Able Seaman William Bridge (J/29416)

HM Submarine E-47

Malvern Commemoration: Christchurch,

Burial/Commemoration: Plymouth Naval Memorial

Nature of Death: Killed in the loss of E-47 North Sea 20/8/1917

Age: 20

Next of Kin: Son of Alice Bridge of 31 Bridge Road, Watford (late Sherrards Green, Malvern) and the late George Bridge

Previous Employment: Porter; Boy Sailor in Royal Navy

Royal Navy

Early years

William Arthur Bridge was born in Malvern on 11th October 1896, the son of George Bridge, a porter and his wife Alice.  He was christened at Christchurch on 6th December 1896.  The family moved from not Malvern for a short while: the 1901 Census found them living at Spellmans Pitch, Rodborough in Gloucestershire. However by 1903, when William’s brother Albert was born, they were back in Malvern again..

By 1911, the family living at 1 Sherrards Green Cottages, Sherrards Green (in Christchurch parish).  George Bridge was by this time a carman working for the Great Western Railway.

Royal Naval service

William joined the Royal Navy in Boy Service on 21st January 1914.  After training at Devonport, he served aboard the Navy’s last pre-dreadnought battleship HMS Lord NelsonAs a boy sailor he was aboard Lord Nelson when war was declared.  This battleship began as the flagship of the Channel Fleet.  With other ships, she covered the safe transport of the British Expeditionary Force to France.  In October William came of age and became an Ordinary Seaman.  On 14 November 1914, Lord Nelson transferred to Sheerness to guard the English coast against the possibility of a German invasion.


In February 1915, Lord Nelson was ordered to the Eastern Mediterranean to participate in the Dardanelles Campaign.  She took part in the bombardment of the inner forts and supported the initial landings in early March. The Ottoman Turkish forts engaged her heavily on 7th March and hit her several times.  After repairs at Malta, the ship returned to take part in the main attack on the Narrows forts on 18 March. Later she bombarded Ottoman field batteries on 6 May prior to the Second Battle of Krithia.  Shortly afterwards on 20th May, William was promoted to the rank of Able Seaman (AB).

In December 1915, William’s father George died at Malvern Hospital.

Torpedo specialism

From February 1916, AB Bridge spent three months training at HMS Defiance, the Royal Navy’s torpedo and mining school at Devonport.  His next ship was HM Torpedo Boat 107, based out of Devonport.  He served aboard her from June to December 1916.  Perhaps as a torpedo specialist, and attracted by the extra pay, William transferred to Submarine Service, his pay base becoming HMS Dolphin – the Navy’s submarine school at Gosport, Hampshire.

Submarine service

Later in January 1917, William moved aboard HMS Maidstone, the submarine depot ship for the 9th Submarine Flotilla based out of Harwich.  On 1st July 1917 he joined HM Submarine E47 – it was to be a short deployment, sadly.  E-47 was engaged in North Sea patrols off the German and Dutch coasts.

Following the resumption of German coastal shipping between Heligoland Bight and Rotterdam in the summer of 1917, four E-class submarines were sent to intercept. E47 was lost in the North Sea on 20 August 1917. There were no survivors.


William Arthur Bridge is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial.  His mother was notified of his death while living at 30 Bridge Road, Watford, Hertfordshire.

1901 Census
1911 Census

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