CWG: Stoker Henry Lucas

Stoker Henry Lucas

Henry Luke Lucas was born in September 1888, in the quiet Somerset village of Tintinhull. His father Luke worked as an agricultural labourer, while his mother, Ellen was a glovemaker. Henry had three siblings – Kate, Beatrice and Edwin – and two half-siblings – Martha and Eli – from Ellen’s previous marriage (she was widowed in 1880).

Henry married Gertrude Woodman in 1909 having set himself up as a groomsman in the village. Henry Jr, was born the following year and the young couple went on to have three further children, Ellen (born in 1913), Edwin (born in 1915, who sadly died shortly afterwards), and a further son, called Edwin, born in 1916.

The 1910s proved a tragic decade for the Lucas family. Henry’s father Luke had passed away in 1912, and his Ellen had also died four years later.

It may well have been the death of his parents or the promise of continuous paid employment that spurred Henry into enlisting; he joined the Royal Navy on 26th July 1916 as a stoker.

Initial training was carried out on HMS Vivid II in Devonport, Stoker Lucas was assigned to HMS Liverpool for an eight month tour of the Adriatic. While on this tour, Henry was promoted to Stoker 1st Class.

Returning to England, Stoker Lucas was assigned to HMS Egmont II, an accommodation vessel based in Chatham. His move here may have been due to health reasons; within a few weeks Henry was transferred back to HMS Vivid II, from where he was invalided out of service on medical grounds.

The reasons for Henry’s discharge from the Royal Navy was tuberculosis; the local newspaper gave more details when it reported on his funeral:

The death has occurred of Henry Lucas (31) from tuberculosis, which he contracted while serving as a stoker in the Navy. Deceased served abroad during the period of the war and was in Eastern waters when he contracted the disease. He was removed to hospital at Malta, where he remained until his discharge. [This differs from his service records.] In health Lucas was a fearless man, and he maintained this spirit all through his trying illness.

Western Chronicle: Friday 2nd April 1920

Henry Luke Lucas died on 23rd March 1920; he was 31 years old. He lies at rest in the grounds of St Margaret’s Church in his home village of Tintinhull in Somerset.

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