Ernest Harold Eyers

Date of birth: 30th March 1897
Place of birth: St. Marys, Southampton
Regiment / Division: Royal Navy
Vessel: HMS Black Prince
Rank / Service No: Able Seaman, J/19151
Died: 31st May 1915, aged 19 years
Commemorated: Portsmouth Naval Memorial

 

Ernest was the second of 5 known siblings born to Henry and Alice Eyers (nee Sait), who married in Southampton in 1893.

The couple had 7 children, so it must be assumed that two of them died in infancy.

 

Henry was born in Poole in 1866 and he died in Southampton in 1908. Alice was born in Hedge End in 1868 and passed away in the city in 1926.

 

After Henry’s death, Alice married William A. Lankford in Southampton in 1912.

 

Siblings

Samuel HARRY   b. 16 November 1895 St. Mary’s   d. 1955 Epping   Married Maria A. Pauwels in Southampton in 1921.

Ernest Harold 

Alice Lottie GRACE   b. 1899 St. Mary’s   d. 1940 Southampton   Married Percy W. Lanham in Southampton in 1919.

George BERTRAM   b. 5 May 1907 St. Mary’s   d. 1988 Southampton   Married Ivy R. Carpenter in Southampton in 1930.

Ethel Winifred R.   b. 1909 St. Mary’s   d. 1992 Southampton   Married Percival W. Evans in Southampton in 1938.

 

Ernest enlisted for 12 years on 30 March 1915 and the Black Prince was his first vessel. He was promoted from Ordinary Seaman to Able Seaman on 11 January 1916.

 

The Black Prince was an armoured cruiser, completed on 17 March 1906 in Blackwall, London.

At the beginning of WW1, she was one of 4 armoured cruisers serving in the 1st Cruiser Squadron of the Meditteranean Fleet.

She saw action in the Red Sea and was back in the Med after gun modifications in March 1916.

 

There is some mystery surrounding the fate of Black Prince during the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916.

She was sighted at 17.33 by HMS Falmouth and there was a wireless signal reporting a submarine sighting at 20.45.

 

At approximately midnight, HMS Spitfire saw what appeared to be a German battlecruiser completely on fire, the vessel exploding soon after sighting.

This vessel is now thought to have been the Black Prince.

 

The German version is perhaps more tangible; Black Prince found herself separated from the Fleet but still attacked the battleship Rheinland.

In no time, Black Prince was surrounded by up to 5 German vessels and was hit by at least 12 heavy shells and several smaller ones.

 

She sank within 15 minutes, and all 857 crew perished.

 

 

Researcher: Mark Heritage
Published: 15th July 2016
Updated:

 

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