Albert Edward Stewart was born in 1878 on the Isle of Thanet in Kent. He was the youngest of eight children born to the Kent-born farm worker David Stewart and his wife Elizabeth. After school and working for a spell as a farm labourer, Albert joined the Royal Navy as a stoker. He initially signed up for a period of 12 years on 3 March 1896.
Albert sailed the world with the Royal Navy – in 1901 he was in Bermuda aboard HMS Terror. His initial 12 years’ service expired in 1908, but two years later he signed up again. Within months, he had been promoted to leading stoker and by April 1911, now a stoker 1st class, he was serving aboard HMS Black Prince as part of the Atlantic Fleet at Gibraltar.
When war broke out Albert was serving on HMS Sutlej which was then assigned to convoy escort duties off the French and Iberian coasts. In July 1914 Stewart was transferred briefly to HMS Pembroke II – the Royal Naval Air Station at Eastchurch in Kent. Finally, in August 1914, Albert was transferred to HMS Lightning. HMS Lightning was a torpedo boat destroyer allocated to the Nore Local Defence Flotilla.
On 30 June 1915 following the sighting of floating mines near the Kentish Knock Light Vessel, HMS Lightning and the destroyer HMS Vulture were sent out to deal with the mines. By 8 pm the ships had destroyed three mines and, as they searched for more, HMS Lightning struck another mine. The explosion lifted her out of the water and broke her in half killing 15 of her crew – including Albert Edward Stewart. The bow section of HMS Lightning sank, while the stern was towed back to Sheerness and later broken up.
Albert Edward Stewart was awarded the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
282246 Stoker First Class Albert Edward Stewart 1878 – 30 June 1915.
We will remember them.