship for three and a-half years, and for the last few months had been first lieutenant. Born in December, 1886, he was educated at the Oratory School Edgbaston, and his Majesty’s ship Britannia, whence he passed as midshipman, and obtained the prize for the highest aggregate of marks. He served as midshipman on the Mediterranean and South African Stations in his Majesty’s ships Bacchante and Crescent respectively. He gained the coveted “ Six ones ” in his examinations for lieutenant, as well as the special promotion marks for “ meritorious examination,” which caused him later on to be antedated considerably, his rank as lieutenant dating from within a few days of his twentieth birthday. Commander Feilding was awarded the Beaufort testimonial and the Whartop testimonial with gold medal for highest marks in navigation and pilotage, and also the Ronald Megaw prize and sword for those obtaining highest marks in the examinations for lieutenant. He specialised for torpedo after serving at sea in his Majesty’s ship Queen, and also in his Majesty’s ship Cornwall, when she made an interesting cruise in the Baltic. After passing very high in the advanced course at Greenwich, he served for a time on the Vernon, and was then appointed to the Defence. Commander Feilding was an officer of brilliant abilities and high promise.

Lieut Feilding was very popular with the tenants of the Newnham Paddox Estate, although he did not take any active part in public life there. Before joining the Navy he frequently shot over the farms with much success.

The Earl and Countess of Denbigh will naturally feel deeply grieved by the loss of their gallant son, and sincere sympathy will be extended to them by all ; but they will, no doubt, find comfort and consolation in the fact that he gave his life fighting gloriously in a battle which one may expect will be recorded in history as one of the decisive battles of the world, and perhaps the greatest.

Sub-Lieutenant the Hon Algernon William Percy was the only son of Lord Algernon Malcolm Arthur Percy, of Guys Cliffe, Warwick, and Lady Victoria, eldest daughter of the fourth Earl of Mount Edgcombe, and grandson of the sixth Duke of Northumberland, Lieut Percy held a lieutenant’s commission in the 3rd Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers for seven years. His joined the Royal Naval Reserve in 1914. He was a Magistrate and a member of the County Council for Warwickshire.

Among local men who perished in the battle were the following :-

Harry Cooper, son of Mr John Cooper, and grandson of Mr A Finch, both of 12 Queen Street, was serving as a boy on the Defence, and as no news has been received by them it is presumed that he has been drowned. He was only 17 years of age, and joined the Navy about twelve months ago, previous to which time he was employed at the International Stores. He was an Old Elborow boy.

Gunner W H Brain, nephew of Mrs B King, Old Bilton, and of Mr F Brain, formerly of Birdingbury, and now of Houston road, Brownsover. He was 17 years of age, and joined the Navy on Christmas Day, 1914. After being trained on the Powerful, he was drafted to the Indefatigable at the beginning of the present year.

Amongst those who went down with the Indefatigable was Chief Stoker Walter Wreford, brother of Mr W J Wreford, 18 Wood Street, Rugby. Although he was not a native of Rugby, Stoker Wreford spent most of his long leave in the town, and was well known to a circle of Rugbeians. He completed his 22 years’ service at Christmas, 1913, but volunteered for service in the following August, on the outbreak of War. He was one of the crew of the Camperdown when she collided with and sank the Victoria in the Mediterranean.


Amongst those lost on H.M.S Invincible was Chief First-Class Petty Officer Mechanician William Josiah Badger, of New Bilton. Mr Badger, who had been in the Royal Navy for thirteen years, and had made remarkably good progress in his profession, was a native of Princethorpe, but went to reside at New Bilton with his parents 17 or 18 years ago. He was 33 years of age and married. His brother, Mr H Badger, lives in Bridle Road, New Bilton.



The whole Empire was shocked on Tuesday at the news that Field-Marshal Lord Kitchener, Secretary of State for War, and one of the foremost military organisers in the world, had lost his life by drowning. On the invitation of the Czar, Lord Kitchener had undertaken a visit to Russia in order to discuss important military and financial questions, when the vessel on which he was travelling, the armoured cruiser Hampshire, was sunk west of the Orkneys, either by a mine or a torpedo. Four boats were seen to leave the sinking ship, but heavy seas were running, and up to Wednesday no news had been received of any survivors, only some bodies and a capsized boat having been found by the search parties which were sent out by sea and land.

Accompanying Lord Kitchener were Brig-Gen W Ellershaw and Mr H J O’Beirne, of the Foreign Office, Sir H F Donaldson, K.C.B, and Mr L S Robertson, of the Ministry of Munitions.

A summary of Admiral Jellicoe’s message conveying the fateful information to the Admiralty appeared in our mid-week edition on Tuesday afternoon, and the distressing news was received with the profoundest regret and dismay. People after eagerly scanning the telegram would ask whether it could possibly be true, and it was with difficulty they could bring themselves to believe that it was. The depressing effect caused in the first instance soon passed away, and gave place to the feeling that the work so well begun by Lord Kitchener would be carried on with still greater determination to a victorious issue.

In a message to the army, the King says :

Lord Kitchener will be mourned by the army as a great soldier who, under conditions of unexampled difficulty, rendered supreme and devoted service both to the Army and the State.

