Leading Seaman Percy John Batho had served for 15 years in the Royal Navy before joining the crew of the Laurentic just a few days before the ship went down.
He was the fifth of ten children born to John and Emma Batho (née Quick) of St Saviour’s Hill, Jersey. His parents were both born in Devon: his father in about 1853 in Ugborough; his mother in about 1858, in Kingsteignton. The couple had married in 1877 in Newton Abbott and moved to Jersey in the summer of 1881, shortly before their third son Frank was born.
St Saviour Church, Jersey
Percy was born in St. Saviour, Jersey on June 15th 1886 and baptised in St Savour’s Church on July 4th. In 1891 the family were living at D’Hautree Gardens, St Saviour’s road. His father worked as a gardener, like his father before him. The family was still at the same address in 1901 and Percy was working as an apprentice to a cycle agent while his brother Frank followed his father into the gardening business.
Less than a year later, in February 1902, Percy signed up to the Royal Navy, serving first on the HMS St. Vincent, a training ship for boys, moored at Haslar, Hampshire. He had signed on for C.S. (Continuous Service) for 12 years, but his ‘time’ did not officially commence until his 18th birthday in June 1904. Until then his rating was “Boy 2nd Class” then “Boy 1st Class”. For most of his career he served on ships in the Channel Fleet and Home Fleet, including the battleships HMS Britannia, HMS Vengeance and HMS Irresistible and HMS Shark an Acasta-class destroyer, which was sunk during the Battle of Jutland in May 1916.
Excerpt from service record
“Roll of Honour. The many friends of Leading Seaman Percy John Batho, son of Mr J Batho of D’Hautree Garden, St Saviour, will regret to hear the news that has been received that the sailor is presumed to have lost his life when HMS Laurentic was sunk off the coast of Ireland on 25 January. The sailor, who was some 30 years of age, had served about 12 years in the Royal Navy and by a stroke of ill luck joined the unfortunate Laurentic only a couple of days before she was sunk. The late seaman was of a bright and jovial disposition and had proved himself to be most efficient in the profession he had adopted. To the relatives we tender our sincere sympathy in their bereavement”.
Jersey Evening Post, 6 February 1917
War Memorial, St Saviour’s Parish Hall, Jersey.
Percy John Batho’s body was never recovered. He is remembered on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial and on the memorial at St Saviour’s Parish Hall. He was awarded the 1914-15 Star, Victory Medal and British War Medal
Census Returns of England and Wales 1881, 1891, 1901. Kew, Surrey, England
Anglican Parish Registers, Jersey Archive, Jersey Heritage, St Helier, Jersey
War Graves Roll. The Naval and Military Press Ltd.
Anglican Parish Registers, Jersey Archive, Jersey Heritage
Royal Navy Registers of Seamen’s Services. ADM 188, 362 and 363. The National Archives of the UK, Kew, Surrey, England.