Nutfield, St Peter and St Paul – the only naval casualty

Six ringers went to war from SS Peter and Paul, Nutfield. Alfred Bashford did not return, the second member of the assocaition to die, and the only naval casualty. A former regular seaman who had joined the Royal Navy as a boy in September 1901, on turning 18 in 1903 he commenced a full 12 year term of service, but purchased his discharge in 1908, on condition that he serve the rest of the time in the reserve. The fleet was mobilised in July 1914, and reserves recalled, Bashford among them. He was posted to the elderly armoured cruiser HMS Good Hope aboard which Rear Admiral Craddock hoisted his flag. His small squadron of second-rate ships was sent to the South Pacific where it was known a German squadron, commanded by Admiral Graf von Spee, was operating. On 1 November 1914 the two squadrons met in the Pacific, not far from the Chilean port of Coronel. The engagement was a disaster for the Royal Navy with Good Hope and HMS Monmouth sunk with the loss of over 1500 men. Though the Germans suffered just three men wounded, the battle used up large quantities of their amunition, contributing to their defeat in the subsequent Battle of the Falkland Islands where over 1800 German sailors were killed. Bashford is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial – none of the dead of this battle have a known grave.

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