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Leading Stoker 309847 Matthew Henry Baker

Royal Navy, aboard HMS Britannia
Killed in Action, Straights of Gibraltar, 9th November 1918, aged

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Military, Census and Family History Information

  • Born 29 Jan 1886 at Chilvers Coton, Nuneaton
  • Lived at 33 Stanley Road, Nuneaton [1901]
  • Lived Aboard Ship in China and East Indies [1911]
  • Employed as Seaman in Royal Navy [1911]
  • Enlisted on 24 Mar 1906 aged 12 and first served on HMS Nelson

    The Sinking of HMS Britannia 
    On the morning of 9 November 1918 HMS Britannia was on a voyage in the western entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar when she was torpedoed off Cape Trafalgar by the German submarine UB-50. After the first explosion, the ship listed ten degrees to port. A few minutes later, a second explosion started a fire in a 9.2-inch (234-mm) magazine, which in turn caused a cordite explosion in the magazine. Darkness below decks made it virtually impossible to find the flooding valves for the magazines, and those the crew did find were poorly located and therefore hard to turn, and the resulting failure to properly flood the burning magazine probably doomed the ship. Britannia held her 10-degree list for 2½ hours before sinking, allowing most of the crew to be taken off. Most of the men who were lost were killed by toxic smoke from burning cordite; 50 men died and 80 were injured. In total, 39 officers and 673 men were saved.

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