Hugh Roberts came from a sea-faring family. His father, also called Hugh, had been a merchant seaman in his youth and his older brother, Thomas, also served in the Navy during the War. Hugh, senior, and Mary were Welsh and probably moved to Stockport when Hugh left the navy. He found work locally driving a railway engine. All five of their children were born in Stockport. Hugh was their second child and was born on 30 November 1886. The family lived at 72 Grenville Street, Edgeley (and, later, at 75 York Street).
When the national census was taken in 1901, 14 year old Hugh had left St Matthew’s School and was working at one of the local calico bleachworks but, the next year, he joined the Navy. His first posting was to HMS Wanderer, which was an sea-going training ship and he then spent time on HMS Minotaur where he learned his trade as a gunner. His first “proper” ship was HMS Euryalus where he spent time in the seas around Australia, returning to Britain in January 1906. Two years aboard the torpedo boat, HMS Kale, followed, before a period on HMS Seamark. This was a surveying ship which spent its time in the South Pacific. In 1913, he saw action aboard one of the “Duke” class ships during the Balkan War before a final transfer to HMS Tipperary.
Tipperary was a destroyer launched on 5 March 1914. She was being built under an order for Chile but with War looming she was bought by the Admiralty. In the early spring of 1916, High was home for a short period of leave before returning to the ship about six weeks before the Battle of Jutland in which he was killed.