CROUCH Ernest John
Regiment : H.M.S. Queen Mary Royal Navy
Service number : K14987
Conflict : WW1
Date of death : 31st May 1916 aged 25
Place of death : Battle of Jutland, North Sea
Buried : Commemorated on Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Hampshire, England, Panel 17.
Relatives : Son of Margaret Powell Gillespie, 3 Suttons Row, Lower Wyche, Malvern
Memorial : Malvern WW1 War Memorial
Also appears on : North Malvern Holy Trinity Church. Malvern Wyche School now in Wyche C of E Primary School as John Ernest Crouch.
Ernest Crouch was born on the 21st December 1893 in Malvern, Worcestershire. His mother Margaret enrolled Ernest in Wyche Church of England Primary School on 12th September 1898; he left the school in April 1901. By this time his mother is recorded as a widow living with her 2 children, [Ernest] John aged 7 and Elsie aged 3 with her father, James Crouch, widower, at 4 Rose Cottages, Lower Wyche, Malvern. By 1911 John is living with the Bury family at 2 Lygon Buildings Malvern, employed by Edward Bury as an errand boy in his basket making business.
On 17th May 1912 Ernest enlisted as a Stoker 2nd Class in the Royal Navy for a period of 12 years. At the time of his enlistment he was employed as a shop porter and was 5 feet 1½ inches tall with brown hair, grey eyes and a fresh complexion. He commenced his naval service on HMS Victory II, rising to the rank of Stoker 1st Class in 1913. He joined HMS Queen Mary on 4th September 1913, remaining with the ship until his death when he was killed in action at the battle of Jutland on 31st May 1916.
HMS Queen Mary was a Lion Class Battle Cruiser. Built in 1913 for speed and long range, she displaced 26500 tons with a main armament of 8 x 13.5 inch guns and 16 x 4 inch guns. On 31st May 1916 she was part of the 1st Battlecruiser Squadron under Vice Admiral Beatty who engaged the German battlecruiser group of Vice Admiral Franz Hipper. During this battle HMS Queen Mary was hit and blew up with a loss of 1,266 men. There were only 9 survivors. The loss of the Queen Mary was the greatest single British naval loss of the First World War.
On 10th June 1916 Berrows Worcester Journal reported as follows:
Malvern Man Missing
John Crouch, of Cowleigh Road, North Malvern, a stoker on the “Queen Mary,” is reported missing.
On 17th June 1916 the newspaper reported on a memorial service at Colwall for those who had fallen in the recent naval battle. Able Seaman Crouch was among those mentioned.
A photograph of Stoker E.J. Crouch of Malvern can be found in Berrow’s Worcester Journal Supplement, Saturday 17th June 1916, available at Worcestershire Archives.
Ernest Crouch has no known grave, the photograph available shows his name on Portsmouth Naval Memorial.