The Battle of Jutland – The Toll of the Brave

In the first of two posts covering the Battle of Jutland 100 years ago today we have a transcript of an article from the North Devon Herald. The next post will be a transcript taken from the Herald’s rival paper, the North Devon Journal. Published almost a week after the event both published news regarding the fate of some of the local men who were involved in the battle…

Toll of the Brave

North Devonians will acquiesce to the fullest extent in the praise and admiration which is being bestowed on the splendid sailors of Britain for the courage and tenacity which they displayed in the great ordeal of last week. The indomitable spirit which characterised the old “sea dogs” in the days of Nelson and Drake has again manifested itself in the hour of need. The aims of the enemy’s fleet, bond up with one of those spasmodic exits from the sequestered harbours of Kiel, were defeated, but at the cost of many fine ships, and, alas! many thousands of brave lives. As we expected—for true to their maritime traditions, Devonians are to be found on almost every ship—many local men sacrificed their lives on the altar of duty in last week’s battle. The people of North Devon are becoming more or less steeled in the matter of personal loss—those nearest and dearest to them, or a valued friend or acquaintance. For the moment the scene of the great conflict for North Devonians has been removed from the desert plains of Mesopotamia to the blue waters of the North Sea. On the blood-sodden battle-fields of Flanders, on the rugged barrier slopes of Gallipoli, on the sunny hills and plains f India, have Devon lads been laid to rest with military honours. Truly may it be said, “Wave may not foam, nor wild wind sweep, where rest not Devon’s dead.” And now in this last awful, yet glorious, battle, in which the grand British Navy taught the arrogant foe that Britain’s boundary stretches from shore to shore, many a gallant North Devonian has found a true sailor’s sepulchre—beneath the blue waves. They fought a good fight: they have finished their course. We sorrow for their loss, but we rejoice in that they nobly did their duty. Their names will be inscribed on that imperishable roll of honour (which will be cherished by generations yet unborn), of those who cheerfully made the greatest of all sacrifices in the defence of their motherland; in the cause of freedom; and of everything that is righteous and good. “Soft sigh the winds of heaven o’er their graves! While the billow mournful rolls, and the mermaids’ song condole, Singing glory to the souls of the brave!”

The complete casualty list of the Admiralty has yet not been published. Unhappily, however, it has been stated that neither men nor officers were saved from H.M.S. Defence, on which were serving several local men. It might be that passing neutrals have proved their salvation, or even that some of them have fallen into the hands of the foe, but in the absence of re-assuring news we must mourn them as among those who have perished.

Among the local casualties are the following:-


Engine-Room Artificer H. H. Lemon, Barnstaple.

Leading Stoker W.W. Can, Barnstaple.

Leading Stoker W.H. Short, Barnstaple.

Stoker E. Ware, native of Barnstaple.

First-Class P.O. Douglas Harris, Barnstaple.

Seaman J. Pulling, a native of Barnstaple.

The Rev. E. G. Morgan, B.H., Chaplain of H.M.S. Invincible, of Northam.

Mr. Routcliff, H.H.S. Indefatigable, of Braunton.


Lieut. Robert Chichester, Instow.

