Martin James Edward Wassell

Able Seaman
Royal Navy
Date of death 
31 May 1916
Age of death 
Local memorial 
Cemetery / Memorial 
United Kingdom

Born on 11th March 1892 at Limehouse, son of Walter J. (Publican) and Catherine Wassell. 1901: A Scholar with his family at 644 Wandsworth Road, Clapham - the “Crown & Anchor” Public House. 1911: An Ordinary Seaman in the Royal Navy, serving on the 1st Class Battleship HMS “Duncan” at the Grand Harbour Malta. The family home was at 3 Alma Terrace, Snakes Lane, Woodford Green. His father later resided at 1 Oporto Villas, Snakes Lane.

In 1916 Martin Wassell was serving on the Destroyer HMS “Petard” which, with 9 other ships of 13 Destroyer Flotilla, was screening 1st Battle Cruiser Squadron at the Battle of Jutland.  At 16.15 on 31st May both Fleets launched torpedo attacks. Petard although under fire launched one torpedo at four German destroyers at a range of 3000 yards, and possibly hit SMS Seydlitz, before firing a second at German Battle Cruisers at 9000 yards. Petard then maneuvered to fire two more torpedoes, but no more hits were claimed. Turning back to the British Fleet, the ship stopped to rescue one man from the sunken HMS Queen Mary, before taking up her place again at the head of the battle Cruiser line.

At about 00.32 on 1st June, firing suddenly broke out as the Fleet came under attack from German vessels. The Destroyer “Turbulent” was hit and blew up, while “Petard” was struck by a single 5.9 inch shell. Some accounts suggest this was fired by the secondary armament of either SMS “Grosser Kurfurst” or “Koenig”. Martin Wassell was among the 9 crewmen killed by this attack.  

Research by Adrian Lee, Local Historian