Peter John Henry AVANT PO/X4689 Boy Bugler Royal Marine Aged 14 years. Son of Lily Ruth Avant of Colwyn Bay, Denbighshire.
Leslie Richard BATES P/JX184592 Boy 1st Class Royal Navy Aged 17 years. Son of John W and Elsie Bates
Kenneth Philip William FRENCH PO/X4138 Boy Bugler Royal Marine Aged 16 years. Son of Victoria and Robert French of Portsmouth, Hampshire.
Edgar GRYLLS P/JX184617 Boy 1st Class Royal Navy Aged 17 years. Son of Mr and Mrs C.A. Grylls of West Hartlepool, Co.Durham.
Dennis PENMAN P/JX175931 Boy 1st Class Royal Navy Aged 17 years. Son of John George Penman of Murton Colliery,Co.Durham.
Harold SHARROCK P/JX184689 Boy !st Class Royal Navy Not Given Parental details not given.
Edward James SHEFFIELD P/JX180556 Boy 1st Class Royal Navy. Aged 17 years. Son of John and Mary Sheffield of Ryton-on-Dunsmore Warwickshire.
Walter WIGHTMAN P/JX184556 Boy 1st Class Royal Navy Aged 16 years. Son of Walter and Alice Jane Wightman of Bensham Co.Durham.
Eternal Father strong to save
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea!
Brian Walker, Adelaide
it's a lovely hymn written by a clergyman and schoolmaster
the Rev.William Whiting in 1860.The following year it was
set to music by the Rev.John.B.Dykes who is also credited
for the music to 'Holy,Holy,Holy' and 'Nearer my God to Thee'.
among others. Brian Walker
After this survivor had abandoned the Fiji he saw Peter in the water and spoke to him. An hour or so later he saw the boy again and Peter said to him - 'this is no good Corporal, we are never going to get out of this' - with that he deliberately let the air out of his life-belt and sank beneath the waves. I asked the survivor why he thought that the boy should have done this. He replied that he thought his morale had reached a point where you crack and he thought that he had nothing to live for. This strikes me as a very sad and tragic story.
I believe that Peter Avant was the youngest serviceman to die during the Second World War.
As a matter of interest, I have recently been in contact with the sister of Boy Seaman Edgar Grylls.
Dec 17, 2003 Update
The following regarding Boy Buglers may be of interest:
At the time that the two Royal Marine Buglers were killed on the Fiji, a lot of other Buglers were also being killed in action. There were two in the Royal Oak, two in Hood, one in Bonaventure (off Crete again) and the two in Fiji to name but a few. So, in view of the bad image, Portsmouth Division decided to ask for volunteers from the H.O. marines to train as Buglers but not as drummers. However only eight volunteered and, with a mounting backlog of buglers to be relieved (one guy on a cruiser in the Indian Ocean had gone to pension !) and with new ships coming along, the outcry was ignored and just about three months after HMS Fiji was sunk boys were recruited again.
The above information was supplied by Robin Rowe, Editor of the Royal Marines Buglers Association in an e-mail which he sent me about two years ago.
HMS Fiji Survivor Douglas Elmer
to read this fascinating brief narrative
The George Cross
Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood
The Official Website of the British Monarchy