1918-2008: Ninety Years of Remembrance

Soldier Record

John Francis

Contributed by: Robert Groves, on 2008-11-08

No portrait available
First Name John
Surname Francis
Year of Birth 1883
Year of Death 1914
Regiment Royal Navy
Place of Wartime Residence Gosport, Hampshire

John's Story

Those that lost loved ones in Belgium and France in World War I are able, sad as it is, of attending at their gravesides. Unfortunately this is not the case with those who were lost as sea. I never knew my grandfather as he was such a case. The first naval conflict of the First World War was in the Pacific Ocean off Chile as early as November 1914. A Royal Navy defeat which this was, wasn't reported very strongly as we hadn't been involved in battle since the victories of the days of Lord Nelson.

The battle naval force of Admiral Cradock consisted of the HMSs Otranto, Monmouth, Good Hope and Glasgow. The German fleet under Vice-Admiral Graf Maximillian von Spee was a superior force and the Battle of Coronel commenced on the 1st November 1914, less than three months after war was declared. The battle commenced at 5pm and by 8pm HMS Good Hope, a Drake class armoured cruiser after sustaining 35 hits broke apart and sank. Shortly afterwards HMS Monmouth also sank. The other British ships regrouped at the Falkland Islands to wait for reinforcements which later did defeat the German fleet.

A total of 1,654 officers and men were lost from those two ships, my grandfather among them. My grandmother was left to care for an aged mother, a son and two daughters which she did by working in Priddys Hard, Gosport, as an ammunitions worker and in her spare time taking in washing and ironing.

290778 John Francis is named on the War Memorial on Southsea seafront and although I never knew him he will always be in my thoughts at this time of the year.

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