THOMAS HENRY BLAKELEY

Signal Boy J/39929, Royal Navy

Died 31st May 1916 aged 16

Lost at Sea Commemorated Portsmouth Naval Memorial

Son of Henry and Mathilda Blakeley

Lived 11, Northgate, Heckmondwike


Thomas was born in Liversedge on the 8th July 1899, he was the son of Henry, a Carpet Weaver and Mathilda (Manuel) who was the daughter of a police officer from Jersey, she died soon after he was born.  Thomas’s naval record states that he worked as a Warehouse Packer before joining the Royal Navy in April 1915 when he was just 15 years old.  In the 1911 census the family are recorded as living at Ings Road, Heckmondwike, his father had remarried and he had two sisters and a brother.

Thomas was posted to HMS Indefatigable which was involved in the Battle of Jutland, fought on 31 May and 1 June 1916 in the North Sea near Jutland, Denmark.   In this, the largest sea battle of the First World War, fourteen British and eleven German ships were sunk, with great loss of life.

HMS Indefatigable was hit by two or three shells from the German battle cruiser Von der Tann.  She fell out of formation to starboard and started sinking towards the stern and listing to port.  After more hits, the port magazines exploded.   Smoke and flames gushed from the forward part of the ship and large pieces were thrown 200 feet (61 m) into the air.  Of her crew of 1,019, only two survived.  The two survivors were rescued by the German torpedo boat S16.
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