CWG: Stoker Petty Officer Oliver Marchant

Stoker Petty Officer Oliver Marchant

Oliver Marchant was born in Beaminster, Dorset, on 21st September 1874. One of eight children, his parents were agricultural labourer William Marchant and his wife Hannah. Oliver’s parents had been born in Devon, and this is where they moved the family back to.

When he left school, Oliver and his older sister found work as a farm hands. They were employed at Compton Pool Farm, and were fortunate enough to be able to live in. Oliver ended up working on the farm for three years, becoming a groom in the process. A more secure career beckoned, however, and, on 11th January 1894, he enlisted as a Stoker 2nd Class in the Royal Navy.

Oliver’s service records show that he signed up for a period of twelve years. He was 5ft 4ins (1.62m) tall, had dark hair, brown eyes and a ruddy complexion. He was initially posted to HMS Vivid – the Royal Naval Base in Devonport – but soon found himself at sea on board HMS Endymion. He spent a year on board and, during this time, was promoted to Stoker 1st Class.

Over the remaining period of his service, Oliver served on five further vessels, returning each time to HMD Vivid as his base. His hard work paid off, and he was promoted to Leading Stoker and Petty Officer Stoker by the time he renewed his service contract in 1906.

During his time in between sea voyages, Oliver met Alice Honeywill; the couple married in August 1904 and set up home in Newton Abbot. They did not go on to have any children.

Back at sea, and over the next eleven years, Stoker Petty Officer Marchant served on a further eight vessels. In between times, he was based at the barracks in Devonport, and it was here that he returned in November 1917, when he fell ill.

Oliver had contracted tuberculosis and, after a short time in hospital, he was discharged from the Royal Naval on medical grounds, as the condition had rendered him no longer fit enough undertake his work. He returned home to Newton Abbot.

At this point, Oliver Marchant’s trail goes cold. He passed away at his home in Newton Abbot on 4th January 1919, at the age of 44 years old. While the cause is not recorded, it seems likely to have been the result of his lung condition. He was laid to rest in the town’s cemetery.

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