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Person Details
04 Aug 1881
Leeds, Yorkshire
He was the son of Mary Ann Bennett. His mother completed the 1911 census that she had had five children born living of whom only three were still alive in 1911. Three children were named on the census between 1881-1911; Kate, David Gilbert and William Henry. Although William was born in Leeds both his siblings were born in Nottingham. Mary Ann was already widowed by 1891. At the time of the 1891 census she and her three children, Kate (17), David (11) and William (9) were living at 33 Dickinson Street, St Ann's. Mary Ann (37, b. Lambley) was employed as a tailoress. William joined the Royal Navy in 1897 shortly before his sixteenth birthday but transferred to the Royal Fleet Reserve in 1905. William married Florence Birch in 1908. At the time of William's death in 1914 Florence's address was 8 Radnor Street, Nottingham, which was the address at which her mother-in-law had been living at the time of the 1911 Census. On the night of the 1911 census Mary Ann was at Radnor Street with her eldest son, David Gilbert (31), an assistant timekeeper at a leather works. David had married Isabella Parfrement in 1907. He had probably joined the Royal Marine Light Infantry when he was younger as the 1901 Census records a 21 year old 1766 Private David Bennett (b. Nottingham) serving in a ship based in Devonport. David died in 1920 age 41. Mary Ann Bennett later lived at 31 Eastville Street, Nottingham.
William was a factory hand when he joined the Royal Navy in 1897.
01 Nov 1914
2870639 - CWGC Website
Able Seaman
HMS Good Hope Royal Navy
RFR/PO/B/1192. William joined the Royal Navy as a Boy 2nd Class on 17 June 1897 and on his eighteenth birthday on 4 August 1899 signed on for a 12 year engagement. Ships and shore establishments: HMS Impregnable, 17 June 1897-23 June 1897 (Boy 2nd Class); HMS Ganges, 24 June 1897-6 May 1898 (Boy 1st Class, 24 March 1898); HMS Minotaur, 7 May 1895-20 October 1898; HMS Agincourt, 21 October 1898-20 December 1898; HMS Trafalgar, 21 December 1898-20 April 1899; HMS Royal Sovereign, 21 April 1899-7 June 1899; HMS Venus, 8 June 1899-7 June 1899; HMS Hood, 8 June 1899-15 September 1899 (Ordinary Seaman, 4 August 1899), HMS Royal Sovereign, 16 September 1899-29 August 1902 (Able Seaman 20 January 1901); HMS Duke of Wellington, 30 August 1902-27 October 1902; HMS Excellent, 28 October 1902-11 January 1904, HMS Calliope, 12 January 1904-6 May 1904; HMS Firequeen, 7 May 1904-15 June 1904; HMS Apollo, 16 June 1904-22 November 1904; HMS Firequeen, 23 November 1904-31 March 1905. He joined the Royal Fleet Reserve (RFR) on 1 April 1905 (Portsmouth B1192) and re-enrolled on 4 August 1911 (QG), to serve to 3 August 1916. He joined HMS Good Hope on 13 July 1914-24 July 1914; Victory I, 25 July 1914-30 July 1914; HMS Good Hope 31 July 1914-1 November 1914. Note on service record: ‘NP 2788/14. DD (Discharged Dead) Lost when HMS Good Hope was sunk in action off Chilean Coast.’ His body was not recovered for burial and he is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. Battle of Coronel: HMS Good Hope was a Drake Class armoured cruiser built in 1901. By 1914 she was Rear Admiral Sir Christopher George Cradock’s flag ship which, along with HMS Monmouth and other British vessels of 4th Cruiser Squadron, encountered Vice Admiral von Spee’s Scharnhorst and Gneisenau forty five miles off the Chilean port of Coronel. The German ships were faster and more heavily armed than Cradock’s fleet. The sun set at 18:50 on November 1st 1914, which silhouetted the British ships against the light sky while the German ships became indistinguishable from the shoreline behind them. Spee immediately turned to close and signalled his ships to open fire at 19:04 when the range closed to 12,300 yards. Spee's flagship, Scharnhorst, engaged Good Hope while Gneisenau fired at Monmouth. Cradock's flagship was hit on the Scharnhorst's third salvo, when shells knocked out her forward 9.2-inch turret and set her forecastle on fire. Cradock, knowing his only chance was to close the range, continued to do so despite the battering that Spee's ships inflicted. By 19:23 the range was almost half of that when the battle began and the British ships bore onwards. Spee tried to open the range, fearing a torpedo attack, but the British were only 5,500 yards away at 19:35. Seven minutes later, Good Hope charged directly at the German ships, although they dodged out of her way. Spee ordered his armoured cruisers to concentrate their fire on the British flagship which had drifted to a halt with her topsides ablaze. At 19:50 her forward magazine exploded, severing the bow from the rest of the ship, and she later sank in the darkness. Von Spee estimated that his flagship had made 35 hits on Good Hope, suffering only two hits in return that did no significant damage and failed even to wound one crewman. Good Hope was sunk with all hands, 919 officers and men. ‘Good Hope and Monmouth’s ship’s companies mainly comprised reservists whereas von Spee’s crews were well trained and experienced. There were just two other British ships the light cruiser HMS Glasgow and the armed merchant cruiser Otranto neither of which were a threat to von Spee’s modern ships which had a greater fire-power than those of the British Squadron. The captain of Cradock’s flagship, HMS Good Hope, was Captain Philip Francklin, who was a career officer and came from Gonalston Nottinghamshire (he is on the Gonalston memorial). A postscript is that von Spee’s squadron was destroyed, and he and his two sons killed, when the Royal Navy under Admiral Sturdee exacted retribution six weeks later at the Battle of the Falkland Islands 8/12/1914.’
Nottingham Evening Post notice (abridged), 23 November 1914: 'Bennett on November 1st at sea on the HMS Good Hope during naval battle, William Henry AB, husband of Florence Bennett.' Nottingham evening Post, 'In remembrance' (abridged), 1 November 1915: 'Bennett, my son William lost in HMS Good Hope November 1st 1914. Mother, brother (Dave).' CWGC record: 'Son of Mary Ann Bennett of 31 Eastville Street, Nottingham; husband of the late Florence Bennett.'
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