THE UNKNOWN WARRIOR AND THE UNKNOWN SAILOR, OR RATHER STOKER!


I see that looking into books of the 1920's that we had a Naval Cathedral.  Indeed, we still have one, or at least the same building, whether or not it is still called, or thought of, as our Cathedral. I am referring to St Anne's Church in Portsmouth Dockyard.

What happened there in 1931 confirms the notion that Portsmouth is the Premier British Naval Port, for just like the Unknown Warrior was buried in our Capital City and in the Premier Royal Church of Westminster Abbey [controlled by The Crown directly and not by the Church of England and the Arch Bishop of Canterbury or The Bishop of London], so too was the Royal Navy's Unknown Stoker Memorial dedicated in St Anne's, the Navy's premier Church.

The unveiling was done on Sunday the 17th May by the Commander-in-Chief, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Roger Keyes. Bt.

Here is a record of the event.

"The unknown stoker was a member of the crew of the cruiser Vindictive, which came to a glorious end in the famous raid on Ostend on May 9-10, 1918, when Sir Roger Keyes was in command of the operations which form one of the most fascinating episodes in the long and colourful history of the British Navy.  Ostend was blocked when the Vindictive was sunk at the entrance to one of the Canals, and after the action two officers and a number of men were not accounted for.  When Ostend was retaken on October 17, 1918, the graves of these naval men were found in the German military cemetery, and all were identified by the Germans, who marked the graves with wooden crosses.  The unknown stoker's cross bore the inscription: "Ein. Unbek Engl Heizer Kreuzer Vindictive."
When the wooden crosses were replaced by stone crosses, the Admiralty directed that this cross should be placed in St Anne's Church, were it has been embedded in stone and let into the pavement of the church on the south side of the pulpit.
After unveiling the cross, which was shrouded in a large White Ensign, the Commander-in-Chief told to the congregation the graphic story of the operation.  Then pulling the cord which removed the White Ensign from the cross, Sir Roger Keyes said: "I unveil this memorial to an unknown  member of a very gallant band."
The Chaplain of the Fleet then pronounced the dedicatory prayer, and after the singing  of Kipling's Lest we Forget, the Reverend F.M. Jackson, temporary Chaplain R.N., who was serving in the destroyer Warwick in the blocking operation on Ostend, preached.  Speaking of Zeebrugge and Ostend, he said such happenings raised the whole moral tone of the nation, they enriched our history, enriched the character of our people, and fortified the manhood of our land."