Arthur Dent

Boy 1st Class, J/21227, HMS Bulwark, Royal Navy, died at sea, 26th November 1914, aged 17

Born at Keadby on 19th April 1897, Arthur was the only son of (the late) Alfred and Adelaide Dent. His father was a railway worker from Netherton who died in 1900. His mother was from Torksey Lock. In 1911 Arthur was working as a telegraph messenger boy for the Post Office and lived with his widowed mother and sister in Station Road, Keadby.

Arthur enlisted in the Royal Navy in 1913 and was posted to the battleship HMS Bulwark. On 26th November 1914 HMS Bulwark was moored at buoy number 17 at Kethole Reach on the River Medway where she was taking on coal from the airship base at Kingsnorth, on the Isle of Grain.

At 7.50am, as the crew were having breakfast, an explosion, thought to have been caused by a stray spark igniting ammunition that had been stored in corridors outside the magazines, ripped the ship apart. The explosion was heard as far away as Whitstable and Southend and debris fell up to four miles away. Eye witnesses stated that once the smoke has cleared, there was no sign of the ship.

Arthur Dent was among the 796 members of the crew of HMS Bulwark who died when she exploded and sank on 26th November. Of the 14 men who survived, 5 would die later of their wounds.

A number of bodies were recovered from the wreck of the Bulwark and they are buried together in a communal grave in Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham. They and all their colleagues are also commemorated on Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

Arthur is commemorated on both Althorpe War Memorials.