|1914-15 Trio to 286859 Henry (Harry) Farrow Royal Navy
Henry Farrow was born at Crowfield, Suffolk in the summer of 1876. He was the second son of William Farrow and Jane
Race, who had married at Crowfield in the summer of 1873. Henry was employed as a labourer until he enlisted in the Royal
Navy, on the 18th January 1898 for an engagement of 12 years. He was described as being 5’ 5” tall, with dark brown hair,
brown eyes and a dark complexion. Harry (as he liked to call himself) was first stationed at H.M.S. Victory II for training
as a rating of second class stoker. H.M.S. Victory II was an administrative and accommodation depot for stokers, situated at
the Portsmouth naval base. His character was described as being very good. He remained here until the 15th November 1898
when he was transferred to H.M.S. Excellent.
H.M.S Excellent was a “Stone Frigate”, which was the nickname for a Royal Naval establishment on land. Originally it had
been a hulk, providing accommodation for ratings undergoing gunnery training. Eventually the base moved ashore at Whale
Island, Portsmouth, but still retained the name of the original vessel. Here the men trained in teams, firing guns and loading
shot on a range. It was here that Harry first got into trouble and was sentenced to 10 days in cells on the 7th April 1899.
He remained at Excellent until the 3rd June 1899 when he transferred to H.M.S. Duke of Wellington II. His conduct was
now considered just fair.
It had originally been launched in 1852 and was at the time, the largest vessel yet built for the Royal Navy. The
accommodation it now offered was described as being unpleasant and miserable quarters. The Portsmouth Evening news
continued “It is remarkable that so many hundreds should have been compelled to live in such undesirable quarters for so
The building of new barracks commenced in October 1899 but they would not be completed until September 1903.
Harry remained here until the 19th April 1900 when his training was complete and he joined his first ship a stoker 2nd class.
This was the cruiser H.M.S. Charybdis, launched in 1893 and part of the special flying squadron. It was due for service in
the North America and West Indies station.
On the 15th May 1900 it arrived at Bermuda and Harry Farrow was immediately paid off and transferred to the cruiser H.
M.S. Pearl as a stoker.This ship was built in Pembroke, Wales in 1889 and was 265 foot in length, with a top speed of 17
knots. Its armament consisted of 8 x 4.7” and 8 x 3lb guns. It had a complement of 217 men.
It left the West Indies on the 18th May and remained on the North American station. On the 21st September it was
announced that it was due to be relieved by the cruiser H.M.S. Pallas. It arrived at Bermuda on the 29th September 1900
and Harry left the vessel on the 19th October for the cruiser H.M.S. Psyche.
H.M.S. Psyche was also on the North American and West Indies station and remained on patrol until it was announced on the
6th June 1902 that it was to be relieved by the H.M.S. Retribution. She arrived at Devonport on the 20th August 1902.
Harry remained with the vessel until the 4th September when he was transferred back to the Duke of Wellington II for
further training. The new barracks were still not complete so he was one of the last men to enjoy it sparse comforts for over
On the 21st November 1902, Harry joined H.M.S. Enchantress. This was a special service vessel or official yacht of the
Lord Commissioners of the Admiralty in times of peace. Its war time role was that of a hospital ship.
Harry only remained aboard for 8 days before he was again transferred back to the Duke of Wellington on the 30th
November. He remained here until the 4th May 1903. It is probable that he underwent special training, as on the 5th May he
was sent to the Vernon torpedo and gunnery school at Horsea Island, Portchester creek.
Vernon Torpedo School had been established since 1876, and a collection of old hulks formed the school which included
accommodation, workshops, classrooms, exercise yard and parade ground.
On the 14th February Harry was in trouble again and received the punishment of 5 days in cells.
On the 22nd February, the King visited Vernon and witnessed the firing of torpedoes and was shown how they could pass
through the defensive netting of warships.
Harry again offended on the 19th April and received a further 3 days imprisonment. His stay at Vernon concluded on the
16th September 1904 and he then became a member of H.M.S. Drake’s crew.