Wm. L. Beer, Bishopstawton


First-Class P.O. Gus. A. Sayer, Barnstaple

 Casualty List

Engine-Room Artificer Harry Hole Lemon is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Chas. Lemon, of Vicarage-street, Barnstaple. He was articled to Messrs. Shapland and Petter, of the Raleigh Works, as an engineer, afterwards working for some time at Messrs. Miller Bros.’ Lace Factory. A few years since he joined H.M. Navy, and for some time prior to the outbreak of war served on H.M.S. Defence in the Mediterranean. His ship led the fleet up the Adriatic, when on the outbreak of war they “bottled up” the Austrian fleet. E.R.A. Lemon had been through some exciting experiences during the past two years, but true to the traditions of the service he was always very reticent in this subject. It was only a fortnight or so ago that he was home on leave, when he was full of the cheery optimism which was one of his outstanding characteristics. He was longing for “Der Tag,” as were also many thousands of British sailors. Before joining the service Mr. Lemon was a valued member of St. Mary’s (Barnstaple) Church choir, firstly as a boy and afterwards as an adult. In later years he developed a rich tenor voice, and delighted congregations of the church with many beautiful solos. When home on leave from his ship he invariably took his accustomed place in the choir, being always assured of a hearty welcome by his old friends at St. Mary’s. He was also one of the servers at the altar of St. Mary’s. With the ship’s company, E. R. A. Lemon was a warm favourite. He contributed largely to the success of the many concerts which were arranged on board, and his happy manner and genial disposition made him the pleasantest of companions. He was naturally hospitable and generous; and it leaves much to be regretted that so promising a career should thus be so early terminated. In the Barnstaple district his charm of manner and personality attracted the affection of a wide circle of friends and acquaintances. He was well-known locally, and generally esteemed and respected. Mr Lemon was a former member of the Barnstaple Pierrot Troupe, who, in addition to giving many entertainments throughout North Devon, gave several performances form the bandstand in Rock Park. He took a keen interest in the Boy Scout movement, having been one of the first to join the original troupe brought into being through the instrumentality of the Rev. J. W. H. Sowerbutts. He was 25 years of age. Two other brothers are serving in the Army—Messrs. Jack and Ernie Lemon—in the Royal Engineers and the R.A.M.C. respectively, and a twin brother of the deceased, Mr. Chas. Lemon, is engaged on transport work on Salisbury Plain with Messrs. Chaplin and Co. Yesterday (Wednesday) the parents received a message from the Admiralty stating that E. R. A. Lemon was “believed to have been on H.M.S. Defence when that vessel was sunk in action. In these circumstances it is feared that in the absence of any evidence to the contrary he must be regarded as having lost his life.” With the bereaved parents, his sister and brothers, the utmost sympathy is felt.

First-Class Petty Officer Fredk. Douglas Harris was well-known in Barnstaple, where he had made his home for some years. He was first-class leading torpedo instructor on H.M. Defence. The deceased was 32 years of age. P.O. Harris was engaged to Miss Sadd, of Victoria-street, Barnstaple.

Leading Stoker W. W. Cann, H.M.S. Defence, was the son of Mr. and Mrs. W. Cann, of Well-street, Barnstaple. Before joining the Navy he was employed at Messrs. Miller Bros.’ Lace Factory. He was 28 years of age. Leading Stoker Cann was married only a short time since. He was well-known locally and generally respected.

Seaman J. Pulling was a native of Barnstaple. He was serving on H.M.S. Defence. It was only about three weeks since that he spent a short holiday in Barnstaple, renewing many pleasant acquaintanships. He was 21 years of age. Seaman Pulling was a grandson of Mrs. Pulling, on Bradiford.

Leading Stoker W. H. Short was also on the Defence. His wife is the licensee of the Politmore Arms, Boutport-street, Barnstaple. Mrs. Short yesterday received the official Admiralty message to the effect that her husband was believed to have been on H.M.S. Defence at the time she was sunk in action.

Mr. And Mrs. J. Shaddick, of Green-lane, Barnstaple, have received official intimation that their son-in-law, First-Class P.O. Gus. Sayer, was wounded in the naval battle last week.

Stoker E. Ware, a native of Torrington, had been in H.M. Navy for some years. He was serving on the Defence. Stocker Ware is a nephew of Mr. and Mrs. Babb, of Sticklepath, Barnstaple.

A Northam boy named Thomas Glover, son of Mr. and Mrs. John Glover, of Honey-street, Northam, was on H.M.S. Indefatigable.

Official intimation was received at Bishopstawton on Tuesday that Gunner William L. Beer, R.M.A., killed in the naval action. He was 32 years of age, and had been in the Navy for fourteen years. He was serving on H.M.S. Lion, and was previously in the engagements at Heligoland and the Dogger Bank. Gunner Beer was well-known in the district, where he had many friends. Possessed of many amiable qualities, he was very popular, and his death will be keenly regretted in the parish of Bishopstawton. The deceased was the third son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Beer, formerly of Lynmouth and now of Bishopstawton and a brother of Mr. Philip Beer, of Hillside, Bishopstawton, with whom, together with other relatives, deep sympathy is expressed.

We understand that Mr. Geo. Penny, nephew of Mr. and Mrs. Penny, of Boutport-street, Barnstaple, a member of the crew of the Black Prince, was not on board during last week’s battle. Mr. Penny had been ashore for the purpose of undergoing examination—in which he was successful—and his time was not up to rejoin his ship.

News has been received that Surgeon Probationer F. W. Lemarchand, son of Dr. A. W. and Mrs. Lemarchand, of Barnstaple, was not on H.M.S. Fortune at time of the action. He was only gazetted quite recently, and only left Barnstaple to join the Fortune on Monday in last week.

This transcript was taken from the North Devon Herald 8th June 1916 page 5 columns b-c and is just one of many articles about  North Devon’s experiences during World War One published in the local newspapers. For more visit our North Devon War Items Album on our Facebook Page…Barum Athena

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