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HMS Vanguard memorial Lyness
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HMS Vanguard memorial Lyness

In the process of conducting some research into the loss of HMS Vanguard following an internal explosion while at anchor off Flotta in 1917, it became apparent that the incident isn't as well remembered as one may expect. As a matter of huge coincidence I found that the ship was built in my home town of Barrow in Furness. I found the ships bell on display in a local museum. I have tried to persuade our local museum to return the bell to Orkney so it can form part of memorial display. There is an argument being put forward that the memorial at Lyness is sufficient. Yes, the memorial stone is splendid and I made the trip to Hoy to get a photo of it, but not everyone who visits Orkney goes to Hoy and it would be nice to see the Bell on display on the mainland (perhaps even in Magnus Cathedral). I've had a firm "no chance" from my local museum, but hey ho, if I jump up and down enough, you never know. They may just capitulate just to get rid of me. All in favour say "Aye"
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Picture added on 29 June 2008
As a boy I remember a blanket at home that was more like a woven white piece of sacking and had a oil stain on it, our mother told us it came from the Vanguard.

Our family on the Thomson side came to Longhope from Flota in 1924, I remember our grandmother saying that the blast from the Vanguard explosion lit up the whole of Flota and items from the wreck landed on the island, the blanket that I remeber was found on the beach by our Grandad, Jimmy Thomson. How I wish we still had that as a keep sake.

So much maritime history has touched us here in Orkney.

Added by John Budge on 01 July 2008
The war grave cemetery here in Lyness is a credit to all who have tended it since it was first needed during WW1.

Until only a short time ago the care of its grounds was done by local men always totally dedicated to having the place looking so imaculate.

Lest we forget!!.
Added by John Budge on 02 July 2008
I much appreciate your website about HMS Vanguard and the people of Orkney who have kept the memorial in such immaculate condition. I agree that the Bell should be in Orkney where all the souls are still resting.

My father's uncle - Lance Atkinson was blown up on the Vanguard aged 21 years - a long way from his North Yorkshire home and family. Hopefully this year (2009) I will be able to get to see the place where he died and the lovely memorial.
Added by Elaine Sayer on 03 May 2009
Hope to see all at this years service 2012.
I am one of two Vanguard family's who will be there.
All welcome to join us.
Added by Howard Bird on 01 June 2012
A big thankyou to all that came to our service on Monday 9/7/12. In all we had 3 families and delegations from the Royal Naval Association, Royal British Legion also the Vice Lord Lieutenant, Bill Spence, all of whom joined us at the Vanguard buoy and at the memorial. As Chatham is my home town I shall call in at Rochester to pay my homage there at Vanguards 2nd memorial. Thanks once more to Talisman's crew on Flotta Lass and Mr Budge.
Added by Howard Bird on 12 July 2012
I have recently discovered that my great uncle died on the Vanguard and would be interested to know if there are plans for a service in 2017? I would like to bring other family members with me to pay our respects. Best wishes, Mrs J Howes
Added by Mrs J Howes on 09 November 2013
Love to join you in 2017
Added by Howard on 27 January 2014
My grandfather Thomas Flaherty was also a casualty when the HMS Vanguard blew up. I will be going to Hoy for the first time on the 9th September 2017 and hope there will be a memorial service held there. My Mother was only 17 months old when he died and she never knew what he looked like because there were no photographs of him. She did manage to travel to Hoy many years ago to see his grave.
Added by Gary Cooke on 26 August 2014
My Great Grandfather also died on that fateful night; I followed in the footsteps of him and his son (My Grandfather - 24Yrs service in the RN), I completed 27 Years service in the RN, I am now a Royal Navy Reservist (I will still be in the RNR in 2017); I would also be very interested if there were plans for a memorial service in 2017?
Added by Paul Reid on 08 September 2014
My uncle has no grave other than the vanguard he lies there with over 800 of his shipmates this memorial is one of two the other being in Rochester if you would like to meet up or visit let me know as live near in Chatham if not can send you photos hjbird@yahoo.co.uk
Added by Howard John Bird on 11 September 2014
Please all vanguard family's email me and we all should meet up befor 2017 and make plans together for service

