Stoker 1st Class Douglas Aubrey Edser RN
H.M.S. "Queen Mary."

Town Memorial P2.R4.C2.

Douglas Edser is on the Leatherhead
and Great Bookham War Memorials

Taken, Not Given

Douglas A Edser
HMS Queen Mary
May 31 1916

For Liam Sumption's work on this casualty see Victor Barnard

Further research

Stoker 1st Class

Service Number SS/111532
Died 31/05/1916
Aged 26
H.M.S. Queen Mary
Royal Navy
Son of Harry and Sarah Edser, of "Willow Grange," Kingston Rd., Leatherhead, Surrey. Native of Gt. Bookham, Surrey.
Location: Hampshire, United Kingdom
Cemetery/memorial reference: 18.

The events of 31st May 1916 can be found on this Battle of Jutland page.

HMS Queen Mary was the last battlecruiser built by the Royal Navy before the First World War. The sole member of her class, Queen Mary shared many features with the Lion-class battlecruisers, including her eight 13.5-inch (343 mm) guns. She was completed in 1913 and participated in the Battle of Heligoland Bight as part of the Grand Fleet in 1914. Like most of the modern British battlecruisers, the ship never left the North Sea during the war. As part of the 1st Battlecruiser Squadron, Queen Mary attempted to intercept a German force that bombarded the North Sea coast of England in December 1914, but was unsuccessful.

The ship was refitting in early 1915 and missed the Battle of Dogger Bank in January, but participated in the largest fleet action of the war, the Battle of Jutland in mid-1916. She was hit twice by the German battlecruiser Derfflinger during the early part of the battle and her magazines exploded shortly afterwards, sinking the ship.

The Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services recorded these details about Douglas:

Portsmouth  SS111532
Date of Birth" 6 February 1892
Epsom Surrey
Engaged 29 November 1911 5yrs + 7yrs
Height: 5' 2 1/4
Chest: 39"/Brown hair/Hazel eyes/Fresh complexion
Tattoos both forearms
to Queen Mary: 4 Sep 13

He was therefore already in the Royal Navy for nearly three years before WW1 began.

ADM 242: Naval Casualties, Indexes, War Grave Rolls and Statistics Book, First World War

EDSER Douglas Aubrey   Sto. 1st    SS111532 RN    HMS Queen Mary    6.2.92 Epsom Surrey   31.5.16
Relative Notified: Mother Sarah, Willow Grange, Kingston Road, Leatherhead.

The news of Leatherhead casualties in the battle came on 10 June:

Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser
Saturday 10 June 1916
When the news of the great naval fight off Jutland was announced on Saturday morning, much concern was felt for tne many gallant Leatherhead men who are aboard the various vessels comprising the Grand Fleet in the North Sea, but fortunately up to the present only two have been reported missing.

Douglas Edser, son of Mr. and Mrs. Edser, Willow Grange, Kingston-road, Leatherhead, was one of the crew of H.M.S. Queen Mary, and his
parents have received a notification from the Admiralty that he is among the missing.
He was twenty-five years of age, and joined the Navy about five years ago.

It is feared that Victor Alfred Barnard, son of Mr. and Mrs. Barnard, Linden-road, Leatherhead, went down with H.M.S. Indefatigable. He was eighteen years of age, having been about three years in the Navy, and twelve months on the Indefatigable. A short time ago he was home on leave, and expressed himself highly delighted with the life he led in H.M.S. Indefatigable.

Police-constable Gooby has a son on H.M.S. Warspite, which was in the thick the fighting, and it was some days before he could get any news, but on Tuesday welcome letter came from his son that he was all right.

Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser
Saturday 30 December 1916
EDSER, Douglas, of H.M.S. Queen Mary, son of H. Edser, Willow Grange, Kingston-road, Leatherhead.

His life

He was born on 6 February 1892 in Great Bookham and baptised on the 20th of that month at the parish church of St Nicolas, Great Bookham

His father was Harry Edser, born 1845 in Ewhurst, Surrey and baptised on 30 March 1845 at Abinger, Surrey. He was a Baker and later also a Shopkeeper. His Probate record states that he died on 26 August 1930, and the address given was 263 Kingston Road Leatherhead. His estate went to his daughter Ada and son Harry (engineer's fitter).

