Michael Forrest was born on 5 March 1888 at Lambeth, London, the middle of three sons of Cornelius Forrest, a general labourer and former Royal Marine Private, and his wife Katherine (née Sharp). Cornelius died early in 1901 and by the time of the 1901 census on 31 March, all three boys were recorded at St Joseph’s Orphanage for Boys, at Orpington, Kent.
Michael Forrest joined the Royal Navy as a Boy 2nd Class at Portsmouth (HMS IMPREGNABLE) on 3 October 1903 giving his previous occupation as ‘factory boy’. After a number of short drafts to reserve and refitting ships, he joined the pre-dreadnought battleship HMS JUPITER on re-commissioning in September 1905. On his 18th birthday he was rated Ordinary Seaman, but in October 1906 changed branch to Stoker 2nd Class. In December 1906 he joined the scout cruiser HMS FORWARD where he was rated Stoker 1st class in March 1907. In May 1907 he joined the battleship HMS EXMOUTH serving in the Atlantic Fleet and then the Mediterranean. In October 1909 he re-joined HMS FORWARD, but in June 1910 was ‘recovered from desertion’ and sentenced to six months hard labour for ‘wilful disobedience of lawful command, and for threatening language to, and for attempting to strike, and striking, his superior officer being in the execution of his office’. In January 1911 he returned to HMS EXMOUTH in the Mediterranean and then in December 1912 transferred to the battleship HMS ALBEMARLE.
In March 1914 he joined the submarine depot ship HMS MAIDSTONE as a member of her crew, but was drafted to HMS DOLPHIN in September 1914 and then to HMS BONAVENTURE in January 1915 for service in submarines. In December 1915 he was rated Acting Leading Stoker. BONAVENTURE was the depot ship for the Sixth Submarine Flotilla (renamed Second Flotilla in September 1916) based on the Tyne. The petrol-fuelled HMS C14 joined the Flotilla in January 1915 and it was in this submarine that a crank pit explosion occurred which led to Leading Stoker Forrest dying from injuries on 22 January 1917. His death was registered at South Shields, and he is buried at Nunhead (All Saints) Cemetery, south London.
He left a widow, Catherine Elizabeth (née Lonsdale), whom he had married in 1913 at Southwark, and two children.