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David Turnbull (1886-1916)

Hartlepool shipwright served in the Royal Navy on HMS Indefatigable at the Battle of Jutland

David Turnbull was born on 22 December 1886 in Middleton, Hartlepool. His father was Robert Lowry Turnbull (1844-1921), a Hartlepool born shipwright. His mother was Barbara Turnbull nee Birkbeck (1869-1919) who was originally from Pittington. David was the youngest of six children made up of four sisters and one brother.

At the time of the 1891 census the family lived at and ran the Grocer’s Shop, Queen Street, Middleton, Hartlepool. They were living at 9 Queen Street, Middleton, Hartlepool at the 1901 census when David’s occupation is recorded as apprentice shipwright.

David joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) where he was rated as able seaman with the service number TZ/6361. He joined the Royal Navy full-time on 4 January 1916 when he intended to serve for 12 years. He was appointed as shipwright 2nd class with the service number M19924. He was assigned to the crew of HMS Indefatigable immediately upon entering the Navy.

HMS Indefatigable was a battlecruiser that conducted uneventful patrols of the North Sea in early 1916 when David joined her crew. However, on 31 May 1916 she saw action during the Battle of Jutland. 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. The ship was lost and David died along with 1,017 crewmates.

David’s body was not recovered for burial. He is honoured on the Chatham Naval Memorial. In his hometown of Hartlepool he is remembered in the Book of Remembrance Fallen 1914-18, on the Memorial Wall 1914-19, Redheugh Gardens, Promenade and on the Harbour Light 1914-18 memorial.

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

Civil Parish: Hartlepool

Birth date: 22-Dec-1886

Death date: 31-May-1916

Armed force/civilian: Navy

Residence: Grocer’s Shop, Queen Street, Middleton, Hartlepool (1891census)
9 Queen Street, Middleton, Hartlepool (1901census)

Employment: Apprentice shipwright (1901 census)
Able seaman, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (1916 Royal Navy record)

Family: Parents: John Lowry Turnbull (1844-1921, Barbara Turnbull nee Birkbeck (1846-1919)
Siblings: Annie Turnbull (1874), Jane Turnbull (1877), Edward Turnbull (1879), Ethel Turnbull (1881), Mabel Turnbull (1884)

Military service:

Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve
Able Seaman
Shipwright 2nd class
HMS Indefatigable 4 January 1916 - 31 May 1916

Medal(s): Star
Victory Medal
British War Medal

Memorial(s): Chatham Naval Memorial
Book of Remembrance Fallen 1914-18, Hartlepool
Harbour Light 1914-18, Hartlepool
Memorial Wall 1914-19, Redheugh Gardens, Promenade, Hartlepool

Gender: Male

Contributed by David D, Stanley, Co Durham