Walter John Edwards on board Battlecruiser Queen Mary

Walter John Edwards on board Battlecruiser Queen Mary

submitted by M. Edwards, great grandson of Walter John Edwards snr

Walter joined the Royal Navy 1892, based in Portsmouth. His Official number is 167388.  By 1911 he had reached the rank of Petty Officer. He was an experienced sailor, serving on board numerous vessels including a repeated engagements on the Victory I and the Vernon. In 1913 Walter joined the Queen Mary in 1913; this was the same year the vessel was completed, so he must have been amongst the first crew members on her maiden voyage.

HMS Queen Mary was the last battlecruiser built before WWI broke out. The following year she was part of the Grand Fleet and participated in the Battle of Heligoland Bight. In 1915 she underwent a refit and returned to action in time for the Battle of Jutland.

In the opening of the battle the Queen Mary opened fire on German vessel SMS Seydlitz. The smoke from all the intense firing obscured the position of HMS Princess Royal; which made German battlecruiser Derfflinger focus on a new target, the Queen Mary. Two shells were fired, one of which hit forward; exploding her magazines and almost breaking the ship in two. A second hit saw the ship roll and and she sank. Of the 1,266 crew only 20 survivors were picked up by other vessels.

Walter was amongst the crew lost on 31 May 1916. He was awarded the Victory and the 1914-15 Star medals.

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