Wetherby War Memorial - The Great War 1914 - 1918

George Haddington March

Introduction
Gunter, R B N
Durrant, C M
Weston, C G
Kelly, K G
Armitage, G J
Durrant, H M L
Hargreaves, J P
March, G
Dukes, W
Fowler, R
Westerman, H
Kirk, J C
Wiggins, T A
Telford, G
Harper, J W
Alexander, H W
Mason, T F
Wilkinson, W
Brown, C
Adkin, J
Barton, F
Hobman, A
Webster, A E
March, E A
Miller, G
Hannan, E
Utley, G
Walker, F
Bygrave, E W
Chapman, E
Varley, N W
Bowen, F J
Byrom, F
Backhouse, S
Dalby, M
Crossland, A
Crossley, J S
Dean, R
Frost, A E
Hodgson, F H
Holt, J
Hood, W H
Hill, W
Kitchen, T
Linfoot, E
Metcalfe, J C
Marsden, J
Pawson, W
Precious, G
Scutt, T G
Shields,P
Wiggins, J
Walker, E
Wood, A
Young, T
Pratt, W
Taylor, H
Dawson, G W
Lister, J
Binge, T
Atack, G
Durham, E F
Precious, G R
Wheelhouse Smith, W
Backhouse, H
Swann, J W
Burnsides, G A
Coles, W
Kelly, H W
Miles, J G
Tapsell, K
Acknowledgements
Dardanelles

M.12156
Acting Engine Room Artificer, 4th Class, HMS Mohawk, Royal Navy
Died, Tuesday 1st June 1915, age 34

Cemetery : Dover (St James's) Cemetery, Kent
Grave Reference of Panel Number : O. H. 9.

Son of George and Mary Agnes March of Micklethwaite, Wetherby; husband of Margaret March of Victoria House, Enterpen, Hutton Rudby, Yorkshire.
 
George was born at Micklethwaite on the 17th of May 1881, his father being employed as a Gardener. (Authors note: By the year of 1911 George (Senior) had become the Caretaker-in-Charge at the Gunter residence located at Wetherby Grange, Grange Park).
Married at Stockton, Durham, on the 17th of February 1906 to one Margaret Watson, the 1911 Census records that George was residing with his wife and two young boys, John George aged four and Frank two years respectively at Number 33, Jubilee Street, North Ormesby, Middlesbrough. At this juncture, his occupation is recorded as that of a 'Plumber' employed at an Iron Manufacturer.
At some point between the years of 1911 and 1913, the March family had relocated to London. In the August of 1913, the birth of twin daughters blessed the family, both Mary Agnes and Dorothy Frances being baptised at Saint Matthew, Saint Marylebone, Maida Hill, in November of that year. The family residence at this juncture was recorded as Grove Road and in 1914, a further child was born, Arthur Lloyd.
 
Enlistment And Training
 
George enlisted into the Royal Navy on the 16th of February 1915, his occupation being described as that of a 'Fitter.' (Authors note: The Register Of Seamen's Services T.N.A. reference ADM/188/1042 incorrectly states his place of birth as Leeds). The terms of his engagement were recorded as for the "Duration of Hostilities" and a physical description depicts George as being 5 feet 8 and a half inches in height, hair brown, eyes blue, and with a complexion recorded as "fresh." After a period of initial training at Pembroke II, a Shore Based Establishment located at Eastchurch but affiliated to Chatham, George was then posted to Attentative II, a Shore Based establishment located at Dover, Kent for the command of the "Dover Patrol" that had been created in 1914. Posted to H.M.S. "Mohawk" on the 30th of March 1915, his character was described as "very good" and ability deemed "satisfactory."
 
Engine Room Artificer: Role Of Duties
 
The duties of an Engine Room Artificer were varied due to Class but primarily he would have knowledge of the operation of engines and boilers, their maintenance and operation. Literate and be able to use arithmetic, there is no doubt that his civilian employment as that of a 'Plumber' greatly assisted George in acquiring his knowledge of marine engines. There are no precise details recorded as to the manner of his training however it appears that he maintained the rank of Acting E.R.A. 4th Class until his posting in March.
 
