[Skip to content]

  • Nottingham Evening Post, 16 June 1916
Person Details
13 May 1896
Walter was born on 13th May 1896 the son of Samuel and Mary Ann Fox née Taylor. His father Samuel was born in Arnold on 23 February 1860 and his mother Mary Ann Taylor was born in 1861, also in Arnold. They were married in 1878 (J/A/S Basford) and had 11 children of whom four died in infancy or early childhood. Their eight surviving children were: Kate b. 5 March 1879, Christopher Taylor b. 6 February 1881 (J/F/M Basford), Clifford Taylor b. 5 November 1882 (O/N/D Basford), Samuel Taylor b. 1887 (O/N/D Basford), Francis (Frank) Charley b. 10 September 1889 (O/N/D Basford), William b. 7 February 1892, Walter Ernest b. 13 May 1896 (A/M/J Basford) and Sybil Mary b. 19 December 1897 (1898 J/F/M Basford). All the children were born in Arnold. In 1891 Samuel (31), a coal miner hewer, and his wife Mary Ann (31) were living in Arnold with their five children Kate (12), Christopher (10), Clifford (8), Samuel (4) and Francis (1). In 1901 Samuel (41) a coal miner hewer, and Mary (40) were living on Sherbrooke Road, Daybrook, with their seven unmarried children, Christopher (20) and Clifford (18) who were both coal miners, Samuel (13), Francis (11), William (9), Walter (4) and Sybil (3). Also in the household was their married daughter Kate Wilson (22), her husband Herbert (21, b. 10 May 1880), a framework knitter, and their daughter Annie (6 months). Kate and Herbert had married in 1898 (O/N/D Basford). By 1911 the family was living at 61 Mansfield Road, Daybrook. Samuel (senior) was still working as a miner hewer, Only five of their eight children were still living at home: Clifford (28), Samuel (23) and William (18) who were all miner hewers, Walter (14) a pit pony driver and Sybil (13) a laundry hand. The eldest child, Kate Wilson (32) was living at 19 Byron Street, Daybrook, in 1911 with her husband Herbert (31) cotton drawing frame, and their three children, Annie (10), Herbert (8) and Frank (5). Kate and Herbert had lost another child in infancy. Also in the household was a boarder, Alice Hudson (21), a laundress. The eldest son, Christopher Taylor, had married Olive Emily Ash (b. 1 August 1884) on 26 December 1905 at the parish church of St Paul, Daybrook. Christopher and Olive were living in Daybrook at the time of the 1911 Census. Christopher was now working as a hairdresser. He and Olive had two daughters, Olive Edna b. 8 July 1906 and Sybil Nellie b. 11 March 1908, and they had another child the following year; Francis Leonard b. 26 September 1912. At the time of the 1911 Census the fourth son, Francis Charley, was serving in the Royal Navy. Francis had joined the Royal Navy at the training establishment, HMS Ganges, as a Boy 2nd Class on 19 May 1905. He entered on a 12 year engagement on his 18th birthday on 10 September 1907. He joined HMS Philomel on 5 October 1911 and died aged 22 of jaundice on 23 October 1911 in the European General Hospital, Aden. He was buried in Aden. Walter's mother, Mary Ann, died at the age of 56 on 7 June 1916, shortly after receiving the news of her son's death at the Battle of Jutland (Redhill Cemetery). The family was still living at 61 Mansfield Road, Daybrook, at the time of her death. Her husband Samuel survived his wife by 34 years. He died on 26 June 1950 at the age of 90 (Redhill Cemetery). At the time of his death he was living at 23 Church Drive, Arnold. Of Walter's siblings: Kate (Wilson) and her husband Herbert were still living in Arnold at the time of the 1939 England & Wales Register. Herbert was a framework knitter (hosiery) while Kate was a housewife. Kate's widowed father Samuel Fox, retired miner, was also living with them as was a married woman, Jean M Price (b. 26 September 1916), a shop assistant. Kate died on 14 September 1960 aged 81 and her husband Herbert the following year on 3 December 1961. Their home at the time of their deaths was 48 Bagnall Avenue, Oxclose Estate, Nottingham. Christopher Taylor attested on 14 January 1915 at the age of 33 years 11 months. He was then living at 61 Mansfield Road, Daybrook, and was working as a hairdresser. He joined the Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment), 22386 Private. He was discharged on 20 November 1917 as 'no longer physically fit for war service'. He had served 2 years 311 days on Home Service. In 1939 at the time of the national register, he was living in Arnold, where he was working in a hospital laundry as a washhouse man. Also in the household was his wife Olive Emily and their children Olive Edna Fox b. 8 July 1906 a supervisor at a flour works, Walter S Fox, b. 12 May 1917 and Joyce M Fox b. 5 August 1920 who were both silk hosiery knitters and Alan Fox b. 19 July 1923 a grocer's errand boy. Christopher's wife, Olive Emily, died on 7 July 1967 and he died