Albert Howes was born in Clapton, east London, in 1880 to Thomas, an upholsterer, and Emily Howes. He was living with his family at 38 Clifton Road, Hackney, in 1881. By 1891, the family had moved to 27 Poynton Road, Tottenham. Albert joined the Navy as an Able Seaman, and in 1901 was based at the First Class Training Ship HMS Ganges at Harwich. Albert eventually became a Petty Officer.
Albert married Maud Alice Town in the spring of 1914. The pair lived at Parsonage Cottages, Parsonage Lane, Minster, Kent.
After the outbreak of war, Albert served with 7th Cruiser Squadron on HMS Aboukir, an obsolete armoured cruiser, which, with sister ships Hogue and Cressy, was patrolling the North Sea. This was intended to prevent German incursions into the Channel area. Many of the crew were Royal Naval Reservists or cadets, and such was the vulnerability of the group it was called the ’live bait squadron.’
At approximately 06:20am on 22nd September 1914, the German submarine U9 fired a torpedo which hit the Aboukir on the port side. Initially believing her to have struck a mine, the other ships stood by to assist. As the rescue was underway, two torpedoes stuck the Hogue amidships on the starboard side. Almost at once, the ship began to list and within fifteen minutes had turned over and sunk.
Aboukir also turned over at about 06:45, and sank about five minutes later.
Cressy was then hit at about 07:15 by one of two torpedoes, and struck again by a third at 07:30. Cressy also capsized, sinking at about 07:55.
In the space of ninety minutes, the Royal Navy had lost three ships and about 1,459 men. Albert Howes was not found after the sinking and his body remains in the North Sea.
Albert’s parents were known to be living in Woodford after the war, which is probably why Albert is commemorated there but he has no record of residence in the Borough.
Research by Adrian Lee, Local Historian
Commonwealth War Graves Commission