The cruiser H.M.S. Drake was at this time moored at Portsmouth’s naval base undergoing repairs for various defects.
Workmen were working overtime on the vessel in an attempt to get it completed, but it was the 14th November before it was
ready to join the Home fleet, which had arrived at Portsmouth on the 30th October.
H.M.S. Drake as flagship, together with Essex, Berwick, Cumberland and Cornwall comprised the 2nd division of the cruiser
fleet, which was affiliated to the channel fleet. On the 26th December 1904, it was announced that Prince Louis Alexander
of Battenberg had been appointed to command the 2nd cruiser squadron on the 1st February 1905. He was directed to hoist
his flag at Portsmouth in H.M.S. Drake. However, Harry Farrow just missed this event by leaving the ship on the 30th
January. He was sent to H.M.S. Fire Queen, which was a special service steam yacht. It had been launched in 1882 and had a
displacement of 446 tons. Its compliment of crew consisted of 43 and it had been present at Spithead, in the naval review to
celebrate Queen Victoria’s diamond Jubilee. Harry remained with this vessel until the 21st February 1905 when he was again
transferred, this time to the cruiser H.M.S. Hermes.
Hermes was built in 1898 and displaced 5, 600 tons. It was a protected cruiser and had an armament which consisted of 11 x
6” guns and 8 x 3” guns. It would eventually become the first experimental seaplane carrier in the Royal Navy and would be
sunk by a U boat on the 31st October 1914.
The Hermes sailed from Portsmouth to Weymouth in May 1905 and then proceeded to Ceylon, calling at Trinkomali and
Columbo in June. From here the ship returned to Tor Bay to carry out fleet exercises in the channel, together with 4
battleships, 8 other cruisers and 60 destroyers and torpedo boats.
Harry received the punishment of 14 days in the cells on the 22nd January 1906 but was promoted to the rank of stoker 1st
class on the 1st July.
H.M.S. Hermes then left on a voyage to Japan, arriving at Hakodate on the 28th July 1906 and also visited Maizuru. By the
15th October, Harry was in trouble again, receiving a further 10 days in cells, followed by 14 days more confinement on the
8th November. By the 31st January 1907 Hermes had visited Colombo and eventually stopping of at Mombasa on the 4th
April. It remained on the African station in the cape squadron for a little longer, calling at Swakopmund on the 18th May
and at Durban on the 12th July. Hermes sailed for St. Helena in March 1908 and also visited Walfisch bay in April, before
finally returning home to recommission in August 1908. Harry must have remained at Simon’s town naval base until the 30th
September when he joined the cruiser H.M.S Edgar there.
H.M.S Edgar was built in the Devonport dockyard, being laid down in June 1889 and completed in March 1893. She had a
displacement of 7,350 tons and carried 2 x 9.2” and 10 x 6” guns. She sailed from Simons Town to call in at St. Helena,
leaving there on the 15th October 1908 to sail for England. Harry left this ship on the 13th November for another
secondment to Victory II. It was apparently not to his taste as he absented himself and suffered the punishment of 21 days
hard labour on the 4th January 1909. He left the establishment on the 29th January to serve on H.M.S. Mercury, an Irish
class cruiser which had been launched in 1878.
H.M.S. Mercury was attached to the home fleet, 3rd division and was serving as a submarine depot ship in section 4.
Attached to it were the submarines A6, A11, A12, A13, B1and B4.
Harry remained with this vessel until the 14th May 1909 when he was once again sent to Victory II for two weeks. He was
apparently becoming disillusioned with the Navy and after being absent without leave the last time he was at Victory II, was
now drinking heavily.
On the 1st June 1909 he joined H.M.S. Jupiter.
This was a battleship of the Majestic class and had joined the commissioned reserve at Portsmouth in August 1905, becoming
part of the home fleet in 1908. Jupiter was part of the 3rd division comprising of 8 battleships, 5 being based at
Portsmouth (including Jupiter) and 3 at Devonport. In late 1909 she began to be refitted with fire control, eventually
becoming a gunnery training ship.
