CWG: Stoker 1st Class Leonard Fish

Stoker 1st Class Leonard Fish

Leonard Fish was born on 24th November 1893, one of eleven children to Arthur and Elizabeth. Arthur was a maltser (brewer) from Hertfordshire and is was in Ware that Leonard was born.

While Leonard’s older brothers followed in their father’s brewing footsteps, he worked as a farm labourer after leaving school. He wanted bigger things, however, and, on 25th February 1913, he enlisted in the Royal Navy.

Leonard’s service records show that he stood 5ft 9ins (1.75m) tall, had brown hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion. He enlisted as a Stoker 2nd Class, and was sent to HMS Pembroke – the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent – for training.

Over the next four years, Stoker Fish travelled far and wide. His initial sea posting was on board the battleship HMS King Edward VII; he served on board for nearly two-and-a-half years, gaining a promotion to Stoker 1st Class in the process.

After a brief spell back in Chatham, Leonard was sent to HMS Vivid – a similar shore-based establishment in Devonport – and from there he was assigned to the newly fitted out battleship HMS Royal Oak. Within the month she was at the heart of the Battle of Jutland, and continued to protect the North Sea convoys.

Stoker Fish returned to HMS Pembroke in August 1917. The Dockyard was particularly busy that summer, and the large number of extra servicemen meant that Leonard was billeted in temporary accommodation in Chatham Drill Hall.

On the 3rd September 1917, the first night air raid carried out by the German Air Force bombarded the town, and scored a direct hit on the Drill Hall; Stoker Fish was among those killed. He was just 23 years of age.

Leonard Fish was laid to rest, along with the other victims of the Chatham Air Raid, in the Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham.

Stoker Leonard Fish

Leonard’s older brother Frederick Fish also fought in the First World War.

Frederick was born three years before Leonard, and enlisted in the Royal West Kent Regiment in 1915. He was sent to France at the end of July, and gained the rank of Corporal.

He was killed in the fighting at the Somme on 13th July 1916. He was just 26 years of age, and left a widow, Ellen.

Corporal Frederick Fish was laid to rest in the Serre Road Cemetery No 2 in Beaumont-Hamel.

Corporal Frederick Fish

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