Edwin Colebrook (1880-1916)
Sunderland boy joined Royal Navy and rose to chief petty officer on HMS Black Prince at the Battle of Jutland
Edwin Colebrook was born on 10 March 1880 in Monkwearmouth, Sunderland. His father was Edwin Colebrook (1847-1904) a shipyard labourer originally from Guildford, Surrey. His mother was Elizabeth Jane Cheverton (1853-1916) a mariner’s daughter who was born in Sunderland. Edwin’s parents married in Sunderland in 1871 and had six children in total. Edwin was their third born child. At both the 1881 and 1891 censuses Edwin and his family lived at 64 Dame Dorothy Street, Sunderland.
On 19 September 1895, at the age of 15, Edwin joined the Royal Navy as a boy 2nd class. He was given the service number 185013. He was five feet three and a half inches tall when he joined with dark brown hair, grey eyes and a dark complexion. He committed to serve for 12 years from his 18th birthday when he enlisted. Edwin began his navy career on the training ship HMS Caledonia based at Queensferry, Edinburgh, Scotland. He was promoted to boy 1st class while at Caledonia and then moved to HMS Boscawen in Portland, Dorset for further training at the shore establishment based there.
Edwin became an ordinary seaman on his 18th birthday in 1898 and served at this rating on HMS Fox a Royal Navy cruiser. He was promoted to able seaman while serving on HMS Sparrow, a gunboat that served in east and south Africa. He continued to rise through the ranks, becoming petty officer 2nd class in 1901.
At the time of the 1901 census Edwin was a lodger at 60 High Street, Portsmouth, Hampshire. He became a petty officer 2nd class later that year. He served in a variety of ships and shore establishments over the next nine years. In 1910, on his 30th birthday, he signed up to complete his time for pension which was usually 21 years. At the time of the 1911 census he is recorded as being aboard HMS Hermes, a protected cruiser and the flagship of the Cape of Good Hope Station, at Simon’s Town Naval Base, Cape Town, South Africa.
On 3 April 1913, Edwin was awarded the Royal Navy Good Conduct Medal. Later that year, in August, he was promoted to acting chief petty officer and served in that role on HMS Dryad, the tender to the Royal Navy’s Navigation School which conducted navigation training of officers at sea. He married Elizabeth Berry (1890-1954), a dressmaker in Sunderland in 1914, between serving on HMS Dryad and joining HMS Black Prince on 21 April 1914. He was promoted to chief petty officer on 1 August 1914.
HMS Black Prince was stationed in the Mediterranean when the war began. The ship was sent to the Red Sea in mid-August 1914 to protect troop convoys arriving from India and to search for German merchant ships. Black Prince was transferred to the Grand Fleet in December 1914 and took part in the Battle of Jutland in May 1916. During the battle, Black Prince was hit by at least twelve heavy shells and several smaller ones sinking within 15 minutes. There were no survivors from Black Prince with Edwin being one of the crew of 857 killed.
Edwin’s body was not recovered for burial. He is honoured on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. He is also remembered in a Book of Remembrance at Holy Trinity Church, Sunderland.
Edwin Colebrook was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the Victory Medal and the British War Medal for his service in World War One.
Civil Parish: Sunderland
Birth date: 10-Mar-1880
Death date: 31-May-1916
Armed force/civilian: Navy
Residence: 64 Dame Dorothy Street, Sunderland (1881 and 1891 census)
60 High Street, Portsmouth, Hampshire (1901 census)
HMS Hermes, Simon’s Town Naval Base, near Cape Town, South Africa (1911 census)
34 Chester Terrace North, Millfield, Sunderland (1916 CWGC record)
Employment: Boilersmith (1895 Royal Navy service record)
Chief petty officer (Royal Navy record)
Family: Parents: Edwin Colebrook (1847-1904), Elizabeth Colebrook nee Cheverton (1853-1916)
Siblings: Mary E Colebrook, John W Colebrook, Alice Colebrook, Edith Colebrook, Charleswood H Colebrook
Spouse: Elizabeth Colebrook nee Berry (1890-1954)
Boy 2nd class, 19 September 1895
Boy 1st class, 21 May 1896
Ordinary seaman, 10 March 1898
Able seaman, 1 March 1899
Leading seaman, 5 March 1901
Petty officer 2nd class, 1 October 1901
Acting chief petty officer, 1 August 1913
Chief petty officer, 1 August 1914
British War Medal
Royal Navy Good Conduct Medal, 3 April 1913
Memorial(s): Portsmouth Naval Memorial
Book of Remembrance 1914-18, Holy Trinity Church, Sunderland
Contributed by David D, Stanley, Co Durham
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