Montague Gates was born on
He was the son of William and Sarah Gates of The Green, Chailey and appears on the 1891 census living at the family home on Chailey Green. The family comprised William (a bootmaker), his wife Sarah, Montague (aged eight) and Harry Gates (aged one). Harry would later be killed in action during the First World War.
He is described on his naval papers as being five feet, five inches tall with light brown hair, hazel eyes and a fair complexion. He also had a number of tattoos (although whether this information was added when he joined up as a fifteen year old, or whether the tattoos were added later on in his service is unclear). In any event, the following designs are noted: Japanese lady, snake and peacock on right arm, necklace of leaves around neck, flowers and face in leaf on left arm. He gave his occupation as page boy.
On enlistment, Montague Gates was posted to HMS St Vincent , a boys’ training establishment, and given the rating of domestic, 3rd class. His subsequent long service record reads as follows:
HMS St Vincent: 6th
September 1898 – 8th November 1899
14th November 1899 – 3rd April 1903
(Promoted to Domestic 2nd class on 20th May 1900)
HMS Duke of
: 19th – 21st May 1903 Wellington
22nd May 1903 – 2nd February 1904
(rating is stoker 2nd Class, from 22nd May 1903)
HMS Hannibal: 3rd
February 1904 – 27th February 1905
HMS Firequeen [?]: 28th February
– 31st March 1905
HMS Victory I (
): 1st April Portsmouth – 8th May 1908
HMS Canopus: 9th
May 1905 – 8th March 1907 promoted
to stoker 1st class on 1st July 1906)
HMS Victory: 9th – 12th March 1907
HMS Mercury: 13th – 18th March 1907
19th March 1907 – 28th October 1910
(rating is telegrapher, effective from 20th November 1907 and then leading telegrapher
from 4th August
HMS Victory I: 29th October
– 13th December 1910
14th October 1910 – 10th January 1911
11th January 1911 – 26th January 1912
27th January 1912 – 3rd May 1912
HMS Neptune: 4th
May 1912 – 9th March 1914 (promoted
to petty officer (Tel) on 18th
HMS Iron Duke:
10th March 1914 – 15th February 1917
(promoted to acting chief petty officer on 31st May 1916)
HMS Queen Elizabeth: 16th February
– 7th May 1917
HMS Victory II: 8th
May 1917 – 15th January 1919
(promoted to chief petty officer on 8th May 1917)
HMS Victory I: 10th January
– 3rd February 1919
HMS New Zealand: 4th
February 1919 – 18th March 1920
HMS Victory I:
19th March 1920 – 8th March 1921
For his work during the Battle of Jutland, Montague Gates was advanced to the next higher rating (chief petty officer); effective from the date of the battle itself:
1916. On 27th
October that year he was officially commended for his service in that action. During his time with the Royal Navy he
received three good conduct badges ( 21st May 1906, 20th May 1911 and 20th December 1912).
His record is interesting, not only for the number of ships he served on but also for his transfer from the rating of stoker to that of telegraphist and it is possible that he answered a call for volunteers to train on the new technology. The role of a stoker and that of a telegraphist were very different but the transfer was approved on
20th November 1907
and Gates obviously excelled in it.
He signed on with the Royal Navy for 12 years on
22nd May 1903 and then opted to
complete 20 years (in order to obtain his pension) on 22nd May 1915. As well as his general Great War entitlement
medals, Gates was also awarded the Long Service Good Conduct medal.
The following information is largely taken from www.battleships-cruisers.co.uk and gives a brief background on some of the ships on which Montague served:
HMS Duke ofThe once famous flagship of Sir Charles Napier. Relegated to harbour service as one of the depot ships for berthing the men of the Portsmouth Dockyard Reserve. Sold in 1904.
