Naval Good Shooting Medals
Robert March
Robert March was born 29 April 1876  at St Peters, Plymouth & was training to be a butcher when
he  entered the RN as a Boy 2nd Cl 8 Oct ’91.

Perhaps his father had influenced him as he served in the Victorian Navy & his medal will be shown
in this section with his son’s group.

He served on two of the late Victorian Navy Battleships, HMS Neptune, Colossus, & the Cruisers
Narcissus, Endymion, prior to being promoted to AB.

On 28 May ‘95 he gets drafted to HMS Cambridge (The Gunnery School at Devonport) for Seaman
Gunner training & is rated a SG1 2 Dec ’95.

He then serves on HMS Revenge, a B/S of ’92, & is promoted to Leading Seaman, 7 May ’99,  
whilst serving on Revenge. Drafted  back to HMS Cambridge he is promoted to PO2cl 23 Oct ’00 &
passed for Captain of Gun 17 Feb ’01. He then serves on the old Battleships Nile & Triumph, & the
cruiser HMS Rainbow in Nov ’01. he is promoted to PO1c on 5 May ’02 whilst serving on Rainbow.
He then returns to Cambridge to qualify as a Gunlayer 1st cl on 12 July 04. He then serves on HMS
Russell, a B/S of ’01, in ’05 & ’06. . Returning to Cambridge & Excellent he qualifies as a Gunnery
Instructor on 18 Apl ’07 & qualifies as a PO (ns) {new standard} & Gunner’s Mate on 1 Aug ’08.
This was essential for further promotion to CPO. He then serves as Gunners Mate on HMS Aboukir
& Hannibal.

PO March was awarded his Naval Long Service Medal whilst serving ashore at HMS Vivid on 5 may
1909. On 15 Dec ’10 he is drafted as Gunners Mate to HMS Queen, a pre dreadnought  ‘London’
class B/S of 04.

PO March was to remain on her for two years & to  qualify for the Naval Good Shooting medal in
1911. He qualified on the 12” BL (breech loading) Gun, the largest gun carried in battleships  at
that time.  The 12” gun fired a 850 pound projectile at a muzzle velocity of 3,000 ft/sec.

HMS Queen was a pre Dreadnought B/S of the Queen class carrying 4 - 12” turret  guns,  
plus secondary armament. She was part of the Atlantic fleet commanded by then Vice
Admiral John Jellicoe commanding the 2nd & 3rd Fleets

March left Queen in May ’12 & was posted to HMS Vivid, & whilst serving ashore was promoted to
Acting CPO on 15 June ’12. On the same date he was then drafted to the newly commissioned
Super Dreadnought B/S HMS Thunderer & appointed to her as Gunnery Instructor & Chief Gunner’
s Mate. March would have been one of the senior Gunnery ratings on board. Thunderer likely
carried at least 2 or 3 Chief Gunners Mates.

On board HMS  Thunderer  CPO March was to again qualify for the Naval Good Shooting medal in
the 1913 Prize firing competition & thus earning the rare distinction of being awarded a clasp to his
Good Shooting medal.  These  clasps are unique as they are embossed with the name of the ship
& the year won, & the calibre of gun.  This time CPO March won his clasp on the 13.5” BL gun, this
being the largest calibre of gun in use at the time.

The 13.5” gun  was also the highest calibre of gun the Naval Good Shooting medal was awarded
for. It was never awarded for the 15” guns carried on the Queen Elizabeth class B/S’s as they did
not come into service until 1915 & by that time the NGS medal had ceased to be awarded.

March was confirmed CPO Gunners Mate on 1 Feb ‘14 & remained on Thunderer for the entire war,
seeing action at  Jutland.  Thunderer was part of the 2nd Battle Squadron Grand Fleet.   Leaving
her on 3 Mar ’19 for demobilization & pension, March had served on Thunderer for almost 7 years,
an unusually long time to spend on one ship for that time!

