CWG: Stoker 1st Class William Curd

Stoker 1st Class William Curd

William Alfred Curd was born on 14th November 1891, the oldest of nine children to William and Emily Curd. William Sr was a carter and labourer on a farm, and his William Jr was to follow suit when he left school. The 1911 census recorded the family as living in Dover, Kent, living in a four-roomed house near the centre of the town.

By this time war was knocking at the door, and, living in Dover, the Curd family were in the front line. William Jr continued his carting work, but was eventually called up in the summer of 1916. He enlisted in the Royal Navy as a Stoker 2nd Class on 31st July and was dispatched to HMS Pembroke – the shore-based establishment at Chatham Dockyard.

William’s enlistment papers show that he was just over 5ft 3ins (1.61m) tall, had brown hair, blue eyes, a fresh complexion and tattoos on both of his forearms.

After three months’ training, Stoker Curd was assigned to HMS Dartmouth, a light cruiser. She served in the Mediterranean and, during his time on board, was involved in the Battle of the Strait of Otranto, off the coasts of Albania and Italy.

At the beginning of July 1917, William returned to Chatham, and was promoted to Stoker 1st Class. HMS Pembroke was a busy place that summer, and its barracks had reached capacity. Chatham Drill Hall was used as temporary accommodation, and this is where Stoker Curd found himself billeted.

By this point in the war, the German Air Force was looking to minimise daytime casualties, and was, instead, trialling night raids; on 3rd September, Chatham found itself in their flight path. The Drill Hall received a direct hit, and Stoker 1st Class Curd was killed, along with close to 100 others. He was just 25 years old.

The victims of the Chatham Air Raid were laid to rest in Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham, walking distance from the Drill Hall where William Alfred Curd and his colleagues had died.

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