Rank: Able Seaman
Regiment: Royal Navy HMS Majestic, HMS Renown
Died: 7 May 1915
East Budleigh Memorial Cross
Other Memorial: Plymouth Naval Memorial [Google]
PDF Download: FARR Charles Henry Coombes
A regular in the Royal Navy, Charles Farr was the son of Henry and Mary Ann Farr, and the husband of Louisa Farr of Bedford Square, Sunderland.
Before the war, AB Charles Farr, 204611, served on HMS Renown in the Mediterranean, but by 1915 he was on board HMS Majestic.
In early 1915 HMS Majestic was sent to the Dardanelles to form part of the big Anglo-French battleship squadron that was involved in naval attacks on the Turkish forts at the entrance to the straits. On 26 February, along with HMS Albion and HMS Triumph she made the first opposed entry of warships into the Dardanelles for a century as part of a combined operation that also saw marines land on the Gallipoli peninsula. For this attack howitzers were mounted on the roofs of the 12in gun turrets.
The three battleships entered the Dardanelles at 8am. The Majestic’s first target was a bridge over the Mendere River, which was damaged but not destroyed. By noon she was using her big guns against Fort Dardanos. During the day the ships moved further into the straits, and came under increasingly heavy fire from hidden Turkish howitzers. The Majestic was hit by one 6in howitzer shell below the water line, which caused a minor leak. At 4pm the operation battleships were withdrawn from the straits.
The Majestic took part in the unsuccessful attempt to force the straits on 18 March 1915. She was then used to support the Anzac landings at Gaba Tepe at the start of the Gallipoli campaign.
On 27 May 1915, while stationed off W Beach at Cape Helles, Turkey, Majestic became the third battleship to be torpedoed off the Gallipoli peninsula in two weeks. Around 0645 hours, Commander Otto Hersing of the German submarine U-21 fired a single torpedo through the defensive screen of destroyers and anti-torpedo nets, striking Majestic and causing a huge explosion. The ship began to list to port and in nine minutes had capsized in 54 feet of water, killing 49 men. Her masts hit the mud of the sea bottom, and her upturned hull remained visible for many months until it was finally submerged when her foremast collapsed during a storm.
The Official History of War, when describing the sinking, called the Majestic “the famous ship, the pride of the old Channel fleet, in whose design the whole thought and experience of the Victorian era had culminated.”
AB Farr is remembered with honour on the memorial at East Budleigh and on the Plymouth Naval Memorial. His body was never recovered.
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