Identified: Samuel Fee: Royal Navy (SS/102801), Killed as a direct result of enemy action 1914 (Lantern Slide 4: Right hand side)
Samuel Fee was born 29 December 1887 to Samuel, a labourer and his English wife Ellen, a housekeeper.
At the time of the 1901 census, he lived in 22 North Howard Street with his brother James, sister Catherine and parents.
By 1911, Samuel senior was widowed and was living in Urney Street with his son James. Both Catherine and Samuel had married and moved out of the family home by this time.
Samuel married his wife Catherine Boyd in Whitehouse Presbyterian Church on 21 December 1909.
The Roll of Honour for Castleton states that both Samuel and *James’ address in 1918 was Harrisburg Street and the Newspaper listing of Samuel’s death lists him as living in 28 Barbour Street, Greencastle.
*James served in WW1 but his service has not been traced as yet. However it is known that he survived.
Samuel Fee joined the Royal Navy in April 1906, aged 18 years old, well before World War I broke out.
His service record notes that he had tattoos – a bust of a man and a figure of a woman as well as a scar on his throat. He served on the Majestic class ship MAGNIFICENT (flagship of the Commander-in-Chief), the King Edward VII-class battleship AFRICA (flagship of Vice Admiral Sir William Henry May), the Devonshire-class armoured cruiser ANTRIM and Canopus class battleship GLORY during his 5 years service as well as spending time at bases ACHERON and PEMBROKE II. He began his service as Stoker (2nd class) and was made Stoker (1st class) during his time on MAGNIFICENT.
Once his 5 years service was up, he transferred to the Royal Fleet Reserve and was called up for service in 1914 serving as a Stoker (1st Class) on HMS HAWKE. HMS HAWKE was an Edgar-class protected cruiser commanded by Captain Hugh P.E.T. Williams and was engaged in various operations in the North Sea. (An interesting aside: on 20 September 1911, Hawke, under command of Commander W.F. Blunt, collided in the Solent with Belfast’s own RMS Olympic. In the course of the collision, Hawke lost her prow.)
On 15 October 1914 HMS HAWKE, sailing with her sister ship THESEUS was torpedoed by German submarine U-9. The submarine’s first torpedo missed THESEUS but hit HAWKE igniting a magazine and causing a tremendous explosion which ripped much of the ship apart. HAWKE sank in a few minutes with the loss of her captain, 26 officers and 497 men including Samuel Fee, aged by now only 25 years old. Only 70 of her 594 crew survived.
Over 20 men from Northern Ireland went down with their ship. Samuel’s service record notes ‘Lost in North Sea when HMS Hawke was sunk by a German submarine’.
Samuel Fee is remembered on Chatham Naval Memorial.
You can read survivor and witness statements here on the Royal Navy Remembrance blog as well as see a list of Northern Irish men who were lost in this, one of the greatest single losses to Royal Navy personnel from Northern Ireland.
U-9 was commanded by Kapitänleutnant Otto-Weddigen-Kaserne. Otto Weddigen was awarded the Iron Cross and, after sinking HMS HAWKE and some merchant ships, was awarded Prussia’s highest military order, the Pour le Mérite. He became one of only six non-Bavarians to receive the Knight’s Cross of the Military Order of Max Joseph, Bavaria’s highest military honour. He also received the highest military honors of the other two kingdoms of the German Empire, the Knight’s Cross of Saxony’s Military Order of St. Henry and the Knight’s Cross of Wurttemberg’s Military Merit Order.
Wehrmacht named a newly built barracks in Herford as Otto-Weddigen-Kaserne in his honour due to the linkage with his birthplace. The naval connection was signified by placing two large anchors at the base of a large National Socialist Reichsadler at the entrance to the barracks.
Ironically, ever since 1945 the barracks has been occupied by British Army soldiers from the Royal Corps of Signals.
Samuel Fee is remembered by Castleton Lanterns and Alexandra Presbyterian Church.