James Yearsley d. 1939 Navy

Able Seaman James Yearsley (D/J 38440). Royal Navy, HMS Courageous. Died 17th September 1939. Son of James and Emma Yearsley; husband of Eliza Yearsley, of Miles Green, Bignall End, Stoke-on-Trent. Commonwealth War Dead. Plymouth Naval Memorial. Panel 33, Column 3.

HMS Courageous

Photo: HMS Courageous

HMS Courageous was a warship of the Royal Navy. She was built at the Armstrong Whitworth shipyard as a "large light cruiser". Courageous, her sister ship Glorious, and half-sister Furious, were the brainchildren of Admiral Jackie Fisher, and were designed to be "light cruiser destroyers". They were originally intended to be heavy support for shallow water operations in the Baltic, which ultimately never came to pass. Courageous saw action in the First World War, and then was converted into an aircraft carrier.

HMS Courageous served with the Home Fleet in the Channel Force at the start of the Second World War. On 17 September 1939, under the command of Captain W. T. Mackaig-Jones, she was on an anti-submarine patrol off the coast of Ireland. Two of her four escorting destroyers had been sent to help a merchant ship under attack. During this time, Courageous was stalked for over two hours by U-29, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Otto Schuhart. Then Courageous turned into the wind to launch her aircraft. This manoeuvre put the ship right across the bow of U-29, which then fired three torpedoes. Two of the torpedoes struck the ship on her port side, and she capsized and sank in 15 minutes with the loss of 518 of her crew, including her captain. She was the first British warship to be lost in the war; the civilian passenger liner SS Athenia had been sunk two weeks earlier. An earlier unsuccessful attack on Ark Royal by U-39 on 14 September — and the sinking of Courageous three days later — caused the Royal Navy to withdraw its fleet carriers from anti-submarine patrol.

Photo: HMS Courageous sinking after being torpedoed by U-29

Edwin John Yearsley d. 1942

Able Seaman Edwin John Yearsley (P/JX 268143). HMS President III, Royal Navy. Died 11th July 1942, aged 32. Son of Harry and Flora Yearsley, of Southampton; husband of Rose Doris Yearsley, of Southampton. Commonwealth War Dead. Commonwealth War Dead. Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Panel 65, Column 2.

HMS President III

HMS President is a stone frigate, or shore establishment of the Royal Naval Reserve. A third accounting base, this time alternately based at Bristol, Windsor and London. It covered the accounts of the active services of the Royal Fleet Reserve, the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and the Royal Naval Reserve from 1916 onwards, also extending to covering demobilisation accounts from December 191 onwards. The Defensively Equipped Merchant Ship accounts were transferred to HMS Vivid on 1 October 1919. In August 1935, President III also took over the accounts of the Mobile Naval Defence Base Organisation.
It was re-established on 28 August 1939 in Bristol to train those allocated for service on the Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships. It was later transferred to locations across Windsor and London. By 31 May 1944 the command held over 30,500 accounts. The ledgers were closed after
the war on 1 July 1946, and the accounts covered by President III and Pembroke III were merged into President I.