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  • Photo was published in the Nottingham Evening Post dated 27th November 1914 and is courtesy of Jim Grundy and his facebook pages Small Town Great War Hucknall 1914-1918.
Person Details
08 Nov 1893
Louth Lincolnshire
Leonard was born on 8th November 1893 in Louth Linconlshire and was the son of Alfred Robert, a station master at Hucknall station, and Edith Mary Atkinson née Atkinson of 'Springfield' Linby Road, Hucknall Torkard, Nottinghamshire. His father Alfred Robert was born in 1862 in Boston, Lincolnshire, and his mother Edith Mary Atkinson was born in 1868 in Alford, Lincolnshire. They were married in 1889; their marriage was recorded in the Boston Registration District. They went on to have 5 children who were:- Thomas James b1890 Boston, Leonard Hobster b1894 Louth, Cecil William b1898 Louth, Hilda May b1900 and Edna Margaret b1910 Hucknall. By the 1911 census Leonard has left home and he is shown as a crew member on HMS Impregnable stationed at Devonport he is shown as being 17 yrs of age and a boy telegraphist. His family on the 1911 census are living at 'Springfield' Lindby Road, Hucknall, and are shown as Alfred Robert 49 yrs head of the family, a station master. He is living with his wife Edith Mary 43 yrs and their children Thomas James 21 yrs a railway clerk, Cecil William 13 yrs a scholar, Hilda May 10 years a scholar and Edna Margaret 1 year.
Prior to joining the Royal Navy on 10 October 1910 he was a railway clerk.
26 Nov 1914
21
2870550 - CWGC Website
J/8395
Telegraphist
HMS Bulwark Royal Navy
Leonard joined the Royal Navy on 10 October 1910, a month short of his 17th birthday. The following year on his 18th birthday (8 November 1911) he signed on for 12 years. He served in the following ships and shore establishments: HMS Ganges, 10 May 1910-26 August 1910 (Boy Class II); HMS Impregnable, 27 August 1910-14 June 1911 (19 November 1910 Boy Telegraphist); HMS Venerable, 15 June 1911-31 December 1911 (Ordinary Telegraphist 8 November 1911); Victory I, 1 January 1912-4 June 1912; HMS Bulwark, 5 June 1912-26 November 1914 (Telegraphist 25 October 1913?). Register annotated, ‘NP 3063/14. DD [discharged dead] 26 November 1914 when Bulwark was sunk.’ Leonard's body was not recovered for burial and he is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. The pre-Dreadnought battleship HMS Bulwark of the 5th Battleship Squadron, Channel Fleet, was sunk on 26 November 1914 by an ammunition explosion while at No 17 Buoy in the River Medway off Sheerness. Only 12 men survived from a ship’s company of over 750 and among the dead were sailors and Royal Marines from Nottinghamshire, many of whom came from the Meadows and Radford. Eye-witnesses in nearby ships described seeing smoke from the stern of the ship before the explosion, which appeared to have been in an after magazine. Divers who examined the wreck a few days later reported that Bulwark’s port bow had been blown off by the explosion and lay 50 feet beyond the mooring while the starboard bow lay 30 feet further away. No other large sections of the ship could be found. A Naval board of enquiry into the cause of the explosion concluded that the most likely cause of the disaster was the overheating of cordite charges stored alongside a boiler room bulkhead. It was also suggested that shells for the ship’s 6” guns had been stored in in cross-passageways connecting the ship’s 11 magazines and had, contrary to regulations, been packed too close together and were also touching the magazine bulkheads. A chain reaction explosion of the shells would have been sufficient to detonate the ship’s magazines. On the afternoon of Thursday, November 26th, 1914, First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill made the following statement to the House of Commons : ‘I regret to say I have some bad news for the house. The Bulwark battleship, which was lying in Sheerness (on the River Medway) this morning, blew up at 7.35 o'clock. The Vice and Rear Admiral, who were present, have reported their conviction that it was an internal magazine explosion which rent the ship asunder. There was apparently no upheaval in the water, and the ship had entirely disappeared when the smoke had cleared away... I regret to say the loss of life is very severe. Only 12 men are saved. All the officers and the rest of the crew, who, I suppose, amounted to between 700 and 800, have perished. I think the House would wish me to express on their behalf the deep sorrow with which the House heard the news, and their sympathy with those who have lost their relatives and friends.’
During the morning of 26th November 1914, the pre-dreadnought battleship, HMS Bulwark, exploded whilst taking on ammunition at Sheerness. One of the more than 700 men that died in the accident was Leonard Hobster Atkinson, the son of the Great Northern Railway station master in Hucknall. Originally from Louth in Lincolnshire, one of the 12 survivors, Able Seaman Johnson, was a former schoolmate of Atkinson's. An eye witness account was published the following day. "I was at breakfast at about ten minutes to eight o'clock when I heard an explosion and I went on deck. My first impression that the report was produced by the firing of a salute by one of the ships but the noise was quite exceptional. When I got on deck I soon saw that something awful had happened. "The water and the sky were obscured by dense volumes of smoke. We were at once ordered to the scene of the disaster, to render what assistance we could. "At first we could see nothing, but when the smoke had cleared a bit, we were horrified to find that the battleship had gone. It seemed to have entirely vanished from sight, but a little later we detected a portion of the huge battleship showing about four feet above the water. "We kept a vigilant look out for any of the unfortunate crew but only saw two men. I don't know whether other boats rescued any. One of the men we saw was dead. The poor fellow was terribly mutilated: one arm was torn off and hanging as if by a thread, while the body was terribly cut about. His clothing was in shreds. The other man was alive but unconscious. He had terrible wound in his forehead. "The Bulwark was lying near Sheerness, and was taking in ammunition from some barges at the time. Some say there were three powder barges there, if so, all have gone with the Bulwark. They would have had only two or three hands on each. "Immediately after the explosion the other warships put out their torpedo nets, but, in my own mind, I feel sure there was no enemy submarine about and that the disaster was the result of an accident." His brother, Thomas James Atkinson, served with the Sherwood Foresters prior to his commission into the Machine Gun Corps as a second lieutenant on 30th June 1917. He was discharged with the rank of temporary captain on 24th January 1919. All above information courtesy of Jim Grundy and his facebook pages Small Town Great War Hucknall 1914-1918.
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  • Photo was published in the Nottingham Evening Post dated 27th November 1914 and is courtesy of Jim Grundy and his facebook pages Small Town Great War Hucknall 1914-1918.
    Leonard Hobster Atkinson - Photo was published in the Nottingham Evening Post dated 27th November 1914 and is courtesy of Jim Grundy and his facebook pages Small Town Great War Hucknall 1914-1918.