Tuesday, January 30, 2007

L7566 Jack Chatfield, Royal Navy

Today marks another first: the first photograph of one of Chailey's mariners.

The man on the right is Jack Chatfield, an officer's steward who served aboard HMS Cochrane and later HMS Amphitrite during WW1 before being invalided out of the service in 1919. Jack was one of four Chailey brothers who served his country during WW1, all four of them surviving.
This is Jack's story:

Jack Chatfield was born on 16th July 1896.  His surviving Naval papers give his place of birth as Lewes although the 1901 census states Newick.  When the census was taken he was living at The Rough, Newick with his family.  The household comprised Alfred Chatfield (aged 42, head of the family, born at Fletching and working as a domestic gardener), his wife Mary Chatfield (aged 42, born in Newick) and their six children: Mabel Chatfield (aged 14, born Fletching), Emily Chatfield (aged 13, born Fletching), Harry Chatfield (aged ten, born Uckfield), Frank Chatfield (aged eight, born Fletching), Jack (aged four, recorded as John) and Thomas Chatfield (aged two, born Newick).

There were other children as well.  The 1891 census shows the family living at Church Street, Uckfield.  Alfred Chatfield (aged eight, born at Fletching) and Alice Mary Chatfield (aged six, born at Fletching) had obviously left the family home by the time the 1901 census was taken.  Harry Chatfield is recorded as “infant Chatfield aged under one month”.

Jack joined the Royal Navy at Portsmouth on 25th October 1915.  He was five feet eight and a half inches tall, had fair hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion.  It was noted that he had a scar on the back of his left wrist.  He gave his occupation as gardener and was sent to HMS Victory I (a Portsmouth base).  His rating was officer’s steward and his service number was L7566.  His rank and the fact that he had joined the Navy was reported by Chailey Parish Magazine the following month.

In July 1916, the parish magazine reported that Jack had joined HMS Argonaut although there is no mention of this on his naval papers.  HMS Argonaut (a 16 gun cruiser belonging to the Diadem class and launched at Govan in 1898) eventually became a training ship for stokers and was based at Portsmouth and I think it likely that he spent some time on this ship although his record simply states HMS Victory I (Portsmouth)

Between 14th October 1916 and 25th November 1917 Jack Chatfield was serving aboard HMS Cochrane.  This was a large armoured cruiser of the Warrior Class.  The ship was built at Govan by Fairfield, launched on 20th May 1905 and completed in February 1907. She joined the 5th Squadron at the Nore in 1907 and transferred to the 2nd Cruiser squadron in 1909. In 1911 - 1912 her duties were to escort the Royal Yacht Medina. On the outbreak of World war One she joined the Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow and took part in the battle of Jutland. In 1917 she was stationed in North America and the West Indies and then to Archangel in May 1918 until September the same year. On her return she ran aground in the Mersey on the 14th November 1918 and was a total loss. She was finally demolished by June 1919. 

In November 1917, Jack spent a further five months at Portsmouth (HMS Victory I) and then, between 9th April 1918 and 31st March 1919, served aboard HMS Amphitrite. He was finally invalided out of the Royal Navy on 1st April 1919.

Throughout his war service his character was noted as “very good”, with his ability ranging from “moderate” to “satisfactory”.

Jack Chatfield joined the Royal Navy on the same day as Alfred Beard.  Presumably the two men were friends and decided to enlist together.  Six digits separate their service numbers.

Three of Jack’s brothers – Frank Chatfield, Harry Chatfield and Thomas Chatfield - also served their King and Country during the First World War.

I am grateful to David Gordon for sending me this photograph of his relative which I am delighted to add to the growing gallery of Chailey's First World War servicemen and women.

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