Rank, service number and regiment
Petty Officer Stoker 298831 Royal Navy, HMS Fortune
James enlisted in 1900 in the Somerset Light Infantry. Joined the Royal Navy in 1901.
James grew up in Broad Street K.E.near to the New Inn, now a house called Withy Cutters. He is likely to have lived in one of the cottages now demolished, at the entrance to Orchard Close, next to the Pound.
Date of death
1 June 1916
Age of death
Circumstances of death
James died at the Battle of Jutland. HMS Fortune, a Destroyer, and HMS Ardent got separated from the rest of the British flotilla. They began to look for German ships to engage and at about 11.30 pm on 31 May 1916 they started to engage four large German ships. HMS Ardent and HMS Fortune were both sunk in the ensuing fire-fight. The last anyone saw of HMS Fortune was the ship afire but still firing guns as it was sinking. All 87 crew members on the destroyer were lost at sea, including James Tilley.
James’s body was never recovered from the sea. He is commemorated on Panel 16 of the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Portsmouth.
Date of birth & full name
16 October 1883. JAMES TILLEY
Mason’s Labourer, then sailor in the Royal Navy. He originally enlisted in 1900 with the Somerset Light Infantry but joined the Royal Navy in 1901. James was at sea from 1901 as Leading Stoker on S.S. Minotaur.
John Tilley and Sarah Tilley (nee Harvey), they married 1866. According to a living relative, in 1871 they lived in a cottage near to New Inn, now a house called Withy Cutters, in Broad Street. See photo above, which shows the cottages on the right of the photo. James was possibly born in the cottage in Broad Street. His parents lived apart after 1891, his mother doing laundry work at home, according to the 1911 census.
Spouse & children
James married Lilian Edith Stone in Tynemouth, Northumberland in early 1915. Their subsequent address was The Cabin, Holwell, Buckland Ripers, Broadway, Dorset. They had no children. Lillian Edith Tilley went on to marry Reginald Stevens in Weymouth 1925.
1914/15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
According to James’ Naval Record, every year from 1901 to 1916 his character was ‘very good’. It records James as being 5’ 11” tall with brown hair, grey eyes and fresh complexion.
While on his first tour of duty he completed a piece of sewing, shown in the photo below. His mother and sisters were all glovers, so he may have learned how to sew at home. The sewing now belongs to his relatives living in Cornwall. They brought it to be displayed at the Centenary Commemoration in the Community Centre in 2018.
James’ father John Tilley died in Cotford Asylum, Taunton on 4th November 1916. His mother Sarah Tilley died in 1919.