Officers Cook William Lockyear

Branch of service: Royal Navy, HMS Monitor
Service No: L.3281

Date & place of birth: 3 October 1894 in West Thorney, Sussex
Date & place of death: 17 February 1917 (aged 22) at Port Said, Egypt

William Lockyear was a regular sailor who served in the Royal Navy and died of illness in Egypt.

Family background

William Ernest Lockyear was born at West Thorney on Thorney Island on 3 October 1894, the second of three sons born to William Henry Lockyear (1868–1914) and his wife Madeline née Gardner (1869–1928). He was baptised at St Nicholas church in West Thorney on 21 October 1894.

William senior had also been born on Thorney Island and married Madeline, originally from Brighton at St Nicholas church on 2 November 1891. At the time of the census in April 1891, William was lodging at St Thomas Street, Portsmouth and worked as a labourer at the nearby Gunwharf. Madeline was lodging at Osier Farm in Warblington, near Havant.

Their first son, Sidney, was born in early 1893 followed by William in October 1893. By 1901, the family had moved to Cocking and were living at Cocking Causeway, where William senior worked as a cattleman on a farm. The couple later moved to Heyshott, where their third son, Frank, was born in November 1905. In the 1911 census, the family were living at 3 School Lane (Leggs Lane) in Heyshott where William senior was working as a farm labourer. Sidney (aged 18) and William junior (aged 16) were also working on the farm.

Military service

William enlisted in the Royal Navy at Portsmouth on 14 November 1911, a few weeks after his 17th birthday. He spent his first year in the navy training at HMS Vernon and HMS Victory before being appointed an Officer’s Steward (3rd Class) in October 1912. He first spent time at sea on board HMS Carnarvon, a Devonshire-class armoured cruiser between January 1913 and February 1915, being promoted to Officer’s Cook 2nd Class in December 1913.

Between July 1915 and January 1916, he was serving on HMS Europa, a Diadem-class cruiser. Europa was the flagship at Mudros, off Gallipoli during the Dardanelles Campaign. From January 1916, he was based at HMS Egmont, a shore-based “ship” on Malta, now known as Fort St Angelo.

Death and commemoration

On his final voyage, aboard HMS Monitor 15, he was reported as “dangerously ill” with “pyrexia” (fever) on 14 February 1917. He was taken ashore at Port Said Royal Naval Depot in Egypt and transferred to hospital in Ismailia where he died from pneumonia three days later, aged 22.

He was buried in Ismailia War Memorial Cemetery and is commemorated on the war memorial window in St James’s Church, Heyshott.

Other family members and subsequent family history

William’s cousin, Rose, was married to Ernest Boswell who died in 1920 from the effects of trench fever and is also commemorated on the Heyshott war memorial window.

William’s elder brother, Sidney, served with the London Regiment during the war, reaching the rank of corporal. He married Daisy Cook in east London in 1919, but returned to the Midhurst area. Their son, John, was killed in the sinking of the minesweeper HMS Cato off the coast of Normandy on 6 July 1944 aged 17, and is also commemorated on the Heyshott war memorial window. William died in 1963 and his widow died in Chichester in 1987.

The younger brother, Frank moved to Northamptonshire, where he married Constance Nichols in 1939. Frank died in 1992, survived by his widow, who died in 2005, and two children, who are believed to be still living.

Midhurst U3A WW1 War Memorial Project