Updated 12 Aug 2014

WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900

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Photo 547


William DOXEY joined the Navy as an electrical fitter, and survived the Battle of Jutland. He caught blackwater fever in the Gold Coast but became rich trading in gold shares. He died at Sheffield aged about 85.
William DOXEY at Sheffield 1915

Victorian lady's worktable, which had a hidden compartment and secret latch.

Christmas card 1916 from William DOXEY,
in the Navy based at Scapa Flow, showing
Admiral Jellicoe, First Sea Lord Nov 1916.
"Best wishes for 1916, to Lucy from Billy,
HMS Vanguard, 1st Battle Squadron."

         William DOXEY's family
   (Matlock)                (Sheffield)
  23dec1865                 31jan1877
    Alfred   (Ecclesall)      Gertrude
    DOXEY =====25dec1893===== LONGDEN
  d.29jan1933     |          d.13jly1954
   (Ecclesall)    |           (Ecclesall)
William   Dorothy   Ernest    Lucy       |
16apr1894 12nov1895 28jan1898 22may1900  |
                    15may1963          (Ecclesall)

William DOXEY 1894-1977

Secret drawer, fated battleship and black pouch.

William 1894-1977 was eldest son of Alfred and Gertrude DOXEY. William was born and lived in Sheffield. His grandfather William Doxey 1838-1906 owned a decorative Victorian lady's worktable, which came into the possession of the author, William's grandnephew. The worktable has a hidden compartment, with a secret latch. The Author's Aunt May Walker explained this and found the latch. When the hidden compartment was opened, about 40 Christmas cards dated 1900-1920 were found. Among these was a card sent by William to his family while he was working onboard HMS Vanguard in Scapa Flow as a fleet electrician. The card is shown here. Although based on land at Scapa Flow in July 1916, he was unlucky enough to be working on a warship when the Fleet sailed to do battle against the German Fleet at the "Battle of Jutland". William survived the battle and lived to about 85. He was lucky not to be on the Vanguard when it sank with great loss of life seven months after the Christmas card was posted.
William's sister has a memory when she was only 6, seeing William come home on leave from the Navy, looking very smart in new uniform, opening a small leather bag and allowing the contents to roll onto the wooden kitchen table. They were gold sovereigns, his first Navy pay.
Years later, the author found a black leather pouch in his possession, given him by his mother (William's youngest sister Ena). Inside were 34 items enabling William's career 1908-1925 to be sketched out.

The eighth HMS Vanguard of the British Royal Navy was a St Vincent class battleship, an enhancement of the "Dreadnought" design built by Vickers at Barrow-in-Furness. She was designed and built during the Anglo-German naval arms race and spent her life in the British Home Fleet.
At the outbreak of World War I, Vanguard joined the First Battle Squadron at Scapa Flow, and fought in the Battle of Jutland as part of the Fourth Battle Squadron. She was a part of the action from beginning to end, but did not suffer any damage or casualties.
Just before midnight on Monday, 9 July 1917 at Scapa Flow Vanguard suffered an explosion, probably caused by an unnoticed stokehold fire heating cordite stored against an adjacent bulkhead in one of the two magazines which served the amidships turrets P and Q. She sank almost instantly, killing an estimated 843 men; there were only two survivors. The site is now designated as a controlled site under the Protection of Military Remains Act.
In terms of loss of life, the destruction of the Vanguard remains the most catastrophic accidental explosion in the history of the UK, and one of the worst accidental losses of the Royal Navy.

HMS Vanguard, accidently exploded and sank with loss of 843 lives, July 1917.

The Vanguard tragedy.
Following is an extract from a notebook maintained by Able Seaman Ernest "Mick" Moroney who witnessed the Vanguard explosion when on watch duty aboard HMAS Melbourne at Scapa Flow, 9th July 1917.
Courtesy of Paul Moroney of Australia.

"HMS Vanguard Battleship blown up in Scarpa Flo Hbr (sic) all hands lost, spectator 9 July 17. 2 saved.

HMS VANGUARD Scarpa Flow North Scotland at 11.20 pm on the 9th July a great explosion occurred in the midst of the Grand Fleet, a terrible detonation took place lighting the whole fleet as if it were daylight there was a crash and one of the big boats went sky high with a crew of 900 men all searchlights were switched on immediately but not a thing was to be seen.