The Admiralty announces that 12 survivors from the crew of the Hampshire have been washed ashore on a raft. So far 75 bodies have been recovered, and there is believed to be a possibility that Lord Kitchener’s body may yet be found.


Mr Leslie Robertson, who with Sir Frederick Donaldson was representing the Ministry of Munitions on Lord Kitchener’s Staff, was for many years a Director of Willans & Robinson, Ltd., Rugby, and his death is severely felt by many of the Staff with whom he came in contact. He invariably took a warm interact in the Company’s affairs, and also in the welfare and happiness of those working in the Company’s service.


Walter Gurney, younger son of Mr and Mrs J Gurney, of 67 Cambridge Street, Rugby, was included in Lord Kitchener’s party, which was lost on H.M.S Hampshire. Mr Gurney, who was 26 years of age, and was a native of Catthorpe, was valet to Mr J O’Beirne, C.V.O, C.B, of the Foreign Office, in whose service he had been about five months, during which time he had visited Rome and Paris in connection with the Allies’ Conferences. The death of Mr Gurney, who had been four times rejected for the Army, is rendered the more sad as his parents heard a few weeks ago that his only brother, who had been missing for 13 months, must be presumed to have been killed in action.


Major Darnley has just arrived in Salonika, and has also been made second in command of his battalion.

Harry Hollowell, an Old Laurentain and youngest son of Mr H Hollowell, 11 Victoria Street, Rugby, has joined the Infantry Division of the H.A.C.

Second-Lieut Eric Pearman, younger son of Mr T Pearman, Manor House, Ryton-on-Dunsmore, has been gazetted lieutenant in the 16th Service Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

Surgeon Probationer J. C. Brown, third son of Mr J Brown of North Street, Rugby, was on the leader of the 12th Destroyer Flotilla, which was in action in the naval battle off Jutland from 6 p.m till 5 a.m on June 1st. This flotilla is credited with having sunk, among other vessels, a German Dreadnought.

Capt G H Neville, 1st Somerset Light Infantry (of Dunchurch), came to England on May 26th, and after being invested by the King at Buckingham Palace with the Military Cross for valour in the field returned to duty.

Captain the Rev V F Mason, former curate at St Marie’s, has just completed one year as Chaplain to the Forces. He has been in Belgium, Egypt, and France, and was recently on short leave in England.-Captain the Rev Frederick O’Connor, also formerly of St Marie’s, and at present Chaplain to the Forces, has been twice in Egypt, was the last chaplain to leave the Gallipoli Peninsula, and is now stationed at Salonika.


The many friends of Lieut H Duncan, of the Royal Flying Corps, will be gratified to hear that he has received the Military Cross at the hands of H.M the King. Lieut Duncan was formerly employed in the B.T.H Test Department, and was a prominent member of the Test Rugby XV.


DRIVER TOM WARD, of the Royal Engineers, has been sent home suffering badly from shell shock and neurasthenia, and is now in hospital for special treatment. He was a reserve man, and was amongst the first troops to go out to France at the beginning of the war in August, 1914. He has been at the front a year and eight months, and fought in numerous battles, in which he has had many narrow escapes. He was in the retreat from Mons, the battles of the Aisne, and seven other places, as well as the first, second, and third engagements at Ypres, and it was in the latter he was finally compelled to give way from shell shock.


HOME ON FURLOUGH.—First Class Stoker Fred Jones has been home on a three weeks’ furlough. His visit was a great surprise to his wife. He has served over 13 years in the service, and has been on a torpedo boat since the outbreak of the war. He had not been home for three years, and had some thrilling stories to tell of life at sea, and also of a narrow escape he had after being washed overboard, when he managed to cling to the sides of the boat.

MUNITIONS TRIBUNAL.—Several cases from the B.T.H. Rugby, came before the Coventry Munitions Tribunal at Coventry on Friday last week.—Alonza Fothergill, 17 Newland Street, New Bilton, was charged with neglecting his work. It was proved that he was refused admittance to the works because he was intoxicated and a fine of £3 was imposed.—Charges of neglecting their work were also preferred against William Hayes painter, of Grosvenor Road, and W Ashton, foundry hand, Cambridge Street, and fines of £1 were inflicted in each case.


Since last July, by the generosity of the public, the Post Office has maintained an average supply of about 1,000 bags, containing books and magazines, per week ; but the numbers have recently fallen to about 800 per week, though our Army has greatly increased.

The people of Rugby have done well up to the present. Until about the end of last November only about three sacks a week were being sent. A special appeal was made in the columns of the Advertiser early in December, which resulted in a despatch of 18 or 20 sacks weekly. For months the size of the weekly despatches was fairly well maintained at that level ; but there has recently been a great falling off, not only from this office, but from the country generally—so much so that a special general appeal is being made to every single person to assist, if only by the giving as often as possible of a magazine or illustrated weekly paper, for which he or she has no further use.

The books and magazines should be merely handed in over the counter at any post office, unwrapped and unaddressed. They will be forwarded to the depot in London in due course in separate receptacles.


JONES.—In loving Memory of Private Arthur Jones, 10822, 6th Leicestershire Regiment. Died June 6, 1915.
“ He is gone from this world
To the home of the blest,
Released from all sorrow and freed from all pain,
Triumphant for ever with Jesus to reign.”
-From his loving Wife and Daughter.

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