WOOLAVINGTON WWI WAR MEMORIAL (in Woolavington Church) Stoker Edward John VERMONT
Stoker Edward John VERMONT No. K/2348
Served on HMS Monitor M19
Died at Sea 4th December 1915
Commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial Panel 7
Edward is another local man who was already in the services at the outbreak of war. The first local record of the Vermont (also known as Varmen or Varmin) family is of our hero’s grandfather, John, who married Jane Bawden in 1845 at Woolavington church. John settled in Woolavington having five children all baptised in Woolavington the youngest being Lot, baptised on 31 January 1864.
Like his father, Lot also became a labourer and married Jane Hooper at Cossington in 1886 They spent most of their early married years in Chilton Polden and four of their six children were born there. However the youngest, Edward was baptised in Woolavington on 7th October 1889.
Edward enlisted in the Navy on March 30 1909.
After initial training at HMS Vivid at Devonport, Edward was posted to HMS Devonshire as a stoker on 21 July 1909 and he remained with her until 9th August 1910. Having previously served on HMS Blake (named after Admiral Blake of Bridgwater), Edward had been a member of the crew of HMS Cornwall since 29 June 1912 and was still part of the ship’s company when war was declared on 4th August 1914. It was not long before he was to get a first hand view of naval warfare, his ship being involved with the Battle of the Falkland Islands in December that year. HMS Cornwall and HMS Glasgow pursued and sunk the German ship Leipzig.
So HMS Cornwall returned home victorious and Stoker Vermont completed his tour of duty on the ship on 25 February 1915 and was then posted to the diesel powered ‘HMS Monitor’ on 22 May 1915. This name is something of a misnomer as ‘Monitor’ refers to a class of small ship, rather than an individual boat. Most of the class were merely given a number so for example Edward’s ship was ‘Monitor 19’. However when he commenced his posting his ship was brand new having only been launched on 4 May that year. All the Monitors were shallow draft ships designed for coastal bombardment duties, especially off the coast of Belgium, but they also took part in the bombardment of the Dardanelles, both locations were where battleships could not easily reach.
Edward’s ship was one of those that made the voyage to the Mediterranean Sea and Monitor 19 became engaged in bombarding enemy positions in the Dardanelles. Unfortunately there must have been some problem with the ship’s ‘big gun’ and on 4th December 1915 Stoker Edward Vermont was killed in the resulting explosion.
As well as being noted on the Woolavington War Memorial, Edward is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial (Panel 7) on Plymouth Hoe.
Contributed by Godfrey Hebdon