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James Cochrane (1889-1916)

Stoker from Durham City Served in Royal Navy and fell in the Battle of Jutland

James Cochrane was born in Durham City on 9 December 1889. His father was Robert Cochrane, originally from Dumfries, Scotland who was a locomotive engine driver for North Eastern Railways (NER). His mother was Hannah Snowdon from Durham City. James’ parents married in 1877 in West Rainton and over the next 25 years they had 10 children. Robert’s job appears to have given the family considerable security and they were living at 1 Red Hill Terrace, Durham at each of the 1891, 1901 and 1911 censuses.

James attended St Margaret’s School in Durham and when he left school he found work as an Engine Cleaner with NER. He joined the Royal Navy on 9 December 1907 choosing to serve for five years full-time and seven years with the Royal Fleet Reserve (RFR). He was appointed as a Stoker and given the service number SS106235. His principal ships during his five years were HMS Nelson, an armoured cruiser and training ship; HMS Grafton, a cruiser of the Edgar class; and HMS Dreadnought, the first of a new class of battleship. James was on board Dreadnought at the time of the 1911 census.

James completed his initial five years service on 8 December 1912 and was transferred to the Royal Fleet Reserve (RFR) Portsmouth. During the next seven years he was expected to undergo a short period of annual training to keep his skills up-to-date and was liable for recall to the navy in the event of hostilities.

As the first world war loomed James was recalled to the Royal Nay at his home port of Portsmouth on 2 August 1914. After 12 days in port he was assigned to HMS Invincible as a Stoker First Class and spent the rest of his war on the ship.

James was on board HMS Invincible at the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916. At 6.30 PM two German ships fired three salvoes each at Invincible and sank her in 90 seconds. One shell struck her ‘Q’ turret, detonating the midships magazines, which blew the ship in half and possibly ignited other magazines. There were only six survivors picked up from HMS Invincible with 1,026 officers and men killed. James lost his life in this sinking and his body was not recovered for burial.

Civil Parish: Durham

Birth date: 12-Feb-1889

Death date: 31-May-1916

Armed force/civilian: Navy

Residence: 1 Red Hill Terrace, Durham (1891 and 1901 census)
HMS Dreadnought, Portsmouth, Hampshire (1911 census)

Education: St Margaret’s School, Durham

Employment: Engine Cleaner (1907 Royal Navy service record)
Stoker, Royal Navy

Family: Parents: Robert Cochrane (1854-1926), Hannah Cochrane, nee Snowdon (1856-1914)

Siblings: Margaret, Georgina, Robert, Joseph, John William, Hannah, Gordon, Hilda, Malcolm

Military service:

Stoker, 9 December 1907
Stoker First Class, 2 August 1914
HMS Nelson , 1907-1908
HMS Grafton, 1908-1909
HMS Dreadnought, 1909-1912
Royal Fleet Reserve (RFR) 1912-1914
HMS Victory II, August 1914
HMS Invincible, 1914-1916
Battle of Jutland 31 May1916 (killed in action)

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

Memorial(s): Portsmouth Naval Memorial
Plaque, Durham Town Hall
St Margaret’s School, Durham

Gender: Male

Contributed by David D, Stanley, Co Durham