At Sea and on the Somme
The first East Meon casualty was Arthur Charles Titheridge, who died on the 8th December, 1914. A Royal Marine on HMS Kent, he was killed in the Battle of the Falklands. This was an engagement between the German East Asiatic Squadron, led by Admiral Graf Maximilian von Spee, which had recently had success at the Battle Of Coronel off the southern coast of Chile. It was steaming towards Port Stanley to raid the radio and coaling station there.
A superior British squadron was already coaling at the station, under the leadership of Admiral Sturdee.
The Germans were defeated, putting an end to their presence on the high seas for the rest of the War.
On the 31st May 1916 the most significant naval battle of the war took place, the Battle of Jutland, this would see two men from our community give their lives.
William Henry Damenwas a 17 year old stoker on HMS Onslow which played a brave part on the battle, engaging with the enemy but suffering significant damage. She was taken under tow by HMS Defender despite being heavily shelled.
Admiral of the Fleet Sir David Beatty led the battle cruiser fleet and wrote: “I consider the performances of these two destroyers to be gallant in the extreme, and I am recommending Lieutenant-Commander J. C. Tovey of Onslow, and Lieutenant Commander Palmer of Defender, for special recognition.”
The second casualty of the battle was George Titheridge;a cook’s mate on HMS Queen Mary, he was aged around 24
Again from the record of Beatty:
“At 4.26 p.m. there was a violent explosion in Queen Mary; she was enveloped in clouds of gray smoke and disappeared. Eighteen of her officers and men were subsequently picked up by Laurel.”
Between the 1st and 13th July 1916 British Forces lost some 85,000 men in this controversial period when British tactics were heavily criticised as lacking strategic co-ordination. The 19th July saw Clinton Watermandie of his wounds; he was listed in the census as being at school in Rogate, aged 13, so he would have been 18 years old when he died, serving in the 1st Hampshire regiment.
A few weeks later, on the 9th August, William Samuel Pollard.a 24 year old member of the Rifle Brigade Prince Consorts Own 1st Battalion. died of his wounds at the Somme.
On the 3rd September, Walter Cecil Cooper, the brother of Arthur, was killed whilst serving in the Hamsphire Regiment 14 service battalion He was listed as a farm labourer in the 1911 census, working in East Meon.
Another farm labourer would be the next person to make the ultimate sacrifice, Frederick George Parfoot.who died of his wounds on the 30th October 1916, serving in the 1st Battalion of the Hampshire regiment, once again during the Battle of the Somme. He was 34 years old when he died.