His mother was Sally or Sarah Gadd, born 18 January1852 in Newdigate, Surrey. Her father was John Gadd (1805-1881) from Newdigate, Surrey. Her mother was his second wife Mary Ann Wright (1812–1880) who he married on 21 Mar 1827 at St Peter's, Newdigate, Surrey. Sarah died on 6 May 1933 in Leatherhead and is buried (as Sally) with Harry in Leatherhead Parish Churchyard.

Their marriage in July 1872 was registered in Reigate, Surrey.

Douglas's siblings were:

Ada (1875-1933) born Dorking
Harry (1876-15 May 1943) born Dorking
William b abt 1878 born Dorking
Leonard (1879-1961) born Bookham
Ernest (1880-1951) born Bookham

Douglas's home in Bookham was in Church Street. In Leatherhead it was at Willow Grange, Kingston Road

In the Feltham Collection of postcards in the archive of the Leatherhead & District Local History Society are two which refer to Douglas's father, Harry:

[East Street, Great Bookham]
Moving further south no.8 used to have a large window and door at the front. This presumably had been a butcher’s shop as there was a steel bar that was fixed for hanging meat, which has now gone. This is the only house in East Street to have a cellar. Arthur Sayer had a shop in East Street until 1905 when he moved to the crossroads; Mellor then occupied his shop in East Street until Harry Edser took it over until at least 1925. The property remains in private occupation with the front door moved to the side of the house.

The Crossroads, Great Bookham
On the opposite comer to Lloyds Bank at the crossroads is the estate agents Patrick Gardner. The building butts onto an 18th century property called Wyvern House in Church Road. The west part of the building that houses Patrick Gardner had been the King’s Arms public house, built in the 16th century of brick and flint. The two parts of the building that extend to the corner are extensions made in the latter part of the 19th century. Until 1905 Harry Edser had a baker’s shop here and part of the building that had been the King’s Arms became the bakehouse on the ground floor with stores on the first floor, the access to which was by a surviving outside staircase.
In the 1911 Census his father ran the Cyclists Rest at Willow Grange: his mother and sister Ada were recorded as "assisting in the business": Douglas at this time was in the Navy.

In the 1950 Kelly's Directory for the Leatherhead district Willow Grange was listed in Kingston Road as 263 Willow Grange cafe.

After the war

His elder brother Harry had eventually carried on the Cyclists Rest after the death of their father in 1930:

Surrey Advertiser
Saturday 15 May 1943
The death of Mr. Harry Edser, of Willow Grange, Kingston Road, Leatherhead, took place on Thursday last week. Mr. Edser, who was 68 years of age, had been a special constable in Leatherhead since the last war. A native of Dorking, he came to Leatherhead at an early age, and had lived In the district for nearly 50 years. He carried out police duties up to the time of his illness, and was highly skilled at first-aid work. Mr. Edser is survived by his wife, with whom he had carried on the Cyclists’ Rest, Leatherhead, for the past 10 years.

Following a service at Leatherhead Roman Catholic Church, the interment took place on Tuesday at Leatherhead Parish Churchyard. It was attended by Messrs. William and Ernest Edser (brothers), Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Edser (brother and sister-in-law), Mrs. Lockyer (sister-in-law). Inspector Maskell and P.S. Wilson represented Leatherhead Police, P.C. Graffham (war reserve). Mr. A. H. Hulme (divisional leader Special Constabulary), Mr. P. H. Able (section leader) and six special constables from the Leatherhead section.

Prior to joining the Navy in 1911 Douglas had been working as as a Butcher.  In the 1950 Kelly's Directory for the Leatherhead district there were two butchers shops run by his brother Ernest:

Edser’s (E. Edser) butcher - The Circus, Kingston Road, Leatherhead
Edser's (E. Edser) butcher - 1 Orchard Close Parade, Cobham Road, Fetcham

Douglas is also remembered on these memorials
Leatherhead Town Memorial
Leatherhead RBL Roll of Honour, Leatherhead Parish Church
Ladies War Shrine, Leatherhead Parish Church
Church Lads Brigade Memorial Tryptich, All Saints Leatherhead
Surrey in the Great War
Great Bookham War Memorials


HMS Queen Mary wreck

the website editor would like to add further information on this casualty
e.g. a photo of him, his name on the Portsmouth Memorial, and any recollections of him

last updated 19 Jul 20