|WW1 Memorial Profiles for West Mersea
RALPH CUTTS AVIS (also known as Ralph Mussett)
Yeoman of Signals Service No. 191425 (RFR/CH/B/6683)
HMS CRESSY, Royal Navy
Died 22 September 1914 age 35.
No known grave
Ralph Cutts Avis was born on 15th May, 1880, the son of Hope Cutts Avis, a sewing machinist, who lived with her parents, Isaac and Susannah Cutts Avis in The Square, West Mersea. On 20th June, 1880, she married Ralph's father, Alfred Mussett, a mariner, who was now living with the family, and Ralph
became known on the Island as Ralph Mussett, although in official circles he was known as Ralph Cutts Avis, the name he was baptised with on 8th September, 1880.
In 1896, at the age of sixteen, he enlisted in the Royal Navy and on 17th November, 1896, he joined HMS
IMPREGNABLE. On his eighteenth birthday, 15th May, 1898, he signed on for twelve years. He served on a
number of ships until he left the Navy on 25th June 1910, remaining on the Royal Naval Reserve.
He returned to Mersea to take up fishing again, the occupation quoted on his enlistment papers.
Also by then he had married Ann Elizabeth (maiden name unknown). In 1913, he was serving on the jury (committee) of the Tollesbury and Mersea Oyster Fishery Company.
At the outbreak of war, being part of the Royal Naval Reserve, he was called up and posted to HMS CRESSY
as a Yeoman of Signals. HMS CRESSY was one of six ships in the Cressy class and was launched in 1899.
They were 472ft long with a beam of 69.5 ft, displacement of 12,000 tons. Maximum speed was 21 knots.
They were armed with 2 x 9.2 inch and 12 x 6 inch guns, and had 2x18 inch torpedo tubes. Total crew was 760.
On 22nd September, 1914, three armoured cruisers of the Cressy class, the ABOUKIR, HAGUE and CRESSY
herself were on patrol in sea area known as the Broad Fourteens off the Dutch coast, when they were
discovered by the German submarine U9, which sank each one of them in turn. Ralph Cutts Avis was not one
of the survivors, having gone down with the ship.
By the end of the war, his wife had remarried, becoming Mrs Robins and lived with her husband William Herbert Robins in New Captains Road, West Mersea. The house was named Cressey Ville, no doubt in memory of her first husband.
There is more information in Not Just a Name by Roger Bullen, published by Mersea Museum.
See also A brief biography by Carol Wyatt, and British Cruisers lost 22 September 1914