Stoker 1st Class Albert George Dynes

Date of Birth 1 June 1880
Age at Death 34
Date of Death 15 October 1914
Service Number 289177
Military Service Royal Navy HMS Hawke
Merton Address 5 Merton Rush, Merton Park
Local Memorial St. Mary's Church, Merton Park

Additional Information

Born on the 1st of June 1880 in the Nine Elms district of Battersea, Albert was the son of Richard and Violet Dynes. He also had two younger siblings, Sydney and Charlotte. Albert’s father was a blacksmith’s hammerman and would have been involved in a variety of strenuous work. Blacksmiths were still important local tradesmen during an era of predominantly horse-drawn transport. In addition to shoeing horses and helping in the construction of waggon wheels, they were also responsible for producing a range of metal goods and tools.

Richard Dynes seems to have died during Albert’s childhood. By 1901 Violet and the children were living at 5, Merton Rush (an area off Kingston Road, close to what is now Nelson Hospital.) She was working as a charwoman, or cleaner and seems to have been supplementing the family income by taking in lodgers. In 1908 Albert’s sister married Percy Twinn, a local milkman and by 1911, the couple and their two children were living a short distance away at 10a, Merton Rush.

Little is known of Albert’s early life. He seems to have worked briefly as a “carman” driving a horsedrawn delivery waggon, before joining the Royal Navy at the age of 18. At this stage he was described as nearly 5 feet, 5 inches tall, with brown eyes, a dark complexion and anchors tattooed on his forearms. (In true Naval tradition, these designs were later embellished with further images of women and wreaths.) Between 1898 and the start of the war, Albert served as a stoker on 12 different naval vessels, including Pembroke II, H M S Sapphire, H M S Vindictive and H M S Bacchante. A stoker was responsible for shovelling large amounts of coal to power a ship’s engines. This was tough, heavy work, particularly if the ship needed to go faster, or was operating under battle conditions.

At the outbreak of war, Albert was serving on the warship HMS Hawke, a cruiser in the Mediterranean fleet. Just two months into the war, the 10th Cruiser Squadron was deployed farther south in the North Sea to prevent German warships from attacking a Canadian troop convoy. On 15 October 1914, the vessels were patrolling off Aberdeen, deployed in a line roughly ten miles apart. Hawke stopped at 9:30am to pick up mail from her sister ship Endymion, before heading back to her designated position. At 10.30am, out of sight from the other ships in the squadron, she was struck by a torpedo from the infamous German submarine U-9, which had sunk three British cruisers on 22 September. Hawke quickly capsized but rescue attempts were delayed as the squadron was unaware of the incident. It was only when a further attack on the ship Theseus prompted the squadron to be ordered northwest at high speed, with no response from Hawke’s crew, that the alarm was raised. The destroyer H M S Swift was dispatched from Scapa Flow and found a raft carrying one officer and twenty-one men. A lifeboat containing a further forty-nine survivors was rescued by a Norwegian steamer. Albert Dynes was reported drowned. He was one of 524 officers and men killed, including the ship's captain, Hugh P. E. T. Williams. There were just 70 survivors from Hawke’s original crew. One man also died of his wounds the following day.

Albert is commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial and his name also appears on a memorial at St.Mary the Virgin Church, Merton Park.


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