Tag Archives: Trimmer

CWG: Trimmer Gilbert McLoughlin

Trimmer Gilbert McLoughlin

Gilbert McLoughlin was born in Grimsby, Lincolnshire, on 19th August 1896, one of eight children to Charles and Isabella McLoughlin. Being a fishing port, it is likely that Charles was involved in the industry, and it is no surprise that Gilbert and his siblings followed suit.

When war came to Europe, his skills at sea led to him being brought into the Royal Naval Reserve, and indeed Gilbert joined up on 20th March 1916. His service records show that he stood 5ft 2.5ins (1.59m) tall, had brown eyes and a sallow complexion, and had tattoos on his left arm.

Trimmer McLoughlin was based at HMS Pekin, a shore establishment in Grimsby, from which he would have served on ships patrolling the Lincolnshire coast. He remained posted in his home town until the end of 1916, at which point he moved down the coast to HMS Ganges, the naval base in Ipswich.

Gilbert made a further move in July 1917, when he was posted to HMS Pembroke, the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent. The base was particularly crowded that summer, and he was billeted in temporary accommodation set up in the barracks’ Drill Hall.

On the night of 3rd September, Chatham came under attack from a German air raid, and the Drill Hall received a direct hit. Trimmer McLoughlin was among those to be killed that night. He was just 20 years of age.

Gilbert McLoughlin was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in Gillingham, Kent, alongside the other victims of the Chatham Air Raid.


Gilbert’s older brother Joseph McLoughlin was also a victim of the First World War. As the conflict began, he continued his work as a trawlerman, although the role of his ship – the Kilmarnock – now also included elements of mine location.

On the afternoon of the 22nd September 1914, the Kilmarnock left Grimsby on a routine trip. She was around thirty miles offshore when the captain spotted floating mines ahead.

The skipper put out a buoy to mark the position, and intended returning to port to report the matter to the Admiralty authorities, but seeing some naval vessels in the distance he made towards them instead with the object of reporting.

Whilst doing so an explosion occurred amidships, and the vessel was blown into two parts, which sank immediately.

The skipper was blown to pieces on the bridge and the chief engineer badly injured.

The naval vessels, attracted by the explosion, hurried to the spot, picked up the wounded engineer, mate, and one member of the crew.

Boston Guardian: Saturday 26th September 1914

Joseph was one of the six crewmen to be killed in the incident. He was just 19 years of age.


CWG: Trimmer John Kelly

Trimmer John Kelly

John Kelly was born in East London on 11th January 1871, the son of Charles and Jane. There is not a lot of concrete information about his early life, but he seems to have married an Isabella Coles in the late 1890s, and the couple went on to have at least one child – a daughter they called Lizzie.

On 13th May 1915, with the First World War raging, John enlisted. He joined the Royal Navy for the duration of the war as a Trimmer (or Stoker), His enlistment papers show that he stood at 5ft 6ins (1.67m tall), had a fair complexion and blue eyes. He is also noted as having a scar on his chin.

During his time at sea, Trimmer Kelly served on board a number of vessels; his primary base, however, remained HMS Pembroke, the shore-based establishment at the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent.

It was while he was on board HMS Hecla, a depot ship, that John fell ill with stomach problems. Returned to Chatham, he was admitted to the Naval Hospital in the town, but died of a carcinoma of the stomach on 17th November 1918. He was 47 years old.

John Kelly was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham, a short distance from the dockyard where he had been based.


CWG: Trimmer Cuthbert Kean

Trimmer Cuthbert Kean

Cuthbert Kean was born on 2nd October 1862, the eldest of four children to John and Jane Kean. John was a tailor from Manchester, who brought his young family up in the town of Crook, County Durham.

Cuthbert followed in his father’s footsteps and, by the time of the 1891 census – when he was 26 years old – was lodging in central Edinburgh, and was working as a tailor.

There is little more information available on Cuthbert’s early years. When war broke out, he enlisted in the Royal Navy, joining up on 26th October 1914. His papers show that he stood 5ft 2ins (1.57m) tall, had a fair complexion and grey eyes.

By 1917, having turned 55, he was transferred to the Royal Naval Reserve, and worked as a Trimmer – an alternative title for a Stoker. He had served on a number of vessels, joining HMS Firefly towards the end of the war.

Early in 1919, Trimmer Kean was admitted to the Royal Naval Hospital in Chatham, Kent, suffering from a sarcoma of the neck. Sadly, he was to succumb to this, and he passed away on 4th March 1919. He was 58 years old. His records give his next of kin as his sister Mary, who was living in Durham.

Cuthbert Kean was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in Gillingham, Kent.