Sunday, October 18, 2015

J49195 Able Seaman David William Christopher Jenner, HMS Constance

David William Christopher Jenner was born at Framfield, Sussex on 23rd August 1899.  He appears on the 1901 census of England and Wales living at Black Boys, Framfield with his family.  The household comprised David Foster Jenner (head, aged 25, working as an agricultural labourer), his wife Frances Jenner (aged 21) and their two children: David, (aged one) and Alec Clemence Herbert Jenner (aged one month).  Alec is recorded as “Alex” on the census return. 

Chailey Parish Magazine first notes him in March 1916, recording him as Jenner, Boy 2nd Class C, RN.  Presumably he used the name Christopher, or Chris, rather than David, so I shall refer to him as this. 

He enlisted with the Royal Navy at Portsmouth for a period of 12 years on 29th January 1916 but his reckonable service does not begin until his eighteenth birthday on 23rd August 1917.  He was five feet, two and a half inches tall, had brown hair, brown eyes and a dark complexion. It was noted that he had a brown mole on the outer side of his left nipple. 

Christopher gave his occupation as farm labourer.  He was given the number J49195 and sent to the boys’ training establishment, HMS Ganges.  His rating was Boy 2nd Class.  On 5th July 1916 his rating was upgraded to Boy 1st class and on 6th September 1916 he transferred from HMS Ganges to HMS Constance.  On his eighteenth birthday his rating was automatically upgraded to ordinary seaman and on 30th November that year he became Able Seaman Jenner.  He remained with HMS Constance until 26th September 1920 when he came ashore to Portsmouth at HMS Victory I.  He was given a free discharge on 16th October. 

During his time with the Royal Navy his character was mostly rated as very good with his ability ranging from satisfactory to superior.  He spent 14 days in the cells in 1918 (causing his character reference at the end of that year to be marked as “good” rather than “very good”) but whatever misdemeanour had caused him to be sentenced appears not to have affected his award of a good conduct badge on 5th September 1920.

HMS Constance was one of four Cambrian Class light cruisers which was ordered under the 1914-15 naval programme.  It was launched on 12th September 1915 and sold for scrapping in January 1936. 

Christopher’s brother Alec also served in the Royal Navy during the First World War.

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