When Albert was 16, he joined the Royal Navy. His ship was called HMS Hawke. HMS Hawke was not a well-equipped ship which is why she was used as a training ship.
On 20 September 1911, while on a training mission in the Solent in the South of England, a wrong manoeuvre by the captain ended with HMS Hawke colliding with a passenger ship called Olympic belonging to the White Funnel Line.
That liner was the sister ship to the Titanic which hit an iceberg and sank in April, 1912. The bow of HMS Hawke was crushed and there was much damage to the Passenger liner. HMS Hawke was towed back to Ireland for repairs. Albert joined her in 1913.
In August 1914 war was declared. In October of that year HMS Hawke was on patrol in the North Sea.
On Saturday 17 October she was torpedoed by a German submarine and took a direct hit. It is thought that the torpedo hit the Hawke's ammunition deck. Only 58 men survived and between 450 and 500 men died that day. Survivors reported that the Hawke capsized and sank within five minutes.
Albert Arthur Fisk's body was never found. He was just 17 years old.
Albert's mother would have been sent his medals. There are three service medals. Left to right: 1914-1915 Star; British War Medal 1914-1918; Victory Medal.
On the British War Medal Albert's name will be engraved around the edge. Also received would have been The Memorial Plaque.
These were more commonly referred to as a Dead Man's Penny. They were given to the next-of-kin and were made of bronze. Around the edge are the words He Died for Freedom and Honour and the serviceman's name was printed on the right hand side.
Also with the plaque is a beautiful card edged in silver and black. His parents would have had this printed to go with his collection of medals and photograph.
There is also a small envelope with a lock of his hair his mother would have cut before he went away to war as a memento.
Albert's parents lived at Bixley Cottage in Foxhall Road. Where was that?
In the Autumn of 2014, the collection was found in the basement of an estate agent premises in Ilfracombe and handed in to Ilfracombe Museum who carried out research into this sailor. But with no obvious connection to Ilfracombe, the museum really wanted to ensure that the medals were returned to the family. They managed to find, and get in contact, with a relative in Australia who pointed them in the direction of a relative living in Dursley, Gloucestershire. The museum researcher finishes the story as follows.
"I am happy to tell you that the Fisk medals are going home having been lost to the family since 2007. A great-niece from Dursley is coming to collect them. Apparently, her grandparent's house was cleared and the medals given to her Aunt Mary who in turn gave them to her son Albert.
"Albert moved to Ilfracombe many years ago and he died in 2007. Now that we have that name the Estate Agents were able to pick it up and Lee, the present manager, remembers him very well.
"Apparently, his was not a happy story and Mr Russell ended up in a home and his house condemned! Lee was laughing because apparently Mr Russell had dismantled and rebuilt a Morris Minor in the front room and as a trainee manager at that time, Lee was given the responsibility of clearing the house and getting rid of the car.
"So mystery solved and I am so happy to have had the medals and share them for a short time. I have told the relative that we have been in touch and once they are returned, I will let you have her email so that any article that might be written about Albert can be sent to her to complete the picture.”
Albert is Remembered with Honour at the Chatham Royal Naval War Memorial and also on the WW1 Memorial at Rushmere St Andrew in Suffolk.
Footnote: Since this article was published in our Spring 2015 Newsletter, we now believe the site of Bixley Cottages to be on the corner of Foxhall Road and Bixley Drive, where the motor cycle business is now located.