Turner R C Lt Comm HMS Pegasus Royal Navy
LIEUT.-COMMANDER RICHARD CHASE TURNER, R.N., OF H.M.S. “PEGASUS.”
LIEUTENANT-COMMANDER R. C. TURNER, of H.M.S. Pegasus, was the second son of Edward Turner, Esq., of the Indian Civil Service, and Mrs. Turner, of Sherborne Lodge, Leamington.
He was born at Madura, South India on January 12th 1884 and educated at Stubbington House, Fareham. He joined the Britannia in 1898 and in 1900 became Midshipman on HMS Ocean being stationed first in the Mediterranean, and afterwards in China, later he served on the Triumph and the Swiftsure went in the Home Fleet, 1908 to 1911, he was on HMS Pandora on the South African station 1911, he joined the Blonde in the Home Fleet and in March 1913 became First and Gunnery Lieutenant on the Pegasus being promoted Lieutenant Commander in December the same year. It was on the light cruiser Pegasus that he was mortally wounded when in action against the German Cruiser Koenigsberg, of Zanzibar on September 20th 1914. After the Outbreak of the war the Pegasus rendered to the cause of the Allies very useful services including the destruction of the wireless station at Dar-es-Salaam (which had been carried out under the command of Lient. Turner) Subsequently she was stationed off Zanzibar to undergo certain repairs, and was having her boilers cleared, when she was attacked, thus being taken at a great disadvantage, in addition to being outranged by the Keenigsberg’s newer four inch guns. The Koenigsberg approached her opponent at full speed at 5 a.m., Sunday morning, September 20th, “Little Peggy” (as she was affectionately known in the Service) being at anchor in Zanzibar Harbour. The Germans first disabled a patrol boat with three shots, and then opened fire on the Pegasus, from a distance of more than five miles, and all they had to do was to remain outside the range of the guns of the Pegasus and pepper away at practically a fixed target, well knowing that her opponent could not retaliate.
The crew, however, worked bravely, but after about fifteen minutes the broadside guns of the Pegasus, facing the enemy, were disabled, and firing had to cease, for, being at anchor, the guns on the other broadside could not be brought into action. The Koenigsberg continued its firing, and the Pegasus became badly holed on the water line and listed heavily. Her fires were extinguished, and she was moved into shallow water, where her forepart grounded, but being driven by the wind and tide into deeper water she eventually sank.
Whilst at the guns, and very early in the action, Lieutenant Turner was very bally wounded and was sent ashore to the hospital, where he died under a necessary operation.
Captain John A. Inglis, of H.M.S. Pegasus, writing to express his sympathy with Lieut-Commander Turner’s mother, thus speaks of him:-
“He showed tremendous fortitude all through, and all hands were loud in their praise of his pluck and endurance under his terrible wounds.
I had only been seven months with the Officers and men, but we had so much to do in that time, that I had great opportunities of finding out what a splendid fellow your son was, and of seeing how conscientiously he carried out his duties. In a small ship of this sort everything depends on the tact, energy, straightforwardness and professional knowledge of the First Lieutenant, with all of which he was so highly endowed. The men loved him, and would have done anything that was humanly possible to bring him success. The little ship, though old and outclassed, was kept as fit as possible to do anything that was required, and it was due to him to a great extent that she was able to get about as she did in the early part of the War. He was so fond and proud of the little craft, that I am thankful to say he did not see her sink, which she did some little time after the action,”
Lieutenant Turner enjoyed the complete confidence of the crew, with whom he was a great favourite, as indeed he was with all who knew him, as the subjoined extracts from letters received by his family bear testimony. One of his friends at Simon’s Town (a Freemason) writes:-
On the ship he was the one great personality that stood out among a set of the finest fellows you could get together; he was head and shoulders above the lot of them, and they worshipped him. In his new command he blossomed out and a few years would have seen him the finest and most popular Admiral in the Fleet. We have lost our worthy master, brother, comrade, and the Empire one of her finest sons.”
The Secretary of the Commander-in-Chief writes:-
“Your son died a fine death, and if you are as proud of him as we all are out here who knew him, you do not need my sympathy.”
Many other letters have also been received from brother Officers in the Navy, testifying to their appreciation of him when serving with him in other ships.
He was an ardent Freemason, and was Master of Lodge No. 900, Simon’s Town, Kilwinning, Cape Colony, and also belonged to the Shakespeare Lodge, 284. The Secretary to the Lodge, Simon’s Town, Kilwinning, when expressing the regret felt by them all for his death, added:
“He was a keen Freemason and one who lived up to the spirit of our ancient Craft. His manly character and deep interest in the affairs of this Lodge and Freemasonry generally will ever be remembered by his Brethren in admiration and gratitude.”
The District Grand Master (Cape Town), in writing to the Lodge, No. 900, to express the sympathy of the District Grand Lodge with them in the loss of their Master, says:-
“A fine man, a good Mason and a splendid patriot has been called to render his account to the Great Architect of the Universe, and his welcome in the Eternal Mansions will be all the more glorious in that he died serving his God, his King, and his Country.”
And the “Royal Alfred,” Royal Arch Chapter, No. 103, S.C., Simon’s Town, wrote to Lieutenant Turner’s father, October 10th, 1914, that at the last Ordinary Convocation of the Chapter the following resolution had been unanimously adopted :-
“That this Chapter places on record the loss it has sustained in the death of Companion Lieutenant-Commander Richard Chase Turner, R.N., killed in action on board H.M.S. Pegasus, on Sunday, 20th September, 1914, off Zanzibar, and desires to express its sincere sympathy and condolence with the relatives of our deceased Companion and Brother.”
Lieutenant-Commander R. C. Turner was a very keen sportsman, and when serving in the Pandora, and also in the Pegasus, was able to enjoy some big game shooting in the Nairobi Country.
Source : The British Roll Of Honour Vol 1
TURNER, RICHARD CHASE, Lieut.-Com., R.N., 2nd s. of Edward Turner, of Sherbourne Lodge, Leamington, retired I.C.S., by his wife, Georgiana, dau. of T. A. N. Chase, late I.C.S.; b. Madora, South India, 12 Jan. 1884; educ. Stubbington House, Fareham, Hants; entered H.M.S. Britannia in 1898, and became Midshipman, 1900; Sub-Lieut. 1903; 1st.Lieut. 1905 and Lieut.-Com. 31 Dec. 1914; served on H.M. ships Ocean, Ocean, Triumph, Swiftsure, Pandore (1908-11 on South African Station), and Blonde (1911-13), and was appointed Gunnery Lieut. to H.M.S. Pegasus, 1 March, 1913. The Pegasus rendered useful services after the outbreak of war, including the destruction of the Wireless Station at Dar-es-Salaam carried out under Lieut.-Com. Turner’s command, and when attacked by the German cruiser Konigsberg off the coast of Zanzibar on 20 Sept. 1914 was having her boilers cleaned. In this action Lieut.-Com. Turner was mortally wounded and died the same day in hospital at Zanzibar. He was unm. and was buried in the English Cemetery there.
The Commander of the Pegasus wrote: “In a small ship of this sort everything depends on the tact, energy, straightforwardness and professional knowledge of the 1st Lieut., with all of which he was so highly endowed. The men loved him, and would have done anything that was humanly possible to bring him success. The little ship, though old and out-classed, was kept as fit as was possible to do anything that was required, and it was due to him to a great extent that she was able to get about as she did in the early part of the war.” He was a Freemason, and was Master of Lodge No. 900, Simon’s Town, Kilwinning, Cape Colony.
Source : De Ruvigny’s Roll Of Honour Vol 1