For King and Country

Person Details

EMMETT, Wilfred Maurice

Memorials

Name: Cookham School Lane, Cookham
NIWM Ref: 7925
RBWM Ref: WM151

Person Details

Date of birth: 12/01/1897
Place of birth: Cookham
Gender: Male
Date of death: 09/07/1917
Place of death: Scapa Flow, Orkneys, Scotland
Manner of death: Killed other
Age at death: 20
CWGC Ref: 3040923
TWGPP Ref: 3315536
Address: 104 Chesson Road W. Kensington London
Address: 20 Hamfield Cottages Lower Road Cookham Rise

Military details

Military Organisation: Royal Marines
Rank: Private
Service Number: PO/17338

Relatives

Father Arthur EMMETT
Mother Mary Annie EMMETT

Additional information

According to the CWGC Register Wilfred was killed in an internal explosion of HMS Vanguard at Scapa Flow. "HMS Vanguard was anchored in Scapa Flow when at 11.20pm the ship was destroyed by an internal explosion. Nearby ships were strewn with wreckage and human remains. A total of 845 men were on board at the time but the loss could have been worse as a number of officers and crew were at a concert on another ship. The board of enquiry concluded that the explosion was caused by faulty cordite stored in either P or Q magazine." A Naval exploration of the site in 1975 showed that the ship had been blown apart in seconds. The bodies which would be recovered lie in the Lyness Royal Navy Cemetery in Hoy in the Orkney Islands. Sadly Wilfred's body was not recovered. The wreck is protected as a designated war grave. Also on board was Oscar Cox, brother of Percy Cox, who is commemorated on the Cookham Memorial. Wilfred is also rememberd on the Portsmouth Naval memorial, ref 27.
Wilfred was born in 1897 to Anne and Arthur Emmett, a bricklayer. In 1901 they were living in 20, Hamfield Cottages, Lower Road, Cookham Rise, a few houses along from his cousins, three of whom were to die in the War. Wilfred went to Cookham Dean Primary School and then Cookham Rise Secondary, leaving there in 1910 to become a garden boy, working in a market garden. On enlistment, Wilfred was recorded as being a footman. After the War Wilfred's 1914 Star was given to his father Arthur in April 1919 and a Clasp was issued in May 1923.
Wilfred had an eventful War. He enlisted on 7th August 1914 and took part in the Defence of Antwerp in 1914 and Dunkirk in the same year. The Admiralty had mobilised the Royal Marine Brigade to guard against the threat to the French Channel ports of Ostend, Calais, Dunkirk and Boulogne, vital lifelines in getting men and support to the British Expeditionary Forces. The Royal Marines Brigade was sent with the rest of the Royal Naval Division to Antwerp on 3rd October 1914 at the request of Winston Churchill who saw the port as more threatened than Ostend. The German Army crossed the Upper Scheldt and forced the Belgium Army to withdraw. This made the defence of Antwerp untenable and the Naval Division, including the Royal Marines Brigade, was withdrawn. The Chatham Battalion served an abortive defence of the post until withdrawn on 9th October. This qualified Wilfred for the 1914 Star and Clasp medal - presented to his father after the War. His next posting was to the Dardanelles with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force and he landed at Anzac on 28th April 1915 and was involved at Gallipoli. Two days after landing Wilfred received a bullet wound to the left thigh. After recouperation he joined the "Vanguard" on 28th December 1915.

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