Added by Howard John Bird on 14 September 2014
The man to talk to is the Rev David Dawson of the Episcopal Church, Dundas Crescent, Kirkwall. His E-mail appears on this site in connection with Orkney Sea cadets and other things.
Added by W Watters on 14 September 2014
If a 100th anniversary commeration is planned, please let me know details. My great great uncle William James Gilby died in the explosion. Would love to meet other people affected by the loss of Vanguard.
Added by MARK Ronan on 02 July 2016
on this day 99 years ago my uncle lost his life with over 800 of his shipmates on HMS Vanguard i hope to join with other Vanguard familys next year to mark the 100 years since there sad loss at this fine memorial on Hoy and would like to invite you to join us
Added by Howard Bird on 09 July 2016
I would also be interested in a visit there in 2017 - 100 years on. My Grandfather died on that night and that is his only Memorial. My Mother was born two months later so my Grandmother was 23 and 7 months pregnant and a widow.
Added by Penny Toop on 21 July 2016
Does anyone have any details of a memorial service on 9th July? I have trawled the internet and can't find any information. I have booked my trip up to the Orkneys for that weekend so will be there anyway.
I did find the following which is interesting. www.royalnavy.mod.uk/news-and-latest-activity/news/2017/january/20/170120-divers-shed-light-on-wreck

[Gary: give Karen Greaves an email on karen.greaves@orkney.gov.uk and she will be able to give you the latest - Cheers

Added by Gary Cooke on 20 January 2017
Dear all, just to confirm that there will be a commemorative event this year for HMS Vanguard. Further details will be published soon and can be found on the WW1 2017 pages on the Orkney Island Council's website. If you would like me to send you the link please let me know.
Kind Regards, Karen Greaves
Added by Karen Greaves on 17 February 2017
I will be attending the 100th anniversary on the 9th of July 2017 of the tragic loss of the crew including my grand father who was on board HMS Vanguard.
Added by David on 22 February 2017
I will also be attending the 100th anniversary on 9th July 2017 in the Orkneys as my Grandfather (George Ernest Bean) was on board HMS Vanguard.
Added by Penny Toop on 06 March 2017
Hi there, I attended the 100th Anniversary in July as my Great Uncle was killed on the ship also. Since then I have been working on a project to find a photo of all the crew that were lost that night. I would love to hear from you if you have a photo you could share, or even if you haven't got a photo. It would be great to hear from you. Best wishes, Wendy
Added by Wendy Sadler on 23 November 2017
Well done all of you ...It could so easily hav been HMS Lion with my grandfather on board
Added by Michael Prettejohn on 22 December 2017
Hi Wendy - David (my Husband) and I attended the 100th Anniversary in July which was very memorable. If you e-mail me I can send two photos of my Grandfather Ernest George Bean. dj.toop@outlook.com
Added by Penny Toop on 29 December 2017
Hi Wendy, I have just found your message regarding photos of those lost on HMS Vanguard. I have some of my uncle Albert Mates. Would you like to e-mail me?
Added by Olave Smith on 21 March 2018
Hi, thanks to all of those who have made contact so far - we have quite a group of descendants now!
I also have found over 200 photos of the crew, almost 25%, so if you had a relative onboard, please get in touch....the project is moving along swiftly for a book and website now!

Best wishes, Wendy
Added by Wendy Sadler on 03 April 2018
Well done Wendy you are doing a wonderful job - looking forward to seeing you in Chatham in July for the 101st anniversary
Added by Penny Toop on 09 May 2018
I am not a family member of anyone lost aboard the Vanguard. However, I keep archive files for a Watford Scout Group, one established in 1908. A member, William Alfred Newell, joined the Navy as a Boy First Class in 1916 and died with his fellow seaman in that accident at Scapa Flow. He is remembered here in Watford and by Hertfordshire Scouts.
Added by Sue on 13 October 2018
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