Memorial to The Unknown Stoker
[Extract from 'St Ann's Church, A Brief History' courtesy of Wendy Smith]
"It is a pity that a most interesting item of naval history has been hidden from view beneath the carpet in front of the lectern. This is the memorial to the Unknown Stoker of HMS Vindictive who was killed in the blocking operation at Ostend on 9/10 May 1918.
The story began when Sir Fabian Ware of the Imperial War Graves Commission sent a wooden cross, on which was a german inscription explaining its origin, to Admiral Sir Roger Keyes and suggested it should be placed in St Ann's as a permanent naval memorial to all those who had lost their lives at sea during the war of 1914-1918. Admiral Keyes wrote:
'I saw the original German cross on the grave in October, 1918, alongside those of Commander Godsal and others who were killed in that action, and I was informed by the Belgians that the German Naval authorities had buried them with great respect and full military honours.......I strongly recommend........placing the cross in stone bedded in the floor, although it is more costly. It is requested that their Lordships' approval may be sought for the expense of this work to be defrayed from public funds.'
Approval was duly given and, at a cost of £16, a wooden cross was embedded in a stone slab. It was later confirmed that this was not the original German cross, but one from the War Graves Commission. A dedication Service took place on 10 May 1931, in the presence of the Chaplain of the Fleet, the Reverend WK Knight-Adlein and St Ann's chaplain, the Reverend WN Martin."