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Saturday, 16 June 2018

Vernon Pond

I am currently looking back at the lives of some of the former inhabitants of Osmington village and one such person is Ewart Rosebury Vernon Pond, who was a sailor in the First World war.
Vernon was killed in action on HMS Warrior on 31 May 1916 aged 22 years. He was the only son of Charles Edward and Louisa Pond. Born in Norden near Corfe Castle on 21 April 1894, his family lived in Poxwell but his parents latterly moved to a cottage on Church road in Preston. 
Before the war both Vernon and his father Charles worked on the farm at Poxwell; Vernon was a labourer and his father was a carpenter and engine driver.
Vernon was a stoker First class on HMS Warrior during the war. This was a hard and filthy job carried out in harsh conditions but to mitigate stokers received 50% better pay than seamen and were provided with baths once they finished their shift. 

Firing the boiler was arduous work, which Vernon was no doubt used to on the farm. In contrast to his pre-war work, Vernon could work in temperatures up to 43 C, shoveling coal into the boiler and clearing the clinker and ash away. Once he finished his shift he would appear on the upper deck where freezing water might be sluicing across the deck in sub zero temperatures.
HMS Warrior was the last missing ship from the Battle of Jutland and until August 2017 it's exact location in the North Sea had never been found.
"It was eventually discovered 90 yards under the sea  after it was abandoned due to the heavy damage it took from enemy shelling. The Battle of Jutland is regarded as the only major naval battle of the First World War and involved 100,000 men and 250 ships, with almost 9,000 sailors killed on both sides during the 36-hour conflict.
According to a letter written by Captain Vincent Barkly Molteno, the ship came under fire from nine German ships for seventeen-and-a-half minutes before it retired from battle. The surviving crew of 743 were transferred to HMS Engadine, who also tried to tow HMS Warrior back to Britain. 
Because of the extensive damage and bad weather HMS Warrior had to be abandoned and sank on June 1, 1916. Although it has been underwater for 100 years, museum experts say that it has remained in good condition and was an 'untouched time capsule".
Captain Molteno wrote in the Guardian that his men 'behaved magnificently' and their 'courage had been magnificent' during the battle and that he had written to the Admiralty asking to keep his 700-plus crew together so he could captain them again.

He also asked for 10 days leave for each of those who served on the sunken ship so they could go ashore, see friend and family and be 'cock-a-chest'.Captain Molteno manoeuvred the vessel out of harms way after the heavy attack from nine Germany ships, saving the lives of the majority of his crew. After the battle he was awarded the Order of St Anna by the Russians, recognizing his bravery. 

'Along the side of the ship in several places it is possible to see the deck, where the base of several of the big gun turrets are visible. 'One of the ship’s masts is lying on the seabed on the ships’ port side. The mast was broken during the collision with the seabed, and the top part of the mast is folded under the wreckage. 'Thus, it was quite evident that the ship had hit the seabed upside down, and that the ship had sunk down onto the mast.' 

                                                                                      Photo: Peter Milford 

There were 100 casualties, 71 were killed outright, 19 of these were in the engine room, and most of the remainder on the main deck.

There is no grave for Vernon but he is remembered at the naval memorial in Plymouth and at St Osmund's church in Osmington. 

Does anyone have more information they can add to his story or a photo of him?

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