J31811 Ordinary Seaman George Pinnock, Royal Navy
Born on 19th October 1898 in Twickenham, Middlesex
Died at Sea 31st May 1916 aboard H.M.S. Black Prince off Jutland
George Edward Pinnock was born in Twickenham, Middlesex, the eldest of the four children of Edward Henry Pinnock and Ruth, née Goldsmith. His brother Arthur Pinnock was born on 1st October 1901, his sister Marjorie May on 22nd June 1908 and his sister Iris Ruth on 17th May 1914. His father was a Domestic Gardener. In the 1901 Census, the family lived at Fourth Cross Road, Twickenham. They moved to Little Gaddesden in September 1903 when George’s father became Head Gardener to the Hon Alfred Talbot at Little Gaddesden House, after which their address was: The Gardens, Little Gaddesden House.
George started at Little Gaddesden School on 28th September 1903. The School Log Book entry reads:
Entered George Pinnock (Inft.) on Registers. This little boy (5 years old next month) has attended Woking School for a short time.
He left the school on 21st October 1912 when he was 14 years old.
Joining the Little Gaddesden Scout Troop 6
George and his younger brother Arthur Pinnock joined the Little Gaddesden Scout Troop at its first meeting on October 26th 1911. George was in the Lion Patrol, Patrol Leader Frank (Henry F.) Johnson and Arthur Pinnock a member of the Peewit Patrol, whose Patrol Leader Arthur Whitman was killed at St Julien on 31st July 1917. 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, who wrote the Scout Diary, 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, Edward Bunn, Kenneth Edge, Gerald Green, Jim Whitman and their Patrol Leader Frank (Henry F.) Johnson.
Preparing to join the Royal Navy 6
A November 1912 entry in the Little Gaddesden Scout Diary states that:
At the beginning of Nov: George Pinnock left the Scouts to go to the Sea Training Home at Liscard. The evening before he started off for his sea-life the Scouts gave him 3 cheers as he left the Armoury. Everyone was sorry to lose him from the Troop and all the Scouts will watch his naval career with interest.
Liscard was located in Wallasey, Lancashire and regularly took boys from Hertfordshire.
Military Service 7
From 11th June 1914, after leaving Liscard, George served as a Boy Sailor, 2nd Class aboard the Boys’ Training Ship HMS Powerful at Devonport.
War is declared 6
An August 1914 entry in the Scout Diary notes that
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.
On 3rd October 1914, George, not quite 15 years old, was promoted to Boy Sailor, 1st Class. On 4th December he was transferred for a month to HMS Pembroke 1, a naval shore barracks at Chatham.
HMS Black Prince 7
15 year old J31811 George Pinnock, Boy Sailor 1st Class, served aboard HMS Black Prince from 8th January 1915.
It was a Duke of Edinburgh Class Armoured Cruiser, built in the early 1900s, which had recently joined the Grand Fleet as part of the 1st Cruiser Squadron. George was promoted to Ordinary Seaman on 19th April 1916 when he was 17½ years old. He was then 5 feet 6¾ inches tall with a 34 inch chest. He had dark brown hair, brown eyes and a fresh complexion. He had already signed up for a period of 12 years’ Naval Service from his 18th Birthday on 19th October 1916, but that was not to be.
On 31st May 1916, the ships of the First Cruiser Squadron were involved in the Battle of Jutland. During the night, HMS Black Prince became separated from her sister ships and, in searching for them, stumbled across the entire German battle line between 750 and 12,000 yards away. That distance was effectively point blank range for naval weapons of the time. HMS Black Prince did not initially realise that she was facing German battleships; although she did managed to turn away and to launch torpedoes, she was sunk with the loss of 857 officers and men, including Ordinary Seaman George Pinnock.
In a diary entry of 2nd June 1916, Bridget Talbot wrote:
…an awful naval disaster off Jutland – Queen Mary, Black Prince etc all sunk too awful… I do hope George Pinnock is not on the Black Prince – such a splendid boy and so keen about his job – it wd. be terrible if he had gone down…
On 6th June his mother was informed that George had been killed in action.
Having given his life for his country 12
The account of the meeting of the Herts Navy League, reported in the Hertford Mercury and Reformer of 15th July 1916 included the following information:
Fifty-five Hertfordshire boys had been maintained at the training home at Liscard during 1915, including three County Council scholarship boys, and there were 38 boys from the county there at the present time. They had been enabled to train an increased number of boys mainly through the generosity of kind friends who had given special sums. This home gave an opportunity for boys from the county to go straight from school into the finest of all the professions, and to teach them discipline and self control, improve their health and give them a training which would be most advantageous to them in after life if at any time they wished to leave the sea… 20 of their old boys were serving with the fleet, one of them, George Pinnock, son of the head-gardener to Mr Talbot, at Little Gaddesden, having given his life for his country.
Commemoration at Chatham 9
In common with other casualties of the Battle of Jutland, George’s body was not recovered for burial. Ordinary Seaman G. E. Pinnock is commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial, Panel 16.
His Grave Registration Report recorded him as the “son of Edward Henry and Ruth Pinnock, of The Gardens, Little Gaddesden, Berkhamsted, Herts”.
George Pinnock is the youngest man from Little Gaddesden to be commemorated on the War Memorials on the village green and in St Peter & St Paul’s Church. He is also named on the Roll of Honour in the church.
He was posthumously awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal, which were forwarded to his father. George’s younger brother Arthur Pinnock, J69610 Royal Navy, who survived and who served again during the Second World War, is also named on the Roll of Honour.
3. Little Gaddesden Baptism Register 1813 – 1947
4. Little Gaddesden School Log Books 1887 – 1906 and 1906 – 1934
6. The Little Gaddesden Scout Diary 1912 – 1922, HALS, Hertford, Acc 3131
10. Bolton, Roger & Julia (2013) A Family at War – The Talbots of Little Gaddesden, Grosvenor House Publishing Ltd.
Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson