Herbert Richardson Stokes

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Lieutenant-Commander Herbert Richardson Stokes, R.N. (24 November, 1880 – 25 January, 1921) served in the Royal Navy.

Life & Career

Born in St. Leonard's-on-Sea.

Stokes was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on 31 December, 1902.

Stokes was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Commander on 31 December, 1910.

Stokes was appointed to the armoured cruiser Natal on 9 February, 1913. He was still in her when, on 9 October, 1914 he was tried by Court Martial on charges of "act to prejudice of good order & naval discipline in being absent from his ship at such a distance as to prevent him from returning at the time ordered by the signals regarding leave" and of being drunk on shore. The charges were proved, and he was dismissed his ship deprived of all seniority as Lieutenant-Commander, his date now becoming 9 October, 1914. He was appointed to join Hannibal on 3 November, 1914.

In January, 1915, he was appointed to Crescent as first officer. He served in her until she paid off on 17 November, 1915, though he ceased being first officer on 18 September. On 28 November, 1915, he was appointed to Royal Arthur, to serve as her gunnery officer.

In May 1916, Royal Arthur's Captain Stewart reported that Stokes was "not temperate", and special reports on him were ordered. This first two such, in October 1916 and January, 1917 showed improvement. That of August, 1917 might show slippage, but is hard to read. Abundantly clear, however, is the phrase "not recommended."

In January 1918, Stokes was sent to join Endymion as first and gunnery officer upon her commissioning. He received a guardedly favourable report from Admiral Brock, who reported that Stokes was "satisfactory in command of Duncombe."

Stokes was invalided from Endymion to Malta Hospital on 21 May, 1918. He was reported there to be unfit to perform his duties due to an alcoholic condition. He was again Court Martialed on 14 June, 1918 and again dismissed his ship and obliged to forfeit one years' seniority, his date becoming 9 October, 1915.

Stokes was placed on the Retired List for misconduct on 22 July, 1918 in accordance with provisions of Order in Council of 13 May, 1901.

Stokes asked that a statement of his naval service be forwarded to the Colonial Officer, but the Admiralty informed them that Stokes was not recommended for employment.

Stokes would commit suicide "whilst of unsound mind" in early 1921, aged 40. Stokes had been widowed in 1915 and had lost his son and mother since 1919. He had lived in squalor for some time in a house reportedly used for immoral purposes. At the very end, a woman of good standing who was carrying his child called off an impending marriage, saying she had given up on him. Stokes died after inhaling a poisonous gas through a tube while in bed in Pimlico.[1]

See Also


Naval Appointments
Preceded by
Denis G. Thynne
Captain of H.M.S. Greyhound
5 Feb, 1907[2] – 17 Dec, 1907
Succeeded by
Evelyn L. Beridge Boothby
Preceded by
Reginald Henniker-Heaton
Captain of H.M.S. Rocket
5 Mar, 1908[3] – May, 1909
Succeeded by
Cecil R. Nicholl
Preceded by
Cecil R. Nicholl
Captain of H.M.S. Porcupine
May, 1909 – 28 Jun, 1909
Succeeded by
Raymond J. Harris


  1. Ex-Officer's Downfall. The Times (London, England), Saturday, Jan 29, 1921; pg. 7; Issue 42631.
  2. The Navy List. (March, 1907). p. 322.
  3. The Navy List. (October, 1908). p. 368.