Harry remained on Jupiter until the 9th September when he received a medical discharge to pension on account of
alcoholism. He returned to his parent’s home at Crowfield and lived with them until the outbreak of the First World War.
On the 26th July 1914 the British fleet were completing a test mobilisation and manoeuvres with full crews at war strength.
It was decided that the fleet should not disperse and on the 28th July it sailed to its war base at Scapa Flow in the Orkney
Islands. Reservists were called up and on the 2nd August Harry Farrow reported at Victory II. He was soon in trouble with
the authorities again, receiving a punishment of 10 days cells on the 7th January 1915, followed by 11 days hard labourer on
the 5th October. He was then sent to join his ship on the 4th November 1915 which was currently at Scapa Flow. The ship
was the Queen Mary.
H.M.S. Queen Mary was ordered under the 1910 naval estimates and built by Palmers shipyard on the south bank of the
river Tyne. She was laid down on the 6th March 1911 and launched by her namesake on the 20th May 1912. The cost of
building was just over £2,000,000 and she became the largest warship in the world at that time. Commissioning occurred on
the 4th September 1913.
Although appearing similar to the two other ships in the Lion class, she was about half way between the Lion and Tiger and
consequently formed a single ship of her own class. Her length was 702 feet, her width 89 feet and she displaced 26,540
tons. Top speed was 27.5 knots obtained from geared turbines and four propellers. The engine machinery was split into two
engine spaces separated by a centre line watertight bulkhead. Her bunker capacity consisted of 3,700 tons of coal and 1,170
tons of oil, which was sprayed onto the coal in order for it to burn more fiercely. This gave her a range of 5,600 miles at 10
knots and 2,400 miles at 24 knots. Steering was by twin rudders. Her armament consisted of 8 x 13 inch guns with secondary
armament of 16 x 4 inch guns. Armoured protection consisted of 9 inch thickness on the side faces and turrets but only 3
inches on the decks.
The guns fired a shell weighing 1,400 lb using 300lb of cordite as a propellant and with a muzzle velocity of 2,491 feet per
second. The maximum range for these guns was 23,740 yards and they fired two rounds in 1 minute and 20 seconds, 80
rounds per gun being carried.
Queen Mary’s made a port visit to Brest in February 1914, together with the rest of the 1st Battle cruiser squadron and then
visited Russia in June. Her first action was at Heligoland Bight on the 28th August 1914 and was involved with the
destruction of the German light cruiser Koln. This action was then followed by routine patrols and sweeps into the North
Sea. She underwent a routine dry docking at Portsmouth in January and February 1915. Queen Mary then continued with
more routine patrols as part of the 1st Battle cruiser squadron.
Harry was a 1st class stoker and worked with the 42 Yarrow boilers, arranged in 7 boiler rooms, which propelled the ship.
The stokers made up a large percentage of the ship’s crew, which was 997 in peacetime but rose to about 1,275 in time of
war. Just before the ship sailed on the 30th May it had 555 stokers on board. This consisted of 17 chief stokers, 41 petty
officer stokers, 99 leading stokers and 398 1st and 2nd class stokers (of which 77 were from the Royal Naval reserve).
Late in the evening of the 30th may 1916, Vice Admiral Sir David Beatty’s ships sailed from Rosyth, on the Firth of Forth,
into the North Sea. Information had been received that the German High Seas fleet had left their harbour. Both fleets
intended to engage the other, but they had different ideas about how to carry this out. Beatty, with his faster cruisers knew
that he outnumbered his opponent, and wanted to crush the German ships without unduly risking the rest of the fleet. The
German Admirals Scheer and Hipper intended to lure the British cruisers onto the guns of the heavier German battleships by
using their screening cruisers as bait. The two fleets started to converge at the Jutland bank, near the coast of Denmark,
and at 2.20 p.m. on the 31st May, Beatty received reports indicating the presence of enemy vessels. At 2.35 p.m. a
considerable amount of smoke was sighted to the east. The German cruisers spotted the British cruisers first at 3.22 p.m.
and began a turn to the south, in order to lure them onto the heavy guns of the High seas fleet. The German ships were
sighted at 3.31 p.m. and were found to consist of 5 battle cruisers. The 2nd battle cruiser squadron formed astern of the 1st
battle cruiser squadron, with destroyers ahead of them. The range was estimated to be 23,000 yards. At 3.48 p.m. on a calm
sunny afternoon, the buglers sounded “action stations” and both sides opened fire almost simultaneously.
