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All data is offered in good faith. Should you feel any information is inaccurate or incomplete or perhaps you have extra information which could be included please contact info@safn.org.uk

 


Name Robert Brotherton Black
Nick Name  
Last Known Address 34 Woodbine Street, Hendon, Sunderland.
Family Circumstances Married to Ethel with no children

Unit of Service Royal Navy, HMS Hampshire.
Number and Rank K 13402. Petty Officer.
Date & Place of Death 6th June 2016. HMS Hampshire. Orkney Isles
Grave Location
(if known)
Body not recovered for Burial.
Where Commemorated
(if known)
Royal Naval Memorial Portsmouth.

 

 

Details of any Medals, conflict, training or operations which the deceased had participated in during service.

Robert joined the Navy prior to war and served on numerous ships and postings,

The Biography which is below submitted by Margaret Hartford his great Neice tells in details of his life and family.

Other general information. online links, images etc.

Below is the biography of Robert.

 

Robert Brotherton Black, R.N.

 

Robert Brotherton Black, my grandfather’s brother, was born on 9th April 1890 in Westoe, South Shields.

 

The Black family were originally from Kilrenny in Fife but by the late 1700’s had settled in Blyth. They were sailors and owned several vessels including the Caroline, which was captured by the French off Dungeness in 1809 and the Agenoria which traded between Scandinavia, the Mediterranean and various North East ports.

 

Robert’s father was James William Black who was born in Blyth in October 1856. He was recorded as a sailor in the 1881 census but also spent time working as a driller in the shipyards before returning to the sea. He was lost when the benzine ship, The Vedra, grounded, caught fire and sank in Morecambe Bay in December 1914.

 

The Brotherton name comes from his mother, Margaret Kelly Brotherton, born in South Shields in 1857. The Brothertons were also of Scottish descent. The family are to be found in Leith in 1841. In the census returns, four sons of Adam, a seaman, and Christiana Brotherton are recorded as merchant seamen. Several of them settled in North and South Shields, married local girls and became mates and masters of vessels.

 

James William Black married Margaret Kelly Brotherton in South Shields on 15 September 1879. In 1881 they lived at Dairy Lane, Westoe with Adam Brotherton Black, aged 7 months. By 1891 three more children had been born, Caroline in 1884, James William in 1886 (my grandfather) and Robert Brotherton Black in 1890. The family had two rooms at 34 Wellington Street, Westoe.

 

Between 1891 and 1901 the family moved to Sunderland. In the 1901 census 10 year old Robert and his family lived in two rooms at 3, Wall Street, Hendon. His father and brother Adam were working in the shipyards.

 

 

Not surprisingly, considering his family history, Robert went to sea. He joined The Royal Navy on 1 June 1908, signing on for 12 years.  His official Royal Navy number was K.13405.  Before joining the Royal Navy, Robert had served aboard the SS Napo, formerly the Harmony, a Sunderland built merchant vessel. In  1911 he was an assistant leading stoker aboard HMS Superb which was docked at Portsmouth.  He remained on this vessel until 5 May 1913

 

The Superb was a Bellerophon class battleship. The vessel was built at Armstrong Whitworth’s Elswick yard and commissioned in 1909. Robert’s brother, James, was a brass moulder, who was employed at Armstrong’s, Elswick, for many years.

 

Robert married Ethel Whatcott in Sunderland in the October quarter of 1912. She was born on 19th April 1890 in Sunderland.

 

Robert was also deployed as an assistant leading stoker on board the Victory II and the Fisgard until June 1913 when he was upgraded to acting Stoker Petty Office on board the Fisgard.  He continued with this rating during deployments to the Victory II for a second time and to the Europa.

 

On 27th January 1914 Robert joined HMS Hampshire, a battle cruiser, on the China Station and he was commissioned as a petty officer, stoker on 16th October 1914.  

 

 

HMS Hampshire was another Armstrong Whitworth vessel, launched on 24 September 1903 at Elswick. Her first assignation was to the 1st Cruiser Squadron of The Channel Fleet. She underwent a refit at Portsmouth in December 1908 and after time in the Reserve and Mediterranean Fleets she was transferred to the China Station in 1912.

 

When the First World War was declared HMS Hampshire was still part of the China Station. At the end of August 1914 she sailed to the Bay of Bengal to search for the German light cruiser, Emdem, which was attacking British shipping. She remained there with other vessels until Emden was destroyed on 9th November by HMAS Sydney. Hampshire then escorted an ANZAC troopship through the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea to Gibraltar where she was refitted in December 1914. In January 1915 she was assigned to the Grand Fleet and later that year was escorting shipping in the White Sea.

 

HMS Hampshire, as part of the 2nd Cruiser Squadron, was present at the Battle of Jutland on 31st May 1916, but she did not engage the enemy.  

 

Immediately after the battle she was ordered to carry Lord Kitchener and his staff from Scapa Flow in the Orkneys to Archangel on a diplomatic mission to the Russians.

 

On June 6th 1916 the weather in the Orkneys was bad, gale force winds were blowing, so it was decided the Hampshire would sail through the Pentland Firth to shelter from the worst effects of the wind. As she met with her escort vessels, the destroyers Unity and Victor at 5.45 p.m, the gale became stronger and the wind changed direction, so that the convoy were heading directly into it. The escort ships were unable to keep up with the Hampshire.

