Edward Bunn

J43542 Ordinary Seaman Edward Charles Bunn, Royal Navy

Born on 29th January 1900 in Little Gaddesden
Died on 16th January 1961 in Hemel Hempstead

Family and Home 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Edward Charles Bunn was born in Little Gaddesden, the tenth of the 11 children of Godfrey Goward Bunn and Ellen née Cooling.

His father was Coachman to the Hon. Alfred Talbot at Little Gaddesden House and the family lived at Home Farm Lodge.

Edward’s siblings were:

  • George Edward, who died aged twenty, born in 1884
  • Sidney Bunn, born 10th August 1885
  • Edith, born in 1887
  • Elsie Emily, born 15th November 1888
  • Ellen or Nellie, born 22nd April 1890
  • Walter Louis Bunn, born 8th September 1892
  • Godfrey Bunn, born 10th April 1894
  • Margaret, born 21st February 1896
  • Louisa or Louise, born 10th November 1898
  • May, born 3rd July 1902

Education 6

On 15th March 1903, Edward Bunn, an infant aged only 3 years and 6 weeks, was entered on the Registers of Little Gaddesden School. His father’s job caused some absence from School. The School Log Book entry for 5th July 1909 noted that:

Edward Bunn & May Bunn have gone with their parents to London for a fortnight. Jack & Maude Rolph went some time ago. The fathers of these children are servants to the Honble A. Talbot.

The Bunn Family in 1911 5

On Census night, 2nd April 1911, only Edward, his mother Ellen and his three youngest sisters Margaret, Louisa and May were at Home Farm Lodge, Little Gaddesden. His father Godfrey and brother Walter Bunn were in London – as were their employers the Talbots. His brother George had died in 1904. All his other siblings had left home for work: Sidney Bunn at Mr Austin’s Motor Works in London, Edith as a Housemaid in Exning, Newmarket, Elsie, also a housemaid, at Old Abbey, Leiston, Suffolk, Ellen a Domestic Nurse in Berkhamsted and Godfrey Bunn a Stable Helper at Churchill, Hemel Hempstead.

Joining the Little Gaddesden Scouts 7

Edward Bunn joined the Little Gaddesden Scout Troop at its start, October 26th 1911. He was a member of the Lion Patrol and his Patrol Leader was Frank (Henry F.) Johnson. Edward subsequently obtained his Cook, Cyclist and Naturalist Badges. The Scouts first met in the Reading Room at John o’Gaddesden’s House but meetings soon moved to the Armoury, at 27 Little Gaddesden, the home of their Scout Master, Harry Temple. Miss Bridget Talbot was their President and Mr Humphrey Talbot their Treasurer.

Other members of the Lion Patrol who served in the First World War were: Stanley Austin, Sidney Bellamy, Kenneth Edge, Gerald Green, George Pinnock and Jim Whitman.

Scouts in the other Patrols who served were: Albert Basford, Philip Collier, Donald Goodman, Francis Green, Arthur Halsey, Bernard Halsey, Percy Hobbs, Archie Wells and Frank Whitman.

Boy Scouts’ Cook’s Badge – First skin your Rabbit 7

The Little Gaddesden Scout Diary records that, in Autumn 1912:

14 boys of the LG Troop were examined in the Park at Ashridge for their cook’s badges. Lord Brownlow presented a rabbit apiece to each boy. Fourteen fires were then lit, made up on some bricks + each boy proceeded to skin and boil his rabbit, adding vegetables + dumplings into his stew. The judges on this occasion were Lord Brownlow, Mrs Temple, Mrs Bridle, Mrs Flowers + Mr Jim Rodgers. Mr J Parsons presented 3 prizes for the best 3 saucepans of rabbit stew. Arthur Pinnock won the 1st prize.

We do not know who won 2nd and 3rd prizes, but the diary records that Edward was one of the 14 boys awarded his Cook’s Badge. Other Scout Cooks included Albert Basford, Francis Green, Gerald Green, Bernard Halsey, Percy Hobbs, Frank Johnson and Archie Wells.

Leaving School 6

Edward left school from Standard 6 on 13th February 1914 “being over 14 years of age”.  He had tried to leave in May 1912 but had not been able to pass the Exemption Examination necessary to obtain a Labour Certificate.

Employment 8

Edward’s Naval Record shows that he worked as an Office Boy before joining the Royal Navy in August 1915.

From the Little Gaddesden Scout Diary – August 1914 7

War between England & Germany was declared on Aug 4. The L.G. troop are proud to record that their former Asst Scoutmaster (who had left some time ago to join the Royal Navy) Bernard Phillips is now serving his country on board H.M.S. “Implacable”. George Pinnock is also on H.M.S “Powerful” waiting to go to sea. The Chief Scout has called on all Scouts to be ready to help if they are required & the following have volunteered…

14 names are then listed, one of which is Edward Bunn.

Joining the Royal Navy – War Service 8, 9

On 24th August 1915, 15 year old Edward joined the Royal Navy as a Boy Sailor 2nd Class. He was 4 feet 9¾ inches tall with a 32 inch chest. He had brown hair, blue eyes, a fresh complexion and a scar on the right side of his face.

Edward’s initial service and training was on HMS Vivid, i.e. at the Naval Barracks at Devonport. On 12th February 1916 he was promoted to Boy Sailor 1st Class.

From 25th June 1916 to 6th January 1917 he served aboard HMS Cornwallis, a pre-Dreadnought Battleship, in the Mediterranean. On 7th January 1917, Edward transferred to HMS Agamemnon, serving in the Eastern Mediterranean. The timing was fortunate as, on 9th January, HMS Cornwallis was torpedoed and sunk with the loss of 15 lives.

From 20th November 1917 to 7th February 1918 Edward was based at HMS Pembroke I, a shore barracks at Chatham. He was promoted to Ordinary Seaman on 1st January 1918.

A Naval Career 8, 9

On his eighteenth birthday, 29th January 1918, Ordinary Seaman Edward Bunn signed up for a twelve year engagement with the Royal Navy. From 8th February 1918 to 31st March 1919, he served in the Baltic aboard HMS Coventry, which was part of the 5th Light Cruiser Squadron. For his War Service, Edward was awarded the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal. On 1st April 1919, Edward was promoted to Able Seaman. He continued to serve aboard HMS Coventry (which became part of the Atlantic Fleet) until 3rd May 1920. This was followed by 5 months at Chatham (HMS Pembroke I).

Photo of Edward Bunn in uniform including his WW1 Medals and holding his young niece Joyce
Edward Bunn wearing his First World War medals. This photo with his niece Joyce Tharby taken while he was on leave in Great Gaddesden in 1928. Photo courtesy of his Great Nephew Martin Tharby Jones.

Men who have answered their country’s call in defence of a “Scrap of Paper”

Edward Bunn is named on the Roll of Honour, which hangs in St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden and lists 119 men from Little Gaddesden, Ringshall and Hudnall who served in the 1914 – 1918 War. His entry reads Bunn Edward, Royal Navy. He is similarly shown on the Centenary Revision of the Roll. Also listed on the Rolls are his three older brothers Sidney Bunn , Walter Bunn and Godfrey Bunn and his brother in law Charles Short, who had married Edward’s sister Elsie in 1913.

Rolls of Honour photos: Jane Dickson, Michael Carver

Edward’s Parents move to Great Gaddesden 10, 11

Edward’s parents remained in Little Gaddesden until 1920 then moved to Great Gaddesden, where his father became Landlord of The Cock and Bottle Inn.

Continued Service in the Royal Navy 8, 12

Details of Able Seaman Edward Bunn’s Royal Naval Service from 4th May 1920 are as follows: (During the intervening periods he was at HMS Pembroke Shore Barracks, Chatham).

  • 7th October 1920 – 30th June 1921 – HMS Carnarvon
  • 2nd September 1921 – 29th April 1924 – HMS Ramillies
  • 27th May 1924 – 20th June 1924 – HMS Pembroke II (Erebus)
  • 9th December 1924 – 21st January 1925 – HMS Ajax
  • 15th April 1925 – 19th August 1928 – HMS Vindictive
  • 30th April 1929 – 7th February 1930 – HMS Victory XI (Albury)

Joining the Royal Fleet Reserve 12, 13

On completion of his 12 years’ Naval Service, Edward joined the Royal Fleet Reserve on 8th February 1930. Not all his record is legible but he completed a week on Pembroke 1 between 28th September and 4th October 1938.

