On 31st May 1916, the 2nd BCS consisted of New Zealand (flagship of Rear-Admiral William Pakenham) and Indefatigable. The squadron was assigned to Admiral Beatty's Battlecruiser Fleet which had put to sea to intercept a sortie by the High Seas Fleet into the North Sea. The British were able to decode the German radio messages and left their bases before the Germans put to sea. Admiral Franz von Hipper's battlecruisers spotted the Battlecruiser Fleet to their west at 3:20 p.m., but Beatty's ships did not spot the Germans to their east until 3:30. Two minutes later, he ordered a course change to east south-east to position himself astride the German's line of retreat and called his ships' crews to action stations. He also ordered the 2nd BCS, which had been leading, to fall in astern of the 1st BCS. Hipper ordered his ships to turn to starboard, away from the British, to assume a south-easterly course, and to reduce speed to 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph) to allow three light cruisers of the 2nd Scouting Group to catch up. With this turn Hipper was falling back on the High Seas Fleet, then about 60 miles (97 km) behind him. Around this time Beatty altered course to the east as it was quickly apparent that he was still too far north to cut off Hipper.
This began what was to be called the "Run to the South" as Beatty changed course to steer east south-east at 03:45, paralleling Hipper's course, now that the range closed to under 18,000 yards (16,000 m). The Germans opened fire first at 3:48, followed by the British. The British ships were still in the process of making their turn as only the two leading ships, Lion and Princess Royal, had steadied on their course when the Germans opened fire. The British formation was echeloned to the right with Indefatigable in the rear and furthest to the west, and New Zealand ahead of her and slightly further east. The German fire was accurate from the beginning, but the British overestimated the range as the German ships blended into the haze. Indefatigable aimed at Von der Tann and New Zealand targeted Moltke while remaining unengaged herself. By 03:54, the range was down to 12,900 yards (11,800 m) and Beatty ordered a course change two points to starboard to open up the range at 03:57.
Around 4:00, Indefatigable was hit around the rear turret by two or three shells from Von der Tann. She fell out of formation to starboard and started sinking towards the stern and listing to port. Her magazines exploded at 4:03 after more hits, one on the forecastle and another on the forward turret. Smoke and flames gushed from the forward part of the ship and large pieces were thrown 200 feet (61.0 m) into the air. The most likely cause of her loss was a deflagration or low-order explosion in 'X' magazine that blew out her bottom and severed the steering control shafts, followed by the explosion of her forward magazines from the second volley. Von der Tann fired only fifty-two 28 cm (11 in) shells at Indefatigable before she exploded. Of her crew of 1,019, only two survived. While still in the water, two survivors found Indefatigable's captain, C. F. Sowerby, who was badly wounded and died before they could be rescued. The two survivors, Able Seaman Elliott and Leading Signalman Falmer, were rescued by the German torpedo boat S16. A third survivor, Signalman John Bowyer, is suspected to have been rescued by the Germans, but the ship that picked him out of the water is unknown. There is little additional evidence that there was a third survivor.
Source: Wikipedia | Image: Indefatigable blowing up.
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The Penson family had their roots in Idbury. Robert Penson married Esther Annie Cox in 1884 and they had five children:-
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Army Service Record (from the 'Burnt Series' at the National Archives)
[Author's note: The 'Burnt Series' were the surviving WW1 Service Records recovered from the ruins of the depository in Arnside Street, London after the Luftwaffe dropped an incendiary bomb on it. They weren't only fire damaged but also water damaged by the Fire Brigade!]
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Alexander Moultrie WALLACE (1881–1915)
See also Alexander’s younger brother, Cyril Walter Wallace.
Alexander Moultrie Wallace was born at South Leigh,Oxfordshire in 1881, the eldest son of Walter Edward Wallace (born in India on 12th September 1856, the son of John Duncan Campbell Wallace and Emily Hogg, and baptised at Cannanore, Madras on 23 October 1856) and Eleanor May Moultrie (born in Houghton-le-Spring, Durham and baptised there on 9th July 1856). Alexander’s parents were married in the Witney Registration District in the third quarter of 1880, and had the following children:
Alexander entered St. Edward’s School in north Oxford in Christmas Term 1894. He was a School Prefect, and a member of the Rugby Fifteen and Cricket Eleven. His father died at the age of 38 in the Marylebone registration district in the third quarter of 1895.
Alexander left St. Edward’s School in 1899. He travelled widely in Africa and Mexico, and then probably joined the regular army, as he served in the South African War in 1901.
At the time of the 1901 census his widowed mother, Eleanor, was living with her own widowed mother, Elizabeth Moultrie (71) and her two unmarried sisters, Ada (43) and Agatha (34) at The College, South Leigh (where Alexander’s parents had been living from 1881 to 1887). Of her children, only Margaret (13) was with her.
Alexander was probably out of the country at the time of the 1911 census, as he was certainly in Sierra Leone in 1913. Meanwhile his widowed mother Eleanor was still living in South Leigh with her own mother and sisters.
By 1914 Alexander Moultrie Wallace was living in Windsor, and in the autumn of that year he was married there (probably at St. Stephen’s Church) to Christina Maud Durnford (with his banns read at St. Nicholas’s Church in Marston). They lived in Windsor and had one daughter, born posthumously: Alec Christina Wallace (named after her father and born in Windsor on 21st July 1915).
In about 1914 Alexander’s widowed mother moved to 16 Frenchay Road in St. Margaret’s parish, Oxford which explains why her two sons are listed on the St. Margaret’s war memorial.
In the First World War Alexander Moultrie Wallace served as a Captain in the 3rd Battalion attached 2nd Battalion of the Northamptonshire Regiment.
He was killed in action at Neuve Chapelle in France at the age of 33 on 12th March 1915 and has no known grave. He is remembered on the Le Touret Memorial (Panel 28 to 30), on a plaque in the chapel of St. Edward’s School (right), in St. Stephen’s Lady Chapel in Windsor, and on the war memorial outside St. Margaret’s Church in north Oxford.
There is also a memorial to Alexander and his younger brother Cyril Walter Wallace (who died in Mesopotamia at the age of 26 a year later on 8th March 1916) in the churchyard at South Leigh, where the family had lived previously.
AFTER THE WAR
See also Cyril’s older brother, Alexander Moultrie Wallace.
Cyril Walter Wallace was born in Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire in 1890, the youngest son of Walter Edward Wallace (born in India on 12th September 1856, son of John Duncan Campbell Wallace and Emily Hogg, and baptised at Cannanore, Madras on 23 October 1856) and Eleanor May Moultrie (born in Houghton-le-Spring, Durham and baptised there on 9th July, 1856). Cyril’s parents were married in the Witney Registration District in the third quarter of 1880, and had the following children:
There is also a memorial to Cyril and his older brother Alexander Moultrie Wallace (killed in action in France a year earlier at the age of 33 on 12 March 1915) in the churchyard at South
Leigh, where the family had lived previously.
Administration was granted in Oxford to his mother, Eleanor Mary Wallace, on 2 August 1916.
He left £254 17s. 1d.
AFTER THE WAR