H.M.S. "Mohawk" - Construction And Service
 
H.M.S. "Mohawk" was built by John Samuel White's and launched on the 15th of March 1907. Built as a Tribal Class Destroyer, her displacement measured  865 long tons (879 t) normal, and 950 long tons (970 t) deep load. With a length of 276 feet, her length between perpendiculars measured 270 feet. Beam measured 25 feet whilst her draught measured 8 feet 11 inches. (Source: BRITISH DESTROYERS   From Earliest Days to the Second World War by Norman Friedman, Seaforth Publishing 2009). Oil fueled and with four funnels, propulsion was supplied by Six White-Forster Water-Tube Boilers that fed steam to the turbines. Driving three propeller shafts, the turbines were arranged so that the high pressure turbine powered the centre shaft, the two outer low pressure turbines driving the outer shafts respectively. An astern turbine, in effect to slow the ship, was also fitted in addition to a cruise turbine. Producing 14,500 shp (Shaft Horsepower), she was built to attain a speed of 33 knots but could actually do much better. There was however one flaw in the design of the ship that was discovered during her sea trials. It was found that the ship had a tendency to 'roll' and this as a consequence required that the forecastle be rebuilt and raised. Armed with 2 x 18 torpedo tubes and 3 x Quick-Firing (Q.F.) 12-pounder guns, it was during construction of the five Tribal Class Destroyers ordered by the Admiralty that it was determined that armament was not adequate and too light and to increase armament, a further two 12-pounder guns were added.

H.M.S. "Mohawk"
Mohawk.jpg
By Kind Permission Of I.W.M. (Q 75049)

Initial service on commissioning was performed with the 1st Destroyer Flotilla of the Home Fleet until the "Mohawk" was transferred to the 4th Destroyer Flotilla in 1913. Posted to the 6th Destroyer Flotilla in 1914, she was now allocated to the Dover Patrol, the Flotilla comprising of 24 Torpedo Boat Destroyers and 4 Torpedo Boats with H.M.S. "Attentive" performing the duties of Flotilla Cruiser. (Source: The Navy List, April 1915, National Library of Scotland). Designated "F" Class, early operations comprised of escorting transport ships carrying the troops of the British Expeditionary Force however it was during the Siege of Antwerp on the 6th of October that "Mohawk" was attacked by an enemy submarine but escaped any damage. (Source: Naval Operations Vol. 1 by Sir Julian S. Corbett, Page 191. Published, 1920, Longmans, Green And Co. Digitised by the University of Toronto).
 
As to the Commander of the "Mohawk" circa June 1915, The Navy List dated January 1915 records that in command of the ship at this period was one Lieutenant Harold Dallas Adair-Hall, promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Commander on the 31st of December 1914. (London Gazette dated the 1st of January 1915). His appointment is at least confirmed in the List dated April 1915 so at the point of George joining the ships complement, Adair-Hall was indeed in command of the ship. There is a suggestion however from various sources that he may have been in a form of 'transient' command of H.M.S. "Louis" but his signing of the Ship's Log (T.N.A. ADM 53/49738) as regards the catastrophic events of the 1st of June 1915 would seem to confirm his command of the vessel at this juncture. On a note of personnel, the Chief Engineer Officer was one William Nock who had been promoted to the rank of Artificer-Engineer on the 2nd of October 1914. Born at Strood, Kent, William had originally enlisted into the Royal Navy in 1894 and would gradually gain promotion to Commander Engineering by 1920 onboard H.M.S. "Tower," an "R" Class Destroyer.
 
Tuesday, 1st June, 1915: Operations
 
Early on the morning of the 1st of June, "Mohawk" found herself in a calm sea with a north-easterly wind measuring 2 on the Beaufort Scale, conditions equating to a sea characterised by small wavelets with a 'glassy' appearance and a light wind that could be felt on the face. Under a Base Cloud, she now proceeded in a northerly direction before stopping to pick up an Indication Bouy at 3.15 a.m. With this task completed in five minutes, the "Mohawk" proceeded onwards to commence a patrol of the Number 1 Patrol area but it was at 5.25 a.m. that disaster struck. Whilst patrolling near the north-west end of the "Net Area," (Authors note: The "Dover Barrage"), "some mines were seen close to her; her helm was put over to clear them, but a strong east-going tide swept her over them." (Source: The Dover Patrol 1915-1917 by Admiral Sir Reginald Bacon K.C.B, K.C.V.O., D.S.O., Volume 2. George H. Doran Company, New York). Located about one and a half miles south of the South Goodwin Light Vessel off the South Foreland when the explosion occurred, it soon became apparent that "Mohawk" had struck a mine on her starboard quarter. Firing off six rounds of Blank Ammuntion and one rocket, trawlers were dispatched to her assistance reaching the ship at 5.45 a.m. Such was the damage to "Mohawk," the ships complement were transferred to the trawlers and placed under tow as they made for Dover. "With her upper deck almost level with the water" (Bacon), the port was reached at 7 a.m. whereupon the ship was placed into a Floating Dock. Casualties were recorded as five men killed, and four severely injured, amongst the dead there being numbered George Haddington March.       

"Mohawk" Log
mohawklog.jpg
T.N.A. ADM 53/49738

Casualties: Killed & Injured

A telegram was sent the same day from Dover to the Admiralty reporting the loss of members of the crew. In injured, the "Mohawk" numbered the following men:-

Able Seaman Richard Henry Ashton, J.6358 (Portsmouth), a native of Clerkenwell, London.

