Musician Ernest and Petty Officer Edward Gallagher

HMS Indefatigable one of the wrecks from the B...

HMS Indefatigable sinking (Image via Wikipedia)

Jutland is well-reputed to have touched virtually every family in Portsmouth. But for the Gallagher family, it had a particularly heavy toll.

Petty Officer Stoker Edward Gallagher was 50 in 1916. He had been born in Crawley in Sussex on 4 August 1865. His son Musician Ernest John Gallagher was born in Portsmouth on 8 September 1896. He joined the Royal Marines Band Service on 19 September 1910, when he was just 14 years old. By May 1916, he was 19.

In 1916 Edward Gallagher was serving onboard the Battlecruiser HMS Invincible, whilst Ernest was part of the Royal Marines Band onboard another Battlecruiser, HMS Indefatigable. Both ships were sunk at the Battle of Jutland on 31 May to 1 June 1916. HMS Indefatigable was ripped apart by a huge explosion, with only two men out of a crew of 1,017. Invincible was also destroyed by a explosion, and out of her crew of 1,026 officers and men, only six survived.

Both father and son have no known grave other than the sea, and are remembered on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial on Southsea Common. Mary Gallagher would have received not one but two terse telegrams from the Admiralty in the days after Jutland. She survived them for almost 30 years, dying in Portsmouth in 1946. She was 76.

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2 Comments

Filed under Navy, portsmouth heroes, Royal Marines, World War One

2 responses to “Musician Ernest and Petty Officer Edward Gallagher

  1. John Erickson

    I know they were considered a prime posting, but to have father and son on two of the most eminently sinkable ships at Jutland! (Of course, it wasn’t ALL the ships’ faults – overriding flash protection is NEVER a good idea.)
    Was it common to carry RM bands during battle? (I have to admit not knowing what the US standard was, either.) Or were the band members also assigned combat stations?
    As always, thanks!

    • James Daly

      All major RN ships had full RM bands during WW1 and WW2. This comes from the tradition of musicians giving orders – drummers beating to quarters, buglers similarly etc. The RM Bands also have a great tradition of giving flying-the-flag concerts, or morale boosting gigs too. x and WEBF might be able to chip in on this, but all british military bandsmen have always been trained medics, and carry out other duties such as sentry. I dont know aboutr WW1, but in WW2 marine bandsmen also manned one of the gunnery direction posts. Might be different in WW1 as the technology was 25 years backwards. We shall see!

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