Every Name A Story Content

Pratt, R.F., Sub. Lieut., 1917

Photo : George Nairn

Photo : James Pasby.

H.M.S., Tartar

Newcastle Journal Mon. 25/06/1917

In Longbenton (Benton) Cemetery is the Commonwealth War Grave of:

Surgeon Probationer
R.F. Pratt, R.N.V.R.
H.M.S. "Tartar"
17th June 1917 Age 20.

Raymond Forster Pratt was born on the 8th December 1896 at Oakfield Terrace, Forest Hall, Long Benton, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the only son of Robert Pratt, [born 1865, Ryton, died September 1937], and his wife Margaret, [nee Stephenson], born 1864 died December 1919, she was the daughter of John and Jane Stephenson, from Easington. They were married in July 1894 at Newcastle-upon-Tyne. She was a Music Teacher before marrying.

Raymond's paternal grandparents were Robert James Pratt (1837-1910) and Mary (nee Eltringham (1839-1914). They married on the 13th February 1864 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and had a large family of eight children, their eldest was his father Robert Pratt (1865–1937), later to become the headmaster of Dudley School. His aunts and uncles were William born 1859; George born 1868; Mary D, born 1871; Isabella born 1873; Frederick John born 1874; Thomas Edmund born 1876; Margaret Anne born 1878 and Jane born 1879 (also an Elementary School Mistress on the 1911 Census). Robert James Pratt was a widower in 1861 and was living with his sister Sarah and a daughter Sarah age 2. His son William born 1859 may have been his late wife’s son. He was a Steam Engine Maker Fitter by trade.

His maternal grandparents were John Stephenson (1809 - 1866) and Jane Forster born 1830; the sons were mainly butchers or grocers by profession; and his grandfather had settled in Easington running a farm and butchers’ shop. They had quite a sizeable family of seven children with three sons and four daughters, one of the youngest being his mother, Margaret (1864–1919), her brothers and sisters, William (1854–1892), Mary born 1857; Robert born 1859, George born 1860, Elizabeth born 1862 and the youngest, Jane (1866–1937).
Raymond’s grandfather, John Stephenson, also had other children from a previous marriage, his wife Mary (nee Robson) (1811-1852), they had two sons and two daughters, Thomas (1833-1906), Hannah born 1835; John (1841–1898) and Ann born 1850.

Robert in 1891 was an Elementary School Master residing at 76 Tynemouth Road, then in the Byker area of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. In 1881 he was residing at 35 Harle Street, Gateshead as a Pupil Teacher.

In 1910, Robert Pratt was headmaster at Dudley Council School, which was built in 1878 for 700 children.
Dudley was described as a colliery village with a station on the North Eastern railway called Annitsford from the adjacent village of that name and is about 7 miles north from Newcastle.

In 1911, the family resided at the School House, Dudley.
Raymond Forster Pratt was educated at Morpeth Grammar School then afterwards at the Durham University College of Medicine, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He had a brilliant school career as a scholar and an athlete. He secured a blue for cricket and football, and was an outstanding shot, in which he captained the shooting team. In August 1914 Raymond is mentioned for passing the Oxford Local Examinations with a Pass in the Senior Division at Morpeth Grammar School.

At University he became football secretary and one of his years' representative on the University Students' Council.

Raymond studied at the College of Medicine between 1914 and 1916, leaving his studies to join the war effort. He registered as a Medical Student on October 9th and started his Medical Studies on October 1st, 1914. He had passed the Oxford Senior Exam in July 1914, commencing the course in July 1913. Raymond joined the Royal Navy on the 29th November 1915, for the duration of the Hostilities, he was 5 feet 4 and a half inches tall, light Brown Hair, Grey eyes with a fresh complexion, service number M17875.

He trained at Pembroke I, [HMS Pembroke was the name given to a shore barracks at Chatham. It was commissioned in 1878, moved ashore in 1903 and was paid off in 1983. The buildings, designed by Sir Henry Pilkington, now house the Universities at Medway].

From the 30th November 1915 he is in the Junior Auxiliary Sick Berth Reserve at Chatham Hospital until the 31st January 1916, at the end of 1915 his character was described as [V]ery [G]ood.

