Able Seaman 

William Arthur 


Royal Navy

Died On:
31 March 1917


William Boyton was born on 1 August 1896 at West Ham, Essex, the third of seven surviving children of Edward Francis Boyton, a builder’s scaffolder, and his wife Alicia (née Jessep).

He joined the Royal Navy at the boys’ training ship HMS IMPREGNABLE on 3 February 1912 and later that year moved to the pre-dreadnought battleships HMS EXMOUTH and then ALBEMARLE.  From March 1913 to September 1915 he served in the dreadnought battleship HMS HERCULES where he was rated Ordinary Seaman on his 18th birthday and Able Seaman in April 1915.  He then proceeded to HMS VERNON, qualifying as a Torpedoman in November 1915 and as Leading Torpedoman in February 1916.  

He spent a short time in the Acorn-class destroyer HMS NYMPHE before joining HMS DOLPHIN on 29 June 1916, and subsequently HMS LUCIA on 9 October 1916, at about the time of the commissioning of HMS E39.  LUCIA was depot ship for the Tenth Submarine Flotilla, newly formed in September 1916 for direct support to the Grand Fleet and based on the Tees.

WIlliam Boyton died in an accident on the morning of Saturday 31 March 1917.  According to a newspaper report of the Inquest held the following Tuesday, Boyton had been ‘riding on a bicycle along the side of No 15 Dry Dock at Messrs Smiths’ Docks (South Bank) and fell over into the dock, a height of about 34 feet.  The pathway was two or three feet wide and the side of the dock was guarded by two chains which were in perfect order.’ The Inquest heard that there was no evidence for what might have caused the accident; Boyton was reported as a ‘steady man in every respect, and his eyesight was perfect’. It was reported necessary for Boyton to travel this route, but agreed to be a dangerous place to ride a bicycle. Death was caused by an extensive fracture of the skull. A verdict of accidental death was returned.

William Boyton is buried at West Ham Cemetery.

He had an older brother, Francis Henry, who also served in the Royal Navy as an Able Seaman, and who was killed in action in HMS INDEFATIGABLE at the Battle of Jutland the previous year.



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