Percy James Wilson

Date of birth:                     23rd February 1895
Place of birth:                    Southampton
Service No./Po No.:       J/11284
Rank:                                     Able Seaman
Regiment / Division:      Royal Navy
Battalion/Ship:                 H.M.S. Black Prince
Died:                                      31st May 1916 aged 21 years
Death Location:                At sea

Life before the War
Percy was born on 23rd February 1895 Southampton to parents Frank David, born 1869, and Harriet Louisa, nee Goodwin, born 1868.  Percy had a sister Beatrice born 1890 and a brother Frank born 1893.

In 1891 Frank was living with his wife and daughter at 14 Princess Street, St Mary’s Parish, Southampton.  Frank was working as a Carman.

Frank senior and Frank junior were boarders at 6 Nelson Street, St. Mary’s Parish in 1901.  Frank was working as a Coal Porter.  Percy was living with Joseph and May Hallett, who were his aunt and uncle, at 90 Station Road, Shirley, Southampton.

By 1911 Percy was serving with the Royal Navy aboard the H.M.S. Impregnable as a Boy Second Class.  The census was taken at Devonport, Devon.

Frank senior was by this time living at 155 Empress Road, Southampton.  He was a Labourer at the Docks.  He states he is married but no wife is mentioned, though he has a Housekeeper, Alice Kemsbury.  Harriet Louisa, with her daughter Beatrice, is living at 49 Foundry Lane, Shirley.  Harriet was a Dressmaker whilst Beatrice was a Barmaid.  She had entered the same marriage details and the number of children as her husband.  Also with Harriet was an adopted child Viola Ometta Alleyne aged 8.

The census of 1911 indicates that there were 4 children of Frank David and Harriet Louisa.  In addition to Percy, Beatrice and Frank junior there was a son William born 1896. It is not clear why Frank and Harriet were living at different addresses or why Harriet, Beatrice and William do not appear on the 1901 census.

Brother William’s War Service
Please select the link to William’s name to read his story.

War Service

Royal Navy and Royal Marine War Graves Roll
Name:                                                         Percy James Wilson
Rank:                                                          AB
Birth Date:                                                23 Feb 1895
Birth Place:                                               Southampton, Hants
Branch of Service:                                 Royal Navy
Cause of Death:                                       Killed or died as a direct result of enemy action
Official Number Port Division:        J.11284 (Po)
Death Date:                                               31 May 1916
Ship or Unit:                                             HMS Black Prince
Location of Grave:                                 Not recorded
Name and Address of Cemetery:     Body Not Recovered For Burial
Relatives Notified and Address:      Father: Frank D 155 Empress Road, Southampton

Percy is Remembered with Honour on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

Portsmouth Naval Memorial Register:
“Wilson, A.B. Percy James, J/11284. R.N. H.M.S. “Black Prince”. Killed in action at the Battle of Jutland 31st May 1916. Age 21. Son of Frank D Wilson, of 155, Empress Rd., Bevois Valley, Southampton. Panel 14”.

The Naval Memorial:
After the First World War an appropriate way had to be found of commemorating those members of the Royal Navy who had no known grave, the majority of deaths having occurred at sea where no permanent memorial could be provided.

An Admiralty committee recommended that the three manning ports in Great Britain – Chatham, Plymouth and Portsmouth – should each have an identical memorial of unmistakable naval form, an obelisk, which would serve as a leading mark for shipping.  The memorials were designed by Sir Robert Lorimer, who had already carried out a considerable amount of work for the Commission, with sculpture by Henry Poole.  The Portsmouth Naval Memorial was unveiled by the Duke of York (the future George VI) on 15 October 1924.

Percy was entitled to the Star, Victory and British War Medals.

Historical Information
H.M.S. Black Prince participated in the Battle of Jutland but her end was a mystery for many years as she had lost contact with the British fleet.  The German account reads that H.M.S. Black Prince briefly engaged the German battleship Rheinland at about 23:35 GMT scoring two hits with 6-inch shells.

Black Prince then approached the German lines and she turned away from the German battleships but it was too late, the German battleship Thuringen fixed the Black Prince in her searchlights and opened fire.

Up to five other German ships including battleships Nassau, Ostfriesland and Friedrich Der Grosse joined in.  Black Prince was hit by at least twelve heavy shells and several smaller ones and sank within 15 minutes with no survivors of her 857 complement.

Battle of Jutland
The Battle of Jutland (Skagerrakschlacht) was the largest naval battle of World War I, fought between 31st May and 1st June 1916 in the North Sea near Jutland, Denmark.  The Germans’ plan was to use five modern battle cruisers to lure the British through a submarine picket line and into the path of the main German fleet.

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