Hockey's Military Stories

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ArethusaPerhaps the first Naval hockey player to become a casualty of the Great War? Lieutenant Eric Walter Poyntz Westmacott RN was on the left wing for the Royal Navy in 1912 and in 1914 he was reported as "the best player in the Navy team". That was to be his last performance on the hockey field. With war declared in early August, Westmacott had joined HMS Arethusa (right) as a Signals Officer and right hand man to Commodore Tyrwhitt, the Commanding Officer of the Harwich Force of 33 ships.

Westmacott was at the side of his Commanding Officer (CO) when he was killed in action by shrapnel in the Battle of Heligoland in the North Sea on the 28 August 1914. Death by flying shrapnel is very random and two feet the other way could have caused the death of his CO.

The Battle of Heligoland Bight, 28 August 1914, was a very welcome victory for the Royal Navy, offsetting the dismal news from the Continent. The Imperial German Navy lost cruisers Mainz, Ariadne and Koln plus the destroyer V187, while all the British ships returned home with varying degrees of damage.

The new light cruiser HMS Arethusa, wearing the Broad Pennant of Commodore Reginald Tyrwhitt, commanding the Harwich Force, came in for a certain amount of acclaim, having engaged several enemy ships receiving a significant amount of damage. In fact, such was her damage HMS Arethusa had to be towed back to port.

Lt Westmacott was 27. He was married to Dorethy Bentall and they had recently enjoyed the birth of their first child. He is buried in Heybridge Cemetary, Essex and is commemorated on the town’s war memorial and on a memorial plaque and the Roll of Honour in the church of St Andrew, Heybridge.

 

Westmacott E W P Lt Royal NavyLife And Military Career

23 June 1887 - Date of birth

15 September 1902 - HMS Britannia (RN College Dartmouth) - Cadet

15 January 1904 - HMS Illustrious - Med Fleet - Mid

18 April 1904 - HMS London - Med Fleet - Mid

13 May 1905 - HMS Implacable - Med Fleet - Mid

17 July 1906 - HMS Swiftsure - Channel Fleet - Mid

30 March 1907 - Promoted to Sub-Lieutenant

May 1907 - Sub-Lieutenant's courses, Portsmouth - Sub Lt

February 1908 - Lieutenants courses, Greenwich - Sub Lt

10 August 1908 - HMS Drake - Channel Fleet - Sub Lt

30 June 1909 - Promoted to Lieutenant

4 September 1909 - HMS Argyll - Atlantic Fleet - Lt

3 February 1912 - Long signal course, Portsmouth - Lt

21 August 1912 - HMS Blenheim - 3DF Depot Ship - Lt

1 October 1913 - HMS Amethyst - Cdre T destroyer flotillas - Lt(S)

August 1914 - HMS Arethusa - Killed In Action (KIA) 28 August 14 - Lt(S)

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Lieutenant Eric Walter Poyntz Westmacott RN

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Perhaps the first Naval hockey player to become a casualty of the Great War? Lieutenant Eric Walter Poyntz Westmacott RN was on the left wing for the Royal Navy in 1912 and in 1914 he was reported as "the best player in the Navy team". That was to be his...

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