Harry Burfitt on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial

Harry Burfitt

Surname: Burfitt
Other names: Harry
Other people in this story:
Eliza Jane Burfitt
Thomas Boxall
Locations in this story:
Shaftesbury, Dorset
Ashstead Common, Ashstead, Surrey
Portsmouth, Hampshire
Water Street, Bourton, Wiltshire

Harry Burfitt was born in the Shaftesbury Workhouse, Shaftesbury, Dorset, on 14th July 1898, the son of Eliza Jane Burfitt (no father has been identified).   Eliza married Thomas Boxall on 8th December 1900 and she went to live in Ashstead Common, Ashstead, Surrey, whilst Harry lived with his grandmother in Water Street, Bourton, Wiltshire.  Eventually Harry moved to Ashstead and joined up with his mother and step-father. On enlistment Harry gave the address of his next of kin as 3 Whittaker Cottages, Ashted, Surrey. Harry enlisted in the Royal Navy on 1st October 1915 as a Boy 2nd Class (Service No. J/33560).  He served in many ships of the line and eventually qualified as an Ordinary Telegraphist.  He was posted to HMS Tipperary (a Faulkener-class Destroyer) on 21 Apr 1916.  The ship, which had only been launched on 5 Mar 1916, became a Flotilla Leader and was despatched to the Jutland area on 1 Jun 1916.   Because of the weather conditions, ships were having difficulty to recognising other vessels and the Tipperary was within 1000 yards of its supposed target before hailing to make certain.   They were immediately attacked and the ship caught fire and sank.  Of the crew of 195 only 10 survived of whom 8 became prisoners of war.  The body of Harry was not recovered and he was presumed dead.   He was awarded the Victory and British War Medals as well as the 1914/15 Star.  His name appears on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Hampshire, (Panel 15) and on the Ashstead War Memorial, St. George's Christian Centre, Barnett Wood Lane, Ashstead, Surrey.  As a postscript his mother, Eliza Jane, died in 1920.

Source: Photographs of the Portsmouth Naval Memorial taken by Richard Lunn.

  • Portsmouth Naval Memorial

Links to related web content / sources:
The National Archives
Commonwealth War Graves Commission