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Jutland Casualty to 16 year old Midshipman

British War Medal and Victory Medal pair to Midshipman Meynell Osborne Hanwell, Killed in Action at Jutland on HMS Defence aged only 16, 1st June 1916. Only earned his commission on New Years 1916.

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SKU: J6078 Category:
Origin: United Kingdom
Extremely Fine


British War Medal and Victory Medal pair to Midshipman Meynell Osborne Hanwell, Killed in Action at Jutland on HMS Defence aged only 16. Amongst the youngest casualties of the battle of Jutland, only a handful of young Midshipmans were also aged 16.

Pair impressed: “Mid M.O. Hanwell R.N.”


With original:
Watercolour painting in Navy uniform.
2 part condolence Telegram from Buckingham Palace from the Keeper of the Privy Purse on behalf of King George and the Queen
Original letter which was a typewritten copy of a letter received by Dr James and Gertrude Gow, whose 23 year old son was killed on HMS Defence, forwarded the Hanwell family.
Original Letter sent by Christopher McCabe Merewether (a cousin) from HMS Conqueror 5th June 1916 to his mother.
Original letter from ‘Carley’ on 6th June 1916 on paper from the Carlton Club, Pall Mall.
Two original stamped envelopes that delivered the letters.


Meynell Osborne Hanwell, was from a long line of high ranking Military officers, he was born on 19th April 1900, to Ethel Octavia Osborne & Major Joseph Hanwell. He never met his father, who was a long serving veteran of the Royal Artillery and was away in South Africa when he was killed in action in the Boer War on 30th October 1900. He was the son of Major General Joseph Hanwell (1833-1911), son of Lt General Hanwell (Born 1789), son of Admiral of the White Joseph Hanwell (1758-1839).


The Hampshire Telegraph and Army and Navy Gazette 3rd January 1913: “NEW BATCH OF QUALIFIED YOUTHS, The Admiralty announce that the following candidates are declared to have passed the qualifying examination for Naval Cadetships, and will enter the Royal Naval College, Osborne, in January next:-……M.O. Hanwell”


He was commissioned as a Midshipman on 1st January 1916 having joined HMS Defence from the Training Establishment.

The Western Times 17th January 1916 announces: “At the Darmouth Royal Naval College, The Admiralty announce that the following Cadets passed out from the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, as Midshipmen, with seniority of 1st January 1916:-…..Hanwell, Meynell O…..”


Not long after joining the ship they were engaged at the Battle of Jutland on 31st May 1916, where the ship was sunk leading to the loss of all men onboard.


The letter from HMS Conqueror reads:

“My Dear Ethel,

Just after to express my deepest sympathy with you in your great loss. It may be a consolation to you to know that death must have been practically instantaneous and that it could not have been more glorious. I saw the Defence just after she went inot action and she was firing very great and regularly though surrounded with guns shell. Later she deliberately drew the fire of four battleships concentrating on her, thereby taking it off some of our larger ships that were badly in need of a respite, but in doing so she was herself blown up Four shells struck her forward simultaneously and apparently exploded a magazine, for she went straight down taking her crew with her and firing to the very last, a gallant ending of a very gallant ship; and I hope that if and when my time comes it will be under similar conditions, one could wish for non better.

Your affectionate cousin, Christopher M. Merewether”

The letter sent from HMS Malaya on 2nd June 1916 to Dr Gow on by “D.H.K.” was typed up at the time and forwarded to the Hanwell family with a note at the the bottom reading “This letter reached us this morning. I have had it typed and venture to send you a copy, hoping it may bring a day of comfort to other beloved parents as it has done us. Gertrude Gow, 6th June 1916”

The letter reads: “Dear Dr. Gow, I know that the sad news of your son’s death will be tempered by the assurance that his ship perished gloriously in screening our squadron with its smoke from the fire of the massed High Seas Fleet.

The Action of HMS Defence probably turned the scale in our favour when it was touch-and-go whether we would be overwhelmed: and you may be certain that the end of every soul on board was instantaneous and without pain or horror, as about three seconds saw a sound ship go beneath the waves with both magazines exploded. If we must go, may we go like that!
Yours very sincereley, D.H.K.”


The third letter from the Carlton Club Pall Mall dated June 6 1916

“Word on paper, my dear, are the poor things with which give comfort to those we love, so come back with Maggie and let us talk about the dear boy that has gone, how we loved him, what a happy little life he had had, what a glorious death he died and how proud his Father would have been of him. Come dear, we wont try to make you forget but we will have fun summer and I hope, help to lighten your burden, so come and be with us at least a little while, Carley