William SMITH
Rank: Boy, 1st Class
Number: J/38334
Unit: HMS Hampshire ROYAL NAVY
Date of Death: 5 June 1916
Age: 17
Cemetery: Plymouth Naval Memorial

Born on 13 June 1899, the son of Levi & Catherine, William chose a career in the Royal Navy at an early age. In April 1914, he left the family home at 37 Barlow Road in the Hillgate area of Stockport and set off for Devonport for his training.

HMS Hampshire was a large cruiser of nearly 11000 tons and had a crew of 655. She had taken part in the Battle of Jutland on 31 May and had returned to Scapa Flow on 3 June. She received orders to prepare to set sail again. Her destination would be Archangel in Russia and she would carry a most important passenger – the Minister of War, Lord Kitchener. She put to sea, with two destroyer escorts, at 16.45 on the 5th in the most appalling weather conditions.

Within an hour, the destroyers realised that the conditions meant they could not keep up and had to return to port. Hampshire continued slowly until at 19.40, she was only a mile and a half from land when a massive explosion tore out the centre of the ship. She had hit one of the 22 mines laid by the German submarine U75 prior to Jutland. Within 15 minutes, she had sunk. Most of the crew are believed to have died in the sea rather than from the explosion.

Immediately news reached the fleet, several destroyers and patrol craft were sent out to look for survivors but only 12 were found. Neither William, nor Kitchener, was amongst them.

   
           
   
     
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