See also

Robert Henry COLBOURNE (1897-1917)

Name: Robert Henry COLBOURNE1
Sex: Male
Father: Robert James COLBOURNE (1867- )
Mother: Emily Florence WARNER (1868-1930)

Individual Events and Attributes

Birth 16 May 1897 Leamington Priors, Warwickshire, England
Census 31 Mar 1901 (age 3) Leamington Priors, Warwickshire, England2
7 Clarendon Crescent, Leamington
Census 2 Apr 1911 (age 11) Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England
Tettenhall College, Wolverhampton
Robert is a boarding pupil at this school
Death 9 Jul 1917 (age 20) HMS Vanguard

Individual Note

Robert Colbourne joined the Royal Navy on 1st February 1916. He seems to have been posted immediately to the battleship HMS Vanguard. She saw all her service with the Home Fleet, initially part of the 1st Battle Squadron at Scapa Flow. She was in the Battle of Jutland,as part of the 4th Battle Squadron, taking part from beginning to end, though she did not suffer damage or casualties. Midshipman Robert Colbourne was one of 800 crew lost when HMS Vanguard blew up on 9th July 1917 at her anchorage in Scapa Flow, with the British Fleet. Although sabotage was suspected at the time, subsequent investigation indicates that it is more probable that a smouldering and undetected fire ignited cordite which led to the explosion in a magazine.


From Ralph Miller: Nundy Marine Metals had rights and heavily salvaged the vessel throughout the 1950s. Below is their report of the site. HMS VANGUARD was belatedly declared a war grave in 1984.. "21 March 1974. The centre point of the wreck is 58 51 26N, 003 06 20W, and it extends about 120 metres north by west and south by east. The least depth near the southern end is 18.8 metres, and on the northern end 25.6 metres. There is a foul area extending approx 305 metres east by north, 914 metres west by south, and 305 metres south from the centre point. 12 September 1975. A detailed investigation by the Command Clearance Diving Team confirms that the wreck was blown apart by the original explosion which destroyed virtually all the explosive ordnance on board. The stern section of the wreck is largely undamaged and contains the after 18 inch torpedo room, which contains presumably torpedo warheads. A light scattering of loose cordite sticks lying on the seabed are no threat and can be left in situ. One approximately 12 inch shell is to be removed from wreckage for disposal between 15-19 September 1975. The torpedo warheads in the stern section pose a potential threat to Occidental pipeline, and it is considered unwise to disturb them in view of probable deterioration. The Ministry of Defence has warned the salvage company & Occidental of the probable presence of the warheads in the stern section located at 58 51 26N, 003 06 12W, and the danger of salvage operations in that vicinity" "The wreck had been dispersed by explosion, many large and heavy fittings (notably gun barrels and turrets) being blown a considerable distance away and, in some cases, driven vertically into the seabed. The propeller shafts were 'bent' and the side [belt] armour 'gaped out like a peeled orange'. Human bones and leather items were noted in the coal/oil sludge. Objects recovered were mainly non-ferrous, and included Weir Pumps, condensers, torpedo 'ramps' or 'bars', and at least one propeller. Armour plate and the guns of the main armament were lifted; coal was recovered in considerable quantities using a bucket grab."


1"Nick Heard". This GEDCOM is predominantly the work of Nick Heard, but it incorporates the collaborated work of many other family historians. You are welcome to use the information herein but please acknowledge the source. Every effort has been made to ensure the data is accurate, but any use you make of it is entirely at your own risk. (c) Nick Heard 2009
2"Census 1901 Leamington, Warwickshire, England RG13/2931 Folio 144 Page 16 (Robert Colbourne)". RG13/2931 Folio 144 Page 16. Cit. Date: 31 March 1901. Assessment: Secondary evidence.