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George William Gargett (1885-1917)

Darlington man served as an able seaman in the Royal Navy on HMS Vanguard

George William Gargett was born in Darlington on 2 July 1885 and baptised on 29 July 1885. His father was Paul Gargett (1858-1937), a grocer’s assistant from Norton. His mother was Alice Gargett nee Skinner (1859-1923) also from Norton. His parents married around 1882 and George had two sisters. In 1891 the Gargett family lived at 1 Fern Street, Darlington. By 1901 they had moved to 5 Tweed Street, Hartlepool.

George joined the Royal Navy as a boy 2nd class on 14 December 1902. He was given the service number 223996. On his eighteenth birthday he became an ordinary seaman planning to serve for 12 years. He became an able seaman on 14 March 1905. At the time of the 1911 census George was aboard Torpedo Boat No 20 in Stangate Creek, Sheerness, Kent. In 1917 he served on board HMS Vanguard, a St Vincent-class dreadnought battleship launched in February 1909. The ship was involved in action throughout its service but was generally on routine patrol and training in the North Sea.

Just before midnight on 9 July 1917 at Scapa Flow, Vanguard suffered an explosion. This was probably caused by an unnoticed fire heating cordite in one of the two magazines which served the midships gun turrets. The ship sank almost instantly and there were only two survivors. In terms of loss of life the destruction of the Vanguard remains the most catastrophic accidental explosion in the history of the United Kingdom and one of the worst accidental losses of the Royal Navy.

George was one of the 804 men killed in the explosion. The bodies that could be recovered now lie in Lyness Royal Naval Cemetery, Hoy, Orkney, Scotland, where there is also a memorial. The wreck site is a designated war grave under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986. George and the other crew who perished and whose bodies were not recovered are remembered on the Chatham Naval Memorial.

George William Gargett was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the Victory Medal and the British War Medal for his service in World War One.

Civil Parish: Hartlepool

Birth date: 02-Jul-1885

Death date: 09-Jul-1917

Armed force/civilian: Navy

Residence: 1 Fern Street, Darlington (1891 census)
5 Tweed Street, Hartlepool (1901 census)
Torpedo Boat No 20, Stangate Creek, Sheerness, Kent (1911 census)

Family: Parents: Paul Gargett (1858-1937), Alice Gargett nee Skinner (1839-1923)
Siblings: Eleanor Elizabeth Gargett (b 1883), Marine Gargett (b 1897)

Military service:

Royal Navy
Service Number 223996
Boy 2nd class, 14 December 1902
Boy 1st class, 19 March 1903
Ordinary seaman, 2 July 1903
Able seaman, 14 March 1905
HMS Vanguard

Medal(s): 1914-15 Star
Victory Medal
British War Medal

Memorial(s): Chatham Naval Memorial

Gender: Male

Contributed by David D, Stanley, Co Durham

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