Stoker 1st Class SS/115678 George Alfred Green

Killed in Action on Saturday, 12th January 1918, age 27.
Commemorated on Panel 30 of Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Hampshire, United Kingdom.

Royal Navy, H.M.S. "Narbrough.".

Son of George Henry and Mary A. Green, of Back 89, Pope's Lane, Oldbury, Birmingham. Native of Tipton, Staffs
Born: Oldbury, Enlisted: Unknown, Resident: Tipton.

Pre-war naval man.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Navy Papers transcribed.

Not commemorated on any Tipton memorial.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on Commonwealth War Graves site.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/3039790/

Genealogical Data

According to Naval records, George was born 2nd October 1891.

1901 Census
2 Court 3 House, Popes Lane, Oldbury, Worcs.
George Henry Green (40, Navvy, born Oldbury), his wife Mary Ann (45, born Tipton), and their only child: George Alfred (10, born Tipton).

1911 Census
Back 89 Popes Lane, Oldbury, Worcs.
George Henry Green (50, Unemployed General Labourer, born Oldbury), his wife Mary Ann (54, born Toll End), and their only surviving child of 4: George Alfred (20, Labourer at Chemical Works, born Toll End).

Personal Data

George Green joined the Royal Navy before the outbreak of World War 1, on 1st May 1914. He signed up for a period of 5 years to be followed by a further 7 years in the Reserves. He was 5 feet 7¾ inches tall with a 38-inch chest, had brown hair, ‘bronze’ eyes and a fair complexion, and had been employed as a ‘Factory Labourer’. He had scars on his right temple, left forearm and beneath his right eye. He had a ‘dot’ (presumably a tattoo) on the back of his left hand.

He received some shore-based training on HMS Victory I and HMS Victory II, but this was limited as he was employed as a Stoker. As such he served on HMS Dublin, HMS Topaze and HMS Speedwell before joining HMS Narborough on 31st October 1917.

Action resulting in his death

According to Naval records, George's cause of death was "Killed or died by means other than disease, accident or enemy action".

In fact George was a stoker aboard HMS Narbrough which was wrecked outside Scapa Flow during a violent gale and snowstorm, she ran ashore on South Ronaldsay, Orkney. The entire ship's crew of 93 men were killed.

For anyone wanting greater detail, a précis of an article by K. McBride in volume 85 of the 'The Mariner's Mirror' from 1999 follows:

From early in the War, the British Grand Fleet based at Scapa Flow and the Battle-Cruiser force based in the Firth of Forth maintained 'Dark Night Patrols' or DNP's on every moonless night. Their purpose was to deter enemy fast surface minelayers. As far as is known none actually encountered the enemy, but only one German surface minelayer succeeded in laying mines at the entrance to a British base (the Berlin, off Lough Swilly in 1914).
On 12 January 1918 the destroyers Opal and Narborough left Scapa Flow to join the light cruiser Boadicea at sea to carry out a DNP, with a rendezvous at 15.35 off the Pentland Skerries. At this time the weather was good, the barometer steady. The weather deteriorated, and by 17.05 speed was reduced to 12 knots. At 18.30 Boadicea ordered the destroyers to return to base as heavy snow squalls were occurring and visibility was cut to a few hundred yards. At 19.05 Opal advised that her ETA was 22.00, and at 19.55 she requested fog signals be sounded, adding 'blinding snow." At 22.17 the Opal reported that she had run aground, but with only a partial position.
At 23.42 the Admiral commanding the First Battle Squadron reported that tugs and destroyers would sail to find Opal as soon as the weather cleared, nothing further having been heard. The weather clearing the next morning, ships sailed at 0910 to search, with four sloops, plus trawlers, drifters and shore parties. The weather remained poor, with shore search parties hampered by 6ft snow drifts.
More ships joined the search during the 13th, but the weather remained poor, with blizzards, strong winds and deep frosts. Not until the morning of 14 January did the searching destroyer Peyton see the wreckage of the destroyers, and a man, on the shore at the Clett of Crura. The man was AB William Sissons of the Opal who semaphored the ships; a boat from the trawler Michael Maloney picked him up. Despite his condition he gave intelligent answers to all questions put to him. He stated that he was on duty at no. 2 gun between the funnels. The weather was bad, with visibility 'about a destroyer's length." The snow cleared momentarily; a cliff was close ahead. The Opal struck heavily and came to a stop. The Narborough came up on her starboard quarter before striking the shore and then went over onto her starboard side and started breaking up. The Opal slid back into deeper water, her hull broke at the foc'sle, her funnels and masts were carried away. Life rafts were launched but were carried away and the boats and davits unusable. Sissons said he clung to a funnel until swimming to the shore. He covered himself with driftwood and survived the next day on shellfish. He passed his second night bitterly cold and starving.
The wrecks were found to be submerged to the tops of their torpedo tubes, with everything above deck flattened. The enquiry found that the disaster was due to poor seamanship and lack of judgement in trying to enter harbour under such conditions. Sissons testified that normal routine was in progress and the ships were steaming at 13 knots. Visibility was poor; Lt. Cdr de Malan had probably not allowed for the northerly set of the tide.

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