 

At 7.40 p.m. the Hampshire was between The Brough of Birsay and Marwick Head, off Orkney mainland, when she struck a mine and an explosion ripped through the ship causing her to heel to starboard. The explosion holed the cruiser between the bows and the bridge and the lifeboats were smashed against her side by the heavy seas as the crew attempted to lower them. About 15 minutes later the Hampshire sank by the bows with the loss of 730 crew and 7 passengers, including Petty Officer Robert Brotherton Black and Lord Kitchener, Secretary of State for War. Only 12 crew managed to reach safety.

 

Robert’s body was not recovered for burial.

 

A small piece in the Sunderland Echo of 12 June 1916 gives details of an official notice and letter that his widow, Ethel, would have received.

 

 

 

Ethel and Robert had no children. Ethel did not remarry. I remember her 35 years later, living in Priory Grove, Sunderland. She was great friends with my grandmother and they visited each other regularly. In fact my grandmother stayed with her for several weeks while our house in Brookland Road was repaired after suffering bomb damage in World War II.

 

Ethel died in 1978 aged 88.

 

As a child I remember the adults talking about the Battle of Jutland. I took little notice except to look it up in my atlas. Over 50 years later what they were saying finally made sense to me as I discovered my great uncle’s naval career and sad end.

 

 

Several other local men were lost in the same disaster as reported on 14 June 1916 in the Newcastle Journal.

 

 

 

Meg Hartford 2015

Below is the entry of birth for Robert.

 

Below  are the Census for 1891, 1901 and 1911.

1891 Census.

Name: Age: Estimated birth year: Relation: Father's name: Mother's name: Gender: Where born: Household Members:
Robert B Black
11/12
abt 1890
Son
James W Black
Margaret K Black
Male
South Shields, Durham, England
NameAge
James W Black 34
Margaret K Black 34
Adam B Black 10
Caroline Black 7
James W Black 5
Robert B Black 11/12

 


1901 Census.


Robt B Black

Age

10

Estimated Birth Year

abt 1891

Relation to Head

Son

Gender

Male

Father

James W Black

Mother

Margt K Black

Birth Place

No Shields, Durham, England

Civil parish

Sunderland

Household Members

Name

Age

James W Black

44

Margt K Black

44

Adam B Black

20

James W Black

15

Robt B Black

10

Elizth B Black

7

 

1911 Census.

 

Name:

Robert Black

Age in 1911:

20

Estimated birth year:

abt 1891

Gender:

Male

Birth Place:

South Shields, Durham, England

Civil Parish:

Portsmouth

County/Island:

Hampshire

Country:

England

Occupation:

Stoker 1 Cl

Registration district:

Portsmouth

Household Members:

Name

Age

William J Costick

26

James Green

42

Edward A Gilkerson

26

George E Witcombe

36

John Hamper

24

Herbert Nicholson

27

Thomas Debenham

22

Charles E Browning

33

James Coombes

22

James K Langstaff

21

Henry Hardy

21

William Hamilton

22

Ernest A Kingston

21

William G Hiscock

20

Bertie Miller

21

John W Marshall

21

Robert Black

20

Herbert Hunt

21

Percy Millet

21

Thomas Eastham

21

Albert O Taylor

21

Walter J Lockyer

21

William Dean

20

Arthur J Turner

20

Harold A Dewdney

21

John Newport

24

Frederick Seffler

26

Walter J Atkins

24

Frederick Wilson

25

Walter Cropp

21

William E Batty

24

Leonard Halliday

22

William J Knight

22

Charles H Turner

24

Henry J Jones

25

Ernest C Merry

23

Arthur Stevenson

25

Frederick J Hoare

20

John H March

25

Ernest C Giles

28

Leonard Mills

24

Herbert W Wood

29

James J March

23

Robert Lovegrove

21

James Sayers

20

John Cordell

23

George H Clarricoates

26

John W Arnold

24

Wesley Clarkson

20

John R Hudson

27

Alfred Venables

23

John Bradley

22

Thomas Sills

23

George W Hall

20

Lewis Roome

23

Clement Martine

20

Henry H Mc Carthy

20

Frederick Dubber

19

Edward N Adams

19

Arthur J Jones

27

Oliver A Spiers

19

Wilfred Fisher

19

Harry Holmes

19

Sidney F Briggs

19

Ernest Collins

20

Ernest J Bowdich

20

George Wheeler

19

Alfred J Gibbs

19

Ernest Spafford

20

George J Towills

23

Percy G Chapman

19

Thomas Smith

19

Albert Rutter

19

William Woodison

19

Samuel J Bunn

19

Robert Brindle

19

Thomas Knott

22

Henry J Gibson

19

William J Robinson

21

Charles G Peskett

19

William Sayers

20

Samuel Prior

20

Thomas H Lingard

19

Charles Gayler

21

Albert Burrows

21

William J Cameron

20

Arthur J S Moody

33

Sidney Ixer

35

Thomas Long

28

Tom Turner

31

Leonard H Spinks

20

James Patton

41

William Milton

29

William Jackson

21

Edward W Cox

21

William G Mersh

19

Albert Allen

19

Henry Smith

23

Charles Foster

19

Albert Nash

23

 

Below is the Commonwealth War GravesCertificate of Commemoration.

 

 

 

Below: are the War Department documents listing Roberts Memorial Panel and his death.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


All data is offered in good faith. Should you feel any information is inaccurate or incomplete please contact sunderlandafn@gmail.com

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