E.R.A. 3rd Class, Frank Bott, M.2545 (Portsmouth), a native of Milford, Derbyshire.

Acting E.R.A. 4th Class, Sydney William Bulley, M.11850 (Devonport), a native of Stonehouse, Devon.

Stoker 1st Class, George Wileman, 308500 (Portsmouth). A native of Kingsbury, Warwickshire, he was badly scalded during the explosion and invalided home. (Source: Tamworth Herald dated the 10th of June 1916). Upon recuperation "Harry" was posted to the Queen Mary but was unfortunately killed whilst serving on this ship at the Battle of Jutland.

In those unfortunately killed, they numbered as follows:-

Acting E.R.A. 4th Class, George Haddington March, M.12156 (Chatham).

Leading Stoker, George William Hollyer, K.487 (Portsmouth), who had only just married in May at Portsmouth.

E.R.A. 2nd Class, Richard Gardiner, 271210 (Portsmouth). Originally from Glasgow and aged 34 years, Richard had enlisted in 1903 aged 12 years old.

E.R.A. 4th Class, Thomas Sidney Chiverton, M.775 (Portsmouth). A native of Portsmouth, Thomas enlisted in 1909.

Stoker 1st Class, John Grice, S.S. 110725, (Portsmouth). A married man with two children of George Street Terrace, George Street, Walsall. John had enlisted in February 1911 for an engagement of five years, had he survived, the terms of his engagement would have ended in February of the following year.      

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Wallsall Advertiser Dated The 5th Of June, 1916

The Inquest
 
The Dover Express and East Kent News dated the 4th of June reported the findings of an inquest that had taken place on Wednesday the 2nd. Annotations are included by the Author.
Lieut.-Commander H.D. Adair Hall providing evidence, stated that on the morning of the 1st of June the vessel was in the English Channel. At 5.15 a.m. a violent explosion occurred. The men who were dead were on board the vessel. Petty Officer Arthur George Moss, 233186 (Portsmouth) (of the "Mohawk") stated that the bodies of the dead men were those of G.H. Hollyer (sic) leading stoker, Stoker J. Grice, E.R.A. T.S. Chiverton, E.R.A. George March and E.R.A. H. Gardiner.
Surgeon Howard Deakin R.N. (Temporary Surgeon Howard Vipond Deakin, Navy List 1915) superintended the recovery of the bodies stating that "three were greatly injured" and that "death was undoubtedly occasioned by an explosion, and must have been instantaneous." As a consequence, the assembled jury returned a verdict that the men met their deaths through an explosion.
On the afternoon of the 4th of June, the bodies of George March, John Grice, Henry Gardiner and George Hollyer were buried at Dover, St. James's Cemetery, of Thomas Chiverton, he was laid to rest at Portsmouth (Highland Road) Cemetery, date of internment unknown.
 
Although the deaths of the men was widely reported in the press, the exact circumstances surrounding their fate were not divulged to their families. A common theme throughout the newspaper articles is "an explosion on board ship" however this must have been a cold comfort to the bereaved. The survivors no doubt told the true story of what happened on the "Mohawk" on that fateful day, some men, like George Wileman, even bearing the physical and no doubt mental scars for what remained of his life.
 
The Threat Of The Submarine: Early Countermeasures & Success
 
As the threat of incursion by enemy U-Boats into the waters of the English Channel escalated in 1915, the British policy of laying offensive mines to interdict their passage lacked cohesion due to a number of factors; a shortage of effective contact mines and the reluctance to mine waters that may impede the movement of British warships and transport. With design flaws in mines that exacerbated the solution, minefields were however laid from the coast of Belgium, France and to Dover but these defensive measures were to be further augmented by the construction and deployment of the a series of 'nets' and minefields designated as the "Dover Barrage."
 
Towards the end of the first year of the war, preparations hade been made to place a "Barrage" across the English Channel. Comprising of nets fabricated from steel wire that were fastened to the seabed at varying depths, the "Barrage" was maintained by 'net drifters' and patrolled by Destroyers. Mined also at varying depths, the nets however were subjected to the strong and complex currents of the Straits of Dover and difficult to maintain. With a channel kept 'clear' for shipping, there were inevitable 'gaps' in the nets that were exploited by enemy submarines, either passing over them at night on the surface, or negotiating them underwater.
 