During this time, he lived with his family at The Cock and Bottle, Great Gaddesden. When his father died in 1936, his National Probate Register entry named Edward and his brother Walter Bunn, stating that they were Market Gardeners.

Long Service and Good Conduct Medal 9

On 27th November 1933 Able Seaman E C Bunn, J43542, RN was awarded the Royal Naval Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. At that time he was a member of the Royal Fleet Reserve.

Marriage 14

In 1938 (3rd Quarter) Edward Charles Bunn married Margaret Nellie Halsey. They lived at The Cock and Bottle, Great Gaddesden, which, by that time, was run by Edward’s brother Walter Bunn.

Photo of Edward Bunn and Margaret Halsey outside the church on their Wedding Day in Summer 1938
Edward and Margaret on their wedding day. Photo courtesy of Edward’s Great Nephew Martin Tharby Jones.

The 1939 Register 4

Edward cannot be found in the 1939 Register because he was serving in the Royal Navy. A number of his family, including his wife Margaret Nellie Bunn, were at The Cock and Bottle in Great Gaddesden. Others there included his brother Walter Bunn, Licensed Victualler, and sister-in-law Evelyn with their daughters, Edward’s brother Sidney Bunn, his sister Margaret Bunn and his nephew John E Tharby, son of his youngest sister May.

Service during the Second World War 12

Edward’s record contains little detail of his Second World War service. It states that he served as an Able Seaman aboard HMS Sheffield from 25th August 1939 and that he was ‘Released in Class A’ aboard HMS Pembroke (therefore at Chatham) on 12th September 1945. It is unclear how long he remained on HMS Sheffield, but she was a Southampton Class Light Cruiser with the 18th Cruiser Squadron in September 1939, and carried out patrols in the Denmark Straits until April 1940, when she took part in the Norwegian campaign.

Attacking the Bismarck 15

Edward’s younger daughter states that her father spent part of his Second World War service aboard the Aircraft Carrier H.M.S. Ark Royal. She has provided a photo which has on the back “A.R.” and “attacking the Bismarck”. The photo is thought to have been taken from H.M.S. Ark Royal and to show torpedo bombing on 26th May 1941, the result of which was to jam the Bismarck’s rudders.

A photograph taken from the Ark Royal entitled "attacking the Bismarck".
Photo courtesy of Valerie Pratt

Children 1

Edward and Margaret had two daughters:  Jean, born in 1940 and Valerie, born in 1945.

Landlord of The Cock and Bottle 13

In 1948, Edward took over from his brother Walter Bunn as Landlord of The Cock and Bottle, Great Gaddesden. That was still his address when he was admitted to St Paul’s Hospital, Hemel Hempstead, prior to his death, aged 60, on 16th January 1961.


1. https://www.findmypast.co.uk England & Wales births 1837-2006 Transcriptions

2. https://www.findmypast.co.uk Hertfordshire Baptisms

3. Little Gaddesden Baptism Register 1813 – 1947

4. https://www.ancestry.co.uk The 1939 Register

5. https://www.findmypast.co.uk 1901 – 1911 England, Wales & Scotland Census Transcriptions

6. Little Gaddesden School Log Books 1887 – 1906 and 1906 – 1934

7. Little Gaddesden Scout Diary 1912 – 1922, HALS, Hertford, Acc 3131

8. https://www.findmypast.co.uk Royal Navy Seamen 1899-1919

9. https://www.ancestry.co.uk UK, Naval Medal & Award Rolls, 1793 – 1972

10. https://www.findmypast.co.uk Electoral Registers 1832 – 1932

11. https://www.ancestry.co.uk Kelly’s Directory entries 1922 – 1937 The Cock and Bottle, Great Gaddesden

12. https://www.ancestry.co.uk Register of Seamen’s Services 1929 – 1945

13. https://www.ancestry.co.uk National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations) 1858 – 1995

14. https://www.findmypast.co.uk England & Wales marriages 1837-2005 Transcriptions

15. http://www.kbismarck.com/ark-royal.html

Do you have any questions about the information recorded here? Or do you have any further information that you can share with us about those from Little Gaddesden who died or fought for their country? In either case, please contact Jane Dickson at war-remembrance@littlegaddesdenchurch.org.uk.

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Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson