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Frank Burrows (1888-1916)

Electric crane driver from Billingham was fatally injured on HMS Broke at the Battle of Jutland

Frank Burrows was born on 22 October 1888 in Billingham. His father was Jonathan Burrows (1849-1895) originally from Smethwick, Staffordshire and working as a labourer in the saltworks. His mother was Mary Ann Burrows nee Billington (1849-1924) also from Smethwick. In 1901 Frank’s family lived in 35 Oak Street, Haverton Hill and was made up of his parents, three sisters and three brothers. In 1901 his family lived in the same house but his father had died in 1895 and his mother had married Herbert Johnson (1856-1906) in 1896. The household now consisted of his mother, who was a drapers shopkeeper, his step-father, two siblings and two step-siblings.

Frank joined the Royal Navy on 14 January 1909 on a short service commission, planning to spend five years full-time in the Navy followed by seven years in the Royal Fleet Reserve (RFR). His civilian occupation was recorded as electric crane driver. He was rated as stoker 2nd class and given the service number SS107890. He spent his first three months on HMS Nelson, an armoured cruiser used as a training ships for stokers. He was promoted to stoker 1st class on 1 January 1910 and served on a number and variety of ships in home waters between 1909-11. At the time of the 1911 census he was recorded as being onboard HMS Jupiter in Portland, Dorset. He then spent almost two and a half years on HMS Hercules, a dreadnought and flagship of the Second Division Home Fleet.

On 18 January 1914, having completed his five years service, Frank was transferred to the RFR with new service number PO/B/6555. He returned home but on 2 August 1914 was recalled to active service on the outbreak of the war. He married Florence S Meale (1889-1950) in Stockton Registry Office in 1915 before returning to HMS Broke a Faulknor-class destroyer leader.

At the Battle of Jutland, HMS Broke took part in an action with the German battleship Westfalen. The German ship opened fire first with devastating effect, killing 50 crew including Frank and injuring another 30. The helmsman was killed at the wheel, and as he died his body turned the wheel causing the ship to turn to port and ram HMS Sparrowhawk which was sunk. Broke remained able to manoeuvre even though she had lost her bow. The ship proceeded slowly towards Britain arriving in the Tyne two and a half days after the engagement. During this time Frank was buried at sea. Frank is honoured on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial and several war memorials in Billingham.

Frank Burrows was awarded the Star, Victory Medal and British War Medal for his service in World War One.

Civil Parish: Billingham

Birth date: 22-Oct-1888

Death date: 31-May-1916

Armed force/civilian: Navy

Residence: 35 Oak Street, Haverton Hill, Billingham (1891 & 1901 census)
HMS Jupiter, Portland, Dorset (1911 census)

Employment: Electric crane driver (1909 service record)

Family: Parents: Jonathan Burrows (1849-1895), Mary Ann Burrows nee Billington (1849-1924)
Siblings: Emmanuel Burrows (1873), Mary A Burrows (1874), Emma Burrows (1876), John Burrows (1881), Sarah Burrows (1881), Minnie Burrows (1883), Albert Burrows (1885)
Spouse: Florence Burrows nee Meale (1889-1950)

Military service:

Stoker 2nd class, 14 January 1909
Stoker 1st class, 1 January 1910
HMS Nelson, 1909
HMS Jupiter, 1910-11
HMS Hercules, 1911-1914
Transfer to Royal Fleet Reserve, 18 January 1914
HMS Broke 1914-16

Medal(s): Star
Victory Medal
British War Medal

Memorial(s): Portsmouth Naval Memorial
Stained Glass Window and Plaque, St Cuthbert’s Church, Billingham
Wall 1914-18, Billingham
Obelisk 1914-18, Haverton Hill

Gender: Male

Contributed by David D, Stanley, Co Durham