Our family War Heroes

William James Yeo, son of John & Elizabeth Crout

William James Yeo was born on 13 Sep 1886 in Dunsford Area, Devon and died on 16 Jul 1918 at sea at age 31. William married Margaret Ann Moore in 1909 in Swansea, S. Wales. Margaret was born in 1889 and died in 1935 in Swansea.

HMS Anchusa  

Sadly William lost his life during the first world war whilst serving on HMS Anchusa . The ship was torpedoed by a german submarine off the coast of Northern Ireland and she sunk with the loss of all aboard.

He had joined the Navy in 1904 for twelve years at the age of 18 and at that time he was described as being 5ft 31/2 inches tall, with light brown hair, grey eyes and a fresh complexion and his occupation was a farm labourer. He probably joined as an escape from being an agricultural labourer. and married Margaret in 1909 in Swansea, South Wales. However in his navy records below on the 10th October, 1907 he was invalided out with hydrocele, a collection of fluid in the scrotum and a hernia on the right. He must have left the navy by the time he married Margaret in 1909.

Tragically he was recalled for active duties on the 6th December, 1917 when there was a shortage of young men and seven months later was killed. They had two children who were only aged 5 and 7 when he was killed. Margaret never remarried and died in 1935 in Swansea.

The information on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Website




Rank: Stoker 1st Class, H.M.S. "Anchusa." Age: 31. Date of Death: 16/07/1918 Service No: 230529.

Additional information: Son of John and Elizabeth Yeo , of Park Gate, Dunsford, Exeter, Devon; husband of Margaret Ann Yeo , of 26, William St., Swansea. Memorial:

His name is honoured on the Plymouth Naval Memorial

On the left is a copy of the the Navy service record for William James showing the ships he sailed on , when he was invalided out of the Navy and the stamp KILLED IN ACTION.


John Henry Yeo, son of Henry Yeo & Alice Lee, a nephew of William James Yeo, (above)

J/4882 Leading Seaman John Henry Yeo , Royal Navy, HMS Tiger. son of Henry and Alice M M Yeo of Biddlecombe, Chudleigh was killed in action on the 31st May 1916, no known grave, age 21 and commemorated on the Naval Memorial on the Hoe, Plymouth and also on his parents gravestone in Kingsteignton Parish Churchyard.

John appears on the Chudleigh town and church memorials, on the latter with the incorrect rank of Chief Petty Officer. His father was an estate worker at Ugbrooke Park. HMS Tiger was a modern (launched 1913) battle cruiser of 28,500 tons. As part of the 1st Battle Cruiser Squadron of the Grand Fleet, she was one of the vast array of British and German warships which, on 31st May, 1916, fought each other in what came to be known as the Battle of Jutland.

John HenryYeo died in the opening phase of the battle when, at 3.45 p.m. the Tiger, Lion, Princess Royal and Queen Mary engaged five German battle cruisers at a range of 16,000 yards. Due to the thick smoke and confusion with signals, one of the German ships the Derflinger, was not fired upon, and, for ten minutes, she was able to score hits on the British ships without interruption.

The Tiger was struck by several of her 12 inch shells. According to a friend who later wrote to his family, John Henry Yeo was serving a gun in one of the ship's turrets and was killed outright. At around 4.30 p.m. with the two fleets coming into ever closer contact, HMS Queen Mary was hit by plunging fire which penetrated her decks and ignited the magazines.

Three officers and six ratings survived the explosion, fifty seven officers and 1209 ratings were killed. HMS Tiger escaped that fate and on the evening after the battle, was able to bury her dead at sea. John therefore, rests somewhere in the North Sea. The combined British and German losses in the few hours of the battle were twenty one ships and 9823 officers and men.

