Graves of naval trainees, Llandegfan
In the churchyard of St Tegfan’s Church are the graves of more than 30 boys from HMS Clio, an "industrial training ship" which was moored on the Menai Strait from 1877 to 1920. See below for their names and details, from parish burial records, grave inscriptions and contemporary press reports.
The graves are a little to the north of the church building. The marker on the map below shows their approximate position. They have a distinctive shape and "Clio" inscription at the top (see photo below).
The 1890s picture on the right shows the view from the Lon Ganol area (eastern end of Llandegfan), with the Clio in the bottom right quarter.
Most of the boys buried here died of illness. Ordinary schools would close for days or weeks during outbreaks of infections diseases, but the Clio boys stayed together. Some lost toes to frostbite in winter. The first captain-superintendent repeatedly had his requests for a more sheltered berth rejected.
William Crook, buried here, died aged 13 in February 1906 of brain damage sustained when other boys on the ship bullied him. Several of the bullies were later moved to “reformatories”, after Prime Minister William Gladstone said they should be prosecuted. The Home Office ordered an inspection of the ship.
HMS Clio ostensibly prepared boys who were orphaned, neglected or ill-behaved for life with the Royal Navy or on civilian ships. Many chose not to become sailors, and the Royal Navy was reluctant to take sailors from such a background. Children were often sent to HMS Clio by the courts as punishment. In 1902, for example, the Amlwch Petty Sessions sentenced repeat offender William Jones, aged 13, to eight strokes with the rod and to living on HMS Clio until his 15th birthday.
The Clio boys were effectively imprisoned on the ship. Bad weather often made it impossible for them to row ashore for exercise on land. In 1900 a playing field was hired on the shore to improve the boys’ health.
Parents had to pay towards their child’s upkeep. In 1908 a Chester labourer called James Pillington was sent to jail for the eighth or ninth time for failing to pay the weekly 1s required for “maintenance of his son on the training ship Clio”.
Some former Clio boys distinguished themselves at sea. They included Edward Clarke, awarded the Distinguished Service Medal in 1916 for his service on the submarine E 11.
Detailed information and photos are available in The Clio, by Emrys Wyn Roberts, published by Gwasg Carreg Gwalch.
With thanks to Linda Newis
Postcode: LL59 5RD View Location Map
HMS Clio trainees buried at St Tegfan’s
- John Butler, died 1914/15 aged 13
- Robert Edward Chittin, died 1887 aged 14
- William Crook (or Crookes), died 1906 aged 13. Of Bury, Lancashire.
- James Cunliff, died 1890 aged 15
- Thomas Cutler, died 1908 aged 13
- Frank Alfred Davey, died 1915 aged 12
- George Dawson, died 1891 aged 13
- George Joseph Dean, died 1916 aged 12
- Samuel Gill, died 1883 aged 14
- William Green , died 1917 aged 13
- Samuel Evans, died 1902 aged 15
- John Healy, died 1880, aged 13, after falling from the ship’s rigging.
- Norman Heaps, died 1918 aged 14
- Alfred Hector, died 1890 aged 15
- James Hennett (or Hemmett), died 1878 aged 12. Of Manchester. Fell to his death after climbing a mast for training.
- Samuel Holmes, died 1916 aged 13
- Arthur Ingram, died 1918 aged 13
- Richard Jones, died 1901 aged 15. Died 1902, according to tombstone.
- Thomas Jones, died 1883 aged 14 (aged 12, according to tombstone)
- George Juckey, died 1880 aged 14
- William Keith, died 1918 aged 14
- James Longworth, died 1892 aged 13
- Charles Matthew Mace, died 1893 aged 14
- Frederick Macormick, died 1905/6 aged 14
- George Matthew Mann, drowned 1893. Of Warrington. His body was discovered at Y Felinheli (then known as Port Dinorwic).
- William Marsden, died 1908 aged 14
- James Naylor (or Nayler), died 1902 aged 15
- Herbert Roberts, died 1902 aged 13
- John Price Roberts, died 1917 aged 14
- Walter Shaw, died 1915 aged 12
- J Thomas, died 1882
- William Thomas, died 1882 aged 16 in Bangor Infirmary. Not named in parish burial records (unless he was J Thomas, above).
- Frederick Ward, died 1888 aged 14
- Joseph Welby, died 1914 aged 15
- John Alfred Welling, died 1908 aged 12