1918-2008: Ninety Years of Remembrance

Soldier Record

Thomas Partridge

Contributed by: Ninety Years of Remembrance, on 2008-11-04

Thomas Partridge
First Name Thomas
Surname Partridge
Year of Birth Unknown
Year of Death Unknown
Regiment Royal Navy
Place of Wartime Residence Bristol, Bristol

Thomas's Story

Chief Petty Officer Thomas Partridge served the duration of the war on HMS Cornwall which sailed all over the world hunting the German fleet and escorting the Merchant Navy safely to their destinations. During action he was in charge of damage control and was involved in the Battle of the Falkland Islands, December 1914.

I am going to sink every ship without the loss of a man on our side

Diary Extracts

[8th December 1914] Once outside we received the following signal from Ad Sturdee, “I am going to sink every ship without the loss of a man on our side,” and my word we did steam and saw those Germans scooting away on the horizon. There was 5 ships, the Scharnhorst, Griesnau, Dresden, Liepzig, and Nurmberg. At about 10.30am we passed the Canarvon like a wisp. She couldn’t keep up as we were steaming 145 revs (24 knots). But what sport it was to see all the Corny’s lads perched up on every available pinnacle to get a view of the fleeing Germans who were being overhauled by the Invincible and Inflexible! And our chase was fully realised at 1.20 o’clock when the two dreadnoughts opened fire on the small ships who were the last in the enemy line. Great was the cheering of our lads who were intently watching the fall of her huge shells. Such a sight was never before seen and the small ships then turned sharply to starboard in full flight and so did we, leaving the 4 big ships hotly engaged. The spectacle was magnificent. The fleet, being now somewhat scattered, we had orders to pursue and destroy light cruisers. On our errand we went with the Kent abreast of us and the Glasgow ahead of us slightly. The poor Canarvon, ‘Admiral Stopford’ on board, could not be seen and gradually we drew away from the great duel on our Port hand and with grim determination of overhauling those small dots of smoke ahead of us. The first ship to open the ball was the Glasgow who opened fire at 2.47 and the enemy retaliated. Up to all this time we had been eye witnesses but now ACTION was sounded on board our ship. 3.20 o’clock and every man went cooly to his station. 3.23 the enemy opened fire on the Glasgow who was now a good bit ahead of us using her superior speed, but the enemy’s shots were short. Glasgow retaliated and fell away to the starboard and again opened fire until she got a salvo aboard of her from the enemy. She then fell away to our S. quarter, and the Kent and ourselves opened fire.

The Kent firing on the Nurmberg and ourselves on the Leipzig we were still steaming at 24 knots and overhauling our victim who was by now replying vigorously to our salvos which were taking effect out upon her speed. At 4.40 we shot her mainmast clean overboard, and after this we gave independent firing but got within her range, 8,275yds, and we received several hits so we opened the range and were hotly engaged until at 6.15. We then dropped a few lydditte shells on board her and fire was seen issuing from the fore part, but until then no one knew who was the master. From now until 8.30pm we gave her an occasional salvo to try and put her below but at that hour she gave a dip forward and disappeared from sight. We launched the sea boat and 4 survivors were rescued. Some extraordinary sad stories were told us by these unfortunate individuals upon their recovery from the awful experience, and luckily they were to be rescued as when volunteer boat crews were called for not a man volunteered as in their minds were the heartless sinking of the Monmouth and the Good Hope.

Thomas Partridge remained on the Cornwall and sailed to Sierra Leone, Durban, Zanzibar, Suez, Gulf of Sollum, and finally the Dardanelles where he remained for 2 years fighting the German fleet and protecting the Merchant Navy.

Text published by the BBC with permission from the soldier's relatives and the Imperial War Museum.

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