A trawler which was close by got smothered in blood and pieces of human flesh, and afterwards picked up half the body of a marine the only body recovered up to date. I happened to be on watch and saw nearly everything no one knows how she went up, but seeing she had a new ships company it is surmised that it was the work of German spies (Later) 2 men saved 1 Marine and 1 AB I Officer died immediately after. 187 men recovered from the sea."

Unstable cordite was later identified as the cause but the truth remains a mystery.

Found in a cupboard

Information about William DOXEY consisting of 34 items, mostly postcards and letters, found in a black leather pouch 20 cms x 15 cms with a metal clasp.

01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 | 08 | 09 | 10 |
11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 |
21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 |
31 | 32 | 33 | 34 |

Item 01 Index
Postcard "Inscribed on England's
Roll of fame
HMS New Zealand"
Signed on back by
"George Battenberg"

"Postcard from William Doxey in 1916.
Sent to parents after having been missing
for 3 weeks after Battle of Jutland
on HMS Lion.
Postcard approx 1916
signed by Lieutenant George Battenberg
later Milford Haven & Mountbatten"..... Ena

"Approx 1916.
Card signed at Scapa Flow
by George Battenberg
later Mountbatten (Milford Haven)
When he was serving on
HMS New Zealand as Midshipman
for Mr William Doxey
petty officer on battleship"........ Ena

Item 02 Index
A4 size letter from Admiralty
dated 13 July 1916
to Mr Henry E BOWEN
Electrical Egineer
Messrs Steel Peach & Lynn Ltd

"William Doxey .... Electrical Fitter...
attached to HMS Victorious...safe and well"

Item 03 Index
Letter from 
Electrical Engineer's Department
27 Oct 1919

"W.Doxey ....employed in Electrical Department
of HMS Victorious....loyal and efficient manner
.....adverse conditions...cheerful and willing
....Period of employment 1915-1919"

Item 04 Index
Letter from 
HM Dockyard
16 Jan 1922

"W Doxey while employed on my staff 1915-1918
proved himself capable and efficient electrician
and can be well recommended as a worthy applicant
for admission to the Institute of Electrical Engineers"

Item 05 Index
Letter from 
HMS Victorious
27 Sep 1918
"Mr W Doxey
Electical Fitter in Charge
HMS Revenge

Herewith forwarded Naval Permit No
D 4879"

Item 06 Index
Certificate of Service under the Admiralty
dated 16 Jan 1920

Dockyard:    Portsmouth
Department   Electrical
Date         16 Jan 1920
Name         William Doxey
Trade        Electrical Fitter
Hired        Hired
Service      22jan1915 to 23oct1919
Conduct      Very good
Quality      Very good
Discharge    Own request
Particulars  Includes four and a half years's service
             at Scapa on HM Ships afloat
             and on repair and maintenance
             of Electrical equipment of Floating
             Dock at that Base

Item 07 Index
(document very faint)

"14 Mar 1918, Electrical Dept, HMS Victorious
Mr Doxey
Forwarded for information of Wardale and Leader.
Work done in WARSPITE Electrical Engineer's Dept
HMS Victorious
H.F. 190/109
Rear Admiral
Much credit due...Electrical Engineer's Dept,
Victorious....very satisfactory...convey appreciation
....those concerned
(more but almost unreadable)
W R Prendergast
Rear Admiral

Item 08  Index
W E Burnand & Co
Electrical Power Engineers
Contractors to Admiralty
Chippinghouse Works
28 Feb 1921

To whom it may concern
          Re: William Doxey
I beg to certify that the above was in this 
firms employ as apprentice from Nov 23 1908
to Dec 6 1913, during which period he had 
an all round exposure in the manufacture &
repair of AC motors, starters & transformers,
& also the repair of DC motors & starters.
Whilst with us we found him honest, a good
time-keeper, & attentive to his work, & he
left our employ of his own accord to take up
an improved position.
(signed) W E Burnand

Item 09 Index
American Institute of Electrical Engineers
33 West 39th Street, New York
17 Feb 1922

"receipt of your application for admission
to membership in this Institute.

...required number of endorsments...
posting of your name in our Journal....
submitted to Board of Directors...
you will be notified promptly...."

