Dartmouth's Great War Fallen
Researching the Dartmouth men who died in the First World War

William George Luscombe


William George Luscombe was born in Chillington, Stokenham, the son of  Sampson Luscombe, a Thatcher, and his wife, Bertha Inch. He was baptised George William, on 2nd February 1890 in the parish church of St Michael and All Angels, Stokenham, and is shown in the 1891 Census as aged one.  According to census records, the couple had three children, one girl and two boys - William was the elder boy. Sampson was a thatcher, as had been his father, William Luscombe, before him, and had been born in Stokenham, as had his father. Bertha had been born in the village of Malborough, the other side of Kingsbridge, but had moved to Stokenham when she came to work as a servant in the household of Francis William Coaker, a farmer. She and Sampson had married in the parish church in Stokenham in 1885.


William began to work for his father as a thatcher, but evidently this was not enough for him. He joined the Navy as a Boy 2nd Class on 12 June 1906, in the training ship HMS Boscawen at Portland.  Seaman Boys typically entered between 15 and 16 for 12 years service starting at the age of 18. William was a little older than 16 but seems to have overstated his age by a year, as his naval service record gives his date of birth as 6th December 1888. This enabled him to move quickly to the level of Ordinary Seaman - his naval record shows him reaching Boy 1st Class on 19 July 1906, and Ordinary Seaman on 6th December 1906, about six months after joining, following training at HMS Ganges and in the training ship HMS Sutlej.

William continued to progress quickly. His first substantial posting at sea after training seems to have been on HMS Commonwealth in the Home Fleet from May 1907 for two years, during which time he was rated Able Seaman in 1908. After further training at Devonport he spent just over a year at HMS Defiance, the Torpedo and Mining Training Establishment, and from 1911 to February 1914 was allocated to destroyer depot ships, indicating he was serving on torpedo boat destroyers. His naval service record does not give any details but from the record of his marriage (see next paragraph) we know that in December 1913 he was serving on HMS Tartar, which was at that time operating out of Portland, and which he gave as his "place of residence" for the marriage register.  HMS Tartar was a "Tribal class" destroyer built between 1905-1908.

During this period he achieved promotion to Leading Seaman on 1st February 1913. He also passed educationally for Petty Officer, in March 1913.

On 8th December 1913 William married Ellen Frances Johns, the daughter of Samuel Johns and Sarah Jane Head, at the parish church in Stokenham. Ellen (or Nellie - see below) was born in East Allington. Her father was a farm labourer and farm horseman. In the 1911 Census she was recorded as a housemaid working for Kathleen Travers Hawes, of Verandah House Torcross.

It would seem that the couple (or Nellie at least) made their home in Dartmouth, in Warfleet Cottage (see below).

In February 1914 William returned to HMS Defiance for further torpedo school training. This would have been the next stage in meeting the requirements for promotion to Petty Officer.


On 31st July, William was appointed from HMS Defiance to HMS Monmouth, at the rate of Leading Seaman. For his service on HMS Monmouth, and his death at the Battle of Coronel, please see our separate article here.


An announcement of William's death appeared in the Dartmouth Chronicle of 20th November 1914.

Luscombe - November 1st, William George Luscombe, Leading Seaman, beloved husband of Nellie Luscombe, Warfleet Cottage, Dartmouth, who lost his life on HMS Monmouth.

God took my loved one from me
But never from my heart

William is commemorated on the Town War Memorial, the St Saviour's Memorial Board, and the St Petrox Memorial.

On the St Saviour's Memorial Board, his name is incorrectly shown as "J P Luscombe".

He is also commemorated on the War Memorial in Stokenham Church, where he was baptised and married.

Like all those who sailed from Plymouth during the First World War, but who have no known grave, William is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial on The Hoe.


William's naval record can be downloaded from the National Archives (fee payable) reference ADM/ 188/418/235610


Information Held on Database

Forenames:William George
Rank:Leading Seaman RN
Service Number:235610
Military Unit:HMS Monmouth
Date of Death:01 Nov 1914
Age at Death:24
Cause of Death:Killed in action
Action Resulting in Death:Battle of Coronel
Place of Death:
Place of Burial:Commemorated Plymouth Naval Memorial
Born or Lived in Dartmouth?Yes
On Dartmouth War Memorial?Yes
On St Saviour's Memorials?Yes
On St Petrox Memorials?Yes
On Flavel Church Memorials?No
In Longcross Cemetery?No
In St Clement's Churchyard?No
On a Private Memorial?No
On Another Memorial?No

This information was last updated on Friday 31 October 2014 at 19:58:58.