Two seamen - 2. Fred Stentiford
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Fred joined the Royal Navy on 19 Nov 1900 when he was 22. His Service Record describes him as being 5' 3" tall with brown hair, grey eyes and a fresh complexion. He too had been working as a labourer in Morchard Bishop and, like his brother William, won a series of good conduct badges and promotions as his early training proceeded.

He was first sent to HMS Duke of Wellington II which was a shore training establishment at Portsmouth before his posting to HMS Cressy*. 1903 saw him on HMS Firequeen followed by a return to Portsmouth, this time to the Naval Barracks, then known as HMS Victory II, now named HMS Nelson.

Then followed a series of promotions and moves. Like William he trained as a stoker and by 1908 had worked up to the rank (and pay) of Leading Stoker. He served on HMS Assistance, HMS Vernon, HMS Fisgard and HMS Hindustan before his initial 12-year contract ran out on 17 Nov 1912.

 

HMS Cressy*

Courtesy Steve Johnson

 

HMS Fisgard

HMS Fisgard

Courtesy Steve Johnson

 

HMS Hindustan

HMS Hindustan

Courtesy Steve Johnson

 

 

On 18 Nov 1912,  Fred signed up for another stint in the stokeholds but this time, it was a 5-year contract. He did not return to sea immediately but in the August of 1914, when it became obvious that a major war was brewing, he was posted to HMS Vindictive, at that time part of the 9th Cruiser Squadron based on Gibraltar.

 

He returned to Portsmouth briefly in the Autumn of 1916 before again returning to Vindictive but, clearly, all was not well. He returned once again to Portsmouth in June but on 6 Sep 1917, he was invalided out of the Navy - just 2 months before his contract terminated.. The cause of his departure was medical and is summed up in one word on his service record - Dementia.

HMS Vindictive

               HMS Vindictive

              Courtesy Steve Johnson

 

Countless men in World War 1 suffered mental disorders to a greater or lesser degree as a result of what they had seen and experienced. This was not the dementia associated with old age - it was the closing down of the memory by young men for whom it had all been too much and from which many never recovered. Today we would call it post-traumatic stress and offer sufferers support and supervised care - there was none of this for Fred - he simply came home to Morchard Bishop and was expected to pick up the threads of his life there.

 

On 31 October 1917, Fred (by now 40 years old and described as a gardener) married  Lucy May Brooker (25)  in Morchard parish church. Through the marriage register, we glimpse another member of James and Lucy Stentiford's family - their eldest daughter Elizabeth who was born in 1872.  Aged 45 and unmarried, she was one of Fred's witnesses on that happy occasion.

 

And after that, of Fred and Lucy Stentiford there seems to be no further trace.

 

* HMS Cressy was torpedoed at the same time as HMS Hogue while attempting to pick up survivors from HMS Aboukir in September 1914. From the 3 ships, only 300 crew survived. A significant number of the casualties were under 16 years of age and had not yet completed their training.

 

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Last modiied: 30/05/2007