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Nicholas William Eden (1900-1916)

Sixteen-year-old midshipman from Windlestone served in the Royal Navy and fell at the Battle of Jutland

Nicholas William Eden was born on 14 March 1900 at Windlestone Hall a 19th-century country house situated near Rushyford. His father was Sir William Morton Eden (1849-1915), the 7th Baronet of West Auckland. His mother was Lady Sybil Frances Eden nee Grey (1867-1945). His parents married in 1886 and had 5 children one of whom, Robert Anthony Eden, served three periods as Foreign Secretary and then a brief term as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1955 to 1957.

Nicholas appears in the 1911 census as a visitor at a boarding house at Bexhill, Sussex although no other members of his family appear to be at the address. Biographies of Anthony Eden indicate that Nicholas attended Sandroyd Preparatory School, Rushmore, Wiltshire before attending a Royal Navy Training Establishment.

At the time Nicholas joined as a cadet it was usual practice to attend the Royal Naval College at Osborne on the Isle of Wight for two years before moving on to the college at Dartmouth, Devon for a further two years. The education given was similar to the curriculum of a good public school.

Because of the outbreak of war Nicholas only spent one year at Dartmouth and on 1 January 1916, at the age of 15, became a midshipman on HMS Indefatigable. Midshipman was the lowest rank of officer in the British navy taking its name from the location on board ship (midships) where midshipmen worked, learnt and were accommodated.

HMS Indefatigable was a Royal Navy battlecruiser. The ship was sunk on 31 May 1916 during the Battle of Jutland when she was hit several times in the first minutes of the opening phase of the battlecruiser action. Shells from the German battlecruiser Von der Tann caused one explosion that ripped a hole in her hull while a second explosion hurled large pieces of the ship in the air. Only two of the crew of 1,019 survived.

Nicholas lost his life at the age of 16 and it was not possible to recover his body for burial. He is remembered on the Plymouth Naval Memorial and on memorials at Kirk Merrington, Durham and Sandroyd School, Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Chilton

Birth date: 14-Mar-1900

Death date: 31-May-1916

Armed force/civilian: Navy

Residence: Windlestone Hall, Rushyford, (birthplace 1900)
Ripley House, Bexhill, Sussex (1911 census)

Education: Sandroyd Preparatory School, Rushmore, Wiltshire
Royal Naval College, Osborne, Isle of Wight, Hampshire
Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, Devon

Employment: Sandroyd Preparatory School, Rushmore, Wiltshire
Royal Naval College, Osborne, Isle of Wight, Hampshire
Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, Devon

Family: Parents: Sir William Morton Eden (Baron Auckland), Lady Sybil Frances Eden nee Grey
Siblings: John “Jack” Eden, Elfrida Marjorie Eden, Timothy Calvert Eden, Robert Anthony Eden

Military service:

HMS Indefatigable, 1916
Battle of Jutland 31 May 1916 (killed in action)

Medal(s): Victory Medal
British War Medal

Memorial(s): Portsmouth Naval Memorial
Kirk Merrington Memorial Cross
Sandroyd School Chapel, Rushmore, Wiltshire

Gender: Male

Contributed by David D, Stanley, Co Durham