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Person Details
20 Oct 1897
Harold was the son of William Dexter and Fanny Dexter (nee Smith). William and Fanny were married in 1883 (marriage registered J/A/S Basford) and according to the 1911 Census they had had thirteen children of whom ten were still living, three having died. However, only seven children seem to have been named on the census between 1891 and 1911 - these have not been easy to identify as the names given on the census vary, but it is likely that they were: Ellen Elizabeth (b. 1884, A/M/J Basford), Willie [William] (b. 1888, O/N/D Basford), Emma [Emily] (b. 1890, A/M/H Basford), John Henry (b. 1890, A/M/J Basford), Ethel May (b. 8 November 1895, O/N/D Basford), Harold (b. 20 October 1897) and Leslie (b. 1904, O/N/D Nottingham). William (29) a lace bleacher, and Fanny (28) were living at 6 Freeman's Yard, Basford, in 1891 along with their three children, Ellen E (6), William (2) and Emma (1). By 1901 William (39) a lace bleacher, and Fanny (38) a lace mender, together with their children Nelly [Ellen] (16) a curtain taper, William (12), Emily [Emma] (11), John H. (8), Ethel M. (5) and Harold (3) were living at 88 Percy Street, Basford, Nottingham. William (48) and Fanny (47) had moved to 74 Whitemoor Road, Nottingham, by 1911. Five of their children were in the home on the night of the census: Willie (22) a miner-hewer, John Henry (18) a general labourerer at a hosiery dyer mills, Ethel (15) a lace mender, and Harold (13) and Leslie (6) who were both at school. The eldest girl, Ellen Elizabeth, had married George William Taylor in 1903 (marriage registered A/M/J Nottingham) and in 1911 they were living at 493 Berridge Road, Hyson Green. George (27, b. Bottesford, Leics) a coal miner, and Ellen Elizabeth (26) had had four children of whom only three were still living; George William (7), Florence Ellen (4) and Frederick (6 months). Ellen may have remarried in 1946 (Michael Morley) and died in 1955 age 71 (death registered September Nottingham). Also in 1911, Emma, who had married Thomas Naylor in 1907 (marriage registered J/A/S Nottingham - 'Emily'), was living with Thomas, a miner, and their two sons, Thomas (3) and Harold (1) at 9 Poplars, Beeston. Emma and Thomas were to have three more children, William, Doris and James. William (Willie), married Susan Musgrove in 1912 (marriage registered J/F/M Nottingham). He probably died aged 57 in 1945 (death registered December Nottingham). Ethel, married Albert Bostock in 1913 (marriage registered J/A/S Nottingham). Ethel died in 1981 aged 86 (death registered December Nottingham). The RN record shows that his mother was notified of Harold's death; she was then living at 28 Wyatts, Lindsay Street, Hyson Green. There is a record of a Mr W Dexter (55) a miner, his wife Mrs F Dexter (54) housewife, and their children Miss A (sic) Dexter (17) and Master L Dexter (15), all of 30 Lindsay Street, Hyson Green, sailing from London to Melbourne, Australia, onboard SS Omar (Orient Line) on 25 February 1922. Although there are discrepancies in their ages, the names and their home address point to this being Harold's parents and two of his siblings. The following year, on 12 April 1923, a Thomas Naylor (44) a miner, his wife Emma Naylor (33) and their children Thomas (15) working in the hosiery trade, Harold (13), William (8), Doris (6) and James (3), all of 5 Ingram Terrace, Park Lane, Old Basford, sailed from London on 12 April 1923 to Melbourne, Australia, onboard SS Balranald (P&O). John Henry Dexter also appears to have emigrated to Australia. Australian B/M/D indexes (copies not sighted) suggest that they all stayed in Australia.
He was a hosiery trimmer when he joined the Royal Navy on 18 October 1916.
09 Jul 1917
3040874 - CWGC Website
Ordinary Seaman
HMS Vanguard Royal Navy
Harold joined the Royal Navy on 18 October 1916, two days before his 19th birthday. He was serving on a 12-year engagement (five years in the RN, seven years in the Royal Fleet Reserve). After training (Victory I) he was drafted to HMS Vanguard on 29 January 1917 and died on 9 July the same year when the ship sank in Scapa Flow following an explosion. His body was not recovered for burial and he is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial (Panel Reference: 25). HMS Vanguard was a St. Vincent-class ‘Dreadnought’ type battleship built by Vickers at Barrow-in-Furness. She was designed and built during the Anglo-German naval race and spent her life in the British Home Fleet. HMS Vanguard saw action at Jutland and returned undamaged from the battle. On the afternoon of 9 July 1917, the ship was destroyed by a spontaneous cordite explosion at Scapa Flow whilst her crew was practising the drill to abandon ship. It is likely that an undetected adjacent coal bunker fire caused the explosive to become dangerously overheated. Only two of Vanguard’s crew of around 900 survived the disaster.
Nottingham Evening Post, 9 July 1918: 'DEXTER. – In loving memory of Harold Dexter, who met his death on Vanguard July 9th, 1917. Ever in our thoughts. – From loving mother, brothers, and sisters.' HMS Vanguard lies 111 feet down off the north shore of the Isle of Flotta and is a war grave; divers regularly replace a White Ensign on the wreck. A wreath was laid over the wreck and commemorations held in Lyness and in St Magnus’ Cathedral, Kirwall, on the centenary of the loss of the ship.
Remembered on