Search our records : Norman George Franklin

Surname: Franklin
Forename(s): Norman George
Service Number: Seaman 42698
Force: Royal Naval Reserve
Unit: HMS Defence
Date of Death: 31st May 1916
Where Buried / Commemorated: Plymouth Naval Memorial
Civilian Occupation: Fisherman
Parents: George and Susan Franklin
Home address: Clapps Lane, Beer, Devon

Norman Franklin was born in Beer, and his birth was registered in the first quarter of 1889, although his Royal Navy Seaman's Record of Service says he was born in 1886. His father, George, died only a few months after Norman was born, and his mother, Susan, later married William Wilkins, a fish merchant. 

At the time of the 1911 census the family was living in Clapps Lane.  Norman, by now aged 22, was a fisherman, and his elder brother Henry was a fish merchant, presumably working with their stepfather.

Norman appears to have joined the Royal Naval Reserve in April 1906.  He would have undertaken a month's training with the Royal Navy each year.  His RNR record at the National Archives shows that in 1910, for example, he spent the whole of October on the battleships HMS Illustrious and Prince George.  From July 1911 he was paid a retainer of £1 10s by the RNR.

Between 1911 and 1914 he worked on a number of trawlers, all of which were registered in Exeter, and were thus possibly sailing from Beer.  These included the Vera Aletta, Loyal Briton, Zeus and Pauline.  However, on 3rd July 1914 he left fishing to start work as a dock gateman at Cardiff docks.  By coincidence, at least one other Beer man, William Orley (not the William Robert Orley killed at Jutland) was recorded as doing exactly the same work in the 1911 census.  Cardiff was one of the busiest ports in Europe at this time, and a number of local men went there to work.

On the outbreak of war in August 1914 Norman was called up for regular service, and joined the cruiser HMS Challenger (see separate panel), and serve in African waters in the early months of the war.  In April 1915 he left Challenger and joined the cruiser HMS Astraea.  Most of his period on board was spent in Duala, Cameroon.  Six months later he joined the SS Queen Helena, before moving to HMS Defence in April 1916, only a month before the Battle of Jutland.

Norman was killed when HMS Defence was sunk at Jutland, and he has no grave but the sea.

Please see the entries on HMS Defence and the Battle of Jutland.