Item 10 Index
Postcard dated 27 Feb 1915
HMS Lion
Mr & Mrs A Doxey, 
74 Glen Rd, Nether Edge, Sheffield
"Dear Mother & Father,
Still alive & kicking received your
letter alright. Photos were
alright. Excuse me not
writing letter but have
no time.
   Your affectionate

Item 11 Index
Postcard dated 07 Jun 1915
Admiral Sir John Jellicoe
"Our Boss!"

Item 12 Index
Postcard dated 20 May 1916
HMS Victorious
"(Repair Ship) Battle Fleet"

Item 13 Index
Postcard dated 23 May 1916?
HMS Lion

Co Mrs Tuemy?
Montague House,
45 St Pauls Rd

Miss Dorothy Doxey,
Home & Colonial College,
Wood Green,

"Dear Dorothy,
              You will
see by above address that
I am once again in the old
spot and a fresh address
for a short time as I
think we are going abroad
Give my love to Madge? and
same to yourself.

Item 14 Index
Postcard dated 22 Apr 1917
HMS Collingwood, ships cat

"My dear Ena,
             Another PC to the collection &
thought it might interest - a photo of
our pussy aboard & suppose you've been
busy removing and helping Ma.
How did you get on in the competition?
My best love,
Your affectinate,

Item 15 Index
Postcard dated Jun 1917
HMS Emperor of India, deck scene

"Port Side"

Item 16 Index
Postcard dated 19 Aug 1919
SMS Hindenbergh (half sunk)

"Scapa Flow"

Item 17 Index
Postcard dated 29 May 1924
Coomassie, Gold Coast, West Africa
(Kumasi, Ghana)
"Where W Doxey bought Gold shares"

"My dear mother, 
               Have arrived at last
Hope you have not worried yourself too much
over me.
I will write you a longer letter later.
     Your affectionate son,

Item 18 Index
Postcard dated 27 Aug 1925
Miraflores Lock, Panana Canal

Miss D Doxey,
107 Bannercross Rd,

"Dear Dorothy,
             This is
the place to come
for a Turkish Bath.
Its hotter than H---

Item 19 Index
Postcard dated 27 Aug 1925
Gatun Locks, Panama Canal

Miss L Doxey,
107 Bannercross Rd

"Dear Lucie,
            I am
fed up with all 
my Bairns I am
escorting out to Chile.
We nearly all got
locked up in Cuba.

Item 20 Index
Postcard dated 20 Aug 1925
Chilian Battleship La Torre,
Pedro Miguel locks, Panama Canal

Mr A Doxey,
107 Bannercross Rd

"Dear Dad,
         On the other
side you'll see one
of my old ships at
Scapa Flow the
'Canada' now belonging
to Chile locking? the
Panama Canal.
The Pacific Ocean is 6 inches
higher than the Atlantic at Panama"

Item 21 Index
Postcard dated (no date)
Group of 16 men

W Doxey indicated

Item 22 Index
Postcard (no date)
Large group of men with Turkish? flag
"Inder=Mannschaften der von SMS 'Mowe' 
versenkten feindlichen Dampfer"
[Indians = Crew of the enemy steamer 
sunk by SMS Mowe]

Item 23 Index
Postcard (no date)
HMS Vanguard

Item 24 Index
Postcard (no date)
HMS Agincourt

Item 25 Index
Postcard (no date)
HMS Victorious

Item 26 Index
Postcard (no date)
HMS Agincourt

Item 27 Index
Postcard (no date)
HMS Revenge and observation balloon

Item 28 Index
Postcard (no date)
HMS Agincourt

Item 29 Index
Postcard (no date)
HMS Orion
As she appeared in the North Sea
when the German Fleet surrendered
21 Nov 1918

Item 30 Index
Postcard (no date)
HMS Canada

Item 31 Index
Postcard (no date)
SMS Konigsberg with peace delegates
Rosyth 16 Nov 1918

Item 32 Index
Postcard (no date)
HMS Lion

Item 33 Index
Green silk 490 mms x 410 mms
"Curtain from German Battleship
Commander's window, Tirpitz
Later torpedoed by British
Commander Scapa Flow"

Item 34 Index
Cap band 
HMS Victorious

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