Walter Lovell

Service:                Royal Navy

Rank:                   Stoker 1st Class

Service No:           K/5108

Unit:                     H.M.S. Monmouth

 Walter was born in St George, Bristol on 4th September 1891.  He was the fourth child of George & Agnes Lovell, his father was a shoe maker. Sadly Walter’s father died while he was only & young child; his mother Agnes married Albert White in 1898 and the family were living at 11 Clouds Hill Road in 1901. On 4th January 1910 Walter joined the Royal Navy on a 12 Year engagement. 1m 1911 Agnes, now widowed again was living with 2 of her daughters Alice & Kate at 209 Two Mile Hill Kingswood.

Walters navy record details that at the time of his enrolment he was 5ft 4 ½ inches, dark brown hair & brown eyes and dark complexion. He served on several establishments & ships as a stoker. In 1911 he was aboard H.M.S. Mars that was anchored in Weymouth Bay. On the second of August 1914 he was to join the company of H.M.S. Monmouth.

HMS Monmouth was the first of ten Monmouth class first class armoured cruisers built for the Royal Navy between 1899, when the Monmouth was laid down and 1904 when the last five of the class were completed. The previous Drake class of cruisers were large, fast and expensive. The Monmouth class was designed to keep the speed but reduce the size and cost. The resulting ship was 4,000 tonnes lighter and 50 feet shorter that the Drake class ships. This had been achieved by reducing the thickness of the main armour belt from 6in to 4in and by removing the two 9.2in guns carried on the Drakes.

Instead the Monmouth class cruisers carried fourteen 6in guns. Four of those guns were carried in two turrets, one fore and one aft, with the remaining ten carried in casemates, five on each side of the ship. Although the class was criticized for its lack of firepower at the time, the Monmouth would be the only member of the class to be lost in battle, and eight of the ten ships built survived until 1920-21 when they were sold off.

The Monmouth spent some of its early career in the Mediterranean, joining the 1st Cruiser Squadron. In January 1906 she went into the reserve at Devonport, but only for three months. In April 1906 she was sent to the China Station. In 1913 she was back in home waters with the 3rd Fleet. At the outbreak of the First World War she was part of the 5th Cruiser Squadron, but she was soon detached from that squadron and sent to join Admiral Christopher Cradock’s South American station.

In October 1914 Cradock learnt that Admiral von Spee, at the head of a squadron of five modern cruisers, was planning to leave the Pacific for the South Atlantic. Cradock decided to move into the Pacific in an attempt to prevent this.  At Coronel (1 November 1914) Cradock was effectively ambushed by von Spee’s squadron. The Monmouth’s 6in guns were outranged by the 8.2in guns carried on von Spee’s best ships, the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau. The Monmouth was lost with all hands without being able to inflict any damage on the German ships.

Stoker Walter Lovell died on 1st November 1914 along with the entire crew in this action off the Chilian Coast.

He is remembered with honour on the Plymouth Naval Memorial.

 

Image thanks to CWGC

Walter was awarded the 1914 Star,The British War Medal & The Victory Medal.

References

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

National Achieve – Navy records

1891, 1901 & 1911 census