Monday, October 27, 2014

J33944 Boy 1st Class William James Turner, Royal Navy

William James Turner was born in France on 3rd September 1898.  He joined the Royal Navy on 18th January 1915 and was recorded as being five feet, one inch tall with light brown hair, grey eyes and a fresh complexion.  He gave his occupation as “motor boy”.  He was given the rating of boy 2nd Class, the service number J33944 and joined the training ship HMS Impregnable where he remained until 12th May.  The following day he was upgraded to the rating of boy 1st class and transferred to HMS Britannia.  He remained with HMS Britannia for a little over a month, returning to HMS Victory I on 7th June.  One month later he was invalided out of the navy with organic heart disease.  

Chailey Parish Magazine first notes him in March 1915 as serving his King and Country and in October 1915 correctly reported that he has been serving at HMS Victory I before being invalided on 7th July 1916. The parish magazine also reports (from August 1916) that he served aboard HMS Glory and was not invalided and discharged until November 1916 (at least, that is when that information was published).  However, I can find no reference to HMS Glory in his surviving service papers and am assuming that this information in the parish magazine is incorrect. 

During his short time with the navy, William Turner’s character was noted as very good and his character as satisfactory. 

HMS Impregnable was an old 121 gun ship from 1860, initially named HMS Howe. The ship was renamed HMS Bulwark and then, in 1886, was renamed again to HMS Impregnable, a training ship under the command of Captain D. H. Bosanquet. 

HMS Britannia was a battleship of the King Edward VII class but by t he time William Turner joined it she had suffered serious damage after running aground at Inchkeith.  It is conceivable that during its refit, the ship was also used as a training establishment as it was certainly more modern than HMS Impregnable.  A photo reproduced on also shows “Young sailors receiving instructions in seamanship on HMS Britannia.  HMS Britannia was later sunk by a German U-Boat off cape Trafalgar and sustained a number of casualties due to toxic fumes.

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