Arthur Olney (pictured above left) and Frederick George Darby (right) were still just 16 years old when they gave their lives while serving on warships during the Battle of Jutland on May 31st, 1916. Both were born in Luton and signal boys on ships that were sunk by the Germans. In the two weeks following the great naval battle, the Luton News and Saturday Telegraph published the following list of Luton men and men with Luton connections who died in or survived the battle.
LOST IN ACTION
Signal Boy J/34280 Frederick George Darby, aged 16, killed or died as a result of enemy action while serving on HMS Black Prince (sunk). Son of Mrs Mary Ann Darby, of 7 Princess Street, Luton. (Chatham Naval Memorial).
Signal Boy J/34158 Arthur Olney, aged 16, killed or died as a result of enemy action while serving on HMS Queen Mary (sunk). Son of Mrs Susan Olney, of 32 Hibbert Street, Luton. (Portsmouth Naval Memorial).
Gunner RMA/12399 Edmund Charles Dexter, Royal Marine Artillery, aged 26, killed or died as a result of enemy action while serving on HMS Invincible (sunk). Son of Edmund E. Dexter, of 5 Warwick Road, Luton, he was married with a wife and three-month old baby living in Portsmouth. (Portsmouth Naval Memorial).
LOST: Edmund Dexter (left) and Fredrick Neville.
Leading Stoker K/22633 Frederick Neville, aged 29, killed or died as a result of enemy action while serving on HMS Queen Mary (sunk). The native of Luton and former pupil of Dunstable Road School had been in the Navy for five years before returning to civilian life for a year, working at Luton Gas Works, and then returning to the Navy four years before the Battle of Jutland. (Portsmouth Naval Memorial).
Engineer-Lieut John McLennan Hine, aged 44, killed in action on HMS Invincible (sunk). He was married with four young children and his family had lived in Rothesay Road, Luton, prior to 1910. (Portsmouth Naval Memorial).
Sub-Lieut Frank Alan Single, aged 20, killed or died as a result of enemy action while serving on HMS Warspite (damaged but returned to port). He was the nephew of Luton hat manufacturer Mr J. C. Kershaw. (Queensferry Cemetery, West Lothian).
MISSING, BELIEVE KILLED
Seaman Henry Shedrick Joseph Hill, (pictured right), 19, son of Mr and Mrs Henry Hill, of 94 Cobden Street, Luton, was reported lost in the Battle of Jutland while serving on HMS Turbulent (sunk). Naval records reveal, however, that he was wounded and taken as a prisoner of war before being repatriated in 1918 and invalided from the service. He married Gertrude Currie in Luton in 1919.
Seaman Victor Whittemore, at first reported lost while serving on HMS Queen Mary, confirmed in a letter to his mother at 42 King's Road, Luton, that he had survived the sinking.
First Class Boy Francis James Allen, aged 17, serving as a gun sighter on HMS Warspite, confirmed in a letter to parents Mr and Mrs Samuel Allen, of 59 Warwick Road, Luton, that he was safe. He had joined Warspite at Easter 1915 after training at Shotley Barracks. The former regular attender at All Saints Church, Luton, was home on leave in November 1915 and hoped to be home again shortly.
Seaman Thomas Fensome, youngest son of Mr and Mrs George Fensome, of 93 Hitchin Road, Luton, had served on HMS Warspite, which was damaged in the battle but was credited by its crew with having sent two enemy cruisers and several destroyers to the bottom. The former Diamond Foundry and Hayward Tyler employee was in the ship's magazine below decks during the battle.
Chief Engineer Artificer Frank Holt was another survivor from the Warspite. The former Queen Square and Waller Street schools pupil had been in the Navy for 15 or 16 years and was returning from Australia when war broke out. He was married and a father living in Devonport. His own father, Francis Holt, lived at 53 Adelaide Street, Luton.
SURVIVORS: Left to right - Frank Holt, Victor Whittemore and Francis Allen