After 22 years of service in the Royal Navy Leading Stoker, Petty Officer Frank Tardivel lost his life when the Laurentic sank. He was born in Jersey on the June 16th 1876, son of French born François and Ann Marie Tardivel (née Guelleaume). The couple had married on January 9th 1876 at St Peter’s, Jersey.
At five years old Frank was known as Francois and was recorded in the 1881 census living with his parents and baby brother William Albert at their home in St Peter’s, Jersey. His father was a farmer tending 8 acres. By 1891 the family had moved to 15 St Peter’s Windmill, and Frank’s father was employed as an Agricultural labourer. William Albert may not have survived as he doesn’t appear in the 1891 census but Frank has a new brother Alfred, age 1.
Frank was 19 years old and working as a coachman when he joined the Royal Navy on 1895. He married Emma Elizabeth Rive October 21st 1900 at St Helier, Jersey and they had one daughter.
From the beginning of his service Frank worked as a stoker, working his way up from Seaman Stoker to Petty Officer Stoker by 1910. From October 1906 to December 1909 he was stationed on the Euryalus. When the 1908 Messina earthquake occurred on 28 December in Sicily and Calabria, Southern Italy, the disaster made headlines worldwide and international relief efforts were launched. The cities of Messina and Reggio Calabria were almost completely destroyed and between 75,000 and 200,000 lives were lost. Many nations came to the aid of the affected areas and various ships in the Mediterranean at the time, including the Euryalus, were deployed to offer whatever help could be given. A number of vessels landed men to assist, from digging survivors out from collapsed buildings to assisting with the evacuation of the injured and homeless. Frank Tardivel was awarded the Messina Earthquake Medal 1908 in recognition of his contribution to the relief effort.
Messina Earthquake Medal 1908
In April 1911 at census time he was at Portland, Dorset, stationed on “HMS Illustrious” a First Class Battleship, part of the Home Fleet. Just a few months later, having spent 16 years on ships in service around the world, including the Far East and West Indies, he came home from sea and took up the post of Coastguard, stationed at Clovelly, Devon. But in July 1914 he was called up again to service due to the outbreak of war.
These fine tributes to Frank Tardivel, published in newspapers in Devon and Jersey, show the esteem in which he was held.
“There were many tokens of regret in the parish on Tuesday, Jan. 31st when news was received from the Admiralty that Leading Stoker F. Tardivel, 279894 Po., who was on board H.M. Auxiliary Cruiser Laurentic, had gone down with the ship. Deceased was a typical Jack Tar, being of a genial disposition and possessed of many sterling qualities which endeared him to all. He leaves a widow and one daughter at the Coastguard Station, with whom the greatest sympathy is felt”.
Heartland & West Country Chronicle
12 February 1917
Roll of Honour. Particulars have just come to hand regarding Petty Officer Frank Tardivel, who we stated a few days ago had been drowned when the Laurentic was sunk off the coast of Ireland. The deceased sailor was 40 and a native of St Peters. He joined the Royal Navy in 1895 and this would have completed 22 years service. He had seen considerable service abroad, notably in China, Japan and the West Indies, in addition to the Long Service and Good Conduct Medals he wore the medal awarded by the King of Italy for services rendered during the Messina earthquake in 1908. Shortly before the outbreak of war the Petty Officer had been stationed at Clovelley as Coastguard and was called up to service in the South Atlantic. He later took part in the bombardment of the Dardanelles and he arrived in England just in time to be sent to Ireland to help in the quelling of the insurrection. Much sympathy will be felt for Mrs Tardivel and her daughter, the widow is the youngest daughter of Mr J P Rive, formerly of St Ouens and now of St Aubins. The body, it is a melancholy satisfaction to know, was recovered from the sea and buried in Ireland.
Jersey Evening Post
17 March 1917
North Devon Journal 8th February 1917
Frank Tardivel was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Mercantile Marine Medal, Victory Medal, RN Long Service & Good Conduct Medal (EDVII 1910) and the Messina Earthquake Medal 1908 – HMS EURYALUS
British Newspaper Archive
Census Returns of England and Wales, 1881, 1891, 1911. Kew, Surrey, England
Anglican Parish Registers, Jersey Archive, Jersey Heritage, St Helier, Jersey, Channel Islands.