Signalman Harold John Warburton, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, was born on the 19th of July 1897 to John and Mary Warburton (née Smith).
His parents were both born and raised in Salford. They married in St Philip’s Church Salford, on June 29th 1891. Their first two children, Douglas and Eva, were born in Salford and by the time their third son Percy was born in 1895 the family had moved a few miles west, to Winton, Eccles. When their youngest child Harold John was born the family were living in Clayton, Bradford.
At the time of the 1901 census the family were still in Bradford. John was working as a Clerk and Amy was a Draper & Outfitter. The four children were at school.
By the spring of 1911 the Warburtons had moved back to Salford and were living at 78 Hayfield Rd Pendleton. John Warburton was working as a Clerk (commercial); Douglas, following in his fathers footsteps, was also a Clerk; Eva was an Embroideress and Percy was an Art Student. Harold John was still at school.
The following obituary published at the time of Harold John’s death paints a vivid picture of the tragically short life of this promising young man.
“ Signaller Harold John Warburton, of Spring Bank, Manchester, Irlam-O’th’-Height, who was on board the auxiliary cruiser Laurentic, when she was mined off the coast on the 25th inst., is believed to have been killed. His father, Mr John Warburton, received a letter from the Admiralty on Sunday to the effect that his name was not amongst the list of those saved, and the usual note of sympathy was enclosed. Deceased, who was of fine physique, being over 6ft. in height, joined the R.N.V.R. about Easter last year, and was on his first voyage when he met his death. He commenced his education at the Tootall Road School, Weaste, and won a scholarship to the Salford Secondary School. During his connexion with the latter he was captain of the school, and also of the football club. From there he went to the Manchester University, where he matriculated and took Honours in Chemistry. His death at the early age of 19 years has cut short a very promising career. He secured his Intemediate BSc (Lond.) about two years ago. A keen athlete, he was always to the fore in the school sports, and held several medals gained by swimming. Much sympathy is felt with the family, who are well known in the district and this is the second bereavement they have suffered in a short time. Mrs Warburton, mother of the deceased, died only a month ago. Two elder brothers of the deceased are serving in the army. Percy, who enlisted in the Royal Fusiliers, was wounded about 19 months ago and is now in France as second Lieutenant, with the East Surrey Regiment. Sergeant Douglas Warburton went though the Gallipoli Campaign with the Eccles Company of the 16th Lancashire Fusiliers. He was wounded and afterwards suffered from dysentery and fever, and is now training in England.”
Harold’s brother Percy survived the war and became an artist, head of Bury School of Art and close friend of the renowned painter L. S. Lowry.
It is not clear whether Harold John Warburton managed to get to a lifeboat but we do know that his body was never recovered. He is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial. He is also commemorated on the Memorial Plaque of the Old Salfordians’ Association, which originally hung in the Salford Municipal School for Boys, Leaf Square premises, now re-erected in the Peel Building, University of Salford, the original site of the Salford Municipal School for Boys, where all the boys who died in the war would have studied.
Census Census Returns of England and Wales 1881, 1891, 1901 and 1911. The National Archives of the UK
General Register Office. England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes