James Andrew Masters

Date of birth: 6th April 1885
Place of birth: Southampton
Service No.: 220445 (Po)
Rank: Able Seaman
Service: Royal Navy
Vessel: HMS Bulwark
Died: 26th November 1914 aged 29 years
Death location: At Sea


Life before the War
James was often called Andrew.  His father Harry was born in Shirley, Southampton 1845, dying in 1906.  His mother Louisa, nee Andrews, was born in Totton, near Southampton, on 17th May 1846 and died 4th July 1911.  Harry and Louisa married in 1870 in the New Forest district, Hampshire.

James, like his parents and siblings, were Southampton people.  His 7 siblings – 3 sisters and 4 brothers – were:

Harry   b.1869

Louisa   b.1874

Elizabeth   b.1878

Emily   b.1880

Sam   b.1881 and died 23rd September 1944

Frederick   b.1884

Tom   b.1887 and died 1958

In the 1891 and 1901 censuses the family lived at 5 Bevois Street, Millbrook, Southampton.  In 1891, Harry and Harry junior were both employed as Labourers.  By 1901 Harry senior was a Labourer in a Church Cemetery, Frederick was a Painter, James was working as a Blacksmith’s Labourer and Tom was a Painter’s Labourer.


National Probate
“Masters James Andrew of 5, Vaudrey Street Shirley Hampshire A.B. R.N. died 26 November 1914 on board H.M.S. Bulwark. Administration (with Will) London 18 May 1915 to Emily Masters spinster. Effects £215 10s”


War Service

HMS Bulwark

National Roll of the Great War
“Masters, J.A., A.B., Royal Navy.
He was already in the Navy when war broke out and saw service in H.M.S. “Bulwark” in home waters. He was on board this vessel and lost his life when she was blown up in Sheerness Harbour through an external explosion on November 26th, 1914. He was entitled to the 1914 – 1915 Star, and the General Service and Victory Medals.
5, Vaudrey Street, Shirley, Southampton”



Portsmouth Naval Memorial

Portsmouth Naval Memorial

James is Remembered with Honour on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Southsea Common, Hampshire and also remembered on the Memorial Wall in Southampton.

Portsmouth Naval Memorial
“Masters, A.B. James Andrew, 220445. R.N. H.M.S. “Bulwark”. Killed by internal explosion of vessel off Sheerness 26th Nov., 1914. Age 29. Brother of Mrs. Emily Hawkins (formerly Masters), of 5, Vaudrey St., Shirley, Southampton”


Other members of his family were also mentioned on the National Roll of the Great War:

“Masters, A. (Mrs.), Q.M.A.A.C.
She joined in October 1917, and after her training was engaged on important duties at Winchester, where she served as a waitress. She did excellent work throughout and in October 1918 was discharged.
5, Vaudrey Street, Shirley, Southampton”

“Masters, T., A.B., Royal Navy.
He joined in March 1916 and served in H.M.S. “Patricia” and “Owl” and various other vessels in many waters. He was engaged on various duties in the North Sea, off the coast of Scotland, and with the Chaneel Patrol until January 1919, when he was demobilized. He holds the General Service and Victory Medals.
5, Vaudrey Street, Shirley, Southampton”


Historical Information – H.M.S. Bulwark
A powerful internal explosion ripped Bulwark apart at 07:50 on 26th November 1914 while she was moored at Number 17 buoy in Kethole Reach, 4 nmi (4.6 mi; 7.4 km) west of Sheerness in the estuary of the River Medway. Out of her complement of 750, no officers and only 14 sailors survived, two of whom subsequently died of their injuries in hospital. Most of the survivors were seriously injured.

In terms of loss of life, the incident remains the second most catastrophic accidental explosion in the history of the United Kingdom, exceeded only by the explosion of the dreadnought battleship “Vanguard”, caused by a stokehold fire detonating a magazine, at Scapa Flow in 1917.


Researcher: Becky Lonergan
Published: 23rd June 2015
Updated: Insert dates here

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