The opening salvo from the German cruisers was at a range of 16,500 yards and landed harmlessly close to the British battle
cruisers. The British shells fell a full mile behind the German ships and there was a short lull as gunnery officers sought to
recalculate the range. Three minutes after opening fire, the Lion had been hit twice, as had the Princess Royal, while the
Tiger had received four hits. At 3.55 p.m. when the range was down to 12,900 yards the first hit was scored by a British
ship. It was the Queen Mary, who crashed two shells onto a gun turret of the Seydlitz, putting it out of action. For the next
five minutes no further hits were scored and at 3.58 p.m. both fleets turned outwards. It was a total of 15 hits for the
German gunners but only 4 for the British guns.
In the British squadron there was some confusion as to which ship to engage. With a superiority of 6 ships to 5, it was
possible for two British ships to engage one of the enemies. Beatty had instructed the Princess Royal to join Lion in engaging
the German flagship Lutzow. The quick succession of flag signals had been missed by Queen Mary who was third in the line
and she engaged the third German ship Seydlitz. This left the second German ship Derfflinger able to make undisturbed
target practice. The Queen Mary soon realised her mistake and shifted her guns onto Derfflinger, quickly scoring a hit. Lion
was hit again and Beatty shifted his position slightly. Before this could make any difference, six more salvoes hit Lion and the
Princess Royal had her after turret put out of action.
At the rear of the line Indefatigable and Von Der Tann had been engaging each other, when three shells plunged through
Indefatigable’s thin deck armour and reached a magazine. She had staggered out of the line sinking, when another salvo
created a terrible explosion, causing the ship to capsize and quickly sink, taking all bar two of her crew with her.
The British battle cruiser line drew out of range to repair damage and extinguish fires while destroyers of the first flotilla
were called into action to ease the situation.
At 4.05 p.m. the first Battleships of the British fleet appeared and opened fire. Beatty saw this and turned his battle
cruisers back towards the enemy vessels, although the Lion was still on fire. The clouds of smoke made her invisible to the
German ships Seydlitz and Derfflinger, who consequently shifted their aim down the line to the second ship Queen Mary. At
4.17 p.m. the Queen Mary scored a hit on the Seydlitz, putting a six-inch casement out of action. At 4.21 p.m. the Queen
Mary was hit on Q (amidships) turret, which although it was serious, there was no secondary explosion and the three other
turrets carried on firing.
“At 16.21 Q turret was hit by a shell and the right gun put out of action. We continued firing with the left gun for two or
three minutes and then a most awful explosion took place which broke the ship in half by the fore mast. Our left gun
broke off outside the turret and the rear end fell into the working chamber, the right gun also slid down. The turret was
filled with flying metal and several men were killed. A lot of cordite caught fire below me and several men were
gassed”. Midshipman J. Storey Q turret.
Five minutes later, the Queen Mary was hit again by two shells in the region of her forward superstructure. Eye witnesses
recorded that Queen Mary was hit on the superstructure of the engaged port side and that there were two bright red
explosions, which were typical of shell explosions. These were followed shortly afterwards by a second explosion, which was
seen to vent from the aft end of the superstructure and the boiler room vents.
Commander George Von Hasse on the Derfflinger reported:-
“When the salvo fired at 16.26 fell, heavy explosions were observed on the Queen Mary. First of all a vivid flame shot up
from her fore part. Then came an explosion forward which was followed by a second explosion amidships. Black debris flew
into the air and then the whole ship blew up in a terrific explosion. A gigantic cloud of smoke rose, the masts collapsed
inwards, then a pall of black smoke obscured everything”.
