Able Seaman William John Hutchings

Service Royal Navy Service No. 224640 (Dev) William Hutchings
Rank Able Seaman
Date of Birth: 01/04/1886
Born Torquay
Date of Death: 31/05/1916
Memorial: Dawlish Memorial Inscription HUTCHINGS W. A.B. R.N.

Service History

William joined the Royal Navy on 17 January 1903 as a Boy Seaman at the age of 16 and served aboard HMS Northampton which was one of the Navy's training ships for boy seamen. His service record shows that he had been working as a gardener. On his 18th birthday he signed on for a 12 year service, on 1 April 1904.

He served aboard various ships until December 1905 when he joined H.M.S.CAMBRIDGE, the Gunnery Training Ship that was a 'wooden wall' hulk moored in the Hamoaze off Devonport.
In June 1911 he was posted to H.M.S.BLAKE which was a Destroyer Depot Ship based at Portland. His next posting in May 1914 was to the Naval Barracks, Devonport, then Portsmouth, and again to H.M.S.BLAKE, which was then the depot ship to the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla at Rosyth. This was followed by H.M.S.HECLA, taking the part of Depot Ship to the 4th Destroyer Flotilla at Scapa Flow where H.M.S.BROKE was one of twenty one destroyers, and was the Flotilla Leader (2nd in command).

In the major naval engagement in the North Sea, known as the Battle of Jutland, that began on 31 May 1916, there were more significant British naval losses than German, but the outcome was to persuade the Kaiser to instruct his navy to remain in port.

Towards the end of the battle the 4th Destroyer Flotilla encountered German forces that damaged H.M.S.TIPPERARY, the Flotilla Leader, and H.M.S.BROKE became the senior ship in the Flotilla. She was then hit by SMS WESTFALEN. This blast destroyed the bridge, while the ship was in the middle of a turning manoeuvre to bring torpedo tubes to bear on the German ship. She continued to turn and collided with H.M.S.SPARROWHAWK. A young officer of H.M.S.SPARROWHAWK saw the ship approaching fast and was thrown onto the other ship. Now chaos reigned on the collided ships. Both captains assumed they were sinking, and so ordered the crew onto the other ship. Finally, both ships were freed. But just at this moment H.M.S.CONTEST, another destroyer, collided with the stern of the H.M.S.SPARROWHAWK.
H.M.S.BROKE remained afloat but lost 47 killed and 36 wounded.

Association with Dawlish

William John Hutchings was the second of seven children of Charles Thomas Hutchings, born in Kennford (1860-1942) and Louisa Margaret (Holding), born in Torquay (1862 – 1948).
In 1891 the family were living at 19 Sandhill Road, Torquay, and the father was shown as a labourer. By 1901 they had moved to 1 Alma Place, Tormoham, Torquay and the father was working as a carter for a coal merchant. (Such place names have since changed-ed)

William J Hutchings married Lilian Elizabeth Ford in 4th quarter 1906.
Lilian Ford was the seventh of sixteen children of John and Mary Ford of Dawlish. Their father was a tailor in 3 Park Street, Dawlish in 1901 and 3 Strand Hill (formerly Park Street) in 1911.
Their grandson, Frederick George Ford was living with John and Mary Ford in 1901 and 1911 and he died in Gallipoli campaign on 9th May 1915. (see separate entry).

William and Lilian Hutchings had a son, William John Ford Hutchings (1908 – 1986) and in 1911 mother and son were living at 15 Elm Road, Highweek, Newton Abbot, while William was serving aboard H.M.S. ABOUKIR, an armoured cruiser. (She was living close to her Ford relatives at 11 Commercial Road, Dawlish when her husband was killed.)

Devon Roll of Honour HUTCHINGS W. A.B. R.N. (no date or location of death shown)
Additional Information Commonwealth War Graves Site

Next of Kin: Lilian Hutchings, widow
Last Known Address: 11 Commercial Road, Dawlish

William Hutchings
William Hutchings

William and Lilian Hutchings with their son(?)

Destroyer in Chilean Navy, class of H.M.S.BROKE

CWGC casualty records
UK RN & RM War Graves Roll
Free BMD

Imperial War Museum podcast
Census entries
FORD family history document, including family photographs.
Master Ford – Petherick File family tree (Ancestry)
Service Record
Andrews/DaBell/DeLee/Walker/Atkinson family tree (Ancestry)