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Person Details
19 Jan 1899
London
He was the son of Lt Col Percy Robert Bruce and his wife Aletheia Georgina (née Paget) who were married on 19 January 1898. Gervase's grandfather, Sir Hervey Juckes Lloyd Bruce, 4th Baronet, of Downhill, Co Londonderry, (b. 5 October 1843) came into possession of Clifton Hall and the estates in 1896. Sir Hervey was formerly a lieutenant-colonel, Coldstream Guards. He died at Tangiers on 8 May 1919 (memorial Clifton St Mary). Gervase's sister, Marjorie Sheila, was born in 1903 (died 5 September 1964); their mother died in November 1904, aged 32. His father remarried 27 November 1909 to Evelyn Mary Amelia Leith, and they had one son, Peter Thomas, born 24 January 1911. Percy Robert Bruce, served in Gallipoli, Egypt and Palestine during the war and was awarded the DSO in 1916. He changed his name legally to Percy Robert Clifton by Royal Licence on 1 November 1919.
He attended Stone House School, North Foreland, Kent, and Osbourne and Dartmouth Royal Naval Colleges.
01 Nov 1914
15
3044691 - CWGC Website
Midshipman
HMS Monmouth Royal Navy
Gervase joined HMS Monmouth, a cruiser, in August 1914 as a Naval Cadet. He began a log on Monday 7 September 1914 and included extracts from this in his letters home. He was one of ten cadets lost in the Monmouth. He is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial The Battle of Coronel (source Wikipedia). On November 1st 1914, HMS Monmouth, HMS Good Hope (Sir Christopher George Craddock’s flagship) 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 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. One shell from Gneisenau blew the roof off Monmouth's forward turret and started a fire, causing an ammunition explosion that completely blew the turret off the ship. Severely damaged, Monmouth began to slow and veered out of line. Glasgow discovered Monmouth, listing and down by the bow, having extinguished her fires. She was trying to turn north to put her stern to the heavy northerly swell and was taking water at the bow. There was little that Glasgow could do to assist the larger ship as the moonlight illuminated both ships and the Germans were searching for them. The light cruiser Nürnberg had been trailing the German squadron and spotted the plume of smoke from Glasgow at 20:35, and then saw Monmouth with a 10-degree list to port shortly afterwards. As Nürnberg closed the range, Monmouth's list increased so that none of the guns on her port side could be used. The German cruiser closed to within 600 yards (550 m) and illuminated her flag with its spotlight in the hopes that she would strike her colours and surrender. There was no response from the British ship and Nürnberg opened fire at 21:20, aiming high, but there was still no response. The German ship then fired a torpedo which missed and turned off its searchlight. Monmouth then increased speed and turned towards Nürnberg, which caused her to open fire again. Monmouth capsized at 21:58, taking her entire crew of 735 men with her as the seas were too rough to attempt any rescue effort.
CWGC - first names 'Gervase Ronald'. See website: www.leicestershirevillages.com/longwhatton, for a photograph and extensive history of Midshipman Bruce including transcripts of the log he kept from September 1914, details from which he included in his letters home. He is also commemorated on a memorial in Christ Church (Church of Ireland), Castlerock, Co. Londonerry: the memorial is a bronze plate mounted on slate and has the inscription 'In proud memory of (names), churchmen of this parish who gave their lives in the Great War 1914-1918'. There is a copy of the order of service for the memorial service for Gervase in the family and estate papers of the Clifton family in the University of Nottingham's Manuscripts and Special Collections archive. On Saturday, 1 November 2014 in 43 minutes, on the centenary of the loss of HMS Monmouth, the bellringers of St Mary the Virgin, Clifton, rang 1260 Plain Bob Minor, half muffled, in memory of Gervase who was Clifton's first casualty of the war (www.bb.ringingworld.co.uk)
Remembered on

Photos

  • HMS Monmouth -