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HMS Hawke HMS Hawke
First Name: William Last Name: SLESSER
Date of Death: 15/10/1914 Lived/Born In: Stratford
Rank: Private Unit: HMS Hawke RMLI
Memorial Site: Chatham Naval Memorial

Current Information:


Hatfield Road, Stratford


HMS Hawke was an armoured cruiser of the Edgar class and in October 1914 she was part of the 10th Cruiser Squadron operating in the North Sea, protecting a troop Convoy from Canada.  She was an old vessel, launched at Chatham in 1891 and had been used as a training ship so had many cadets on board. On 15th October 1914 she had stopped to pick up mail from HMS Endymion and as she was steaming back to the rest of the squadron, she was hit by a torpedo from the German submarine U9, the same U-boat that had sunk HMS Aboukir, HMS Cressy and HMS Hogue the previous month. The torpedo struck amidships, close to a magazine which exploded, killing many of the crew. Within five minutes the ship had capsized and sunk. From a crew of 594, there were only 70 survivors who were picked up by other ships from the squadron. William Slesser was one of nearly 100 Londoners who lost their lives in this incident.

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