on 3 December 1971. Clifford Taylor married Mabel Gretton (b. 20 April 1886) in 1919 (A/M/J Basford. In 1939 when the national register was compiled they were recorded living at 2 Portland Street and 132 Mansfield Road, Arnold; one address being a shop and the other their home. Clifford was described as a 'dealer small tea' running a general shop. Also in the home was Harold Fox b. 7 February 1924, a general garage hand. Samuel Taylor has not been positively identified after 1911, but he may have married Alice J Elliott in 1959 (J/F/M Nottingham) and died in 1961 (Sep Nottingham) aged 73. A corresponding Probate record gives the date of death as 16 August 1961 (City Hospital Nottingham) and address as 48 Fraser street, Newstead Colliery, Nottingham, Administration awarded to Alice Fox, widow. Francis Charley died in Aden on 23 October 1911 while serving in the Royal Navy (see history above and 'extra information') William attested in the Territorial Force, 8th Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment) on 23 November 1910 when he was 18 years 7 months old. He was employed at Bestwood Colliery. He completed annual training in July 1911, August 1912 and July 1913 (Thoresby Park) and entered the army on embodied service on 5 August 1914. He served in France from 2 March 1915-5 March 1915 but was discharged on the expiry of his engagement in December 1915 but then attested in the regular army. It seems that he served initially in the 8th Battalion Sherwood Foresters but later appears to have transferred to the King's Yorkshire Light Infantry (April 1917) and subsequently the Durham Light Infantry, However, he was serving in the RDC (47649 Private) when he was demobilized on 8 March 1919 to 'South View', Church Drive, Daybrook. He was awarded a pension as a result of 30% disability (neuritis) although this was to be reviewed in 26 weeks. He qualified for the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. William died on 23 June 1944 (Jun Basford) aged 52. Sybil Mary (Pringle) married John Pringle (b. 19 December 1897) in 1919 (A/M/J Basford). She and John, a clerical officer in HM Land Registry, were living at 37 Hillside Avenue, Wembley, Middlesex, when the national register was compiled in 1939. Also in the home was John W Pringle b. 25 August 1924 who was still at school. It is likely that Sybil died abroad as there is a record of the death of a Sybil Mary Pringle in Australia (document not sighted).
In 1911 he was a pony driver at a colliery and was still working as a pony driver when he joined the Royal Navy the following year on 31 July 1912.
31 May 1916
2865975 - CWGC Website
61 Mansfield Road, Daybrook, Nottingham
Able Seaman
HMS Defence Royal Navy
Walter joined the Royal Navy as a Boy 2nd Class at the training establishment, HMS Ganges, on 31 July 1912. He entered the Navy on a 12 year engagement on his 18th birthday on 13 May 1914. He served in the following ships and shore establishments: HMS Ganges, 31 July 1912-29 November 1912 (Boy 2nd Class); Ganges ll, 30 November 1912-10 February 1913 (Boy 1st Class, 10 February 1913); HMS Hawke, 11 February 1913-20 May 1913; Vivid, 21 May 1913-June 1913; HMS Magnificent, June 1913-30 June 1913; HMS Exmouth, 1 July 1913-22 July 1913; HMS Defence, 23 August 1913-31 May 1916 (Ordinary Seaman 13 June 1914, Able Seaman 27 May 1915). His service record is annotated, ‘NP 4141/1916. DD [discharged dead] 31st May, 1916, killed in action.’ It was while he was serving in HMS Defence that he saw action in the Dardanelles and the South Atlantic before his ship joined the Grand Fleet. The armed cruiser HMS Defence was the flagship of the First Cruiser Squadron (Rear Admiral Sir Robert Arbuthnot) comprising HMS Defence, HMS Warrior, HMS Duke of Edinburgh and HMS Black Prince. HMS Defence was engaged by the German battleship Friedrich Der Grosse, the German Battle Fleet flagship (Vice Admiral Reinhard Scheer) at the Battle of Jutland. HMS Defence exploded and sank with the loss of all of her 893 crew. HMS Black Prince was also lost and HMS Warrior was disabled and had to be abandoned by her crew. Walter's body was not recovered for burial and his name is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial. A description of the loss of HMS Defence was given by an officer onboard HMS Obedient, 12th Destroyer Flotilla: "There was one incident at ‘Windy Corner’ which, alas, was more prominent than any other. From ahead, out of the mist there appeared the ill-fated 1st Cruiser Squadron led by the Defence. At first, the Defence did not seem to be damaged, but she was being heavily engaged, and salvoes were dropping all around her. When she was on our bow, three quick salvoes reached her, the first one ‘over’, the next one ‘short’ and the third all hit. The shells of the last salvo could clearly be seen to hit her just abaft the after turret, and after a second, a big red flame flashed up, but died away again at once. The ship heeled to the blow but quickly righted herself and steamed on again. Then almost immediately followed three more salvoes. Again the first was ‘over’, the second one ‘short’ and the third a hit, and again the shell of the hitting salvo could be clearly seen to strike, this time between the forecastle turret and the foremost funnel. At once, the ship was lost to sight in an enormous black cloud, which rose to a height of some hundred feet, and from which some dark object, possibly a boat or a funnel was hurled into space, twirling like some gigantic Catherine-wheel. The smoke quickly clearing, we could see no sign of a ship at all - Defence had gone. Mercifully this death, by which the 900 or so officers and men of the Defence perished was an instantaneous one, causing them probably no suffering." (www.devonheritage.org/Places/DevonCounty/JutlandHMSDefence)
Walter's friend, AB Cecil Charles Lear, who also served in HMS Defence and died on 31 May 1916, joined the Royal Navy at HMS Ganges on 21 June 1912, a month before Walter. Thereafter they joined the same ships on the same dates, including HMS Defence on 23 August 1913. Another Nottingham sailor, J17574 AB Charles Norman Brown of Lenton, was also lost in HMS Defence. Inscription on family headstone, Arnold (Redhill) Cemetery: 'In affectionate memory of Mary Ann the beloved wife of Samuel Fox who died Jun 7th 1916 aged 56 years. Also Frank [Francis], fourth son of the above who was buried at Aden Octr 23rd 1911, aged 22 years. And Walter, their youngest son who lost his life in the North Sea battle May 31st 1916 in his 20th year. Also William, fifth son of the above who died June 23rd 1944 aged 52 years. Also Samuel Fox, beloved husband of Mary Ann, died June 26th 1950 aged 90 years. Also Kate Wilson, beloved wife of Herbert, died September 14th 1960 aged 81 years. And her dear husband Herbert, reunited December 3rd 1961 aged 81 years. For ever with the Lord.’ Francis Charley Fox, RN Record: First service date 19 May 1905 (HMS Ganges) Last service date 23 October 1911 HMS Philomel. Engagement: 10 September 1907 – 12 years. Served HMS Ganges 19 May 1905-17 May1906 (Boy 2nd Class, Boy 1st Class 19 December 1905); HMS Euralysis, 18 May 1906-9 September 1906. Advanced Ordinary Seaman 10 September 1907 (HMS Drake) and Able Seaman 22 January 1909 (HMS Drake). After further drafts he joined HMS Philomel on 5 October 1911 and died on 23 October the same month. His service record was annotated: ‘NP3944/1911. DD [discharged dead] 23 October 1911 in European General Hospital Aden.’ Nottingham Evening Post, ‘Roll of Honour’, 8 June 1916: ‘Fox. On May 31st, 1916, Walter Fox, AB, of 61 Mansfield-road, Daybrook, and friend Cecil Lear, AB, lost their lives with HMS Defence. Duty nobly done. His sorrowing father and family.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Nottingham Evening Post, ‘Deaths’, 8 June 1916: ‘Fox. On the 7th inst., at 61, Mansfield-road, Daybrook, Mary Ann, the beloved wife of Samuel Fox, Service at st Paul’s Church, Saturday, 2.45.' (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Photograph with caption, Nottingham Evening Post, 16 June 1916: ‘AB W Fox, 61 Mansfield Road, Daybrook, and AB Cecil Lear of Mapperley, who were chums and lost their lives together when the Defence went down.’ Nottingham Evening Post, ‘Deaths’, 27 June 1950 : ‘Fox. June 26th at 43 Church-drive, Samuel passed away, age 90 years. At rest. Interment Redhill cemetery. Wednesday, 11 o’clock.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Probate: Wilson Kate of 48 Bagnall Avenue Daybrook Arnold Nottinghamshire married woman died 14 September 1960 at The City Hospital Hucknall Road Nottingham Probate Nottingham 24 November to Midland Bank Executor and Trustee Company Limited. Effects £912 10s. 3d. Probate: Wilson Herbert of 48 Bagnall Avenue, Oxclose Estate, Arnold Nottinghamshire died 3 December 1961 Probate Nottingham 5 January to Midland Bank Executor and Trustee Company Limited. Effects £556 19s. 3d.
Remembered on


  • Nottingham Evening Post, 16 June 1916
    AB Walter Fox and AB Cecil Lear, HMS Defence - Nottingham Evening Post, 16 June 1916
  • Fox family headstone commemorating Walter Fox at Arnold (Redhill) cemetery. Photograph courtesy of Peter Gillings
    Walter Fox - Fox family headstone commemorating Walter Fox at Arnold (Redhill) cemetery. Photograph courtesy of Peter Gillings
  • Close up of the inscription on the family headstone of the Fox family commemorating Walter Fox at Arnold (Redhill) cemetery. Courtesy of Peter Gillings -
    Walter Fox - Close up of the inscription on the family headstone of the Fox family commemorating Walter Fox at Arnold (Redhill) cemetery. Courtesy of Peter Gillings -