ID: IYS_041

TitleFrederick Robert Francis killed 25 November 1916

Rank: Deck Hand Stoker Service No. 4009SD
Service: Royal Naval Reserve HMS BURNLEY
Date of death 25 November 1916 Age 21

Frederick was the son of William and Helena [Elenor] Francis of Salcott, Essex. Frederick had older brothers William and Henry, and a sister Ethel. The 1911 Census records both his father and Frederick working as a Farm Labourers. William worked at Horn Farm and Green Farm, Salcott, and the H. and F. Francis that appear in the 1914 account books there is probably Henry and Frederick.

The vessel on which he was serving was virtually brand new, and had never been used for the originally intended use. Built by the Smiths Dock Company of Middlesborough, at the company's North Shields yard, for the Wyre Steam Trawler Company of Fleetwood, Lancashire in 1916, and given the Fishing Number FD242. The 275 ton trawler was requisitioned for use as a minesweeper trawler by the Admiralty whilst it was still in the shipyard, given the Admiralty number 3277 she was armed with a 12 pounder gun, H.M. Trawler BURNLEY was lost after hitting an enemy laid mine in the North Sea off the coast of Orford Ness, Suffolk.

Two minefields of a dozen mines each were sown off Orford Ness. Two British minesweepers were victims of theses mines :- H M Trawler BURNLEY on the 25th November 1916 & HM Trawler TREVANI on the 3rd December 1916.

The loss of the trawler BURNLEY in November 1916 affords another example of the total disappearance of vessel and crew after the striking of a mine. The URNLEY was in charge of a subdivision of trawlers carrying out a patrol in the vicinity of the Shipwash light-vessel. At the close of the day the senior officer in the BURNLEY, relying on the superior speed of his vessel to overtake the others, ordered the two trawlers under him to proceed to their anchorage in Hollesley Bay. What exactly happened after this will never be known, but it is surmised that the BURNLEY stopped to investigate something suspicious. The HOLDENE, the senior of the other two trawlers, reached the anchorage as night was setting in, and had just dropped her anchor when a flash was seen on the eastern horizon. This was followed by a dull, heavy explosion, which shook the HOLDENE from stem to stern. The anchor was immediately weighed and the HOLDENE steamed at full speed to the scene of the explosion; but, though she cruised about for two hours in the darkness, nothing was to be seen of the BURNLEY or her crew. On the following day a fresh group of mines was discovered in the vicinity, so it is probable that the Burnley had struck one of this group very soon after the mines had been laid by German submarines.

"Out of the little Harwich force, twenty-two mine-sweepers were sunk by mines in the course of the war, while many others were mined-some more than once-but were brought safely back to port. The loss of life was heavy. Nearly one-quarter of the officers and men were killed in the course of the war.
From "The Harwich Naval Forces; their part in the great war" by E.F. Knight

He earned the 1914 -1915 star; the 1914-1920 War Medal; the 1914-1919 Victory Medal

Frederick is commemorated on the Memorial in St Mary's Church, Salcott and on the Chatham Naval Memorial.

Read More
The Harwich Naval Forces; their part in the great war by E.F. Knight online on
Salcott War Memorial
Chatham Naval Memorial

Source and updates
Original text from Ted Sparrow in If You Shed a Tear Part 1. Ted did a similar version as a Memorial Profile Memorial Profile FRANCIS Frederick Robert.pdf

SourceMersea Museum