07 July 2017

CWGC commemorates the centenary of the loss of HMS Vanguard

The CWGC is encouraging people to remember the men commemorated on the Commission’s naval memorials who lost their lives 100 years ago on HMS Vanguard and have no known grave but the sea.


On 9 July 1917, shortly before midnight, HMS Vanguard suffered a series of magazine explosions in Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands. She sank almost instantly, with only two of her 837 crew surviving.

Seventeen of the 22 men recovered from the sea are buried at Lyness Royal Naval Cemetery in Scotland. The remaining casualties are commemorated on the CWGC Naval War Memorials at Chatham (621), Portsmouth (125), and Plymouth (74).

One of the youngest casualties commemorated by name on the Portsmouth memorial is 16-year-old Boy 1st Class Frank Tickner.

Frank was born in Thame, Oxfordshire, and was the son of Henry and Edith Tickner.

Before Frank signed up with the Royal Navy in 1916, he was a messenger boy and became Boy 2nd Class Frank Tickner. Unfortunately, once trained and now in the position as Boy 1st Class, when he boarded HMS Vanguard, this would be his first and only sea posting.

One of the casualties commemorated on the Chatham memorial is Able Seaman, Percy Augustus Millen who was 28 years old when he died.

Percy joined the Royal Navy aged 18 in 1907, and was a plumber by trade. He married Ellen Hudson in 1913, who is thought to have died of a broken heart shortly after her husband’s death.

Another casualty is Ordinary Seaman, John Richard Parson. He was the son of Victor Edward Parsons, and the late Susan Jane Parsons, from Southfields, London.

Able Seaman, Joseph McCracken, from Belfast, also died on that fateful night. He was the son of Joseph and Mary McCracken, of Crimea Street, Belfast. Tragically, his brother, Frederick, who served in the Royal Irish Rifles 2nd Battalion, was killed in France on October 27, 1914.


(L-R) Able Seaman Percy Augustus Millen, photo courtesy of his great nephew Nigel Reid-Seaton; Able Seaman Joseph McCraken; Telegraphist Henry Harry James Maddock, photo courtesy of his great-niece Jeanet Stephan; and Able Seaman Enoch Barton

One of the casualties commemorated on the CWGC Plymouth Naval Memorial is Royal Navy Telephonist, Henry James Maddock from Nottingham.

He was only 18 years old when the HMS Vanguard exploded and his body was never recovered. He was the son of William Henry and Sarah Ann Maddock, of Birkland Avenue, Mapperley, Nottingham.

Another was Able Seaman, Enoch Barton, aged 29. He was the son of William and Eleanor Barton, of Padiham Road, Bunrley, Lancashire.

Among the youngest casualties of the disaster were 14-year-old, Canteen Assistant Admiralty Civilian, Ernest Goddard and 16-year-old, Boy 1st Class, Albert Edward Mauger.

He was the son of Albert Edward and Jane Mauger from St. Brelade, Jersey, and his Notice of Death appeared in the Jersey Evening Post on Monday 16 July 1917. It read:

‘Roll of Honour. Among those who have laid down their lives for King and Country is Albert (Bertie) Mauger, who though but 16 years of age, formed part of the crew of HMS Vanguard. He was the grandson of Mr A Mauger and nephew of Mr A Tudor of Bulwark Cottage, St. Aubins.

‘He was formerly a porter at Millbrook Station and he left the Island to join the navy some 12 months ago. The lad was exceedingly popular and will be greatly mourned by all who knew him.’

Among the eldest was 43-year-old Petty Officer 1st Class, William Benjamin Peters, who was the husband of Florence Elizabeth Peters, of Goschen St, Keyham, Barton, Devonport. Petty Officer 2nd Class, William Monnery and Staff Surgeon, William Barras were both 49-years-old when they were killed, Monnery was the elder by two days.

Photo caption: HMS Vanguard on completion © IWM (Q 40389)

This article was updated on 21/10/19 following research supplied by Wendy Sadler.

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