Francis Charles Beaton
D/JX 151808, Leading Seaman Francis Beaton, Age 21
HMS Barham, Royal Navy
Died 25 November 1941
Leading Seaman D/JX 151808, Royal Navy, HMS Barham. Died 25/11/1941. Age 21.
Son of Alexander David Beaton and Marjorie Irene nee Innes born 13th November 1920 in Edinburgh, the eldest of five sons. This naval family have a history going back several generations of officers and ratings. Alexander served from 6th July 1909 until 30th December 1924 reaching Petty Officer, he then appears to joined the Boom Defence Depot, Felixstowe on 30th April 1940. By this time the family were living at 17 Buregate Road, Felixstowe. Two of Francis brothers Robert & Alan both received their long service medals.
HMS Barham had been part of a fleet sent to prevent German warships reaching the Atlantic when she was torpedoed by German submarine U-30 on 28th December 1939, four were killed & two wounded, she then went for repairs. In September 1941 during the Battle of Dakar she was again hit, this time by a 24 cm shell which penetrated through the superstructure but had little impact, she was repaired in Gibralter in the October.
On 24th November 1941, the Queen Elizabeth, Barham and Valiant, with an escort of eight destroyers, sailed from Alexandria to cover operations against two enemy convoys reported to be making for Benghazi. On the following day, at 16.25 hours, Barham was torpedoed by the German submarine U-331, which, undetected, had penetrated the destroyer screen. The submarine fired four torpedoes, three of which detonated on Barham's port side, between the funnel and 'Y' turret. She quickly listed to port and, after a pause of a few seconds, at an angle of 40 degrees, turned onto her beam ends. Four minutes after the torpedoes had struck, the after 15inch magazines exploded and vented through the upperdeck and the starboard side. 879 Officers and Ratings were lost, although a further 395 were rescued. He is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial.