Tuesday, 31 May 2016

In Southern Cemetery .......... uncovering a little more of Leading Seaman Ernest Thistlewood who fought at Jutland

Long Service medal
This is the long standing medal awarded to Ernest Robert Thistlewood who served with the Royal Navy from 1896-1919.

Like so much research his story turns on just a day, because only yesterday I had to admit I knew little about him other than that he was on HMS Royal Oak at the Battle of Jutland on May 31 1916.*

And even that assertion was based only on the presence of a sweet heart badge with the name Royal Oak which was amongst his medals.

A day later and another trawl of the records turned up his Royal Navy service record and with that he has stepped out of the shadows.

He was born in Birmingham in 1878 and at the age of 18 he gave up his job as a “shop boy" for a life at sea.

During the course of which he served on 21 ships and naval stations and on May 1 1916 joined the crew of HMS Royal Oak on the day it was commissioned.

On May 30 she sailed out of Scapa Flow joined the British Grand Fleet and participated in the Battle of Jutland.

Sweet Heart Badge
And Ernest was there at the battle, and continued on HMS Royal Oak till he was demobbed in 1919.

The record shows that he had re-enlisted in 1910 for a further five years was promoted to Leading Seamen and throughout his career was described a “very good” sailor.

Now no pictures of him have surfaced but his military records show he was just over 5 feet in height had light brown hair, brown eyes and a “fresh sallow” complexion.

And there the trail gets just a little confused because there appears to be another Ernest Robert born in Birmingham who married Ada Mary Carl at the Holy Trinity Church in Mile End in 1908.

The collection of medals
All the bits fit except that he gave his occupation as a Fireman and was based at the Fire Station in Great Marlborough Street.

Now this could still be him, and I may have miss read the naval record which may suggest a break in service.

If this is him then they had two children born in 1910 and 1911 and he died in 1963 in Ruislip with Ada surviving him by seven years.

Of course any one who has done any family research will not be surprised at this turn of events and there are still clues which may help firm up the story.

Some of the display at Southern Cemetery
But for now I am pleased that a little bit more of the detail behind those medals has come to light, and I will pass on the information to David Harrop who maintains the exhibition at the Remembrance Lodge in Southern Cemetery.

David has just finished a new display to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme which began in July 1916.**

Some of the exhibits are not only related to that battle but are from men who are either buried or commemorated in Southern Cemetery.

Location; Southern Cemetery

Pictures; medals of Leading Seamam E R Thistlewood, 1896-119, from the collection of David Harrop

**In Southern Cemetery with a little bit of the Battle of Jutland ........ and a story still to be revealed, https://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/in-southern-cemetery-with-little-bit-of.html

** Coming Soon ......... an exhibition in Southern Cemetery ........... remembering the Battle of the Somme, https://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/coming-soon-exhibition-in-southern.html

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