Petty officer Francis was in X turret and observed that:-
“...Then came the big explosion which shook us a bit and on looking at the pressure gauge I saw that the pressure had
failed. Immediately after that came what I term the big smash and I was left dangling in the air on a bowline. No’s 2 and
3 gun crew of the left gun were crushed when the gun slipped through its trunnions. Everything in the ship went as quiet
as a church, the floor of the turret bulged and the guns were absolutely useless. There was not a sign of panic”.
Midshipman J. Lloyd-Owen was below decks and noticed that:-
“There was a terrific explosion in the fore part of the ship. I asked the working chamber if they had anything to report.
They answered that all pressure had failed and that both guns were out of action. I reported this to the officer of the
turret, Lt. Ewart. He told me that the ship was going down and would probably sink in a few minutes. He told me to send
the gunhouse crew up on deck”.
After getting up to the deck Midshipman Lloyd-Owen continued his narrative of events:-
“I found the ship laying on her port side. She was broken amidships, her bows were sticking up in the air and the stern
was at an angle of 45 degrees from the water. I was standing on the back of the turret, which was practically level with
the guns still trained to port. I looked towards the stern and saw that it was red hot and that all the plates had been
blown away leaving nothing but the framework. A few minutes later a tremendous explosion occurred in the fore part of
the ship which must have blown the bows to atoms. All around me men were falling off into the water. The stern gave a
lurch, throwing me into the water. Just before entering the water, a second explosion occurred just over my head. On
regaining the surface I could see nothing of the ship, only oil and debris”
Lieutenant King-Hall on board the cruiser Southampton saw:-
“....an 800 foot high mushroom of fiery smoke. I remember seeing bits of her flying up. As I watched this fiery
gravestone it seemed to waver at the base and I caught a momentary but clear glimpse of the hull sticking out from the
stern to the aft turret”.
Queen Mary sunk within two minutes of receiving the salvo probably fired by Derfflinger.
The navigating officer aboard the H.M.S New Zealand witnessed her end:-
“We passed her about 50 yards on our port beam by which time the smoke had blown fairly clear, revealing the stern
from the after funnel afloat and the propellers still revolving, but the for’ard part had already gone under. There was no
sign of fire or of cordite flame and men were crawling out of the top of the after turret and up the after hatchway.
When we were abreast and only about 150 yards away from her, this after portion rolled over, and as it did so blew up”
A high percentage of those members of the crew who had managed to evacuate the ship died in the explosions which marked
her end, either killed by flying debris, concussion or sucked under with the ship when she went down. Some survived the
blasts only to die from exposure before rescue. Nineteen men were saved by British destroyers and two were picked up by a
German destroyer which stopped for them. Of the 21 men who survived, 7 were stokers, which indicated that some had
managed to get up to the deck before the destruction of the ship. As a percentage of all of the stokers on board though, this
was just a survival rate of 1 .25%. The total number of men who were killed when the Queen Mary sunk amounted to 1,264.
Harry Farrow probably died in one of the engine rooms, killed either by explosions or drowning as the ship sunk rapidly.
There would have been too little time for him to get up to the deck.
The wreck of the Queen Mary was rediscovered in 1991, when she was found to be partly up-side down, resting on sand, 60
metres down. She is now designated as a war grave protected place under the protection of military remains act 1986. Her
position is 56 degrees 43 minutes North and 5 degrees 47 minutes East.
Harry Farrow is commemorated on the Royal Naval memorial, panel 18,
There is also a memorial plaque inside his Parish church at Crowfield, Suffolk. It records the names of three Farrows from
the village, who were killed during the First World War:-
|Left: H.M.S. Duke of |
Wellington II was a hulk
and the receiving ship for
Right: H.M.S. Duke of
Wellington circa 1900
| H.M.S. Charybdis H.M.S. Pearl|
|H.M.S. Psyche H.M.S. Enchantress|
|H.M.S. Mercury H.M.S Jupiter|
|H.M.S. Queen |
Mary is launched
|1st Class stokers on board |
|Queen Mary exploding |
while Lion blazes to the
left. A salvo of shots falls
short of Lion, marked by
Harry Farrow was awarded the 1914/15 Trio