Joseph (Joe) Hamm

Date of birth: 26th January 1891
Place of birth: Alton
Service No.: 238811
Rank: Leading Seaman
Vessel: HMS Begonia
Battalion: Royal Navy
Died: 6th October 1917 aged 26 years
Death location: Insert data


Life before the War
Joe was the fourth of 5 siblings born to William and Martha Hamm, nee Gilham.  They were both born in Alton, William in 1860 and Martha in 1864.  They married in the town in 1884.

By the 1901 census the family had moved to 79 Cranbury Road, Eastleigh, where Martha died in 1903.

At the 1911 census Joe is staying with the Sennett family at 14 Marina Terrace, Mutley, Plymouth; presumably he was in training with the Navy.

Joe’s 4 siblings were:

Bertie Louis  b.1885 Alton and d.5 June 1918 of an illness whilst in service on HMS Minerva in WWII.  Please select Bertie’s name to read more of his story.

Matilda Louisa   b.1887 Alton and  d.1979 Southampton.  Married William Penwarden in Southampton in 1910.

Alice Martha   b.1890 Alton and d. 1968 Hendon.   Married William R. Manning in Hampstead in 1921.

Frank   b.1893 Eastleigh and d.1979 Southampton.   Married Margaret L. Bryan in Winchester in 1921.

War Service
Begonia was a Flower-class sloop of the Azalea class, launched on 26 August 1915.   She was converted to a Q-ship in 1916 – these were heavily armed merchant ships which lured submarines into surface attacks in order to sink them.

As a Q-ship, Begonia went through 3 name changes: Dolcis, followed by Jessop, followed by the unglamorous Q10.

Very little is known of the demise of the vessel.  It is generally accepted that the story of it being blown up by a torpedo from U-151 is incorrect.  U-151 was operating elsewhere in the Atlantic in October 1917.

It is known that the vessel set sail from the UK on September 3 1917, bound for operations in the Atlantic.  It appears that the vessel may have

Portsmouth Naval Memorial

Portsmouth Naval Memorial

collided with one of 3 possible U boats that were known to have been in the area (U-106, UB32 or UC21) and never returned to port.  All 100 (approx.) crew of the Begonia were lost with no bodies being recovered.

Joe is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.  Of the 24,588 men and women whose names are on this monument 9,666 died during the First World War.


Researcher: Mark Heritage
Published.: 21st January 2015
Updated: Insert dates here

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