Early indications of the effectiveness of the "Barrage" were at least proven on the 4th of March 1915 when the SM U-8 became trapped in one of the nets and was forced to the surface. Spotted by the Whitby Steam Drifter "Roburn" of the Drifter Patrol, Destroyers "Ghurka," "Maori," "Viking," "Nubian" were dispatched to the area supported by "Mohawk," "Falcon," "Kangaroo," "Cossack," "Leven," "Fawn," "Syren" and "Ure." (Source: The Dover Express And East Kent News dated the 12th of March 1915). Engaged by "Viking" who conducted a high speed "sweep" to no avail, the submarine was again spotted by "Maori" in a different position to the west and was subsequently then engaged by "Ghurka" whose own 'sweep' across the path of the submarine resulted in the latter being forced to surface. Receiving fire that hit the Conning Tower, the crew, numbering four officers and twenty-five men managed to scuttle the vessel before abandoning her to her fate. (Source: Naval Operations Volume 2. Corbett).
 
The Formation Of U-Bootflottile Flandern
 
The SM U-8 had been operating from Ostend but as yet the organisation of a large fleet of submarines to prosecute the undersea war had not as yet to come to fruition. To address this need, on the 29th of March 1915, KorvettenKapitan Karl Bartenbach was placed in command of the newly formed U-Bootflottille Flandern operating from the ports of Ostend, Zeebrugge with a secure inland base located at Bruges. SM UB-10 was to be the first U-Boat to serve in the Flottila arriving on the 27th of March but it was in late May that the submarine fleet was bolstered by the arrival of the first of a number of the type UC 1 Minelayer Submarines. The first to arrive was the prototype, SM UC-11 and she was soon to be followed by a further four of her type as operations commenced on the 31st of May. (Source: The Naval Flank of the Western Front, The German MarineKorps Flandern 1914 - 1918 by Mark D Karau. Published by Seaforth Publishing, 2014).
 
As the UC-11 departed the port of Zeebrugge to lay her deadly cargo off the coast of Kent, little was the crew under the command of Oberleutnant zur See Walter Gottfried Schmidt to realise that their first operation would claim their first victim, namely the "Mohawk."
 
SM UC-11: Design & Ultimate Fate
 
Due to copyright restrictions, the following information as regards the submarine have been retrieved from Wikipedia. Although some sources are quoted in the aforementioned article, I the Author, cannot vouch for their accuracy. The UC-11 was built by Aktien-Gesellschaft Weser at Bremen. With a displacement of 168 tonnes (165 'Long Tons') surfaced, and 182 tonnes (179 'Long Tons') whilst submerged, her LOA (Length Overall) measured 111 feet and 6 inches. The submarine's beam at its maximum point measured 10 feet and 4 inches and her draft equated to that of 10 feet. Powered by a single Benz six-cylinder four stroke diesel engine capable of 6.49 knots on the surface, in addition to the diesel engine, power was also augmented by an electric motor, both driving one propeller shaft. With a submerged speed of 5.67 knots, when surfaced her range equated to 910 Nautical Miles at a speed of 5 knots and when submerged, the range of the submarine was 50 Nautical Miles at a speed of 4 knots respectively.                   

The Crew Of A German UC-1 Class Submarine On Deck
Submarine.jpg
By Kind Permission Of I.W.M. Q 20220

Armament comprised of one 8 mm machine gun that was mounted on the deck along with 6, 100 cm 'mine tubes.' The mines themselves were of the designation type UC 120 mines, i.e. they contained 120 kilograms of explosive and were moored at varying depths from the seabed. Launched from the mine tubes that were flooded subsequent to release, the mines then went through a discharge process before reaching the bottom. Upon the explosive charge being released on a cable, when the latter reached the required depth due to its buoyancy, the weapon became armed.
 
This was the scenario as the UC-11 laid her first minefield to the south of the South Goodwin Light Vessel. Along with the "Mohawk" and under various commanders, the UC-11 accounted for numerous victims until she herself was sunk in 1918 off Harwich with the loss of 13 of her complement, the commander, Oberleutnant zur See Kurt Utke, being the only survivor. Authors note: A variety of sources state that the submarine was destroyed by one of her own mines however upon examination of the wreck it was found that all her mines were still in situ inside the 'mine tubes.' It was therefore surmised that the UC-11 had either fouled in some old mine cables or some mines that she may have laid on a previous mission. (Source:- First World War Espionage And The Greatest Treasure Salvage In History, The Sunken Gold, by Joseph A Williams. Published by The History Press, 2018).
 
Commemorations Of George Haddington March
 
George Haddington March now lies at peace in St. James's Cemetery located at Dover but in addition to his place of burial, he is also commemorated on the War Memorial located in the village of Hutton Rudby and the War Memorial located in Saint Oswalds Church, Collingham, near Wetherby. In the churchyard at Saint Oswalds are also buried his parents whose gravestone commemorates the loss of their son but unfortunately on one visit by the Author, the gravestone was sadly broken and in need of repair.   

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