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).
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
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
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
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.
|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).
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
|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:-
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:-
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.
|Wallsall Advertiser Dated The 5th Of June, 1916
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.
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."
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).
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."
UC-11: Design & Ultimate Fate
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
|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
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.