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Person Details
24 Sep 1891
Ralph was the son of Thomas and Jane Laborne Potts nee Thomas. Thomas was born about 1860 in Nottingham, and Jane was born about 1866 in Acton, London. They were married in Nottingham in 1883 (Jul/Aug/Sep) and had at least eight children; Harriet Grace/Grace Harriet (b. 6 December 1883), Frederick Thomas (b. abt 1886), Ralph (b. 24 September 1891), William Edward (b. 1893), George Samuel (b. 7 December 1894), Robert (b. 30 April 1897), Alban Philip (b. 8 May 1900) and Doris (b. abt 1903). In 1891 Thomas (32) and Jane (24) were living in Sneinton with their two children, Harriet (7) and Frederick (4). Thomas was a general labourer and Jane a cotton cleaner. By 1901 they were living at 2 South Street, Sneinton, and six children were at home on the night of the census; Harriet, Frederick, Ralph (9), William (7), George (6), Robert (3) and Alban (10 months). By the time of the 1911 census Ralph had been serving in the Royal Navy for nearly 12 months. His parents and several of his siblings have not been traced on this census, but at the time of Ralph's death in 1916 the family was living at 1 Hermitage Row, Thurgarton Street, Sneinton. However, by 1919 his parents and two of his siblings, Robert and Doris, were living at 6 Castle Street, Sneinton. His sister Grace married Thomas William Bend, an iron turner, in 1903 and in 1911 they were living at 23 Lamcote Street, Meadows. They had had four children of whom three were still living: Thomas William (7), Harold James (2) and Grace Irene (under 1 years). His older brother, Frederick, married Florence (Florrie) Saddington on 7 March 1909 at Nottingham General Baptist Chapel. Their daughter, Dora, was born the following year on 29 December 1910. In 1911 they were living at 5 Hooton Terrace, Castle Street, Nottingham, and later lived at 8 Wool Alley, Barker Gate, Nottingham. Frederick served with the 6th Battalion Sherwood Foresters (9134 Lance Corporal) and was killed on 4 May 1915 (Rue-Petillon Military Cemetery, Fluerbaix). Frederick's widow completed a form giving details of her late husband's relatives: Wife and child: 8 Wool Alley, Barker Gate, Nottingham. Parents: Thomas and Jane Potts, 6 Castle Street, Sneinton. Brothers: George (address illegible) and Robert (22), Castle Street, Sneinton. Sisters: Grace Bend nee Potts (35), 61 Lamcote Street, Meadows, and Doris Potts (16), 6 Castle Street, Sneinton. His younger brother Alban (b. May 1900) attested on 5 July 1915 incorrectly giving his age as 19; at the time he was living at 1 Thurgaton Street, Sneinton Hollows. He served in the Sherwood Foresters (27910) and was in France in 1916 when he was posted home on 11 June 1916 and discharged 'having made a misstatement as to age on enlistment. His total service towards his engagement to 1 August 1916 (the date of discharge) was 1 years 28 days. Albon probably rejoined the army when he reached enlistment age (see 'Extra Information'). He died in 1972 aged 71. Another brother, George Samuel, who worked for the LNER as a railway porter and later railway shunter, enlisted in the RFA on 17 March 1915 (L11366, Bombardier). He served in France from 8 January 1916 and then served in India from 23 November 1917. He was not discharged from the Army until 24 December 1919. He married Maud Caroline Govan in Leytonstone, West Ham, on 15 September 1917. He died in 1979 age 84. There is evidence that Robert also served in the Great War although details of his service have not yet been traced (see 'Extra Information'). Robert survived the war and died in 1978 aged 81. His father died in 1935 aged 75 and his mother died in 1959 aged 93. His sister Grace Harriet Bend died in 1972 aged 89.
He was a labourer in a telephone works when he joined the Royal Navy in April 1910.
31 May 1916
3038045 - CWGC Website
Leading Stoker
HMS Queen Mary Royal Navy
Ralph joined the Royal Navy at the age of 18 on 27 April 1910 on a 12 year engagement. He served in the following ships and shore establishments: Victory II 27 April 1910-21 May 1910 (Stoker 2nd Class); HMS Renown 22 May 1910-2 July 1910; Victory II 3 July 1910-16 August 1910; HMS Hecla 17 August 1910-6 December 1910; HMS Blenheim 7 December 1910-22 January 1912 (Stoker 1st Class 29 April 1911); Victory II 23 January 1912-19 April 1912; HMS Enchantress 20 April 1912-187 August 1913; Victory II 19 August 1913-3 September 1913; HMS Queen Mary 7 September 1913-31 May 1916 (Acting Leading Stoker 7 October 1915). Record annotated, ‘NP 3925/1916. DD 31st May 1916. Killed in action.’ Ralph was killed at the Battle of Jutland serving in HMS Queen Mary. His body was not recovered for burial and he is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. Battle of Jutland. HMS Queen Mary (Captain CI Prowse) put to sea with the Battlecruiser Fleet (Vice-Admiral Sir David Beatty in HMS Lion) to intercept a sortie by the German High Seas Fleet into the North Sea. ‘As the Queen Mary fought back under the concentrated fire of Sydlitz and Derfflinger, observers saw three shells of a salvo of four strike home on her at 4.26, followed quickly by two more shells from the next salvo. As a tremendous flame of dark red burst from her and a pillar of smoke rose high into the air, she was rent apart by a shattering concussion as her magazines exploded … Her back broken, the gallant Queen Mary threw her stern into the air, her propellers still slowly revolving … then as further underwater explosions shook her, she plunged to the bottom.’ (‘Jutland’, Captain Donald MacIntyre RN, 1957) There were only a few survivors from a ship’s company of nearly 1300 men. The wreck was discovered in the North Sea in 1991; she is designated as a protected place under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986. Observers reported a plume of smoke 2,000 feet high. There were only nine survivors including two picked up by the Germans (The Fighting at Jutland by HW Fawcett & GWW Hooper 2001 p.426).
Article Nottingham Guardian, 9 June 1916 reference losses at the Battle of Jutland: 'Ldg Stoker R Potts and brother, Ldg Stoker J Potts, both of HMS Queen Mary.' (photographs). Nottingham Evening Post, ‘In Memoriam’, 31 May 1917: ’Potts. In loving memory of our dear boys, Ralph and Jim, who went down with HMS Queen Mary, May 31st 1916. Still sorrowing mother, father, sisters, brothers (in France).’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Extracts from the Sneinton Council Junior Mixed School school log which was completed by the headmaster (School Log held in Nottinghamshire Archives): 11/12 July 1916: visits from two old boys both age 16, Albon Potts, wounded in France and John Glover on leave from submarines. 18 October 1918: Two brothers – old boys – Robert and Alban Potts on furlough visited.
Remembered on


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  • The destruction of HMS Queen Mary.
    - The destruction of HMS Queen Mary.