Arthur Edward Stokes

Name Arthur Edward Stokes
Rank Able Seaman
Service No. RFR/PO/B/4120. H.M.S. "Good Hope."
Date of entry Before1911
Date of death 1stNovember 1914 Lost at Sea
Memorial Panel 2, Portsmouth Naval Memorial

Arthur Edward Stokes was a brother of Edgar Stokes and second cousin of Leonard Joseph   Stokes, Harold Percival Stokes and John Thomas Stokes, and uncle of Hubert Prest Stokes.  He was the born at Drayton in 1889, 2nd youngest of eight children born to George and Elisabeth Stokes, and had joined the British Navy by 1911. In 1914 he was an Able Seaman on HMS Good Hope, a 14,100-ton armoured cruiser. In 1913 the ship became part of the Reserve Fleet but in August 1914 the Admiralty sent her to reinforce Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock's North America and West Indies command. On her arrival at Halifax in Nova Scotia, she became Craddock’s flag ship because she was faster than his existing one. However, 90% of her crew were reservists who had been given little opportunity to train together.

Arthur’s designation shows he was then part of the Royal Fleet Reserve (RFR) which consisted of men from all of the various branches of the Royal Navy. Many regulars were discharged directly to the RFR which acted similarly to the Territorial Army. There were two classes of Reservists; Class B consisted of men who had served in any branch of the Royal Navy for any period up to twenty one years.

HMS Good Hope was initially employed protecting British merchant shipping down to the Brazilian coast and then the Falkland Islands. On 22 October she left Stanley to round Cape Horn onto the west coast on a search for Graf Spee and the German squadron. With her went the armed cruiser HMS Monmouth, the light cruiser Glasgow and the armed merchant cruiser Otranto. Also sent to join them was the pre-dreadnought battleship Canopus, it too manned by reservists; in the event it had engine problems and was three hundred miles south of the ensuing battle. The only modern ship in the Squadron was the Glasgow, the others being outdated, slow and no match for the German ships and their crack crews.

At seven thirty on the evening of Sunday 1st November the German armoured cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau under Admiral Graf von Spee opened fire on the British line from 12000 yards. The sun was setting, making the German ships difficult to see but silhouetting the British ships. The third salvo from Scharnhorst hit Good Hope, followed by thirty more hits. Monmouth was similarly hit and its forward turret set on fire by the Gneisenau.

The outgunned Otranto withdrew and sailed off to warn the Canopus. Shortly before eight o’clock a magazine exploded on the Good Hope and the ship went down with her entire crew of 900 men. HMS Monmouth also sank with no survivors. Glasgow, having suffered five hits, followed the Otranto towards the Falklands.

The shocking defeat at Coronel was the first the British navy had experienced in more than a century. In contrast to British losses - two armoured cruisers and 1600 men - the German squadron recorded two hits on Scharnhorst and four hits and three wounded on Gneisenau.
There are two specific memorials to those who died, one in Stanley Cathedral on the Falklands and the other in the 21st May Plaza in Coronel.

The Admiralty notified the families of the dead by telegram about two months later. His brother Edgar had been killed in action on 31st October, the day before the Good Hope went down.