yeovil at War

Ernest George Scriven

Went down with HMS Monmouth at the Battle of Coronel

 

Ernest George Scriven was born in Crewkerne on 20 December 1890, the eldest son of farmer Robert Scriven (1861-1933) and Mary Ann née Way (b 1865). In the 1891 census Robert and Mary were listed living at Haymore Mill, Crewkerne, with 3-month old Ernest. By the time of the 1901 census Robert and Mary had moved to Membury, Devon, and had increased their family with Sidney (b 1894), Margaret (b 1896) and Ella (b 1899). I couldn't find the family in the 1911 census but his mother (next of kin) is known to have been living at The Firs, Ilchester Road, at the time of Ernest's enlistment and his parents were living at 29 Rosebery Avenue at the time of his death.

It is not known when Ernest enlisted in the Royal Navy, but he was to become a Leading Carpenter's crew member. After training he served on board HMS Monmouth.

HMS Monmouth was the lead ship of her class of 10 armoured cruisers built for the Royal Navy in the first decade of the 20th century. She was assigned to the 1st Cruiser Squadron of the Channel Fleet upon completion in 1903. She was transferred to the China Station in 1906, and remained there until she returned home in 1913 and was assigned to the reserve Third Fleet. When World War I began in August 1914, the ship was re-commissioned and assigned to the 5th Cruiser Squadron in the Central Atlantic to search for German commerce raiders and protect Allied shipping. She was detached upon arrival to patrol the Brazilian coast for German ships, and was later ordered to the South Atlantic to join Rear Admiral Christopher Cradock's squadron in their search for the German East Asia Squadron. He found the German squadron on 1 November off the coast of Chile. The German squadron outnumbered Cradock's force and individually their ships were more powerful; they sank Cradock's two armoured cruisers in the Battle of Coronel.

The Battle of Coronel took place on 1 November 1914 off the coast of central Chile near the city of Coronel. German Kaiserliche Marine forces led by Vice-Admiral Graf Maximilian von Spee met and defeated a Royal Navy squadron commanded by Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock. The engagement probably took place as a result of a series of misunderstandings as neither admiral expected to meet the other in full force. Once the two met, Cradock understood his orders were to fight to the end, despite the odds heavily against him.

There was some confusion amongst the German ships as to the fate of the two armoured cruisers, which had disappeared into the dark once they ceased firing, and a hunt began. Leipzig saw something burning, but on approaching found only wreckage. Nürnberg - slower than the other German ships - arrived late at the battle and sighted Monmouth, listing and badly damaged but still moving. After pointedly directing his searchlights at the ship's ensign, an invitation to surrender - which was declined - he opened fire, finally sinking the ship. Monmouth was lost with all hands, including 23-year old Ernest Scriven.

Ernest Scriven is commemorated on Panel 4 of the Plymouth Naval Memorial and his name is recorded on the Yeovil War Memorial in the Borough.

 

gallery

 

HMS Monmouth at anchor.

 

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission certificate in memory of Ernest Scriven.

 

Plymouth Naval Memorial

After the First World War, an appropriate way had to be found of commemorating those members of the Royal Navy who had no known grave, the majority of deaths having occurred at sea where no permanent memorial could be provided. An Admiralty committee recommended that the three manning ports in Great Britain - Chatham, Plymouth and Portsmouth - should each have an identical memorial of unmistakable naval form, an obelisk, which would serve as a leading mark for shipping. The memorials were designed by Sir Robert Lorimer, who had already carried out a considerable amount of work for the Commission, with sculpture by Henry Poole. The Plymouth Naval Memorial was unveiled by HRH Prince George on 29 July 1924.