John Verity Poore: Tuesday 22nd April 1914
John was aged 17 and was a clerk and the youngest officer on board Cressy having been in post for 8 weeks. He plunged into the sea but drowned despite being a capable swimmer. He is commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial, Kent. Onboard HMS Cressy were probably the first parish casualties, representing both ends of the age range, John Poore and Charles Strickland.
22 September 1914 is still the Royal Navy’s blackest day and a black day for this Parish. Shortly after 6:30 am three cruisers, HMS Cressy, Hogue and Aboukir were taking part in a patrol in the North Sea Aboukir was hit by two torpedoes fired by the German submarine U9. It sank in 10 -15 minutes. Hogue and Cressy stopped to pick up survivors Hogue was sunk next and the last torpedo sunk Cressy. On HMS Cressy 1459 were lost and 837 rescued.
The Board of Enquiry after the battle criticised all senior officers involved. Rear Admiral Campbell told the enquiry he didn’t know what the purpose of the command was. The bulk of the blame was laid at the Admiralty for persisting with a patrol which was dangerous and of limited value against the advice of seagoing officers. Cressy and her sister ships, Aboukir and Hogue were older cruisers and unable to maintain the 12-13 knots asked of them. They were described as 3 inefficient cruisers, too slow and with an inexperienced crew of predominantly reservists and cadets. Cressy was built 1898-1901, was 12,000 tons and was the first British sea-going ship not to be copper-bottomed but to use antifouling paint (a saving of £40,000 and 500 tons displacement). It was state of the art in its day but past it by WW1.
John was born in Louiville Rd Balham, his parents were John Barter, a civil servant at the Board of Education, and Jessie Poore. The family later moved to 293 Trinity Road. His elder brother, Eric Vincent, 3 yrs older, was in the army services corps and appears to have survived the war. He also had a sister, Joan Verity, who was 6 years younger. John was educated at Highfield School, Trinity Rd, and Merchant Taylors. He was the War’s first fatality amongst Merchant Taylor old boys, and appears on their Roll of Honour.