CWG: Ordinary Seaman Henry Bird

Ordinary Seaman Henry Bird

Henry David Bird was born on 11th April 1898 in Hoxton, East London. He was the third of eleven children to carter and carman Henry Bird and his wife Florence.

When he left school, Henry Jr found employment as a munitions worker, but shortly before his nineteenth birthday, he was drawn to a more active role. On 8th January 1917, he enlisted in the Royal Navy as an Ordinary Seaman. His enlistment papers show that he was 5ft 4ins (1.63m) tall, with brown eyes, brown hair and a fresh complexion. They also noted that he had a scar on his right index finger.

Henry’s first posting was at HMS Pembroke, the shore-based establishment at the Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent. After a couple of months’ training, he was assigned to the cruiser HMS Concord. He served on board for for a few weeks, before returning to Chatham in May.

The summer of 1917 was a busy time for HMS Pembroke; Ordinary Seaman Bird was one of those billeted in the Drill Hall, sleeping there, rather than in the overcrowded barracks in the dockyard itself. It was here that he was sleeping on the 3rd September, when the German Air Force undertook their first night bombing raid. One of the planes scored a direct hit on the Drill Hall, and Henry was killed instantly. He was just 19 years of age.

Henry David Bird was buried in the Woodlands Cemetery in nearby Gillingham, along with the dozens of other servicemen killed in the Chatham Air Raid.

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