James Laurence Founds


This post was written by Victoria Doran

James Founds served in the Royal Navy from the age of 15 and died at the Battle of Jutland when HMS Indefatigable was sunk.

HMS Indefatigable from wiki.jpg

HMS Indefatigable – from wikipedia

James Founds was born on 10 May 1894 in Dunmore, Waterford, Ireland where his father, William Henry Founds (1863-1947) worked for the Coastguard. He was registered as plain James Founds, but later his family told the Royal Navy that his full name was James Laurance Founds. There is also some confusion over his surname, as this is sometimes recorded as Found not Founds. However this branch of the family always used Founds, so that will be used throughout.

James was the 4th of the 8 children of William Henry Founds and his wife Hannah George (1865-1953). Three other children did not survive infancy.

William Henry Founds was born in Northam on the coast of Devon, again the fourth in the family of 9 children of James Found (1818-1897) and Julia Ann Brown (1837-1921). Previous generations of both families had been agricultural labourers, but James Found had some disability and worked as a shoe maker.

The George family came from St Endellion, Cornwall and also worked as farm labourers.

William Henry joined the Royal Navy at the age of 16 in 1880. He served on many vessels before moving to the Coastguard Service on 22 December 1891 in Ireland. From the 1850s to 1923, the Admiralty was responsible for the Coastguard, and it employees were members of the Royal Navy. Its primary purpose was to prevent smuggling, and its employees were frequently moved from one shore station to another, to deter collusion with the locals. William Henry served in 12 different stations during his not quite 28 years in the Coastguard Service, and his family will have moved with him each time. The first 12 years were spent in Southern Ireland, followed by 13 years in Northern Ireland, with a short period in Wales near the end. His final posting was to Hoylake on 1 April 1919. He retired weeks later on 12 June 1919 aged 55. Probably he was allowed to choose his final posting as the place he wanted to spend the rest of his life.

All this means that James spent his childhood constantly on the move, and he almost certainly never actually visited north west Wirral.

James and his younger brother Charles Frederick Founds (1896-1986) both attended the Hibernian Marine School in Clontarf, Dublin as boarders before enlisting in the Royal Navy. This was a free school for the sons and orphans of seafarers, to train up more seamen. On 15 October 1910 he joined the Royal Navy as Boy II Class.

He worked his way up from ship to ship and on 17 June 1913 he joined the cruiser, HMS Indefatigible as an Able Seaman. At the end of May 1916 the British Fleet was off the north sea coast of the Jutland peninsula of Denmark. On 31 May battle was engaged with the German Fleet. During the first stage of the Battle, HMS Indefatigable was sunk with the loss of all but 2 of its crew of 1019. More information about the HMS Indefatigable and the Battle of Jutland can be found in the post for William Arthur George Cooke who was also a member of the crew. James was 22 years old and is commemorated on the Naval Memorial at Plymouth.

Plymouth Naval Memorial jpg.jpg

Plymouth Naval Memorial, Devon

When names were being collected for the Grange Hill War Memorial and Book of Remembrance, his father had retired and his parents were settled at 48 Alderley Road, Hoylake, where they lived for the rest of their long lives, so they put forward James’ name for inclusion. However he may not have been on very good terms with his parents, as the Royal Navy informed a ‘friend’, Hannah E Young, in Plymouth of his death on 6 June and only on 27 June informed his mother.

After leaving school James’ brother Charles did not take up a naval career. He emigrated to Canada in 1909 and worked in banks in Alberta. In 1956 he retired to West Kirby and lived there another 30 years.

Two of James’ uncles are also worth mentioning. His father’s eldest brother, Richard Found (1857-1919) worked all his life as a labourer. and never married. At some point during the war, he enlisted in the army, lying slightly about his age, and served in France with the Royal Engineers. He died in France of Spanish Flu on 6 May 1919 whilst serving as Pioneer WR/273575 of the RE Railway Transportation Establishment. As a Pioneer he will have been a labourer. He was 62 years old, and must have been one of the oldest men to serve in France.

A younger uncle, Charles Found (1870-1945) was a career cavalryman, enlisting in the 6th Dragoons at the age of 17 in 1888. He served twice in the Boer Wars, and ended his normal service as a Sergeant in 1909. He enlisted again on 4 September 1914 and served on the Western Front throughout the war. When he was demobbed on 21 February 1919 he felt he was still needed by the army, as he enlisted again on 23 August 1919, this time in the Chinese Labour Corps, who were used to clear up the old battlefields. He finally left the army due to a wrist injury aged 49 on 11 March 1920.

Birth: 10 May 1894 at Drumore, Wexford, Ireland
Death: 31 May 1916, went down with his ship during the Battle of Jutland
Addresses: Cooleseskin, Bannow, Wexford, Ireland (01); HMS Alfred, Torquay, Devon (11)
Occupation: Royal Navy seaman
Unit: HMS Indefatigable
Number and Rank: J/7618; able seaman
Medals: Star, Victory & British War
Commemorated: GH, Plymouth Naval Memorial
Sources: BR, CWGC, SR, Census: 01,11, Ireland Civil Births Registration


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