John Henry was identified by his Uncle Charles Yeo , using the ring on his blown off finger. Charles was the chief stoker on the same ship. His cousin, William Yeo was serving on HMS Lion during the battle

William Yeo, son of John Yeo & Catherine Lee, cousin of John Henry Yeo and nephew of William James Yeo

This was sent to me by Ray Yeo. Extract from Big Fleet Actions (pages 84 and 85) by Eric Grove John Henry Yeo - Leading Seaman, was killed in this battle serving on board HMS Tiger (This was William's cousin)

William Yeo - Stoker served on board HMS Lion (Admiral Beatty's Flagship) THE DREADNQUGHT ERA: JUTLAND and was mentioned in despatches (see below) The best shooting in the opening phase of the action was by Moltke. Her target, HMS Tiger, barely had time to fire two salvoes with her after turrets before both were put temporarily out of action. 'Q turret was hit on the turret roof and the concussion of the bursting shell caused considerable damage. 'X' turret's barbette was struck and the shell entered the turret from below but did not explode properly. This hit, at I3,500 yards, was about the limit of the shell's effectIve range. The turret was back in action in seven minutes using local laying and director training, but the training gear had been blown off bearing and the turret must have shot very wide for the next hour before the error was rectified. Poor Tiger was hit no fewer than nine times before 1600. Two hits pierced the side armour, the second exploded 22ft inside the ship near the after 6in shell hoist. Although two British shells were ignited, the fire did not Penetrate the after 6in magazine, which was flooded as a precautionary measure. The British flagship also got the worst of her exchange with Lutzow. Luckily for the British, the German SAPC shells were showing some reluctance to explode, which defeated the object of using them. The first two hit forward but neither went off. The third, however, which hit at 1600 almost sank Lion. It struck 'Q'turret on the right corner of the left gun port, a weak point, penetrated the turret and exploded over the left-hand gun. Everyone in the turret was killed or wounded and the port roof plate was blown off. The right gun was being loaded when the shell struck and the entire turret system was fully charged with cordite. It was a dangerous situation and a sailor climbed down the trunking from 'Q turret's working chamber to inform the magazine crew of the state of affairs. Lion's Chief Gunner, Grant, was there and he ordered the magazine doors to be closed and then for the magazine to be flooded. Major Harvey of the Royal Marines, the turret commander, despite fatal bums, had meanwhile sent a messenger to the bridge to report the situation. Chatfield, therefore, himself ordered that 'Q' magazine be flooded and Stoker William Yeo was sent from the transmitting station to give the orders. It is not clear which orders actually caused the flooding but it was a timely precaution. As Grant approached the handing chamber at 1628 , a major cordite explosion occured in the turret trunking. Grant's precautions had prevented an immediate catastrophe, but fire had probably spread slowly down from the gun house via the inflammable coverings of the electric cables. At least eight full cordite ignited, one in the right gun loading cage that had dropped to 4ft above the working chamber, one in the left cage in the working chamber, one in the waiting positions in the working chamber, plus one in both lower turret cages, and one in both magazine hoppers in the handing room. The magazine doors were not fully flash tight and were bulged inwards by the force of the explosion. If the magazine had not been flooded, the ship would undoubtedly have blown up. Intriguing story. It must have been absolutley terrifying!! I would have liked to discuss the events with Stanley's Grandfather (William Yeo) and how awful to lose a cousin in the same Battle. I would like to know what what William Yeo was doing in a gun turret? as a stoker he would have been elsewhere on ship Major Harvey was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for sending a man (William Yeo) to the Bridge to report the dangerous situation despite fatal burns.


William James Hammacott known as Billie, Uncle to William Yeo (above)

He was born in 1891 in Chudleigh, Devon, died in 1920 in Chudleigh, Devon at age 29, and was buried in 1920 in Chudleigh, Devon, sadly as a result of war wounds. He was the only son and the family were devasted by his premature death.

240123 Private William James Hammacott of the 5th (Prince of Wale's Own) Battalion, The Devonshire Regiment, son of George Cornish Hammacott and Lucy Ellen Hammacott (nee Friend) of Stokelake Cottage, Oldway, Chudleigh died in London on the 1st April, 1920 aged 28.

Buried in Chudleigh parish cemetery on the 7th April, the service was conducted by the Rev. G. H Mallett (Vicar of Chudleigh from 1916 to 1928). The headstone was erected by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Back to top

  © 2003-6 Sheila Yeo | For more information on the Yeo family and the research contained in this site email sheila@yeosociety.com or call me on +44 (0)1626 360978