March 2nd 1921

Lieutenant Francis Studdy RN

It is with sadness that we have to report an eighth death since the war ended of an Old Dragon combatant.

Francis spent the final year of the war in Mesopotamia, some of it on a river gunboat and made some  interesting journeys to Ctesiphon and Bagdad. Having been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant, he returned home on leave in early 1919 and was present at the surrender of the German U-boats to Admiral Tyrwhitt at Harwich on November 20th 1918, about which he sent us a most interesting account .

In June 1919 he went out to China with HMS Columbo until it returned to re-commission at the end of the year. In January 1920, when he should have gone out again to the China Station, Francis was in hospital with malaria, so the ship went without him.

For the greater part of 1920 he remained in hospital, said to be still suffering from malaria, and it was not until he was at home on sick leave in January this year, that it was discovered he was suffering from rapid consumption. On February 24th he passed away and on the 28th was laid to rest beside his mother in the churchyard of Stoke Gabriel in Devon. As his ill health stems from his time on active service, he is recorded as having a war grave by the Imperial War Graves Commission.

Francis was one of those boys who determined on a career in the navy at an early age. He left the OPS in 1910, aged 13, to join HMS Conway as a naval cadet before moving on to Dartmouth College two years later.

He was in the middle of his first cruise on HMS Cumberland when war broke out in 1914. He was subsequently appointed a midshipman on HMS Juno, which ship was occupied in patrol duties in the Atlantic.

Francis spent the best part of 1915-16 on the North Sea with the second battle squadron. He was on HMS Temeraire at the Battle of Jutland, engaging with the German light cruiser Wiesbaden and the battlecruiser Derfflinger (which had helped sink HMS Invincible, with Old Dragon Charles Fisher on board).



November 23rd 1918

Daily Telegraph 21/11/18

Sub-Lieut. Francis Studdy (RN), on HMS Danae, witnessed the surrender of the first group of German U-boats on November 20th – to an Old Dragon, Rear-Admiral Reginald Tyrwhitt (RN), “of Arethusa fame,” (as the Daily Telegraph described him.)

It was a coincidence (surely?) that the ship detailed to lead in the U-boats was HMS Dragon!

20/11/18 “All ships sounded off ‘Action Stations’ at once. The light cruiser HMS Dragon (our sister ship) was detailed to lead them in, and took up her station ahead of the two merchant ships, who were to act as transports to take the German crews back. We carried on to the end of the line, the eighteen destroyers ranging themselves on each side along the line of submarines…

At 10.30 we reached the place where the Dragon and the two transports were anchored off Felixstowe, and anchored ourselves. As each U-boat came up a motor boat went alongside and put a prize crew on board…

The manner in which the Germans surrendered their boats differed greatly. In some cases they seemed only too pleased to hand over; in others they were stoically indifferent. In one submarine the captain crashed his binoculars to the deck and wept passionately, several of the crew ‘following their senior officer’s motions.’…

As they moored up, the German crews were put on board destroyers and taken out to the transports waiting for them. The officers have no control over their men at all, and both men and submarines are in a filthy condition, but at the same time they look healthy and appear to be well fed. One destroyer officer who took one batch out said that they smelt something awful and that it took him several days to get rid of the stench.

In one submarine the crew took a dislike to their captain, so they just ditched him and put someone else in his uniform. They were quite candid about the whole thing, because the officer taking over the boat commented on the youthful appearance of the captain and asked him how long he had been in command. He replied a few hours and then volunteered the above information…

When all the U-boat crews were embarked in the two transports, the Dragon escorted them off the premises.”



June 4th 1916

Following the news of the sinking of HMS Invincible, our deep concern for the well-being of Lieut. Charles Fisher continues. As always, whilst we fear the worst, we must hope for the best.

We are also aware of others who may well have been involved in this battle off Jutland. Charles’s brother, Captain William Fisher (HMS St. Vincent) is known to be part of Jellicoe’s 1st Battle Squadron.

HMS St Vincent

HMS St Vincent

Mr & Mrs CRL Fletcher have already lost two sons to the war: Regie Fletcher was killed at Ypres on October 31st 1914 (a day that claimed three OPS victims), followed in March 1915 by his brother George Fletcher. Their oldest (and only remaining son) Lieut. Leslie Fletcher is known to be serving on HMS Colossus (also part of the 1st Battle Squadron). Surely fate cannot be so cruel as to take from the Fletcher family their only remaining child.

Attached to the 5th Battle Squadron are HMS Valiant and HMS Malaya. Both have Old Dragons aboard: Commander Geoffrey Freyberg in the former and Midshipman Percy Trevelyan in the latter.

Midshipman Francis Studdy is believed to be on HMS Temeraire in the 4th Battle Squadron, Lieut-Commander John Bywater-Ward is on HMS Ajax and, lastly, we think Lieut. Desmond Stride is on HMS Conqueror.

We await news of all of them.