Able Seaman SS/5351 George Hughes

Hughes George 96 449x600
Photograph of George is courtesy of his great grand-daugther Stacey Cox.

Hughes George 96 919x600

Died on Wednesday, 24th July 1918, age 23.
Buried in Grave AN. 2. 30., at Coseley (Christ Church) New Churchyard, Coseley, Staffordshire, United Kingdom.

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

Husband of Sarah Hughes, of 6A, Chapel St., Coseley.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Unknown, Resident: Coseley.

First served in 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Naval Papers transcribed.

Not commemorated on any Tipton memorial.
Commemorated here because his name was found on the Navy List.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/394994/

Genealogical Data

1891 Census
53 Wood Street, Tipton, Staffs.
Stephen Hughes (23, Coal Miner, born Tipton), his wife Louisa (22, born Tipton), and their 2 children: Stephen (2, born Tipton), Thomas (1, born Tipton).

Birth of George Hughes registered March quarter 1895 in Dudley; born in Tipton on 29th January 1895 according to his Navy Papers.

1901 Census
51 Wood Street, Tipton, Staffs.
NB Surname entered onto the census as Beasley; this was an error as the family matches exactly the 1891 and 1911 census records.
Stephen Hughes (33, Furnace Labourer, born Tipton), his wife Louisa (32, born Tipton), and their 6 children: Stephen (12, born Tipton), Thomas (11, born Tipton), Walter (9, born Tipton), George (6, born Tipton), Agnes (3, born Tipton), and Emmanuel (1, born Tipton).

1911 Census
29 Wood Street, Tipton, Staffs.
Stephen Hughes (43, Coal Miner (loader), born Tipton), his wife Louisa (42, born Tipton), and their 9 surviving children of 13: Thomas (21, Barrow Wheeler, born Tipton), Walter (19, Coal Miner (below ground), born Tipton), George (16, born Tipton), Agnes (13, born Tipton), Emmanuel (11, born Tipton), Nell (daughter, 9, born Tipton), William (son, 6, born Tipton), T. (son, 5, born Tipton), and G. (daughter, 1, born Tipton).

Marriage of George Hughes and Sarah Ratcliffe registered September quarter 1916 at Dudley.
The marriage was at Christ Church, Coseley, on September 4th 1916. George's occupation was given as 'sailor'; his father was Stephen - a collier, and Sarah's father was Thomas - a painter. The address for both George and Sarah was given as 6a Chapel Street, Coseley.
George and Sarah had a daughter, Georgina Marian Hughes (mother nee Ratcliffe), who was born on 27th July 1918, tragically this was just 3 days after George had died. Georgina's birth was registered September quarter 1918 in Dudley.

Personal Data

George Hughes was born in Tipton on 29th January 1895. He was employed as a miner when he enlisted in the Royal Navy as an 'Ordinary Seaman' on 12th February 1915, signing-on for 5 years to be followed by 7 years in the Naval Reserve. It is possible that he wished to 'serve his country' but joined the Royal Navy as he was too short for the army; he was just 5 feet 1¼ inches tall with a 36½-inch chest, aged 20 years, had brown hair, grey eyes and a fresh complexion.

George received his initial training at HMS Victory I which was a shore-based establishment in Portsmouth. In May 1915 he was posted to HMS Argyll which was an armoured cruiser assigned to the Grand Fleet. He served on HMS Argyll until October 1915 when it ran aground on Bell Rock off Dundee and was a total wreck but with no loss of life.

After further training he was promoted to 'Able Seaman' in 1916, and allocated to the Dover Patrol base and served on HMS Attentive II and HMS Vernon. He would have been present at the Zeebrugge raid in April 1918, although at some stage he was sentenced to "7 days cells" for an unspecified offence. Apart from the "7 days cells" his character was rated as 'Very Good' and his ability as 'Satisfactory'.

The Pension Card for George Hughes shows that the Separation Allowance paid to his widow, Sarah, ceased on 22nd January 1919. This was then replaced with a Pension of 20/5d (1 pound and 5 pence) per week, starting on 23rd January 1919. This was for both Sarah and her infant daughter, Georgina. A grant of £5 had been paid on 7th August 1918, and a further grant of £1 paid on 12th March 1919.

George's brother, William, was also killed during the Great War. Lance-Corporal Walter Hughes, 4th Worcesters, was killed in action on 6th May 1915 during the Second Battle of Krithia in the Gallipoli campaign.

Action resulting in his death

Whilst serving on HMS Nugent, George caught influenza and died in Portsmouth on 24th July 1918; his records show the cause of death as 'Influenza and Lobular Pneumonia'. While George was in hospital in Portsmouth he wrote to his wife Sarah and she subsequently was able to visit him in hospital just before he died. The letter is still in the possession of George's family. George's death was registered in September quarter 1918 in Chatham.

George's body was brought back to his home, and he was buried at Christ Church, Coseley.

In 1937, George's widow, Sarah, married Emmanuel Hughes, he was the widowed younger brother of her first husband. George's headstone is not the standard Commonwealth War Grave headstone, this is because Sarah wanted her second husband, and subsequently herself, to be buried in the same plot. The new headstone, replacing the CWGC headstone, was the only way to have this additional engraving.

Newspaper Cuttings