5th February 1916 he is on the Garth Castle, ship nu 129078, Garth Castle was built in 1910 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 7612grt, a length of 452ft 7in, a beam of 54ft 4in and a service speed of 13 knots. Sister of the 'Grantully Castle' ship nu 129058, she spent most of her career on the Intermediate service. In 1915 she was requisitioned by the Royal Navy for use as a supply ship and moving naval personnel to places like Scapa Flow where they would join their ships. She was later used as a hospital ship and on 24th June 1917, during a fleet inspection, the surgeons and nursing staff were presented to HM King George V. She was broken up in 1939.

Raymond is now a Senior Reserve Attendant from the 11th January 1917.

Raymond Forster Pratt was offered a commission as a Sub Lieutenant Surgeon probationer on the 1st April 1917.

He is now on board HMS Tartar, which was a Tribal class destroyer of the Royal Navy launched in 1907 and sold in 1921. During the First World War she served in the North Sea and the English Channel with the 6th Destroyer Flotilla.

On the night of 26/27th October 1916, German torpedo boats of their Flanders Flotilla carried out a large scale raid into the English Channel, hoping to attack the drifters watching the anti-submarine nets of the Dover Barrage, and to sink Allied shipping in the Channel. Six Tribal-class destroyers (Tartar, Mohawk, Viking, Nubian, Amazon and Cossack) were being held at readiness at Dover as a fast response force, at readiness in Dover harbour, and when the German 5th Half Flotilla attacked the drifters and sank the old supporting destroyer HMS Flirt, they were ordered to intervene. The destroyers split up as they left Dover harbour, with Viking leading Mohawk and Tartar from the Western entrance to the port, while the other three destroyers left by the Eastern entrance and failed to join up with Viking's group. Nubian and Amazon separately ran into the German 17th Half Flotilla, on its way home after sinking the merchant ship Queen, ship nu 123993, with Nubian, ship nu 131431, first being badly damaged by a torpedo and Amazon, ship nu 120715, then heavily hit by German shells. Viking's group then encountered a third German formation, the 18th Half Flotilla. Mohawk, second in line of the three British destroyers, was hit by German shells which caused her steering to jam, and turn out of line. Tartar followed Mowhawk's turn, while Viking's attempts to pursue the German torpedo boats were thwarted when her course was blocked by Mohawk. All the German torpedo boats that took part in the nights operations escaped successfully.

H.M.S. Tartar struck a German mine on the 24th June 1917, killing 43 of her crew, including her newly appointed Captain, G. K. Twiss, but was towed to safety. By November 1917, Tartar had joined the 11th Destroyer Flotilla, based at Blyth, Northumberland. On the 18th February 1918, Tartar collided with the merchant ship Ardgantock off West Hartlepool, sinking the merchant ship. Tartar still served with the 11th Submarine Flotilla on 11th November 1918, when the Armistice ended fighting between the Allies and Germany.

There was a Raymond F. Pratt Memorial Shield given by Morpeth Grammar School to the winners of the shooting competition held annually by the cadets in memory of Raymond. Raymond in the last year at Morpeth Grammar School achieved 5 bull's eyes out of 5, his target plus his photograph would hang on the schools walls.

The last winner in 1919 was a Allon Burn of Morpeth. The Shield was paid for and handed over by Raymond's father and mother as a response to Raymond's wish, and last words to his parents, 'he wanted do something as great as he could for the Morpeth Grammar School to which he felt he owed so much'. It was decided the Shield is to be kept by the school and the winners names engraved on it each year.

Footnote the school when contacted direct, [as of 2018], is trying to track down the whereabouts of this shield, see M17.30. The whereabouts is unknown!

In Northumberland Record Office: (Dudley School Project) a photocopy of photograph showing the Headmaster of Dudley School standing next to his son Raymond; also the headmaster's entry in the log for June 18th 1917 which reads 'Master received word that his son has been killed in The Channel and will therefore be absent the remainder of the week in order to visit Dover and bring home the body for burial'.

An old photograph [reproduced here above top right], shows Raymond Pratt as a child. On the back are the words 'Raymond Pratt. Mother used to work for Mrs. Pratt, wife of headmaster of Dudley School. (Raymond was killed in the war)'.

H.M.S. "Tartar" struck a mine on the 24th June 1917.

Research : Cynthia Kent/James Pasby

Raymond Pratt is remembered in Dudley on D34.01 D34.03, in Morpeth on M17.06, M17.12 and M17.30, at Durham in D47.151 page 78, also at Newcastle on NUT051 and NUT066, and on our List of Ships’ crews.

The CWGC entry for Surgeon Pratt

If you know more about this person, please send the details to janet@newmp.org.uk