HMS HannibalHMS Hannibal. Royal Naval battleship of the Majestic Class. HMS Hannibal was refitted and converted to burn oil fuel as well as being fitted with fire control in 1906. Recommissioned in the Channel Fleet Reserve in October 1906 and transferred to
Armament: four 12 inch guns, twelve 6 inch guns, sixteen 12 pdr guns, twelve 3 pdr guns, 2 maxims, two 2pdr boat guns and five torpedo tubes. Displacement: 14,900 tons. Speed: 16.5 knots. Complement: 757.
HMS CanopusHMS Canopus was built at
Displacement: 12,950 tons. Length: 410 ft. Beam: 74 ft. Draught: 26.5 ft. Complement: 750. Armament: four 12 ins guns, twelve 6 ins guns, ten 3 ins guns, six 3 pounder guns and two maxims with four torpedo tubes.
HMS BritanniaHMS Britannia was a Royal Naval battleship of the King Edward VII, Class. Sje first saw service with the Atlantic fleet in December 1906, moving to the Channel Fleet in February 1907, joining the 2nd Division of the home Fleet as Flagship of Vice admiral in April 1909. While serving with the 2nd division she joined the Mediterranean fleet for a short period of time before returning. At the start of World War One, Britannia joined the 3rd battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet. But In January 1915 she ran aground at Inchkeith suffering major damage. On
HMS NeptuneBuilt at
Displacement: 19,680 tons. Speed: 21 knots. Armament: Ten 12 inch guns in pairs, twenty 4 inch guns, four 3pdr guns, three 18 inch guns and 3 torpedo tubes. Compliment: 759.
HMS Iron Duke (pictured)HMS Iron Duke was built at Cammell Laird in
After 1931 she became a Gunnery Training Ship and Base Ship for the Home Fleet between 1939 and 1945. She was scrapped at Faslane in
on Scotland 19th August 1946.
Compliment 589. Armament 6 13.5 inch Guns (3 x 2 ) and 12 6-inch Guns . Machinery 4-shaft Turbines, S.H.P 31,000 giving a top speed of 21.25 knots this was reduced to 18 knots with mutilated boiler power. Displacement 21,250 tons.
HMS Queen ElizabethHMS Queen Elizabeth was a Royal Naval battleship built at Portsmouth in 1913. She served in the
Displacement: 29,700 Speed: 23.0 knots Compliment: 950 and up to 1,220 in 1918
Armament: Eight 15-inch guns in pairs and fourteen 6 -inch guns. Two 3 inch Anti Aircraft Guns in 1917, two 4-inch anti aircraft guns.
HMS Queen Elizabeth was built at
She joined the Eastern fleet and from January 1944 onwards was joined by HMS Valiant and took part in the carrier raids in
HMS New Zealand (Indefatigable Class)HMS New Zealand was taken on a cruise of the Dominions in 1913 before joining the 1st Battle Cruiser Squadron. She then served with the Grand Fleet in 1914 before becoming flagship to the 2nd cruiser squadron in 1915. She was built by Fairfield and was completed in February 1912. In February she left for a world cruise around the Dominions which took 10 months. She then joined the 1st Battle Cruiser Squadron on a cruise to the Baltic and then joined the Grand Fleet in August 1914 becoming the flagship of the 2nd Battle Cruiser Squadron in January 1915 until February 1915. At the Battle of Dogger Bank she fired a total of 147 12 - inch shells with out any known hits on the German Ships. She became Flagship to Admiral Beattie when his Flagship HMS Lion was damaged during the battle. On the 22nd April HMS New Zealand and HMS Australia collided but repairs were carried out in time for the Battle of Jutland. During the battle she fired 420 shells, (more than any other Dreadnought during the Battle) but only scored four hits. HMS New Zealand was also hit by a 11-inch shell which hit a turret (luckily without causing any major damage or casualties). After September 1916 she again joined the 2nd Battle Cruiser Squadron and after the war carried Admiral Jellicoe on a tour of the Dominions. Listed for Disposal under the Washington treaty she was sold for breaking up on the 19th December 1923.