William Camfield

Date of birth:                     31st July 1882
Place of birth:                   Southampton
Date of marriage:            3rd quarter of 1910
Place of marriage:           Southampton
Service No.:                       310864
Rank:                                    Stoker 1st Class
Regiment / Division:     Royal Navy
Ship:                                     HMS Good Hope
Died:                                     1st November 1914 aged 32
Death Location:               Coronel, Chile

Before the War
William’s parents were Mark (1855- 1930) and Jane Camfield (nee Keeping 1881 – ).  They were married in 1879, in Southampton.

Williams’s siblings were:
Mark (1883)
Emily Jane (1887)
George (1889)
John (1889)
Walter (b. 2nd September 1892 – d. 22nd September 1916)
Harry (1894 – 1957).

His younger brother Walter was killed in action in the Battle of Flers–Courcelette on 22nd September 1916

On 1901 census William is living with his 5 brothers and mother at 9 St John Street, St Marys, Southampton and he was working as a general labourer.  His father is registered as on board the vessel The Queen which was docked in Sunderland Harbour.

William married Gladys Louisa (nee Welch) in 1910 and on 1911 census she is living with her parents,

Arthur Thomas and Emma Sarah Welch at 4 Guildhall Terrace, Millbank Street, Northam, Southampton.

Gladys remarried in 1918 to Henry C Wilson.

Military History
William served as a Stoker 1st Class on HMS Good Hope which was employed protecting British merchant shipping off the South American coast under the command of Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock. 90% of the crew were reservists. She was sunk by the German armoured cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau on 1 November 1914 in the Battle of Coronel off the Chilean coast, along with HMS Monmouth, with the loss of her entire complement of 900 hands including Cradock.

HMS Good Hope and HMS Monmouth were County class armoured cruisers and the crews were mainly reservists, compared to the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau – two ships and crews that were the pride of the German fleet.

William’s death is recorded in De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour 1914 – 1924

William was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory medal.

He is remembered at the Portsmouth Naval Memorial which was created to honour those Naval personnel who lost their lives at sea during World War One.

There are only two small memorials to the actual battle. One at Stanley Cathedral on the Falklands and one in ‘21st May Plaza’ in Coronel Chile.  This one was erected in 1989 and dedication reads ‘In memory of the 1418 officers and sailors of the British military squadron and their Commander-in-Chief, Rear Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock, who sacrificed their lives in the Naval Battle of Coronel. Their only tomb is the sea.’

The memorial tablet to the Battle of Coronel at Stanley Cathedral was paid for by donations received at a memorial service held in the cathedral on 29th November 1914.

Below is a memorial from the Coronel Memorial website:

This site is dedicated to all those who perished during this battle which took place on Sunday 1st November 1914. They gave their lives for King and Country in a distant place, far from their homes and loved ones.’

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