As a matter of interest CPO Robert March’s gunnery ratings held during his career  were as follows:

TM  = Trained Man  

SG1c = Seaman Gunner 1st Class      -- ’95 to ‘01

C.G. = Captain of Gun                     --  ’01 to ‘04

G.L.  = Gun Layer                            --  ’04 to ‘06

T.G.L. = Trained Gun Layer               -- ’06 to ‘08

G.I. =  Gunnery Instructor                -- ’07 to ‘08

G.I. & G.M. = Gunners Mate             -- ’08  to ‘19

G.L.1 = Gun Layer 1st class             -- ’08  to ‘19

HMS Thunderer was the last of four of the Orion class of super dreadnoughts & the first to carry
the 13.5” BL guns. Thunderer carried 10 of these huge guns mounted in 5 turrets all along the
centre line of the ship. The 13.5” gun was a formidable weapon, weighing 75.4 tons, &  firing a
projectile weighing 1,250 pounds, with less muzzle velocity, of 2,700 ft/sec; but  which had a
greater smashing power than the earlier 12” guns, & was able to inflict more damage after
penetrating armour plate. The charge to propel this projectile weighed almost 300 pounds.  One
can only imagine the destruction that would take place when one of those projectiles exploded
inside of a ship’s compartments.

HMS  Thunderer had the distinction of being the last B/S to be built on the River Thames by
Thames Ironworks. The cost of these huge battleships was enormous for the time, Orion costing
£1,920,773 &  Thunderer costing a little less at  £1,885,145.  The cost  to build Thunderer virtually
bankrupted Thames Ironworks & the firm wound up shortly afterwards.

HMS Thunderer was the 4th ship of the Orion class of super dreadnoughts & the second
dreadnought to be fitted with Percy Scott's Director system of firing.  The first dreadnought fitted
with the Director system was HMS Neptune which was fitted with it  at Admiral Jellicoe's insistence
in April '11, & commissioned in May '11.

In Nov 1912 the long awaited shooting trials (with a non Director fitted  &  a Director fitted ship)
were carried out by HMS Orion & Thunderer.  At the time HMS Orion had been 9 months longer in
commission & had the reputation of being the best shooting ship in the Home Fleet.  At a range of
9,000 yards & both ships making 12 knots, shooting at a moving target was commenced.  At the
end of three minutes shooting the ‘cease fire’ was sounded & upon examination of the target it
was found Thunderer had scored 6 times as many hits as the Orion.  No doubt CPO March was a
busy & extremely concentrated man for those 3 minutes!

Also in 1912 -13  the shooting ranges increased to 14,000 yards & it was noted at the time that
"Thunderer made good practice at 14,000 yds”.  This distance was to be the approx opening firing
range for the Battle Fleets at Jutland.

After the war Thunderer became a officer cadet’s seagoing training ship until she was sold for
breakup in 1926.
Pictured below, March is wearing his GS medal(clasp) & LS medals. I think it would have been
taken after 1915.
Above:  Thunderer in 1917

Right:  The 13.5'' Guns

Below: A close up of her Guns
Gun Captain Badge
Chief Petty Officer Gunner’s Mate Robert MARCH.
Naval Good Shooting Medal & clasp
Some interesting details on HMS Thunderer:
RICHARD MARCH -  father of Robert March

Richard March was born 16 March 1838 in Plymouth &
signed on the Victorian Navy as a  Stoker  on 2 Nov ’66.

He served on various ships of the fleet, including HMS
Indus, Peterel, Condor, Hibernia, & Tenedos.

He had some conduct problems, losing his first GCB on 11
Aug ’74 , having it restored on 11 Feb ’75 & losing it again
on 7 Jan ’76. He had his GCB restored on 6 Sep ’76 & rec’
d his 2nd GCB on 8 Aug ’78.

He served on HMS Tenedos from Mar ’78 to Dec ’79,
qualifying for the Zulu medal.

After returning to UK he was drafted to Indus where he
was invalided on 6 Feb ’80, no cause given.

He would not have qualified for a Naval LS medal.

Right:  The 13.5'' Guns

Below: A close up of her Guns