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William Dent (1879-1916)

Jarrow man served in the Royal Navy and was fatally wounded on HMS Barham at the Battle of Jutland

William Dent was born on 18 August 1879 in Jarrow. His father was also William Dent (1848) who was from Heworth and worked as a forgeman. His mother was Janet Anderson (1851-1885) a native of Wallsend, Northumberland. The couple married in 1871 and at the time of the 1881 census were living at 5 Caroline Street, Jarrow.

William was the middle of three sons born to his parents in Jarrow. His mother died in 1885 and his father married Mary Jane Cuthbert in South Shields in 1887. This family lived at 29 Park Road, Jarrow at the time of the 1891 census and a daughter named Mary had been added to the family. A further boy and girl were born in Jarrow before the family moved to Cardiff, Glamorgan, Wales where a further child was born in 1900. At the time of the 1901 census William was living with the family at 117 Splott Road, Cardiff and he was working as a blacksmith.

William joined the Royal Navy on 22 August 1901 at the age of 22 to serve for 12 years. His civilian occupation is noted as engine-smith and he was appointed as acting engine room artificer 4th class with the service number 270528. He served on a variety of ships steadily moving up the different classes of the engine room artificer rating. On 22 August 1913 he completed his initial 12 years service and chose to stay on to serve until he had earned a pension. On the day he re-enlisted he was promoted to engine room artificer 1st class.

At the outbreak of war William was serving on HMS Venerable, a pre-dreadnought battleship, that took part in defensive and offensive operations with the Channel Fleet. Between April and July 1915 William served on HMS Vernon which was used to carry out torpedo trials and to train new recruits for the Navy. Extensive research and development was also carried to develop new anti-submarine devices, mines and ships’ electrics.

On 19 August 1915 William was transferred to the crew of HMS Barham, a Queen Elizabeth-class battleship built for the Royal Navy during the early 1910s. She participated in the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916 as part of the Grand Fleet. Barham fired 337 fifteen-inch shells and 25 six-inch shells during the battle. The number of hits cannot be confirmed, but it is believed that she was one of the most accurate warships in the British fleet.

HMS Barham was hit six times during the battle, five times by 30.5 cm shells and once by a 28.3 cm shell, suffering casualties of 26 killed and 46 wounded. William died on 2 June 1916 of wounds received in the action. He was buried in the Naval Cemetery at Lyness, Isle of Hoy, Orkney, Scotland. William died at the age of 36 leaving a widow, Alice Maud Dent nee Douglas, who was living at 17 Clegg Road, Southsea, Portsmouth, Hampshire when she was informed of his death.

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

Civil Parish: Jarrow

Birth date: 18-Aug-1879

Death date: 02-Jun-1916

Armed force/civilian: Navy

Residence: 5 Caroline Street, Jarrow (1881 census)
29 Park Road, Jarrow (1891 census)
117 Splott Road, Cardiff, Glamorgan, Wales (1901 census)

Employment: Blacksmith (1901 census)
Engine-smith (1901 service record)

Family: Parents: William Dent (1849), Janet Dent nee Anderson (1851-1885), Mary Jane Dent nee Cuthbert (stepmother)
Siblings: Thomas Dent (1877), Matthew Dent (1882)
Half-siblings: Mary E Dent (1890), Robert Dent (1892), Dorothy Dent (1895), John Dent (1900)
Spouse: Alice Maud Dent nee Douglas

Military service:

Acting engine room artificer 4th class, 22 August 1901
Engine room artificer 4th class, 2 January 1903
Engine room artificer 3rd class, 21 August 1904
Engine room artificer 2nd class, 22 August 1908
Engine room artificer 1stclass, 22 August 1913
HMS Canopus, 1906-1908
HMS Hermes, 1908-1910
HMS Venerable, 1912-1915
HMS Barham, 1915-1916

Medal(s): Star
Victory Medal
British War Medal

Memorial(s): Buried at Naval Cemetery, Lyness, Isle of Hoy, Orkney, Scotland (grave reference D22)

Gender: Male

Contributed by David D, Stanley, Co Durham